Becoming The Man You Want To Be: Characteristics Of A Good Man

Updated September 20, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

Most boys look to their fathers or grandfathers for how to speak, act, and behave. Other important men throughout their lives also demonstrate the characteristics of good men. Life can be a great vehicle for teaching men about the characteristics they wish to enhance and those they'd like to leave behind. Friendships and romantic relationships also serve as inspiration for cultivating certain character traits. As men journey through life, how they respond to hardships and mistakes will ultimately shape their identities.

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Many Cultures May Value Certain Characteristics In Males

Choosing The Type Of Man You Want To Become

Good men learn how to accept their faults. They consider themselves works in progress, and they're intent on improving their character. It's nearly impossible to be 100% objective with yourself, so if you're a man who is serious about working on your character, it will help to be open to constructive criticism from partners or friends.

Many of men's fears of commitment may stem from issues they experienced during childhood or adolescence. Additionally, men of today might struggle with society's expectations of them to be masculine and act manly. In 2017, researchers from Promundo conducted the "Man Box" study, which was the first comprehensive study that looked at the attitudes and behaviors related to manhood, on Australian men between the ages of 18 and 30. 

Participants in the survey were questioned on masculine characteristics such as being self-sufficient, acting tough, keeping physically fit, being heterosexual, using aggression to solve problems, and exhibiting sexuality. The results showed that most men feel like they have to model society's expectations for a male identity.

When you become closer to the man you want to become, it also makes you more your friends, family, and romantic partners. Read on to challenge yourself on improving the following characteristics of a good man.

Let Go Of An "It's My Way Or The Highway" Attitude

As a man, you may have gotten used to people letting you have your way. Have you ever thought to question whether they're letting you have your way because you're wise and they respect you or if it's because they'll feel bullied or inferior if they don't? 

Take some pressure off yourself! You don't have to be in charge all the time. You don't have to call all the shots or have all the right answer. A man with a good character knows who he is and for what he stands. He stands ready to explain his opinions and viewpoints, but doesn’t feel the need to impose them on anyone. When challenged or presented with an opposing perspective, he doesn’t instinctively double down or go on the defensive.

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Demonstrate Active Listening And Emotional Intelligence

In healthy social interactions, good listening isn't a passive activity. Part of having good character is being an active listener. Listen to what others are saying, remember it, and find ways to engage in conversation with them. 

What does active listening look like? Whether seated or standing, orient your body facing the person speaking to you, which shows that you are focused on them. Be mindful not to interrupt them with connections to your own life; simply take in their words and nonverbal communication and periodically signal – through nodding, facial expressions, etc. – that you are hearing them. You can reiterate their words to show you understand them and ask them open-ended questions to prompt them to continue sharing their experiences and emotions.

Active listening is a hallmark of emotional intelligence. Through listening to others – which includes paying attention to their nonverbal cues – you can learn a lot about what motivates people while fostering meaningful relationships simultaneously.

Set Ambitious Yet Realistic Goals

Your goals and ambitions don't have to be so lofty that they’re actually unattainable. Good men don’t feel like they have to be the best at everything, though they may have particular talents in various realms. 

Just as you're trying to improve yourself as a person, having goals means that you're interested in growing and learning. Setting goals and working towards them is an attractive quality for everyone. In setting goals, the SMART strategy is often beneficial; set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. A good man sets goals he knows he can attain with hard work and doesn’t strive to cut corners.

Express Good Character With Your Speech

What you say and how you say it is a clear expression of your character. A man of good character works at becoming well-spoken. He's a good communicator who can articulate his thoughts and feelings with clarity and emotion. People of both genders enjoy conversing with someone who has a strong vocabulary and relatable personality.

Show Kindness To All People

Men are often characterized as being rough and tough. While that may be true for some men, there's no excuse for being unkind under any circumstances. Being kind sometimes means going out of your way for people, but it can also mean speaking kindly even when someone hasn't been kind to you. 

Men who are routinely kind to everyone demonstrate that everyone has equal importance in their eyes. People notice men who are rude to their colleagues or friends. Unkind people are generally not attractive partners. A man who expresses kindness to children and animals shows that he has kindness in his heart.

