The Different Types of Manliness

by Brett & Kate McKay on September 13, 2009 · 57 comments

in A Man's Life, On Manhood

lawmanSource: Image from freeparking

If you take the time to read the comments on our site, you’ll soon see that there isn’t always agreement on what constitutes being manly. Some say that dressing to the nines is a manly pursuit; others say that caring about your style is distinctly unmanly: “Real men don’t use umbrellas! They just get wet!” Some say guns are manly and that real men know how to protect their loved ones with force; others say that violence is never manly. An article that one segment of readers loves is derided by another as either offensively barbaric or unbearably foo foo and thus unbefitting of a site about manliness.

Such a reaction is natural, as we all have different views of what manliness means and looks like. When we think about manliness, we probably have various types, drawn from our lives and from popular culture-books, movies, television-that pop into our head. Let’s explore what these types are. Below are 6 different types that we often imagine when we think about manliness. Each includes a short description of the type, along with the positive characteristics associated with the type, the possible pitfalls this type of man runs into, and examples, both fictional and real, of this kind of type in the flesh. Keep in mind that the “possible pitfalls” are faults common to this type, but are in no way inevitabilities.

The Warrior


The warrior is arguably the type we’ve been associating with manliness the longest. In ancient times, he was the tribesmen who protected the village from attack; in modern times, he is the soldier who defends freedom. He is the grunt willing to subvert some of his individualism for greater goals and the general who leads his troops into battle. He is the man willing to lay down his life for others and for the glory of conquest and victory.

Positives: Toughness, leadership, courage, sacrifice

Pitfalls: Callousness, difficulty in adjusting to civilian life and relating to non-soldiers, unwilling to question authority

Examples: Audie L. Murphy, George S. Patton, Achilles, Michael Monsoor, Genghis Khan

The Lone Wolf


In popular culture, depicting the lone wolf type of manliness is quite popular. He is the cowboy riding his horse alone into the sunset, the biker roaring across the desert, the hobo wandering from place to place. He is also the artistic genius or the intellectual who isolates himself to create a great masterpiece or concentrate on his studies. Taciturn and mysterious, he doesn’t care for cultural rules and conventions; he is the rebel who blazes his own path.

Positives: Self-sufficient, free-thinking, independent, able to be his own man

Pitfalls: Can’t ask for help, difficulty in forming connections with others, depression, suppression of emotions

Examples: Clint Eastwood in pretty much every Clint Eastwood movie, John Wayne, JD Salinger, Louis L’Amour, Jeremiah Johnson

The Adventurer


This is the man with an overpowering desire to wander, travel, explore, and conquer. He wants to see the places no one or few others have seen. He sees a mountain and wants to climb it simply because it is there. He wants to discover all the world has to offer. He desires to test his limits and get outside his comfort zone. The new, the dangerous, make him feel alive.

Positives: Free spirit, courage, vitality, risk-taking

Pitfalls: Flighty, inability to commit

Examples: Lewis and Clark, Edmund Hillary, Sir Richard Francis Burton, Indiana Jones

The Gentleman


The gentleman is suave, urbane, polite and respectful to all, both to inferiors and superiors. Dapper in dress, proficient in the conversational arts, confident and witty, he easily wins friends and woos the ladies. He is skilled in and knowledgeable about arts, culture, and current events.

Positives: Well-dressed, well-mannered, sprezzatura

Pitfalls: Superficial, neglect of the inner life in favor of outward forms, lack of toughness

Examples: Cary Grant, George Washington, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Stewart

The Statesman


To the ancient Greeks, a man could not possess manliness without being engaged in civic affairs. The statesman puts the good of the nation above individual pursuits. In his true form, the statesman has 4 attributes, as delineated by Professor J. Rufus Fears: a bedrock of principles, a moral compass, a vision, and an ability to build consensus to achieve that vision. These qualities, along with a proficiency in the art of oratory, allow him to hold together and guide a nation’s or people’s destiny.

Positives: Idealistic, driven, civic-minded, principled

Possible pitfalls: ego-centric, pride leading to scandal and corruption

Examples: Pericles, Demosthenes, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill

The Family Man


While he isn’t the subject of many books and movies like the adventurer or warrior, we still really admire the simple family man, the average Joe who works hard and does the right thing every day. He has “blue collar” values, loves his wife, rarely complains about his job, is a great dad, and is just a solid man all around. He’s the grandfather who exuded manliness and the father you were always a little in awe of.

