It seems like more and more people are struggling in life and in relationships these days. We find it difficult to thrive and feel like everything is falling apart all the time. But what are the actual reasons behind this? And why does it seem to impact men so much more?

There’s one word I have for you:


But trust me, the long answer is anything but simple. I’m tired of simple answers. Simple answers never work, and this issue is complex.

I want to scratch this surface a bit more and take a broader picture. I’m going to look at politics, AI, economics, at other things that create uncertainty in our world. I’ll look at how they impact our ability to form relationships, too. I’ll divide the whole into several parts to make it more manageable. So if you’re up for a deep dive, strap in and let’s go.

How The Rapid Pace of Change Messes Us All Up

This text is a philosophical argument with seven premises and two conclusions. The first five premises and a conclusion will look at why humans find it so difficult to thrive in the modern world, and how finding relationships seems like it should help, but it doesn’t.

Then I will add two extra premises and a conclusion that will show you how men, in particular, struggle with this topic.

Finally, I’ll offer some solutions based on the argument.

Humans need stability to thrive

My first premise is not terribly controversial. It simply states that humans need stability in order to thrive. Or, to give it the right structure:

1. If humans have little stability, they find it difficult to thrive

You might think it’s pretty obvious that humans need a little bit of safety, stability, and predictability in life in order to be able to thrive, but let’s actually look into the psychologica research, as it will help us better understand where this comes from and inform the solutions.

Already 80 years ago, Abraham Maslow created his Pyramid of needs. You might be familiar with this already, but if not, I’ll quickly walk you through it.

The idea is simple: Humans have different needs, but the way those needs have to be met is not random. Instead, they are arranged in a structure that can be represented by this pyramid.

At the bottom of the pyramid are our most basic physiological needs: We need the air to breathe, food to eat, water to drink, we need shelter above our heads, and we need some clothing so that we don’t die of cold exposure. These things need to be met before we can think about anything else.

At the next level are our safety needs. That’s knowing that nobody will rob and kill us tomorrow, but also that we have safe employment which allows us to buy food for tomorrow, that our health is decent, and that we have adequate resources.

Both of those put together Maslow called our Basic Needs. On top of our basic needs, sit our psychological needs.

We need to sort out the needs at the bottom of the pyramid before we can focus on the needs at the top

The first one of those is the need for love and belonging. Here we have a need to have an intimate partnership with someone, but also to have friends, to have family, to have people who make us feel welcome and wanted. To belong to a community.

At the next level is what Maslow called our need for esteem. To have status in a group, to have some prestige, to have people respect us, and to feel like we matter and are a somebody.

Finally, at the top is our need for self-actualization. This is our own personal need to become our best self, to become the best, kindest, most generous, most good person we can be, to create amazing things and discover new knowledge. But it’s also our need to create the best groups and societies ruled by justice, charity and peace, and to pursue all those amazing things that life is for.

How does the pyramid metaphor work? Well, it’s simple: It’s hard to have the top levels of the pyramid if you don’t have the bottom levels sorted first. So, you cannot focus on discovering new science or creating the most just, fair, and peaceful society if, first of all, you’re feeling unsafe and don’t have the food or the shelter needed to survive. We need to sort out the needs at the bottom of the pyramid before we can focus on the needs at the top.

(Note here that this is naturally a model and an approximation. Sure, there are starving artists and there are those who have it made yet never get to self-actualisation. Outliers aside, on a societal level, it broadly works.)

And this is pretty much what our first premise says: without stability (the safety that we need at the second level of the pyramid and just having our physiological needs provided for) we cannot thrive (focus on the upper levels of the pyramid, the love and belonging, esteem , or any form of self-actualization).

Change creates instability

Okay, so far so good. Now here is my second premise:

2. Change creates instability.

To really understand this premise, we need to unpack the notion of change. And this is what I’m going to do in the two next premises. The idea is that change happens at least on two levels: in the public sphere and in the private sphere.

3. The world is changing at a rapid pace

Just think about how the world has changed over the last 50 or even 20 years. I mean, 50 years ago, hardly anyone has even heard about the internet and climate change was not a thing. 20 years ago, we were laughing at the idea of smartphones. Women’s rights might have been a bit ahead, but like gay rights or trans rights were still a bit unheard of.

And politics? 30 years ago, Francis Fukuyama wrote a famous book called “The End of History and the Last Man,” and I’m not joking you. I’m quoting from this book right now:

Humanity has reached “the end of history as such, that is the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”

I mean…

We have reached the end point of…


Just look at the last couple decades!

