Self-love is foundational to men and is essential for any authentic
connection to manliness and what it is to be male. From “being
comfortable in your own skin” to competency to self-confidence,
most of the aspects of being a man and being happy with that status
stem from an authentic self-love.

However, how do we get it? Although all babies are born without
hang-ups and with a certain inbuilt self-love, this can easily be
destroyed by parental abuse, neglect or indifference.

I think the first thing is a good relationship with our biological
fathers. Unfortunately, in my case, this didn’t happen. While I was
blessed with three stepfathers, who all tried various means to “show
me the way”, nevertheless I was seriously damaged by my biological
father’s abuse. In some sense, every little boy deeply desires to be
accepted and loved by the man who brought him into being, to be
thought of as worthy and acceptable by the first male role model of
his life. Failure to receive this led to my asking what must be wrong
with me if my basic needs were not met.

The next step to self-love is competency. I think it’s important to a
man that he be “good at doing stuff”. Little boys spend huge
amounts of time with other boys, showing off their skills playing
sport and running around in the playground at school. This is
important because he can feel that he is equal to his peers and thus
accepted by them. Unfortunately, I was unaware of this at the time,
so I always felt “tested” by other boys in my class and, when I
failed to measure up to something I was only vaguely aware of being
measured by, I got teased and bullied.

The next is self-confidence. This consists of two parts – inherent
self-confidence and the confidence that comes from competence. In a way,
self-confidence is the result of feeling “comfortable in your own
skin” due to acceptance by one’s father and feeling competent and
“good at stuff” with the kids at school. Unfortunately, many
teenagers, myself included, felt neither and so end up hating

The solution I have found has worked for me and, while it may not
necessarily work for every man, I feel it is important to share it so
you can have at least some idea on how to go about getting self-love
if you feel you are lacking in this area.

The first and most fundamental was a relationship with God. This may
not appeal to those of you who profess no religious belief but it
must be said that the Christian faith has the perfect ideal in the
Person of God the Father. Indeed, it can be safely maintained that
God the Father represents such an ideal of fatherhood that it would
be impossible to even conceive of anyone greater in the role. More
importantly, though, is the way that this Father has taken care of me
and loved me in ways my earthly father did not. It’s not enough to
forgive my earthly father; forgiveness hurts. A true forgiveness
means coming face-to-face with the pain he caused and choosing to
love him anyway. It hurts to face this pain, so we need God’s love to
hold onto during this process, so we don’t feel cheated or that we
lost out. If I have God’s love, I can feel safe developing a
relationship with Him and achieve the feeling of comfort with myself
that I didn’t get earlier in life.

The second is to commit to learning skills and abilities that are
important to you and the life you want to lead. In fact, I think it
is sometimes better to do this later in life, since the stuff my
friends wanted me to learn, like how to kick a ball or play catch,
are of limited usefulness to me now I’m 44. Much better is to focus
on health, wealth and relationships. Hit the gym, lose 10 pounds, get
that sixpack! Take a soft skills course, get that promotion, start a
business! Learn how to attract women, how to give them orgasms and
develop a social circle! It has been shown repeatedly that by
focusing on health, wealth and relationships, one’s life can be
dramatically improved and you will achieve the dream life you’ve
always wanted. You will also create a positive feedback cycle, where your
increased competence in these areas will improve your inherent
self-confidence and that inherent confidence will then make you
bolder in gaining even greater competence.

So these are the reasons why self-love is so important to men. I
don’t think it is any less important for women. It’s just different
for them. They also need to focus on health, wealth and relationships
to achieve their life goals. However, women have other women to fall
back on. They spent years in the playground forging friendships and
honing their social skills. There is a kind of “sisterhood” among
them and, while these things can also have drawbacks, I sense that a
woman’s confidence has more to do with these things than a man’s
confidence does. I doubt whether her confidence is less important
than a man’s but it is found in different places. Whereas men are in
competition with each other, women find confidence in collaboration.

What seems without doubt is that self-love, for both sexes, brings
confidence in oneself and leads to the success and meaning in life to
which all of us aspire.

 This article was written for the Good Men Project and so focuses on