Men are far more complex than fitting into the traditional stereotypes of alpha males or beta males. In fact, a new study from the University of British Columbia suggests that men can be defined by three distinct categories. By studying 92 straight men from diverse backgrounds, researchers were able to confidently infer that each male had one of three styles of masculinity – neo-traditionalist, progressive, or egalitarian.
When it comes to relationships, neo-traditionalist men exude masculinity and typically follow what they consider to be traditional gender roles. They want to do everything that men are expected to do, such as be a protector and provider for their significant other. Progressive men are conversationalists who work best when they are communicating with their partner to come to decisions on who does what within the relationship. They are intelligent and like to talk through problems to get to a resolution. Egalitarian men prefer an equal partnership and place high value on mutually beneficial exchanges.
The study looked into how each of these masculinity styles affected the men’s intimate romantic relationships. Dr John Oliffe, who spearheaded the study, was candid about the purpose of the project. “We set out to understand how different types of masculinities shape men’s relationships and their mental health,” he said. As expected, he found that each masculinity style came with upsides and downsides.
The male participants ranged in age from 19 to 43 and came from various backgrounds. Each man filled out a detailed questionnaire to evaluate which category best suited him. The study found that progressive men who implore gender equity and social justice showed signs of improved mental health. Neo-traditionalists who challenged ideals could be presented with criticism or isolation from others, which would have a negative impact on their mental health. Egalitarian men, who prefer that everything is even between a man and a woman in a relationship, showed signs of struggling with gender equality issues within a partnership. Overall, progressive men appeared to have fewer mental health struggles than men who fell into neo-traditionalist and egalitarian categories. “These shifts and stresses have implications for mental health,” explained Dr. Oliffe.
The objective of the study is to better understand the male psyche while discovering ways to create healthier relationships. “To promote meaningful change, we need to address the structures that influence men’s behaviors,” said Dr. Oliffe. He aspires to gain further knowledge about how younger men apply issues like gender equity to their intimate relationships. Finding out more about how men build partnerships based on their masculinity style will be beneficial to all , says Dr. Oliffe. “We hope we have helped map that uncharted space and point a way forward for healthier relationships that promote the health of men, their partners and families.”
So far, Dr. Oliffe’s research has not been extended to men in same-sex relationships, but it would be interesting to see if they can be put into similar categories based on their masculinity styles.