Gender Expectations & Mens Mental Health Stigma In Modern Relationships

Recently, social media has been abuzz with various trends, and one that has gained significant attention is the ‘boyfriend ick’ phenomenon.

This trend involves people sharing moments when they feel repulsed or turned off by their partners. While it may seem like harmless fun, a thought-provoking video sheds light on the deeper issues that lie beneath.

Gender Shaming & Mental Health Stigma

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“They perceive their boyfriends’ regular body language or ease around them as unattractive because it doesn’t align with their ideal image of a man: someone who is completely masculine, tough, and always guarded”

The trend highlights an interesting phenomenon where some individuals in relationships perceive certain behaviors associated with femininity or emotional vulnerability negatively.

Actions such as crying, engaging in self-care activities, or displaying non-stereotypical masculine body language are deemed unattractive or undesirable.

This trend reflects the societal expectation of masculinity, which promotes qualities like toughness, emotional guardedness, and conformity to traditional gender roles.

Any deviation from these expectations may trigger discomfort or a sense of unease in individuals who hold rigid beliefs about gender norms.

The Paradox of Expectations

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“And the irony is that there’s so much conversation around women wanting their male partners to be more emotionally open and available and in tune. And yet there’s also this picking apart and scrutinizing of certain behaviors that contributes to insecurity. “

On one hand, there is a genuine longing for deeper emotional connections and intimacy in relationships. Women, and individuals in general, appreciate partners who are emotionally present and attuned to their feelings.

However, the scrutiny and picking apart of behaviors that do not align with societal expectations of masculinity can create a sense of insecurity and confusion. This contradiction reflects the complex nature of societal expectations and the pressure to conform to certain gender norms.

The Impact on Men’s Mental Health

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“A lot of people say they care about men’s mental health as an issue but then don’t think critically about the ways in which they might contribute to it. We don’t just need men talking to other men encouraging them to get in touch with their femininity and being vulnerable and exploring and healing past traumas.”

Addressing men’s mental health requires a comprehensive approach that goes beyond one-on-one conversations. It involves creating a societal shift that challenges traditional notions of masculinity and promotes emotional well-being for everyone.

This shift examines how societal expectations and gender norms can limit men’s emotional expression and contribute to their mental health struggles.

It requires promoting inclusivity, acceptance, and support for men to explore and heal past traumas, express their emotions, and access mental health resources without stigma or judgment.

To truly care about men’s mental health, we must collectively create an environment that fosters emotional well-being, encourages open conversations, and provides the necessary resources for men to thrive mentally, physically, and emotionally.

It is a shared responsibility that requires critical self-reflection and an active commitment to challenging harmful stereotypes and promoting a healthier understanding of masculinity.

Challenging Gender Norms

The Boyfriend Ick Trend Gender Shaming and Mental Health Stigma in Men
Image Credit: TikTok @madeofmillions.

“We need people of every gender encouraging that behavior and also questioning the ways in which they might contribute to certain stigmas or uphold certain gender norms,the next time they do something vulnerable or slightly feminine, ask yourself why you feel weird in the first place.”

Promoting a shift in societal attitudes and addressing stigmas surrounding gender norms and vulnerability requires the active participation of people of all genders.

It is important for individuals not only to encourage and support behaviors that challenge traditional gender norms but also to critically reflect on their own contributions to these stigmas.

Questioning our reactions and examining why we might feel discomfort or judgment when someone displays vulnerability or engages in behaviors perceived as feminine, we can uncover our underlying biases and beliefs.

This self-reflection helps us challenge and dismantle harmful stereotypes and norms that limit emotional expression for all genders.

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This article was syndicated and produced by It was inspired by this Tik Tok video:

@madeofmillions Your bf letting his guard down is a good thing!! We need more male vulnerability
♬ original sound – Made of Millions

Martha A. Lavallie
Martha A. Lavallie
Author & Editor | + posts

Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.