Positives: Hard working, loyal, good husband and father

Possible pitfalls: Aversion to risk, complacency

Examples: Joe the Little League Coach, your cousin Lou

If there are different types of manliness-es, does that mean we cannot say that there is anything essential to manliness?

Absolutely not. The fundamental principles of manliness-courage, loyalty, integrity, resiliency, personal responsibility, and sacrifice-cut across all types.

Thus we should have a healthy respect for the different types of manliness-es that exist. As long as the fundamental principles are in place, one should not say that one is necessarily better than the others.

And of course, we don’t actually live as types, we live as complex men. Even the men mentioned above as “examples” of each type were not one-sided in their character and pursuits. While one of the types likely describes you more than others, you’re probably a mix of many of them. They should not be seen as incompatible with one another.

The types are really symbols, certain traits and ways of living like a man writ large and exaggerated. Each has important lessons to teach us about being men. From the warrior we learn courage; from the lone wolf we come to understand the importance of individuality; the adventurer teaches us to find ways to explore wherever we are in life; the gentleman rounds off our rough edges; the statesman reminds us to be civic-minded, and the family man teaches us about selflessness. It is not possible to combine the types in our lives in equal degrees, but we can use them to form our own manliness. This was the task accomplished by the greatest men in history. Men like Theodore Roosevelt, Robert E. Lee, and Winston Churchill successfully integrated the best traits from all the types while avoiding the pitfalls of each. They were as at home on the battlefield as the ballroom.

But remember: don’t try to be someone you’re not and beware of the pitfalls of the types that you are. There’s a reason that Cary Grant was never in a Western.

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ced September 13, 2009 at 11:04 pm

can you be a mix of the above?

2 Brett McKay September 13, 2009 at 11:06 pm

“While one of the types likely describes you more than others, you’re probably a mix of many of them. They should not be seen as incompatible with one another.”

3 James Clark September 13, 2009 at 11:19 pm

I’ve been seeing debates in the comments lately, and was wondering if this was going to exist or not, and I’m glad it does. Not only does it calm the fires of difference, but it also gives inspiration to the uninspired. I’ve been wondering what the “essense” of manliness is, and as you stated, there are many conflicting traits.

I think that I have decided that the true form of manliness is whatever a man sees in his mentor – whether it was his father, grandfather, relative, teacher, friend, neighbor, movie personality (Indiana Jones, etc). I know that my definition of manliness is exactly what my father is. (minus his pitfalls). He was not really around when I was growing up (which I’m still doing a little every day) but when he was there, he taught me much. About cars, about tools, about woodworking, and hands on things. As well as how to fall in line when it benefits me, and how to make a cup of coffee (I’m still not convinced his way is the best ;-) ).

He taught me how to shave, which I don’t, and that sometimes there are things more important than ourselves (family, community, country – usually in that order, if personal sacrifice is needed for the greater good).

He worked for the navy (as a civilian) his whole life, and while the military won’t accept me due to athsmah and blood sugar issues, I still find the urge to serve my country. I know that there is no-one else in my life who could have instilled this instinct into me than my absent father.

Taught me that manliness is putting family first, then self reliance, then adventure. He always makes time for adventure, and tries to balance all of these (although prioritized as listed) with moderation in all of them, and in all things.

Is there such a thing as too much manliness? Why moderate such a thing? I don’t know, but God-damn it, he pulls it off. He happens to be on his 3rd wife, with 2 kids per wife, has some old “retired” AA coins, but those things should not warrant his dismissal as a manly man.

Maybe I’m idealizing, but it doesn’t matter. My definition of manliness is not what my father is, but more specifically what I THINK MY FATHER IS. that’s really what matters.

4 Frito September 13, 2009 at 11:25 pm

I dont know what books you read, but Sherlock Holmes was no gentleman. He would have been interested in current affairs only for the intellectual stimulation. And wooing ladies wasn’t his style unless you are referring to one particular woman.

Plus his preference for cocaine and opium wouldn’t put him in the same class as Jimmy Stewart or Ronald Reagan.

