Manhood, it seems, is so often defined by the norms of society. We work, we play, we drink, we grill, we watch sports, we chase women—and we subconsciously live up to traditional expectations. And yet, the masculine life is far more nuanced than we let on. To be a real man, you’ve got to move beyond the stereotypes. The following secretly manly acts just might trump tossing the pigskin while drinking scotch, talking about girls and eating a raw porterhouse at the same time.

1. Apologizing


“Sorry about the tacky vest. Oh, and that thing with your sister…”

When you admit you’re wrong, you’re doing a few things right: showing that you care enough to give another person the satisfaction of being in the right, displaying confidence in that you can accept your faults and, most importantly, demonstrating that you can learn from mistakes and move on. Being a man is often about taking ownership, and that means rolling with both the good and the bad.

2. Facing Problems


“This is silly. Can’t we just settle it with an abs-off?”

It’s easy to shy away from ordeals rather than battle them head on. But the easy road is not the manly road. Identifying a problem, confronting it and taking steps to prevent it happening again is the manly road. Problems don’t just go away. And if you are the type of guy whose emotions range from “menacing glare” to “grunt of approval,” you might need to open up a bit to solve them.

3. Spreading Positive Energy


Tie-dye and bubbles might be manlier than you think.

The classic breakdown: women are quick to lavish praise while men show approval by relentlessly busting balls. That may be true, but the most secure men aren’t afraid to spread the love. So yeah, it’s OK to help a friend out by talking him up in front of the ladies or paying a well-deserved compliment. You’re showing a selflessness that makes your character shine with the style and substance of a standup guy.

4. Laughing at Yourself


Come on, Jimmy Fallon doesn’t count. Dude laughs at everything.

There’s a difference between making fun of yourself and being self-deprecating: self-deprecation happens because you’re looking to others for reassurance. Poking fun at yourself happens because you’re choosing to publicly expose your shortcomings without worry. It may take a lot of courage to be the first one to smile about your own foibles, but your peers and the ladies will respect and love you for it.

5. Drinking a Fruity-Ass Cocktail


Not pictured: his MMA title belt.

If you can order an appletini with pleasure and without hesitation, you’ve clearly scored a one-way ticket to I-don’t-give-a-shit-ville. And good for you, because part of being a man is living life the way you want. Just don’t point your pinky up while you delicately nurse your sugar-laden cocktail. Instead, throw your head back and take a hearty swig of that delicious Bahama Bungalow Bay Breeze concoction. You know, like a man.