Have we reached a final point of development and political and economic thought? And is this Western liberal democracy?! Because it sure does not seem so right now!

Yet this is what all the neoliberal politics were based on: the idea was that politics is pretty much done, we figured out all the issues, and right now it’s just a matter of keeping the business ticking.

But if we learned anything from the last 20 years, is all this ticking was really a time bomb, and it seems like we are living in the middle of the explosion, doesn’t it?

If we learned anything from the last 20 years, is all this ticking was really a time bomb, and we are living in the middle of the explosion

Just how many of you were worried about war two years ago? How many of you even thought that AI is not a domain of science fiction a year and a half ago? Meanwhile, right now is challenging to completely upend all of our job markets and who knows, maybe kill us all.

Things are changing at a breakneck speed and look at what this change creates. It creates a whole load of uncertainty and fear in people.

It is the fear that we don’t know what’s what anymore, that we are not sure if we will have employment tomorrow, if our jobs will not be taken away by AI, if we will not be attacked by somebody, if terrorists won’t come, refugees won’t upset our social system, or a whole load of other things that can happen.

And notice that it doesn’t matter if the change is for the better or not. The point is: things are changing and people are afraid of the unknown. People are afraid of change even if it is for the better because we still have to deal with all of this uncertainty.

In this world of uncertainty and fear, people tend to adopt a kind of ‘every man for himself’ (every person for themselves?) type attitude, in which we focus on our own basic needs at the expense of any kind of higher needs or definitely any needs that have to do with building a better society for everyone or being charitable, just and fair towards other people.

In this way, I think that fear is not only a mind-killer. Fear is an ethics-killer. Fear, in effect, puts our need to be good, fair and kind to other people on a second plan, as we focus on our own needs first.

Fear is not only a mind-killer. Fear is an ethics-killer.

But naturally, the social order is predicated on the idea that we do cooperate, that we do somehow help each other, and not only work for ourselves. In fact, social order only exists because we agree to it. When we stop agreeing to it, it dissolves.

And unfortunately, this is what we see play out on personal but also political levels, as countries become much more insular and care only about their own interests at the expense of the interest of a body else. Which only adds more unpredictability, change and instability.

We truly live in interesting times.

There is no stability in relationships, either

With all this change and instability in the public sphere, it would make sense to try and escape into a private sphere and find the stability we need there.

In other words, it might be that out there in the world there are storms, difficulties and all sorts of chaos, but when we go back home, in the safe confines of our four walls, we can experience all of the safety and security that we need in order to thrive.

Perhaps then we could better tolerate all this change — go outside and conquer the messy world, but have a safe haven that we can come back to.

And let’s be honest, historically, there were plenty of times in which the world was very unstable and it was very difficult to find peace outside, but people (men) could always return to the comfort of family life and the peace, safety, security and predictability that it had offered them.

But right now, the truth is that we can find very little such safety and stability in private life either. And why is that? Well, because some of the biggest social changes of the last decades have to do with how family life is structured, what people expect from each other as partners, lovers, spouses, or family members.

The family models that kept us going for centuries are questioned. The gender roles people assumed within and outside of relationship sare also questioned. There are entire social movements dedicated to changing the way relationships between people function.

Furthermore, people have changing expectations on what they want from a partner, and it’s regardless whether you think that dating apps are a force for good or for ill, they have massively changed how we relate to each other, how we meet new people, and how we start dating.

On top of that, there is a whole plethora of new family and relationship models at play right now, and while in the past the question of why do people get together and stay together seemed to have a simple answer: for economic stability and to raise kids, now this is not obvious at all.

People don’t need to get together to have economic stability because women make money themselves and many people don’t even want to have kids. Instead, the reasons why we get together seem very varied, and it’s very difficult to negotiate them sometimes.

Thus, in practice, relationships are just as chaotic as the world at large, as captured by the next premise:

4. Relationships are changing at a rapid pace

Naturally, the impact of those changes is massively different for men and women. Women weren’t allowed to be out there in the world much before and likely didn’t see home as a safe refuge. They’ve benefitted massively from many of the social changes — and that’s likely the first reason why they are coping better than men. Hold that thought, we’ll come back to it. For now, I just want you to know that I am very much aware that the whole ‘safe haven’ story is written from a very male perspective.

But regardless what gender you are, you are likely to struggle with the massive amount of change in the world. And this is the kicker: as it is so difficult to find the stability we need in the outside world these days, we would want to find it in personal relationships and love. But as everything is changing here, too, we can’t. Or at least it is difficult to do so.