5 James Clark September 13, 2009 at 11:28 pm

damn, thought I was going to be the first post on here ;-) I guess that’s what happens when you type more than one line :-(
>>hey, theres some competition right there – however petty it is, its our nature, right?

victory for victory’s sake… The Olympics

Here’s another thought – I always cry when I think about the olympics. Not about the sport, or even the competition (although that does attract me to it) but the politics. The fact that nations can peacefully compete in a neutral environement every once in a while – that seems a manly trait – to show quarter to your enemy in the spirit of the end goal of peace. To show that we are still human and see eachother as such. Respect – This (i don’t think) made the list in any way, and I think it is very important to being a man, and CANNOT be forgotten.

Respect, and be respected in return; but more importantly: Respect.

6 Brett McKay September 13, 2009 at 11:29 pm


An excellent and insightful comment. In many ways manliness simply means being your best self (and your best self is usually defined by who you look up to as an example of the kind of man you want to be) and adhering to the fundamental principles of manliness, and maximizing your unique talents and proclivities, while minimizing your pitfalls. Great thoughts.

You are quite right, sir! It’s admittedly been since adolescence that I have read a Sherlock Holmes book and the man of my imagination actually doesn’t match up to the reality of the character. I shall axe and replace him.

7 Luís Guilherme September 14, 2009 at 12:16 am

That was a great post. That’s why I love AoM. kudos and more kudos to you!

8 Michael H September 14, 2009 at 12:17 am

Nice article.

Agree on notion of fundamental principles of manliness.

Last year I was invited with my father to talk to some high-school boys about manhood and becoming a man. (We’re both teachers btw). Here are some of the thoughts I came up with…

For me manhood is not a single destination that you reach. It involves the principles you mentioned – courage, integrity, responsibility:

- willingness to have a go, to try something new, to learn, to apologise

– staying true to yourself, your values (and these can change too)
-taking ownership of your actions

- throughout our lives we continue to take on responsibilities (as a child we learn to tie our own shoe laces, make our own breakfast…). Getting your license, taking on a mortgage, becoming a father…

These are all related and for me manliness involves these values – it isn’t a destination, but an attitude.

Thanks for the article,
All the best,

9 Brew September 14, 2009 at 12:50 am

Reminds me of the Rudyard Kipling poem “If.”
I find myself desiring and gravitating toward different traits at different times. You summed it up perfectly.

10 Josh September 14, 2009 at 12:56 am

I find this post really interesting; partly because of the idea of conflicting views of manliness really resonates, and partly because my idea of manliness doesn’t quite fit :-) Which is only natural I suppose, that’s sort of how this thing works.

My idea of manliness is more along the lines of a Kurosawa samurai: quiet dignity and courage without wanting to constantly battle, intelligence and insight but not all that pushy, and the immense ability to adventure and be a warrior and be violent and defend and choosing not to unless forced because of loyalty or love.

I think it’s awesome that there are so many different types of manliness, and so many different ways to manifest being a man that anyone can pick their own.

11 Brew September 14, 2009 at 12:58 am

Just read the other comments. James, I admire your perspective and hope my own family will be generous enough to remember me so well. You make me think of Will Bloom, the eventually gracious son, in the movie Big Fish.

12 Jack Donovan September 14, 2009 at 1:44 am

A good selection of masculine archetypes…

The loner and the warrior and the explorer are all pretty closely related. Most men are attracted to a variety of these images. The conceptual key is not what makes them different, but where these archetypes share common ground.

The family man is expected to be a warrior if his family is in danger.

I would agree that you’re over-reaching with this line:

“But remember: don’t try to be someone you’re not and beware of the pitfalls of the types that you are.”

Great men are always trying to be something they’re not. They’re great men because they succeed.

Cary Grant was born Archibald Leach, and even though he became an icon of gentlemanly manliness, he was also a bisexual player. I don’t know that this necessarily tarnishes his image–though it actually kind of makes him the ur-metrosexual. Ultimately though, he’s an actor and it’s the work that matters.

A friend often reminds me that Plato was also apparently a great wrestler.

Men are complicated.

13 Someguy September 14, 2009 at 1:49 am

I love the above post, but disagree with the George Washington as the gentleman. One of the pitfalls of the gentleman is “lack of toughness.” Winter at Valley Forge is no picnic! I would certainly add him to the soldier class. Of course, Not every class has all the benefits or pitfalls you espouse right? That’s what i would think. In that case Pres # 1 would be tough AND a gentleman. Or Achilles would be a soldier and tough BUT also could give a crap about authority. Soldier and warrior are often used synonymously, but can also be mutually exclusive. Anyways, I liked the article, regardless.