Be Comfortable In Your Own Skin

Men of good character are comfortable with themselves. People are drawn to them because they navigate social situations easily. There's never a worry about going to an event and not having a good time dealing with an embarrassing situation.

Show Open-Mindedness

Being self-assured is a desirable quality. It's also important to be flexible and keep an open mind. An open-minded man has much to learn from his relationships with others. Circumstances change. The world is changing. People change. To have good character means maintaining a sense of self and still having the ability to be adaptable.

Demonstrate Good Hygiene

A man who takes care of his outer appearance shows that he's interested in taking care of every part of himself. Regular showers, cleanliness, and neatness demonstrate that a man takes good care of his body. He brushes and flosses his teeth and pays attention to his grooming. It shows that he cares enough about himself to take care of his health and wellness.

Value Honesty

Honesty and integrity are important characteristics for everyone. Men who value honesty in others will demonstrate it in themselves and expect it from others with whom they associate. Honest men can be trusted in transactions, finances, and relationships.

Avoid Drawing Negative Attention To Yourself

While men need to present themselves well in dressing, speaking, and interacting with others, it doesn't mean that they need to draw attention to themselves in negative ways. He dresses comfortably and in style without being flashy or outlandish. He contributes to group conversation without dominating the discussion or impressing his views on others. He values the insight and perspectives of his friends and his partner. When necessary, he is equally comfortable standing alone on an issue.

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Many Cultures May Value Certain Characteristics In Males

Maintain A Sense Of Integrity

A man with integrity will stay true to himself and to his word. He'll also stay true to his partner. If he states that he'll do something, you can guarantee that it will get done. You can rely on men with integrity because they'll stick around through thick and thin. Along with integrity comes deep respect for themselves and others. As a side benefit of having a high standard of integrity, it builds a strong sense of courage in these men because they regularly stand up for their beliefs.

Breaking The Mold And Becoming Your Own Man

As the Box Man study showed, many men aren't comfortable caving to society's expectations for how they should speak and act. Giving in to these expectations can cause men to lose their self-esteem and interfere with their relationships. If this sounds like you, it's important to know that you're not alone. Help is available when you get matched with a counselor from Regain who can help you explore and exhibit your true self despite anyone else's expectations for your manhood.

Speaking of societal expectations – men may face a unique set of barriers to seeking mental health services. In a recent study involving male survey respondents, only 30% were likely to confide in a family member or doctor when faced with distressing symptoms (which is lower than the rate for females). Lack of mental health literacy is cited as another barrier, suggesting that if men had an awareness of symptomology and knew what warning signs for which they should be vigilant, they might be more inclined to seek support. Finally, 70% responded “likely” or “most likely” when asked if societal expectations of men to be strong, independent, and fearless contributed as a barrier to help-seeking.

Regain may be a more accessible therapy venue for males because it does not require traveling to a physical in-person therapist’s office. Your online therapist will work alongside you in a nonjudgmental, professional manner to help you reach your goals, just as a coach or supervisor. You might think of seeking therapy as a way to challenge yourself, change your perspective, or learn something new – all behaviors representative of a “good man.” The convenience of being able to schedule appointments at times that work for your schedule can also contribute to a sense of autonomy and agency that is often central to masculinity.

Online therapy has helped many people of all genders to overcome a host of mental health-related concerns, relationship questions, and other challenges. In one study, 96 participants engaged in ten sessions of internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT) over a five-week period while others were placed in a waiting list control group. Results showed that PTSD severity and other psychopathological symptoms were significantly improved for the iCBT treatment group; additionally, these people experienced greater reductions of co-morbid depression and anxiety compared to the control group. PTSD, depression, and anxiety are all treatable via online measures, and are hardly an exhaustive list when it comes to the reasons males seek mental health support.


As much as the aforementioned qualities of good men may resonate with others, men don't have to fit a rigid stereotype of being masculine to be good men. Additionally, what’s attractive or considered “good” in a man or person can vary from culture to culture. 

Whether men are tall, dark, handsome, and buff, or whether they're short, pale, and have average looks, every man has the capability of improving their attitude, habits, and emotional intelligence. It's less important to work on all weaknesses at once than it is to pick a few areas and work on those first. It all comes down to whether you choose to work on improving yourself. If you’d like to enlist the help of a neutral, encouraging licensed therapist, you can reach out to Regain for support at any time.

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