I think that this is why the whole topic of dating and relationships is such a massive deal these days. If we didn’t need them so much, we wouldn’t throw such a fuss about not having them. But we do need them. And all this chaos in the world is an objectively good reason for that.

We suck at fixing things

What would be a sensible thing to do in this situation? Well, we could try to limit the amount of change and reintroduce a little bit more order, so that the instability we experience also diminishes.

But unfortunately, I have bad news, as in practice:

5. Attempts at limiting change only end up adding more instability.

This is not necessarily so, but it has been so empirically, at least in the last years. And why is that? Well, because we just can’t agree on how we should limit all this change!

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the gender debate. We all agree that where we are now with respect to gender roles in the family and society, is one huge mess. But can we agree how to clean it up? What new order to create?


People disagree on what should change, and this disagreement isn’t only between feminists and anti-feminists — it happens on multiple fronts, between and within genders, on a massive number of points.

People disagree as to how much change we should have and how much change we can take at any given time. Some think that feminism has not gone far enough, others think that it has gone too far.e

People disagree on where this change should happen. Maybe there’s enough change that already happened in here, maybe now the change needs to happen elsewhere?

A lot of those disagreements have to do with the underlying current of whom does the change benefit and who feels like they are losing out. And even here people once again see things very differently!

All of this means that everyone is pulling in their own direction and instead of creating more stability and adding to the order of the world, everyone’s attempts at creating order — a new or an old one — only add to the chaos and the chaos adds to the instability.

And recall the previous text — it doesn’t matter who is right or whether a given change is good or bad. Just zoom out for a second and note the meta-point: any change creates instability, uncertainty and fear, which in turn prevent us from thriving.

Thus, at the end of the day, we do not succeed at removing the change and instead we have a situation in which:

3. The world is changing at a rapid pace

4. Relationships are changing at a rapid pace

And all of this

2. Change creates instability

which we are trying to somehow curb, but our

5. Attempts at limiting change only end up adding more instability.

Now, given that

1. If humans have little stability, they find it difficult to thrive

This is our first conclusion:

∴ Humans find it difficult to thrive

Who Can Thrive Regardless And Who Struggles

This conclusion needs to be qualified a bit, as we cannot say that all humans find it difficult to thrive to the same extent. Naturally, some people cope better than others. Some find it easier, others find it harder. And there are good reasons for that.

Personality and change

Firstly, people have different personalities. One of the Big Five personality traits is called Openness To Experience and has to do exactly with how tolerant one is to novelty and change.

What psychologists have found is that people are generally normally distributed with respect to openness. What does this mean? Well, it means that very few people are not okay with any change at all. Very few people are okay with any amount of change. And most people are somewhere in the middle: they are okay with some change but not too much.

But I think it’s fair to say that ‘some change’ doesn’t quite cut it these days. The world is changing at a very fast pace now and with the advent of AI, it will only be changing even faster. Our relationships are changing likewise and more alternative lifestyles are entering the mainstream.

Overall, I think it’s fair to say that the amount of change that is actually out there in the world is much greater than the average amount of change that most humans are actually ready to accept. Here’s a very very rough way to represent it:

With the actual level of change being higher than what most people are comfortable with, we end up with most people being in the red: they experience at least some discomfort with how fast things are changing.

Naturally, there will be other variables at play and I’ve got no specific data to back this up. But this is simply to roughly illustrate the point: why so many humans are distressed with the amount of change that is actually happening in the world.

The pace of change these days far outruns the many humans’ capacity to adapt.

Of course, we can adapt. And we do. For centuries we did. But I don’t think it’s particularly controversial to say that the pace of change these days far outruns the many humans’ capacity to adapt.

Priviledge and change

But it’s not just our psychological makeup that determines how likely we are to tolerate change. It will also have to do with our external circumstances:

  • Material resources: do you have enough to make you safe regardless of what happens?
  • Intelligence, education and skill: do you have the capacity to learn new jobs even if your old one disappears?
  • Family support: do you have a loving family which makes you feel safe even if your other connections fail?
  • Supportive partner: do you have someone who will actually be there with you, for good and for ill?
  • Good friends: are there people you can turn to in hard times and count on them to have your back?

This is the part that the leftie progressives don’t like to focus on. We speak so much of the race and gender priviledge and lambast others for failing to see them. But we rarely look at education and class to admit that maybe, just maybe, one of the reasons why so many of us are so much more comfortable with the amount of change we’re facing, is because we were born to loving families who paid our education bills, allowing us to get decent jobs and develop secure attachment with our partners and friends.

Gettin et al (2022) show that while in the past higher levels of both wealth and education predicted more conservative political views. Recently, this has shifted and while the rich are still more likely to be conservative, this is no longer true for just reasonably well-off people, and education became predictive of liberal political views.