14 Glenn September 14, 2009 at 2:48 am

@Jack Donovan, I don’t think it is so much that men are trying hard to become something they are not, rather that they are trying to realize their full potential of who they are. You *could* say that they currently are not such & such, but I don’t think a man can really become something that he isn’t. Not being fatalistic, but the old saying goes that a tiger can’t change its stripes. I think each man has the potential to do and be certain things, which may be different than another man.

Each man (or woman, for that matter) needs to know what he is capable of, which means he must know himself. Once you know yourself, then it is a matter of realizing your potential while being true to yourself. Basically it is about doing the best damn job you can with the tools you are given.

For example, my skills are not mountain climbing, nor does something like that appeal to me. I do, however, recognize certain other fields where I am much more comfortable and have the potential to excel in, and that is where I need to devote my efforts. Focusing the bulk of my energy on becoming a mountain climber is a waste of my time and effort, because I know that it is not my “thing”.

It may boil down to semantics, but I think it is foolish for a man to try to be something he is not. A man is born a certain way, and it is his responsibility to discover what that is and who he is and develop that to its fullness.

15 Sir Lancelot September 14, 2009 at 6:09 am

Well, Sherlock Holmes might not have been perfect, but he still occupies a place of honor in my pantheon of manly archetypes. He had a razor-sharp intellect , an encycliclopedic knowledge of many varied subjects, behaved like a gentleman, was a boxer and martial artist and although, like Gregory House, he said to be moved only by curiosity, he had a strong moral compass.

16 Sir Lancelot September 14, 2009 at 6:14 am

I forgot to mention he was also an accomplished musician.

17 Thad September 14, 2009 at 6:36 am

In the Lone Wolf, you mention artistic genius but then only list a couple of literary examples. Where are the scientists, the painters, the sculptors, et al?

What about Christopher Wren? Isaac Newton? Albrecht Durer? Leonardo da Vinci?

While they may not be ideal examples, they have as much to teach us about manliness than many of your better-known examples.

18 Raconteur September 14, 2009 at 7:31 am

I’m going to assume you didn’t mean to say that Ronald Reagan and George Washington weren’t tough. Not physical, perhaps, but tough of character, definitely.

Great article, Brett!

19 Harland P September 14, 2009 at 8:03 am

Great article and debate. Although I disagree with some of the definitions as being honestly ‘manly’ I think the idea that combinations are found inside ourselves is ultimately correct. I believe that being a real man is learning to BALANCE these different drives in a responsible way. Like Michael H above I find responsibility a key trait to manliness. There is something inherently un-manly about the lone wolves or warriors and adventurers who live life only for themselves – selfishly. Not to say all are not manly, but without a sense of selflessness and responsibility I think we are ultimatly crippled as men.
I live across many of these lines, and they come and go with circumstances. I think balancing their pursuit is what makes us real men. When we are aggressive and protecting, when we are merciful and charitable. When we find adventure on our own to conquer something (small or world changing), and when we spend time with family (or children or parents, etc.). When we learn to build our character through self-sufficiency and playing the lone wolf, and when we humble ourselves and ask for help in our community.
I had a mentor of mine tell be balance is the key principle of life (not a new idea). If we pursue one aspect or trait (or role above – including just the family man) too much, we become 1 demensional and blow over in any wind of trial.

Great substance for thought!

20 Andrew Spiehler September 14, 2009 at 8:09 am

Lincoln and Churchill were statesmen of the worst sort, and precisely the reason I don’t uphold that pursuit as a manly virtue. It’s the statesmen that are usually responsible for turning protective warriors into bloodthirsty conquerors. Otherwise a good article.

21 Scott S September 14, 2009 at 8:42 am

While I am mostly the family man, I long to be the adventurer. If I ever find the common ground between the two it will be good. Right now I am gone too much for work, but do not have the opportunities to be the adventurer.

22 John September 14, 2009 at 9:00 am

“The fundamental principles of manliness-courage, loyalty, integrity, resiliency, personal responsibility, and sacrifice-cut across all types.”

Those also apply to women, in some cases even more than to men.

23 Chad Barrett September 14, 2009 at 9:09 am

I identified with some of these…
I didn’t identify with some of these…
I think that there is a little (or a lot) of many of these attributes in all of us.

24 Jeff Meyers September 14, 2009 at 10:03 am

Great piece — kudos to the authors.

