11 societal pressures only men will understand

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Don’t get me wrong.

I appreciate we live in a modern world that strives for non-judgment and gender equality.

But against all efforts, there are still societal pressures (felt by both men and women).

In this article, we’ll focus on the expectations we have for men. In other words, how we unconsciously think they should act and behave. Our idea of ‘normal’ (whatever that means).

Despite what you might think, they don’t have it all their own way.

Sure, they can pee while standing and don’t experience a monthly visit from the non-pregnancy fairy, but men do have their own set of societal assumptions to deal with.

Let’s dive in.

1) Be chivalrous

I know, it’s a somewhat traditional point of view.

Yet, many of us still hold onto the concept of the old-fashioned gentleman.

We expect men to do stuff like hold open doors, give up their seats, and carry heavy shopping bags.

There’s some interesting science behind it.

In a recent study, young women found chivalrous men more attractive than non-chivalrous men.

It’s not surprising when you think about it.

Helping someone across a busy street can make them feel cherished and special. In the right context (i.e. they actually need the help) it’s often seen as a compliment.

This sheds some light on why men still feel pressured into chivalrous acts.

2) Don’t cry

Young boys are often told to ‘man up’ or ‘don’t be a wimp’.

This extends into adulthood, where any sign of emotion can be seen as a weakness.

It’s partly down to the testosterone-fueled environment that men find themselves in.

Whether it’s on the football field or having beers with the lads, men tend to spend a lot of time in groups with other men, especially as they’re growing up.

Crying or expressing emotion can make you a target.

You’ll quickly find yourself at the bottom of the macho hierarchy.

The science agrees with 45% of men saying they still feel an incredible amount of pressure to not appear emotionally weak in front of their peers.

3) Be funny

Men have heard it a million times.

Women love a guy with a great sense of humor.

This inevitably puts the pressure on. Men feel like they have to become the next Dave Chappelle and churn out cracking jokes every minute.

In most cases, they end up trying too hard.

Their dad jokes fall short creating an awkward atmosphere that only adds to the tension.

4) Perform in the bedroom

Young men especially, often feel pressure to ‘do a good job’ in the bedroom.

If things don’t run smoothly, their confidence can take a hit.

It can be extremely embarrassing.

Big expectations can lead to nerves and anxiety which only make the problem worse.

5) Take care of your family

Another outdated idea.

Yet still a very real perception.

A 2017 study revealed that 76% of men feel pressure to support their loved ones financially.

Whether they should or not is a different question. The fact of the matter is, men feel societal expectations to be the main breadwinner.

This could be down to the old-fashioned roles that parents used to play. 

Women would generally take care of the children while men would go out to work. While this trend has been dropping, it still exists.

6) Be smart and presentable

We usually associate the pressures of appearance, appropriate clothing, and physical fitness with women.

But men are also under societal pressure in this department.

Lack of grooming, unshaven beards, and scruffy clothes can invite judgment from others.

It’s a sad fact of life.

First impressions count. In fact, we apparently form opinions about people within seven seconds of meeting them!

I’m talking on a first date, a job interview, or an important business meeting.

7) Make the first move

This is a big one, felt by men everywhere.

And although things are slowly changing, it’s generally accepted that it’s the man’s job to make the first move.

Put it this way.

If a woman approaches you and asks for a date, she can appear desperate or even promiscuous.

Not only are men expected to make the first move but they also have to deal with the constant rejection!

8) Be confident

Just like being funny, men are also told that women love confidence.

But here’s the thing.

Confidence is usually a natural symptom of achievement or satisfaction. When you hit your goals, you feel better about yourself. You stick your chest out and walk with your head held high.

We can’t always achieve what we want (at least not every single day).

So men are told to ‘fake it until you make it’.

Adding yet more expectations around how they should behave.

9) Pay for it

A recent study showed that a whopping 78% of people think that men should pay for the first date.

When you boil it down, it’s about appearing cheap or uninterested.

Right or wrong, footing the bill is a sign that a man is respectful and actually cares about you.

10) Be physically strong

There’s no doubt that men have been gifted with muscle (and left women with the wobbly bits).

But this has a knock-on effect.

Society expects men to be able to do more than open tight jars.

They should stand up for themselves, physically protect their family, and do all the heavy lifting.

But the truth is, not all men are actually that strong.

This can make them feel extremely insecure or useless.

11) Do something with your life

There’s insurmountable pressure (on both men and women) to find their passion in life and achieve great success.

But more so on men.

They’re constantly told to not be lazy.

Playing video games or being a couch potato are big no-nos.

You have to grow up, take on responsibility, and do something with your life.

But just maybe, some guys don’t want to live their lives in the fast lane. And as long as they’re happy, maybe that’s okay?

Leila El-Dean

Leila is a passionate writer with a background in photography and art. She has over ten years of experience in branding, marketing, and building websites. She loves travelling and has lived in several countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Spain, and Malta. When she’s not writing (or ogling cats), Leila loves trying new food and drinking copious amounts of Earl Grey tea.

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