Meanwhile, Koleva (2009) has drawn a correlation between liberal political views and a secure attachment style, typically developed in a loving family background and predictive of the quality of your relationship.

Does that fit with your experience? Just look at who are the people who are quite happy with the amount of social and relationship change that we’re experiencing right now. They are likely to have good jobs. They have educated families. They have education themselves. They are the people who know that whatever happens out there in the world, they’ll be fine.

The people who are happy with high amount change are those who know that whatever happens, they’ll be fine.

Needless to say, they (we) are not the majority of people these days. Most people struggle with at least a couple of the above points.

And thus, on the one hand, we have a minority of people who are tolerant to change, because they know they’ll be fine anyway. They have enough resources, they’ve got the support of their families, partners and friends, and they’re open to experience. They don’t mind dealing with some uncertainty.

On the other hand, we have a majority who will not be fine. They do not have enough privilege to know that they will be fine regardless and (or maybe because of that) they’re not as open to new experiences.

It is those people who will likely experience the most uncertainty and fear and, and thus the most need to re-establish some sort of order that is familiar to them, that they feel comfortable with, and that allows them to limit the amount of instability in their life and thus to thrive.

They will be the people who say things such as: ‘We don’t know what’s what anymore.’ ‘Why can’t men just be men and women be women?’ ‘What are all of those pronouns that you’re suddenly using?’ ‘What’s wrong with just doing things like we always have?’

Is this change yours?

On top of all of this, your tolerance to a specific type of change will likely be determined by self-interest: whether you see this change as benefiting you or if this change is something that you personally want.

This is very domain-specific. For example, one might be okay with the changes that feminism proposes but I’m not quite as okay with the changes brought by technological developments in AI. In fact, I know a few feminists who are all ‘change now!’ on women’s issues, but are very conservative pretty much everywhere else. One couldn’t even get over an office change for months…

The example of gender and feminism is as obvious as it gets. Women are much more likely to be in favour of change that benefits them and men are more likely to find it threatening and resist. And while there is no way to sugar-coat the fact that in some ways men are in fact losing out on this particular change — we’re losing the unearned priviledge we shouldn’t have had in the first place — there is a lot we’re gaining.

And thus, I personally feel quite comfortable with the changes proposed by feminism. I see them as morally right, but I also see them as benefiting me.

They allow me to have things I really want in life: a partner who is a real equal, who is interesting, inspiring, and doesn’t just do what I tell her but is challenging me and brings something really new and exciting into my life. To have amazing female friends and see the ‘friend-zone’ as a positive.

To express myself and my feelings without the fear of being judged or forced into a restrictive male gender role of what men should be like in terms of our character, priorities, appearance.

They also provide me with a great alternative to the one-upmanship war that men play with each other to gain status and climb the hierarchy of lobsters. I don’t fancy playing this game and I like the paradigm and people for whom this is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Showing people how change is good for them would be much more effective at making them embrace it.

Naturally, this doesn’t mean that I don’t have any problems with feminism or what specific feminists tend to do. But on the whole, the change they want seems to be the sort of change I would like to see in society myself, and therefore I’m much more likely to be happy with it.

But this might be different for other people who might not see such changes as benefiting them. Without the same self-interest motivation, they’ll be much more resistant. Sure, they might still act on moral principle, but let’s be real: humans are imperfect and that’s really hard. Showing them what I see would be much more effective at making them embrace the change.

But I worry that some feminists do the opposite and are regularly shooting themselves in the foot. They not only do not try to show men how feminism benefits us — instead, they rub in men’s every failure and revel in telling us that feminism demands we give up the stuff we like, take the back seat, and forego our own goals.

I’m sure that doing it makes them feel great, but it’s very unlikely to make men see feminism as something for them and only adds to the fear of and resistance to change.

If you’re in the red

The people who are less likely to be comfortable with the amount of change we’re experiencing now, are likely to try and re-establish their safety in any way possible. This is why some people end up caring so much about things which, on the whole, might seem really minor.

For example, some people have very strong feelings about whether you call yourself heshe, or use other pronouns such as they. To me and many others, it might seem like, well, who cares? At the end of the day, just let people call themselves whatever they want to call themselves, why is it such a big deal?

Examples of social change effectively become an embodiment of chaos and uncertainty.

I hope that my argument shows you why. It is such a big deal because this and other examples of social change effectively become an embodiment of chaos, of uncertainty, of the fear that things are changing, that we don’t know what’s what anymore, that the world is no longer familiar, that it’s dangerous, that we’re not used to it, and that we need to desperately focus on re-establishing our safety.

