Healthy vs Toxic vs Fragile Masculinity: Understanding The Different Types of Masculinity

Masculinity kind of gets a bad rap nowadays. So much so, that the words “real man” have become an insult – no, a threat even upon someone else’s identity.

It’s insulting to tell other people that you know what “real men” are supposed to do because there is no consensus on what a real man is.

There is no definitive guide on masculinity. This is because men today have to deal with more messages of what masculinity is than ever before.

Your dad never had to sift through Instagram accounts and YouTube videos dedicated to “how to be a man”, and your grandpa probably hasn’t even heard the term “toxic masculinity” in his entire life.

Men today have a unique challenge.

Our challenge is to be healthy, strong men in a world that is constantly telling us to behave in unnatural and unhealthy ways.

With all this noise, it can be hard to determine which of your behaviors demonstrate healthy masculinity, which are toxic, and which might signify fragility.

But once you understand these terms and what they mean, you can better understand how to be a stronger man.

What Is Healthy Masculinity?

Healthy masculinity is more than just what toxic and fragile masculinity is not.

Healthy masculinity is as good as toxic masculinity is evil and it’s as strong as fragile masculinity is weak.

Healthy masculinity isn’t just neutral, either. This type of masculinity has the ability to restore balance in the wild and unpredictable world of modern masculinity.

But what does it mean to be a healthy man? It looks everything and nothing like the way that you think it does.

3 Simple Steps to Becoming an Emotionally Healthier Man

The toughest part about becoming a healthy man is the understanding that there is nothing that you buy that’s going to make you a real man.

You can’t find healthy masculinity in a personal best at the gym, in the pages of a self-help book, or in the eyes of a beautiful woman who you take out to dinner.

Healthy masculinity starts with standing in the mirror, scanning yourself up and down, looking yourself in the eyes, and accepting yourself.

Can you do it? Most people can’t even get past the first step.

1. Healthy Men Lift Other Men Up

When young men are growing up, we’re given so many different “figures” that we can follow and model ourselves after in order to become stronger men.

We unconsciously compare ourselves to our dads, superheroes, firefighters, and even war veterans from the time that we can walk.

Men create identities based on other men. They derive their masculinity through watching other men.

But really, when you grow up, you’re supposed to stop looking to other men. You’re supposed to start giving to them.

We constantly worship other men as standards for masculinity, but we don’t look within ourselves to help other men. This is unfortunate because healthy masculinity starts through giving. It starts with camaraderie and brotherhood. It starts with investing in your relationships, your family, and your loved ones.

Healthy masculinity is already inside you, it’s just been buried through years of being told how to act.

When you stop acting the way you were taught (to take inspiration from the men around you) and start acting from a place of generosity, you will become a healthier and more secure man. This is the foundation of healthy masculinity.

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2. Healthy Men Express Themselves Authentically

Do you think you have what it takes to cry in public?

I’m exaggerating a bit here, but I want you to think about emotional expression.

How comfortable are you with expressing emotions in public that aren’t anger, dominance, and indifference?

Healthy men are not only able to express their emotions openly, but they’re also able to do it without feeling emasculated. They’re expressing themselves honestly. They’re expressing what they feel because it’s what they feel.

Doing this will make your emotions easier to deal with and less intense as well. Fighting your feelings is the greatest enemy of a man who’s trying to improve his relationship with masculinity.

3. Healthy Men Ask For Help When They Need It

This is probably the hardest one for most men.

It’s hard because asking for help goes against everything that toxic masculinity and fragile masculinity stand for.

The emotionally damaging ideologies spread through men like a bad virus, distorting our values and making it impossible for us to communicate with each other.

Whether you’ve struggled with toxic masculinity, fragile masculinity, or both, the most challenging part about becoming an emotionally healthy man is learning that sometimes, it’s okay to ask for help.

Men struggle with this because we’re afraid that if we do, we will be seen as weak.

The beautiful thing is, that we can work together to make it easier for all of us to ask for help.

When someone asks you for help, you shouldn’t act in a way that might make them feel weak. You should imagine yourself in the same situation and offer as much of a helping hand as you can.

Healthy men are compassionate when people in their lives are struggling. This creates a relationship of giving and taking between men. It creates teamwork.

This is where healthy masculinity comes from.

It doesn’t come from being “a lone wolf”, it doesn’t come from getting laid, and it doesn’t come from making a crap-ton of money.

Healthy masculinity comes from the community.

Establishing this as a core value can literally change the world of masculinity.

What is toxic masculinity?

Toxic masculinity is a type of aggressive and domineering masculinity that is rooted in fear, control, and insecurity.

Essentially, toxic men take common masculine traits (assertiveness, courage, and independence) and exaggerate them to the point that they negatively impact themselves and the people around them. 

This type of masculinity is most common amongst young men, as it is usually caused by immaturity. It affects friendships, romantic relationships, and even parental relationships.

It is also very common for older men (in their 50s and up) to struggle with the ramifications of toxic masculinity.

Ultimately, toxic masculinity is a disease that is plaguing men of all ages, and here are 3 of the most common symptoms.