However, they need to brush up on their history. George Washington and Jimmy Stewart are indeed gentleman; however, lack of toughness is NOT one of their qualities. In fact, they might fit even better in the “Warrior” category. GW was a general at Valley Forge, tall for his era (over six feet, I believe) and from all accounts one tough S.O.B. And Jimmy Stewart? Hell, the guy VOLUNTEERED for World War II, was a pilot, and got shot down over Europe and had to parachute out of his plane! Again, I’m not sure on the exact facts, but Stewart as I recall was a highly decorated soldier — and never even bragged about his exploits when he came back to America. THAT’S a real man all right, but the guy was tough as titanium.

Keep up the good work. Jeff

25 Brohammas September 14, 2009 at 10:29 am

I say manliness is inversly proportinate to the use of emoticons. The more of them you use, the less of a man you become.
repent gentlemen.

26 Brohammas September 14, 2009 at 10:34 am

On that same note, poor spelling is Waaaay manly.

27 Brett McKay September 14, 2009 at 10:40 am

@Jeff, Raconteur, Some Guy-

Please note what we put in bold (perhaps we should have put it in flashing neon) in the introduction: “Keep in mind that the “possible pitfalls” are faults common to this type, but are in no way inevitabilities.” Or in other words, I’m not saying that the “examples” of the types had these pitfalls-just that men who are that type can fall into them if they’re not careful. I’m versed enough in history, Jeff to know that both Jimmy Stewart and George Washington were both bad asses and gentlemen.

28 Luke September 14, 2009 at 10:47 am

Absolutely terrific website, and excellent post.

Also I’d just like to add that maybe Tenzing Norgay should be added to list of great men of adventure as he is already the face of that category.

29 Cory Huff September 14, 2009 at 11:25 am

I like it! I would have to echo the sentiments of Thad – there should be one more category for the scientists & artistic geniuses. The Lone Wolf, in my opinion, is a very different person from the great artists & scientists. We might call them Renaissance Men – the men who were accomplished in a variety of areas, were innately curious, and held true to a vision that only they could see.

Positives: Visionary, whole brained, well rounded, major technology & sociological developments

Pitfalls: easily distracted, long struggles to provide for family, often impractical

Examples: Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Francis Collins

30 Glenn September 14, 2009 at 12:19 pm

btw, forgot to add my kudos to the article. I had been mulling the topic over in my head recently myself, so it is good to see it on “paper”.

While I appreciate the definitions of the various types of manly men, I feel that one in particular, the gentleman, is a bit insufficient as a whole. Brett, I’m not trying to split hairs or anything, and I realize the goal of this article and how many men can be multiple mixes or what have you.

But I think “gentleman” and “manly” are not always synonymous. Used in this context, which I will endeavor to explain more in a bit, you can’t shoehorn the term gentlemen into the definition listed in the article.

Every male should strive to be a real man, whatever form that may be. However, is that enough? I contend that every man should be a gentleman, in the broadest sense of the term.

Being a gentleman, as I see it, means acting appropriately for the situation. Every man should know how to act in any given situation. This doesn’t mean knowing all the minute details of etiquette (e.g. does the bread fork go before the salad fork?). This just means that if you place a man in a situation, does he know what behavior is appropriate? If you’re in the wilderness and people are counting on you for survival, do you know how to act, even if you’re not overly trained in survival techniques? If you’re a prominent physician who has been asked to attend a town-sponsored event and give a speech, do you know what is expected of you? Do you know how to treat a lady respectfully? Do you know how to be respectful to your fellow men?

This is just a short list and I could go on. A gentlemen should be moral, respectful, wise in the ways of the world and have the courage to act as he should.

Brett, I would like to hear your take on this.

31 Fingersoup September 14, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Classification and definition of manliness unfortunately is never cut-and-dry. As mentioned, many people find flaws with how one person classifies someone’s manliness. Furthermore, I’d say, that in the strictest sense, if you pull the traits away from the examples, You’d likely have some very unmanly people indeed. In fact, i believe it is the blend and balance of these archetypes, and the ability to overcome the pitfalls, that make someone manly.

Really, Manliness, in all it’s forms relies on Integrity, Loyalty, Courage, initiative, decisiveness, Respect, Pride, and Strength of Purpose, while following the majority of a set of cultural ideals or connotations which one’s society dictates as manly.

