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The 3 Secret Insecurities Shared By Men Over 40

Turns out, the dude struggle is real.

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illustration of men in car and on a motorcycle and on a bike stopped at a red light
Daniel Fishel
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Honestly, I’m not sure why anyone would attribute women with fragility; we men are waaaaay more screwed up.

And it’s our own fault!

We created the patriarchy, but as society evolves, we don’t always know how to adapt and redefine our roles — at home, at work or among ourselves. I may get a pitchfork to the gut for this, but: It’s hard to be a guy.

When we walk into a crowded room here’s what goes on in our head:

1. Who's top dog?

2. Is there already a pecking order? Oh God, where do I fit?

3. Who’s the loser at bottom? Avoid that guy.

4. Wow, check her (or him) out.

5. Are they noticing me? Wait. Does anyone know I exist?

I’ll bet a lot of women feel the same way when they stroll into a new social situation. But the dudes? We take it to another level.

While I can’t speak for every man, I can share a few things the everyman struggles with:

We crave competition and domination — it’s how we earn respect and power. It also leads to a lot of pressure.

My male psyche gives me an instinctual need to inflate my chest, speak with authority and at least feign that I know what I’m doing. It’s exhausting. I don’t do it at home or with close friends; it’s a default setting in public and certainly in new social settings.

We miss ancient communal villages surviving together, not trying to dominate other societies — romanticized societies eating together, raising children communally, and occasionally celebrating a solstice (never mind occasional plagues and mass starvation).

Nope. We eschewed communitarian living long ago. Pity.

I'm programmed not to show emotion, especially with other men. We bend over backward (dad bod permitting) to look anything but emotional — that would mean a lack of control, ergo: less power.

“MAN UP!” The battle cry forces us to hide insecurities, lack of skill or our emotional vulnerability, so we overcompensate with bluster, determination and stoicism. Any emotional display cedes power.

As toxic patriarchy is dismantled, the population losing stature (at home, at work, anywhere) fears the loss of control and power. Without the emotional bandwidth to sit with things and find other ways to feel important, guys blame others and get angry.

Also? Emotions emasculate. That’s kryptonite to the average American male. It means you are less than a man. We all know that’s not true, but actually emoting on the reg isn’t easy.

Big manhood energy
Years ago, I interned for a presidential campaign. One afternoon a political director slammed the phone on a senator and announced: “I’m playing big-d**k/little-d**k with this guy and I don’t even have one, so I don’t even know why I’m playing!”

Her metaphor was apt.

In my experience, men never blatantly compare. In locker rooms, the vast majority of us do our utmost to keep things quite literally under wraps. Dudes in dressing rooms change as fast as humanly possible. Meanwhile, women (so I’ve heard) are perfectly comfortable donning makeup nude.

Since not many people are actually fact-checking our inches, guys can bluster with big d**k energy. At one point or another, we’re gonna swagger — whether we can back it up with the real deal or not.

So, this is us: clinging to power, eschewing emotion and obscuring penis size to maintain our dignity and entitlement. FUN.

If we could embrace the fact that power fades, emotions bond us, and size has nothing to do with self-worth?

Well then, it wouldn’t be so hard to be a guy.