3 Tell-tale Symptoms of Toxic Masculinity

When I was growing up, I was told that toxic masculinity was basically being unemotional, taking risks, and being competitive.

This was confusing to me because I always thought that these were all things that could be considered good qualities to have in certain situations.

If you’re trying to build a business, for example, you don’t want to be driven by your feelings, you want to take some (calculated) risks, and your competitive drive can be very valuable to you.

But that’s not what toxic masculinity really is.

After doing some deeper research, I realized that there is a bit more to toxic masculinity than simply just “being tough”.

Toxic masculinity is a disease that is plaguing young men, and here are 3 of the most common symptoms.

1. Toxic Men Attack Other Men

When I started researching toxic masculinity, I was constantly thinking about how this type of masculinity would affect me.

Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of toxic masculinity.

What makes toxic masculinity especially dangerous is that it’s propagated by people who think they are doing the right thing.

Toxic masculinity consumes those who suffer the most from it, and these men express their suffering by berating the behavior of other men while also insulting women.

To put it bluntly, this is when men tell other men to “quit being a pussy” (or something similar) in order in order to reinforce their rigid cultural norms of masculinity. Statements like this make both the man in question and women as a whole appear weak.

These verbal attacks make life very difficult for toxic men.

2. Toxic Men Cannot Coexist With Other People

I always see men talk about how they’re “lone wolves” or “leaders of their own pack”.

They use their social isolation as a badge of honor.

To put it bluntly, this is not a good thing.

It’s one thing to have parts of your journey that you must go through alone, but toxic masculinity takes this normal aspect of being a person and takes it to an unsustainable routine.

Some of the main symptoms of toxic masculinity are also the main symptoms of male depression and mid-life crisis.

Isolation and irritability are some of these main symptoms, and they make it very difficult for a man to coexist with others, whether that’s a relationship, a job, or even just with their friends and family.

3. Toxic Men View Sex as Sport

Being a guy who wants to get laid doesn’t make you a criminal.

However, viewing sex as a sport or a game that you’re trying to win is dehumanizing to both women and even yourself.

It can be dangerous for your health, and worse still, after a while, you’ll realize that sex isn’t going to cure you of the insecurities you have.

Whether you sleep with 1 woman or 100, if you don’t address the root cause of your insecurities, you’ll never feel whole.

Toxic men take this idea and laugh at it. This makes the world an angrier and more aggressive place to be. 

What is fragile masculinity?

Fragile masculinity is probably more common than toxic masculinity.

Fragile masculinity is a sense of uneasiness and anxiety around the idea of “not being enough of a man”.

This is a problem because it stunts emotional growth in men who struggle with it.

It can affect men in all areas of their lives, but it’s especially detrimental for men with mental health issues and men who struggle to open up in romantic relationships. It also creates dishonesty in a relationship.

3 Symptoms of Fragile Masculinity

In every way that toxic masculinity is destructive, fragile masculinity is tragic.

The real victims of toxic masculinity are not the men who propagate it. The real victims of toxic masculinity are the men who struggle with fragile masculinity because they’re being forced to follow social norms that they simply cannot comply with.

These are the 3 biggest signs of fragile masculinity.

1. Fragile Men Are Constantly Anxious

The biggest sign of fragile masculinity is constant anxiety about everything around you.

Fragile men are anxious when they see muscular guys at the gym. Fragile men are anxious when they see men who are in positions of power.

Fragile men go through feeling threatened by the world around them. They are so insecure that their reality is driven by their own cognitive distortions.

2. Fragile Men Are Resentful

When you go through life constantly battling the anxiety that comes with being fragile about your own identity, you’ll experience a wide variety of emotions.

First, obviously, you’ll be anxious.

Over time, this anxiety will make you depressed.

If you’re depressed for long enough, you’ll start to feel like there’s no end in sight.

You’ll become angry. You’ll be angry at yourself, the world, and everyone around you.

You’ll become resentful, and that will make you weak.

3. Fragile Men Support Toxic Men–Out of Fear

One of the biggest signs of fragile masculinity is becoming a social chameleon.

Basically, this means that they stop thinking for themselves and they become “followers”. They allow the toxic men around them to continue to propagate their toxic beliefs. They don’t stand up to men who are toxically aggressive and abusive in their relationships.

Fragile men are more dangerous than toxic men because, without the fragile men, the toxic men in this world would have no ground to stand on.

This is why we need to find the solution to these deeply problematic forms of masculinity.

This is why we need to understand how to cultivate healthy masculinity.


I know firsthand how damaging the effects of toxic masculinity and fragile masculinity can be. I’ve struggled with and overcame both of them in my life, and I’m doing my best to give back to as many men as I can.

I recognized the signs and symptoms of toxic and fragile masculinities, and I want to help break free from the destructive behaviors that these ideologies can force you to adopt.

Toxic masculinity is real, but it can be defeated. Fragile masculinity is tragic, but fragile men can become stronger.

What you really need is a support system. You need a family of like-minded men. 

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