For example: Gardening is not widely seen as a manly thing… Pruning the rose bushes, or planting tulips is not a “manly” thing. Yet mowing the lawn, or being a farmer is… It’s the same general task, but society has picked and chosen which things men should do.

Likewise, if one said knitting was manly, I’m sure there would be a lot of complaints, jokes and strange looks stating that this is girly, or other such things. But if I phrase it as having a hobby which provides clothes and warmth to one’s family, there would be few detractors from the statement.

As you can see, personal perceptions of each others’ actions plays very much into what is considered manly. but if we can qualify those actions as falling into those traits and characteristics I mention above, then any task can become manly.

Try it for yourself. Take any task that one might see as not manly. Make a manly excuse/reason/context, which incorporates one or more of these values, and the action is now manly.

Watching Chick Flicks is manly: I was loyal to my wife/girlfriend/significant other, as we watched Four weddings and a funeral together.

Sewing is manly: I’m a real do-it-yourself kind of a person and I figured, Hey! why don’t I just put the button back on myself.

Planting flowers is manly: I care deeply for my home, and by making my yard look nicer, I can show the world how much I care about my family and my home. Besides, I like working with my hands… It’s kind of like getting back to nature.

Wearing a dress is manly: College was crazy. When I was pledging for my fraternity, they made us show our loyalty to them by going to the bar wearing a miniskirt and heels. I can’t believe I had the guts to go out in public like that, but I survived it! I stuck through those embarrassing times, and as a result, I met some of my best friends, as a member of that fraternity.

Post your own examples – real or made up. It’s fun!

32 Brett McKay September 14, 2009 at 1:53 pm


I’m afraid I am bit confused by your argument. You say that being a gentleman and being manly are not synonymous, but you also say that every man should strive to be a gentleman. And with the exception of how to act in a survival situation, the qualities outlined in your fifth paragraph seem to match up with the description in the post. But I get the feeling you’re trying to say the description of the gentleman above is too narrow, yes? If so, keep in mind that we’re merely outlining types here. So while it’s true that being a gentleman should incorporate other worthy qualities, what is outlined above are the salient qualities of what we think of when we think of gentleman. It would be rare if not unheard of to hear someone say, “George saved me from that bear. What a gentleman!”

Am I addressing your thoughts, or have I missed the mark?

33 Aaron September 14, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Brett, I appreciate what you tried to do with this article, but one thing that really irked me was the pitfall for warriors, “unwilling to question authority.” This is a gross misstatement. Please don’t confuse following orders and doing one’s job with being a sheep. Warriors question authority all of the time; it’s part of what makes us who we are. We just know when to keep our mouths shut and drive on.

34 Brett McKay September 14, 2009 at 3:07 pm


As previously stated both in the post and in my reply several comments up from yours, the pitfalls are not inevitabilities or certainly always true. Rather, they are, well, potential pitfalls. They can be things that men fall into if they’re not careful. There are without doubt cases in history where soldiers have done the wrong thing simply because they were following orders. Would you deny this? One can think of anything from the Mai Lai Massacre, to the final solution, to Abu Ghraib for examples of grievous wrongs committed, as the soldiers would later say, simply because they were following orders.

35 Elliot Tedcastle September 14, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Excellent article. Reminds me of Aristotle’s Four Bodily Humours, the essence of which is that there are four liquids, or humours, in the body (blood, bile, black bile, and phlegm) which, when out of balance, made one sick. These humours also determine the character type of the person: the sanguine (hot blooded, optimistic, engaging, loud-mouthed), the choleric (angry, irritable), the melancholy (mournful, depressed, pessimistic), and the phlegmatic (calm, unemotional). The ideal man was when these humours were in balance, when one could be engaging and talkative, or righteously angry, or sorrowful, or taciturn when required. A man knows when to be any of these four or those six (or seven, if the Renaissance Man is included) at any time. A man must be, in essence, wise and in control of himself, though I think we all agree on that.

Soli Deo Gloria!

36 Alejandro September 14, 2009 at 10:38 pm

I’d say I’m a cross between the lone wolf and the statesman, but I definitely lean towards the loner category. I always have been. I grew up shy and withdrawn, and even now, it’s tough for me to make friends. I just don’t trust people as readily. In fact, the more I get to know people, the more I like my dog! Animals are cool, but most people are jerks. Call me cynical, but I prefer to be alone. I have a small gallery of friends and that’s just fine with me.