Thus, people who might never even meet a queer person who uses different pronouns or wants to express their gender in a different way, care so much about this. It’s because in a world where there’s so little stability both in the public and the private spheres, even this seems like a threat to safety.

Change Impacts Men More

Despite all of the changes we have seen in society and relationships in the last years, the norms surrounding men — how we should behave, what we should value, how we should look — remain very strong. They are reinforced through multiple channels, ranging from established religions to online influencers.

One of the strongest such norms has to do with order and chaos.

For centuries, men have been seen as the creators of order. The rational ones who structure and build things. Men’s reason and order was the answer to Nature’s chaos and women’s emotions (also chaos). There’s a reason why Nature is a Mother — a woman who needs to be conquered, structured and parcelled out to create a man’s order.

It was men’s job to organize their tribes, bring order to society, create laws, create religions, create structures, both physical and institutional, that organize social life, create states, hierarchies. All of those and more create safety, security, and a baseline of predictability, with the aim of allowing social life to thrive at a large scale.

Why is that important? Well, here’s my next premise:

6. If one identifies with order or feels it is one’s job to deliver it, change and uncertainty will impact one’s capacity to thrive more.

The discussions we don’t need now

I know that many of you have a lot to say about the order I just described. Rightly so.

However, I really don’t want to get into a debate on whether order is something men are somehow naturally better at than women. There’s a whole nature-nurture debate in here which, as most such debates, is likely daft as the answer is: it’s a bit of both though mostly nurture.

But right now, it just doesn’t matter if pursuing hierarchies, status and order is in men’s genes or not. The point is: historically, in our world, whether we like it or not, this is how things played out. This is the role men were and still are much more likely to play.

Likewise, I don’t want to discuss whether the order created by men was good or bad. The answer would be very complex: there are many elements of it that were good, but there are also undeniably elements which privileged some people over others, gave some people had better access to resources and opportunities than others, and so forth.

Once again, this debate is very important but not relevant now. Remember the earlier premises: it doesn’t matter if change is for the better or worse. The very fact that any change is happening, threatens stability and safety.

The twofold impact on men

To this day, men still see themselves as protectors, providers, and the bringers of order. They see themselves as part of this narrative or taming nature and creating structure which makes society possible. They see themselves as part of it.

7. Men identify with the order that’s changing

Now, this order is challenged and change brings down what men have created. People argue openly that what men have created was wrong and needs to be torn down.

I think it’s no wonder that in this context, men — and especially those men who deeply internalised their role in ordering the world and their connection with generations of men who have done so before — have particularly strong feelings about change.

If this change happens to things that you see yourself as having created, it impacts you all the more. It is not just some order that is being questioned; it is your order that is being questioned.

It is not just some order that is being questioned; it is men’s order that is being questioned.

But there is more to it.

Until this day, men are told, continuously, that we should be the protectors, providers, and otherwise creators of stability. I am sure that many of you will read this and say: nobody expects that of men anymore! And it’s not like it’s just men who need to stay on it!

But look around you. This is simply not true. You might be super progressive and woke, but this just isn’t how most of the world is.

It’s not just about the many voices which still openly promote outdated narratives. It’s not even about the plentiful women out there who expect their dates paid for, the boxes on the checklist ticked, and an expensive ring on top.

It’s about the subtle everyday messages which say that we should always keep our cool. That if our family struggles, we failed. That ‘attractive’ means ‘has the muscles to protect you’. That we need to display some wealth to be taken seriously. That in times of crisis we should take charge. That we should always be in control of the situation.

These messages are omnipresent and pervasive, meaning that

8. Men feel it is their role to bring and embody order

And how are we supposed to do all that in times of such unprecedented uncertainty? In a world that’s just so chaotic?

It’s really hard!

But the social norms we are still very much subject to require us to, even though it is now more difficult than ever.

And thus, inevitably, more men than ever don’t manage to do it. And then we feel like we fail at the basic tenant of being a man.

Failing to fight off the chaos, men feel like we fail at the basic tenant of being a man.

Recall now the argument from the previous parts of this series: change brings instability which causes fear and uncertainty and makes it difficult to thrive.

If I’m right, men are likely to experience the fear and uncertainty caused by change more strongly, because, firstly, we associate with that which is changing more, and secondly, as we inevitably fail to bring back order, we feel like we fail as men. And thus:

∴ Men find it particularly difficult to thrive

What men want and what they are sold

In this context, it is hardly any wonder that we should turn to anyone who promises to teach us how to achieve stability and create order. In fact, much of what men are criticized for these days — even some of what goes under ‘toxic masculinity’ — can be understood as men’s attempts to reintroduce order or find some sort of safety in this chaotic world.

