6 Signs of a Genuinely Great Man

And it has nothing to do with his outfit.

image by Benjamin Rascoe from Unsplash.com

While there are a lot of misogynistic, dishonest, sexist, or otherwise not-so-great dudes in the world, there are also plenty of fantastic ones. Men who are kind-hearted. Men who care about and advocate for women. Men who are insightful, intelligent, and capable of nuanced thinking. Men who have their priorities right. Men who are thoughtful and generous. Men who go to bat for those in need.

One quick note: by “great” men, I do not mean to imply that people who do not fit into the below criterium are not good people. Instead, by the term “great,” I mean something more like “exceptional” or “men of truly stellar character and trait.”

There are plenty of men who are still decent people and who may not fit all of the below criteriums. It is the exceptional men, though, who do.

So, what are some of the key signs of a great man?

#1- Great men exude open-minded, empathetic thinking, and this includes female-centric thought.

I know a man who, every single time the women in his book club would talk about female issues and the ways in which woman are disparaged, degraded, shortchanged, or otherwise treated badly in our culture, he would pipe up with a sad-sack look on his face, “yeah, that’s true, BUT, men have it bad too. We get treated badly in this way…and this one…and we are shortchanged in this way too. And we also get pressured for body image too.”


This is the equivalent of people who say in response to “Black Lives Matter”, “No lives can matter until ALL lives matter!”

Not quite. White lives in our culture have always been treated with far greater care and value than black lives as it is. So no, the correct sentiment instead is more along the lines of this: “Black Lives MUST matter before all lives can matter.”

The men who cannot handle acknowledging fully, the plights of women today, and even further, not just acknowledging it but acting in ways that make obvious that concern and anger for the ways in which women are treated today, these men have work to do, and they are not yet great men. The men who may acknowledge it but then have to turn the attention back to them and all the ways they are shortchanged? Also not yet great men.

Why? Because great men can turn toward and acknowledge how women are treated without needing to garner sympathy and pity for themselves in the meantime (which also serves at downplaying and distracting from the plights of women).

Great men want the best for women. Great men strive for women to be treated with the same respect, rights, and opportunities that they are. Great men have the backs of women, and fully. Great men do not just speak about this either, they act towards it too.

PS. Great men are also capable of open-minded, complex, and empathetic thinking otherwise. They can explore the different nuances of a situation. They are able to put themselves mentally in another person’s shoes. They feel for those who have less than they do, and they act to offer care in their direction.

#2- Great Men Don’t Give Up.

Before I get into this point, I want to present a caveat and one that is even slightly contradictory, but hey. If you’re an open-minded man (or lady) capable of nuanced thinking, you can roll with it.

There’s a book called The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When To Quit (And When To Stick) by Seth Godin. Turns out, there actually are certain times when it’s better to let go of something. There is a method of knowing the time to quit, so to speak. (The book is worth a read).

My point is more to this: great men do not give up prematurely.

Great men do not just let a phenomenal person walk away from them, someone they love, without really giving it their best effort and all.

Great men do not always talk about “someday” they will do this and “eventually” they’ll get around to them. They do it today, now.

Great men have a sense of discipline. They put in the effort toward the goals that are most important to them, whether it’s eating a healthy diet, being a better listener, spending more time with their pet, or writing that book.

Great men go the distance, in their personal lives, with their goals, and with the people they love.

#3- Great men treat the people in their lives very well.

This means making time and putting a top priority on their marriage, on time with their kids, and on the other close, meaningful connections in their lives. Great men are not workaholics who let their close connections with others be neglected, wither, and eventually die. Instead, they tend to these other things in their life with equal heart and effort.

Great men keep their word.

Great men are loyal, they follow through, they are reliable.

Great men take responsibility for their own behavior and don’t blame their mistakes or poor behavior on others.

Great men know when to put work aside and go the distance for or focus on their loved ones and family.

Great men are there to help out someone in need, physically and emotionally.

Great men are generous. They treat their loved ones with giving and care, delighting in seeing the people they love feel cherished.

#4- Great men love deeply, unabashed, fully, and vulnerably.

It takes a brave person to do this. Many people love with…reservations. With their guard up. With hesitation. Or, with laziness. They put in some of themselves. They put in some effort. But other times (and as the relationship progresses, loses some of its new-love sheen, and becomes more long-term), they don’t.

Great men, though, are the ones who do differently.

They give their whole heart to the people they love.

They might still be terrified of the pain that comes with the loss of great love, but, they know this is inevitable anyway, so it doesn’t stop them from loving fully. On the contrary, it motivates them to love harder.

(Because everyone we love will either: die before us, or, leave us in some sense, or, we will leave them. So you see, every single love in our life has loss built into it. We cannot avoid it. Great men know this and see it as all the more reason to give it their all).

#5- Great men want to learn, and pursue all sorts of it.

There are the men who “already know everything.” Then there are the men who have no interest in learning anything more. They cling to what they know and don’t seek far beyond. There are men who only seek out information that serves at validating what they already believe and think is true. There are also men who are too lazy to learn, they are “too busy” and don’t have time for it, or they just aren’t so interested. (All of this can apply to women too, of course).

And then there are those who are raring to learn. The men who assume that much of the time, there are a plethora of gaps in their limited knowledge (heck, in reality, this is all of us. What each of us knows, in comparison to all the possible knowledge out there in the world? It’s very, very little). The great men are those who are hungry to learn about how, where, and why they were wrong. To keep attaining wisdom over the course of their lives. To experience novel places, things, and people. To keep reading. To build and build on the knowledge they already have. (This goes for the ladies too).

#6- Great men have integrity and are honest.

These are the guys who have strong morals and values, and who live in accordance with them. They don’t just talk to talk. They walk the walk.

Great men do the right thing, no matter who is watching.

They are the men who say they will do something, and they do it. They follow through. These are the men you can rely on and trust. Great men are also honest, even when it might be difficult. (Side note: honesty does not mean unvarnished hurtful wording. You can be honest while still being loving).

Great men do not say one thing and then do another.

Great men do not apologize and then do the same thing over and over again.

Great men do not always show up significantly late.

Great men do not blame others for their problems or choices.

Great men do not tell you about their beliefs and values but then act in ways that are the opposite.

Great men do the opposite of those.

There are a lot of decent people out there in the world, both men and women. There are also a lot of people who are not so great. And there are some who are even downright bad people. And then, there is a group of great, exceptional people (both men and women). Some of the above behaviors and traits are, in my book and humble opinion, those of truly great men.

Fervent writer. Ravenous reader. Impassioned with words. Relationship researcher. Social Scientist. Social Justice Advocate. Author. www.brookeenglish.com

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