37 Shevonne September 14, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Definitely the “Adventurer” =D

38 Jack Donovan September 14, 2009 at 11:05 pm

@ Glenn…my point was perhaps phrased too simply, but men really don’t know what their limitations are, save for obvious ones, until they push their boundaries and become…as you said…something they are not “yet.” Determining “who you are” too early can be useful but can also be a self-fulfilling and self-limiting prophecy. Time is limited, and you have to follow your interests and known aptitudes, certainly, but manliness is by nature expansive, confident, and unafraid of a realistic (or sometimes unrealistic) challenge. I was involved with some people who were really into “typing” a few years ago, and the tendency is to overestimate the importance of “type” and box yourself in.

Funny you should mention mountain-climbing, because I went to school for design in NYC and I was a die-hard city boy for the first decade of my adult life. I cared about museums and stores and restaurants. Now I can’t get enough of the outdoors, specifically hiking (and recently, rafting). I’ve hiked most of the trails in my area (Oregon) and if the weather holds me and a bunch of pals are going to summit Mt. Hood on Saturday.

Everyone has some innate aptitudes and limitations, but there is a huge range there for personal evolution and personal achievement. Experience and circumstances also help to make “what we are.” Rigid typing is counterproductive.

39 gentscheatsheet September 15, 2009 at 12:36 am

Excellent post! Really liked reading through this (and the comments). Great perspectives.


I tend to agree with Glenn but can see both sides. If you believe that being a gentleman is something you ARE, then it makes sense to approach it as something unique and distinct from the other types of men.

But if you view it not as an end, but as a means, it becomes an approach that can facilitate success for ANY of the “types.” If you view it as an approach, ANY of the types can be “gentlemen” in their own way.

I’d also note that if you examine the description used, being a gentleman centers on interpersonal interactions and not really on superficial/fleeting style, looks, etc. That stuff might send particular messages, but at the end of the day it’s really how you treat other people and interact with them that counts.

Finally, In addition to the idea of the scholar/renaissance man mentioned above, I’d also suggest one last category: the hero/advocate. This is the person with the moral courage to stand up for what’s right in the face of evil, no matter the personal cost…the guy in front of the tank in Tienanmen Square, Ghandi, MLK, Schindler, etc.

40 Dusto September 15, 2009 at 12:36 am

warrior + the adventurer + the gentleman + the statesmen = Theodore Rossevelt

41 Miguel Luna September 15, 2009 at 12:57 am

I agree with Josh (10) above. But I myself go through life often feeling conflicted about the ‘flavor’ of manliness I represent while watching media images and societal expectations around me of different kinds of manliness. Brett, your post helped to articulate some various ways to legitimately be manly. I appreciate that.

42 Brett McKay September 15, 2009 at 1:24 am

I really like your idea of the hero/advocate type. Excellent addition.

I’m glad you enjoyed the post. It is difficult sometimes to sort through what the media says is manliness, and what you feel to be your own manliness. It’s a good exercise to reflect on it from time to time.

43 Aaron September 15, 2009 at 9:38 am


I understand what you’re saying, but what I’m saying is that there is a difference between someone who is a warrior and someone who is just in the military. Warriors are alpha males and as such are always questioning authority (not really so much arguing with superiors as just keeping an eye on things to make sure everything stays copacetic). The people in your examples (Holocaust, Mai Lai) are, as you said, “soldiers”, not warriors.

44 gentscheatsheet September 15, 2009 at 12:10 pm

@Aaron, @Brett–
Just one thought on the solder vs. warrior issue: My experience in the military has been that you find all sorts of people–brave, cowardly, warriors, civilians in uniform, etc. So just because a soldier behaves badly doesn’t always mean that he’s a warrior who’s succumbed to evil, or even just someone following orders…sometime it’s just a case of power in the wrong hands. The higher up the military chain you go, the less chance there is of this happening (there are always exceptions, of course). I’ve seen very few generals who weren’t gentlemen as well.

45 Doug September 15, 2009 at 9:55 pm

Given the broad range of gentlemanly behaviors listed, perhaps the real gentleman is one who knows when to apply the appropriate template of behavior.

A man must fight when he must, but not during situations when he must be the Family Man. He must be a Statesman when addressing a crowd, but must be the Lone Wolf or Adventurer when the crowd balks at doing what must be done.