Thus, men are much more likely to want to reintroduce the status quo on things such as pronouns or how many genders there are. Objectively, what does it give us? Nothing. Except it just feels like a way to get all this chaos under control.

Unconvinced? Look at what many men crave when it comes to dating right now. They don’t want a woman who promises adventure and excitement. They want a trad-wife who might not be particularly interesting but will sure as hell provide them with a feeling of stability.

That’s also why all the PUAs are so popular. They promise that if you follow those rules, you will get the effect. That this technique works 100% of the time. That’s their biggest pitch: You don’t know what’s what now? Buy our course and you will be in control.

What they are really selling, is certainty.

They are selling a feeling of safety and predictability.

They’re selling exactly what men (and humans in general) are missing in the world right now.

PUAs are selling exactly what men are missing right now: certainty.

Want more? Recall how all this fear and uncertainty created by change encourage an every man for himself mentality, where we focus on our own safety and basic needs before we focus on other people or collective good. This means we end up being more self-centered.

This is exactly the rhetoric sold by PUAs who teach you to get the stuff you want regardless of how women feel about this. And this is typically justified and excused with a scarcity narrative: it’s what you have to do, because they’re not playing fair and you need to tend to your basic needs. Sure, we might be a bit self-centered, but it’s because they made us do it!

Meanwhile, all of the ‘alpha male’ rhetoric is based around making men feel like it’s us against everything, like everyone wants to steal our women, take our money, and eat our cookies. Like everything is a constant struggle of us against an uncertain, unsafe world. Most measures of success for an ‘alpha’ revolve around creating more order, stability and safety.

Their top values have nothing to do with things like adventure, creativity or anything like this, because those things tend to be a bit chaotic. Instead, it’s all about making money, because that gives you a lot of safety; finding a stable relationship, because that gives you a lot of safety; and having a lot of prestige and respect from other people, because that gives you a lot of safety.

And don’t for a moment think that PUAs and Alphas are the only people who have an interest in keeping men focused on fighting for their basic needs. That’s how populist parties spin their immigrant threat narratives, how big oil argues that renewables threaten our lifestyle, how churches make people fight against gays set on ‘converting’ our children.

The exploitation of men

All of this uncertainty and fear that are out there, impacting men in particular, are effectively exploited by people who want to push a certain agenda or just make money. Their business is selling promises of certainty and safety.

They sell it in the form of PUA advice, alpha advice, and all sorts of content that promises men that they will once again have control of their lives.

What’s worst, is that many of their ‘solutions’ kind of work in the short term. They make people feel, at least for a moment, like they have the safety and control that they crave.

Change and uncertainty make it very difficult for men to find ourselves in this world, and thus make us more susceptible to falling for grifts which promise to deliver certainty

But in the long term, they mostly don’t work, and most importantly, they’re just unethical. They rely on making people focus on their basic needs rather than the higher needs where our moral and community-driven instincts lie.

This is exploitative, horrible, and it effectively feeds on a social and personal situation I described: all the uncertainty that objectively is out there in the world and in our relationships. All the social norms we were brought up with which make us see uncertainty as a personal failure.

Change and uncertainty really impact men, make it very difficult for us to find ourselves in this world, and thus make us more susceptible to falling for grifts which promise to deliver what we crave.

We need to be aware of it so that we can avoid being exploited.

Two Solutions To Help You Thrive In Times Of Change

I constructed my argument because I think that it also has some power to tell us what we can do to make things better. I propose two solutions that you can implement in your personal life to increase your feeling of safety and your capacity to deal with all the change, and thus enable you to thrive.

The first has to do with increasing the amount of safety you have in your own life, irrespective of all of the change and uncertainty that is happening elsewhere. It’s about the things that you can do to bring safety into yourself.

The second has to do with increasing your tolerance for change. So, even if all this change happens, it just doesn’t bother you quite as much and you still feel safe where you are.

Now, recall what I’ve been arguing from the start: all change brings instability, even when the change is for the better. Before a new, better order is established, we are still in a limbo of uncertainty and may wish that things went back to what they were.

My solutions take that into account and focus on helping people survive that period of instability. The point isn’t to stop the change. The point is to stop change from negatively impacting you.

The point isn’t to stop the change. The point is to stop change from negatively impacting you.

