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Softness is not usually a quality associated with masculinity. And this is understandable as the typical male body is not known for its tenderness. But the fear of appearing less than manly often causes us to reject all forms of softness. And this is a mistake. Softness has its place, and there are times in which it is good.

To be sure, the male body is known for its toughness and strength, and our understanding of what it means to be a man follows suit. But we shortchange what it means to be a man when we take these general associations and adopt an absolute rigid extreme. Even the male body is not all hard. 

For example, penile health is measured in part through the penis’ ability to be hard and soft at appropriate times. It’s considered dysfunctional when a man is unable to get an erection, and when the erection lasts too long. A healthy penis is able to freely move into both states when the time is right. And the same should be true for us throughout our life and relationships. 

For instance, we should have the inner toughness and emotional resiliency to keep showing up for others and getting the job done even through difficult circumstances. But this shouldn’t keep us from also sharing our vulnerable hearts with our trusted others. Our tears don’t diminish our strength and ability to rise to the occasion whenever needed. True masculinity is capable of expressing both strength and tenderness – adapting gracefully to the demands of each situation. 

It’s a weak man that is just soft and never offers his inner strength to bring more life to others. And an immature or insecure man is the one that compulsively hides behind a mask of bravado while never allowing his softer side to be seen. The mature man is comfortable being hard and soft in love.

In the end, God has made you both tough and tender, soft and strong. Embrace both aspects of your character with honor. 

Photo by Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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