Several different factors affect male self-esteem, defined as a male's positive or negative views on himself. The most common factor is society’s expectations of a man and how an individual feels that he lives up to those expectations, including his physical capabilities and how he deals with everyday life, depending on how much importance he places on them. How a man looks, or how he thinks he looks, can also play a role in male self-esteem. Sexual performance and financial success can raise or lower a man’s view of himself as well.
One of the primary factors that affect male self-esteem is the beliefs in an individual’s culture that dictate what a man should be like. In many cultures, a man is expected to be physically strong and, in some areas, mechanically capable. If an individual feels that he does not live up to these expectations, his self-esteem will likely suffer. Conversely, if an individual feels that he meets or exceeds these, his self-esteem will likely be very high.
In many cultures and societies, a man is expected to be cool-headed, intelligent, and capable of making tough decisions without showing outward emotion. While this may be the common expectation, a person’s individual personality may not be capable of doing these things. If excess importance is placed on any expectation and an individual feels that he does not meet these expectations, his view of himself will be lowered. However, if little importance is placed on outside unwritten rules or beliefs, these factors will likely not affect male self-esteem.
Body image also plays a large role in male self-esteem. Lack of muscle tone, excess body weight, or signs of aging, whether perceived by the individual or not, can lower a man’s confidence. Men with their own perceived ideal body type, whether dictated by health or the views of society, will likely have higher confidence. The role that body image plays on male self-esteem is closely tied to the societal expectations of a “true man” being physically capable, as well as individual vanity.
Sexual performance can also have a dramatic effect on a man’s self-confidence in many ways. The ability to achieve and maintain an erection is one of the primary factors affecting self-esteem, although the ability to please a partner can also play a role. Men who suffer from erectile dysfunction or other sexual performance issues often suffer from low self-esteem, as well as depression and anxiety.
A man’s financial success can also play a role in how he views himself. For some men, this can be tied to the actual amount of money he makes in his given profession: more money often leads to more confidence, while less tends to lower confidence. As with most factors that affect male self-esteem, however, financial success only raises or lowers confidence if an individual places a high priority on it. This is also often tied to whether or not a man believes he is adequately contributing to or supporting his family.