And honestly, it doesn’t even matter much if we agree on which change is the good change. I am very sorry to say, but in practice, you, me, and most of us have very little say in whether this change will happen. Good luck stopping the AI revolution now. I mean, last year 33708 high profile people including Steve Wozniak and Elon Musk tried and did nothing. Good luck, John Doe.

Most of us have very little influence as to how much change actually happens in the world. Yes, we should absolutely work towards making the world a better place.

But first of all, let’s focus on what we can do to make ourselves more comfortable with the change.

1. Create safety for yourself

The first thing you can do is to build up the base of your own personal Maslow’s Pyramid. Focus on those bottom levels and make sure that they are strong and stable.

What does this mean? It means that you need to arrange your own life in such a way that it provides you with the feeling of safety and stability that might be lacking elsewhere.

This might include big things such as finding a good job or owning property. But I understand that those things are difficult. So, start from small things.

1.1. Work on your personal stability

There are many little things we can do to create more order in our own lives, make us feel safe in our body and our environment, and feel like we’ve got it.

  • Have a good daily routine
  • Take care of your body: eat well, exercise, go outdoors
  • Take care of your mind: meditate, learn new stuff
  • Make sure that the place you live in is tidy and clean.
  • Get enough sleep, rest and holiday

No shit, Sherlock — you’ll say.

But do you actually do those things?

I am completely aware that this sort of advice is nothing new. Already, Confucius talked about this in the fifth century BC, and countless philosophers, psychologists and influencers have since.

But I hope that the argument I developed is a good tool for showing you why it’s so important: because we can only take a certain amount of uncertainty in our lives and we need a certain level of safety. And it sometimes doesn’t really matter where this safety is, as long as we can maintain a level which helps us thrive.

1.2. Pick your battles

This leads me to the next point: you will never ever be able to order absolutely everything around you. And this means that you need to pick your battles smart.

Create order where its impact is really big and the cost is really low.

For example, organizing a really good schedule for yourself is a fantastic way to introduce order into your life. Sure, there is uncertainty in the world, but you know what you’re doing. You have your goals and your path to them, and whatever chaos out there won’t throw you off.

It sometimes doesn’t really matter where this safety is, as long as we can maintain a level which helps us thrive.

It takes some effort to devise your routines and some willpower to stick to them, but there is a great deal of help and advice out there that will help you along the way. Moreover, nobody will fight you on this one. No friends, family or strangers will come and say: stop organising your life and live in disorder!

Now, compare this with an example I mentioned before: launching a massive Crusade against what pronouns people use. What a waste of time! It requires a massive amount of energy, you will be fighting millions of people and get into countless discussions that lead nowhere, convince no one, and only leave you frustrated.

And what do you gain? Even assuming that following years of exhausting battles, by some miracle you could actually win this… then what? People will go back to using ‘he’ and ‘she’ only. And? Will that really restore stability in your life? I doubt it.

It’s just a waste of time. Instead, it would be much better to focus on things that matter. Low effort, big effects. Pick your battles.

1.3. Stay fair and ethical

A dictatorship is a form of order, of course. A person with a gun telling everyone what to do is a form of order. But is this the sort of order we want?

Not all order is good and history is littered with social systems which were very ordered, but utterly horrible. Just think of the Third Reich or slave plantations.

And sure, such an order might bring stability and give you certainty. You’ll be certain that when you do what they tell you, you’ll thrive, and when you won’t, you’ll get a bullet between your eyes. It will also enable a few people at the top to thrive like never before.

But for most of us, even if it removes the fear resulting from uncertainty, it will surely introduce a lot of fear elsewhere, and prevent us from thriving in a million other ways.

But you don’t need to be a dictator to run the risk of adopting forms of order that harm others and are unethical.

Think of the people who create order in their families by becoming a complete autocrat. Of those who created LGBT-Free zones in their towns. Of companies which have very ordered yet discriminatory hiring practices. Of very structured redlining in housing.

We should all have a good eye on whether the order and safety that we’re creating are fair and ethical.

An order which unfairly privileges some people over others is not a good order. It might give some safety to those it privileges, but not the others who will experience even more fear and uncertainty.

In creating order around you, it is extremely important that you do it in a way that does not harm or disadvantage anyone else and is not unethical.

2. Increase your tolerance to change

The second way you can deal with how change impacts your capacity to thrive in life is to increase your tolerance to change so that it just doesn’t bother you quite so much.

Recall now that I spoke of three things which impact our capacity to deal with change: privilege and objective safety shield you from the effects of change; high openness to experience makes you like change; and seeing a personal benefit in change makes you like it more.