By the way, I have recently found this site, and enjoy it immensely. Considering my own son will be born sometime within the next month, I’d call my stumbling upon this site quite fortuitous. Thank you.

46 Erick September 16, 2009 at 5:04 am

For those who don’t remember, Audie Murphy was a conscientious objector. That was the reason he was famous, he captured an entire platoon of Nazi’s, without having to kill anyone. But on to the point. This article is an excellent tool in teaching up and coming men, and reminding those of us who have been for awhile, what it is we as men consider manly. But I do think in my humble opinion, that more of the truth lies in that these are all manly, and that in our life’s, at one time or another, we will each one of us be one of these different types of men. However, they are like tools, you have to know which is appropriate for which job, and knowing THAT, is what truly makes a man a man.

47 Doug September 16, 2009 at 8:23 am

Erick, Audie Murphy lied about his age in order to join the army early. Conscientious objectors don’t join the army.

But please, point me to where that fact is recorded.

For what it’s worth, I’ll second Jimmy Steward as combining all the types listed above.

48 Aaron September 16, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Erick, you’re confusing Audie Murphy with Alvin York.

49 Jeff Meyers September 17, 2009 at 6:56 am

I just re-read the piece and your point in the introduction that “the ‘possible pitfalls’ are faults common to this type, but are in no way inevitabilities” is well taken. However, that’s not the problem with the “Gentleman” section. It’s that the examples you cite don’t jibe enough with your description of the archetype to be compelling. Cary Grant is the only really good example you’ve given of someone who you describe as “suave, urbane, polite and respectful to all, both to inferiors and superiors[;] Dapper in dress, proficient in the conversational arts, confident and witty, [...] easily wins friends and woos the ladies[;] skilled in and knowledgeable about arts, culture, and current events.”

You’ve got to give better examples than Reagan, GW and Stewart. The average guy doesn’t know Washington’s personality, whether he was a ladies’ man, truly cultured, or gregarious. Same with Reagan, really. I don’t recall Reagan a big wooer of the ladies or culturally knowledgeable to warrant being listed as prime examples. And wasn’t Jimmy Stewart kind of shy and reserved? And I don’t recall him being know for his sartorial splendor.

So whether you’re well versed enough in history to know that both Stewart and
Washington were both bad asses and gentlemen is questionable unless you add further facts to the story. Couldn’t you have named any of the actors who played James Bond as examples? Just a suggestion.

Thanks, Jeff

50 Lila September 18, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Great post. I’m curious about how you would categorize the male healer archetype. I’d argue it deserves it’s own masculine category, but I sort of see how it could be squeezed into the family man category. I’m thinking about the doctor who makes house calls in the middle of the night, the village healer who keeps the community healthy, etc.

51 Ronn September 21, 2009 at 12:37 am

I understand that these comments sections are to reply our thoughts, but if anyone is somewhat of a history buff and enjoys reading about manly men, there is a book edited by James Robertson Jr. called Stonewall Jackson’s Book of Maxims. It is a diary of sorts that Gen. Jackson kept throughout his life and speaks on several different topics and how to act in different situations, etc. I have read through it several times and it seems that as brilliant a commander as Gen. Jackson was, he was also a very astute observer.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone that would like to enhance individual characteristics, interpersonal attributes, as well as professional advancement.

52 Kaka September 22, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Why is there a photo of Tenzig Norgay on the top of Mt Everest but only Sir Edmund Hillary is mentioned ?

53 Hoot October 9, 2009 at 7:14 am

These far to easily cross over, would you make the argument Churchill was not only a statesman but an adventurer and a warrior?

54 PK October 28, 2009 at 9:08 pm

Interesting article. I guess I’m a cross between the lone wolf and the adventurer. To Ronn’s comment, I would also recommend Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations for some good manly philosophical thought.

55 Uriel Castrillon December 17, 2009 at 2:41 pm

The fundamental principles of manhood as stated in your article, “Manliness-courage, loyalty, integrity, resiliency, personal responsibility, and sacrifice,” seem to have come right out of the Bible. I do not think many would disagree that these principles are the accepted ideal values of our Judeo-Christian culture. The only principle missing here is godliness.

56 Alexander July 5, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Maybe someone has already brought this up in the comments, but I’m surprised that Atticus Finch wasn’t listed as a family man! Perhaps he slipped your mind; I would say that Mr. Finch is a classic representation of the manly “family man”.

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