2.1. Become more stable in your personal life

Those of us who are well-off, have loving families, supportive friends, stable housing and a good job, will naturally be less bothered by change and uncertainty. They know they might lose their jobs, but they’ve got savings. They don’t care that modern dating is a roulette of grief and pain, they’ve got a loving partner and good friends.

Whatever happens, they’ll be fine.

And sure, you might be a black single working-class guy with an alcoholic dad, thinking how nice it would be to have the privilege and security of a white married middle-class woman brought up in a loving family. You’d gladly swallow the risks that come with being female for the security of race, class, family and a stable relationship.

Even if change knocks you off, you have a safety net to fall into.

But while some things you can’t change, some you can. You won’t be born again in a different body, but you can get an education, find a job, and start a family.

And yes, I know this sounds like a lot. But it all starts with the little things I explored in the previous point. Start with a good routine, decent sleep and exercise, devise a good plan, and the rest will follow.

I won’t get into any detail on this — there are thousands of people offering great advice on personal and career improvement. Just remember the point above and avoid those whose guidance is plain old unethical, encouraging you to reach your goals regardless of how much it hurts others.

Once you have the safety net provided by finances, good friendships, or relationship(s), all sorts of changes might swoop past you but you just won’t care. Even if they knock you off, you have a safety net to fall into.

2.2. Train your openness

Your openness to experience, one of the Big Five personality traits, can impact your capacity to be tolerant of change. People who score high on openness tend to simply like change more and are more likely to see it as an opportunity than a threat.

Personalities are difficult, but not impossible to change. You can train your capacity for openness to new experiences and develop it the same way you can develop any virtue or skill.

By doing it.

Fortunately, it’s really fun. A great way to train your openness to new experiences is to simply travel. Go see different places, different people, look at how people live differently in other parts of the world, find out what they like, what they dislike, and why.

Naturally, adjust the level of difficulty to your preferences. If you’ve never been abroad or planned a trip yourself, don’t go solo backpacking through India for a year. Do a city break in a different country. Take a spontaneous hike with friends. Don’t push yourself too hard, but do push yourself a little.

Great ways to train your openness is to travel, talk to people, and seek new experiences. Don’t push yourself too hard, but do push yourself a little.

Talk to people. Talk to people you like, but also those you disagree with or think you have nothing in common with. You’ll be surprised how many super interesting things they have to say and how many new avenues they will open for you.

And again, don’t necessarily jump straight into a public debate with your worst enemies. But maybe try to engage this annoying uncle who always says stupid things and ask him why exactly he thinks what he thinks.

There are a million new things you can try, too. Pick a new hobby, tweak your routine a little, try a new cuisine, check out a movie you’re not sure you’ll like, find new friends… Do anything that will make you feel like you have something new and exciting in your life.

What you are doing in all of those cases, is basically vaccinating yourself against change and uncertainty. You are giving yourself low doses of it in a way you control so that your brain and body get used to it and can better deal with it in the future.

When you do that often enough, you will increase your openness to experience and thus your tolerance for change. You can now deal with all the uncertainty with much less fear, and thus your capacity to thrive is not diminished.

2.3. Focus on the good parts of change

People have a very different tolerance of change when they want it and see it as good for them. Just think of the difference between quitting your job and getting fired. The change is the same: you had a job, now you don’t. But how different does it feel when it’s what you wanted yourself!

Most of the social changes which are happening now are extremely complex and multi-faceted. They’re not just good or bad, for you or me. There are parts of it that are good for you and parts that aren’t. Some are only bad in some circumstances but in others are fine.

I encourage you to look at the social changes with a slightly different eye. We’re all quick to find problems with things and see the things that threaten us, how we might lose out. That’s just how our brains are wired — they protect us from danger.

But what about those parts of a given change that are actually good for you?

For example, I think that many men get so stuck on how the changes proposed by feminism make their lives harder, that they completely fail to notice how much they themselves can benefit from them.

What about those parts of a given change that are actually good for you?

As I said before, I find it rather easy to deal with the changes brought by feminism, at least partially because I see them as benefiting me. I get to have a partner who is a real equal, I don’t need to work my ass off to singlehandedly support the family, I get to date some very sexually liberated women, I can have great female friends, if a woman expects preferential treatment I can remind her what equality means, I don’t need to perform masculinity in ways I don’t care about (cars, sports, hierarchies), I don’t need to endanger my mental health by bottling up emotions like a ‘real man’, I can live more in tune with my moral sense of fairness… the list is very long.

Are there similar things in a particular change that are good for you? Once you see them, you will find it much easier to be tolerant of this change and perhaps even like it. It will certainly mean that it just won’t impact you in the same way it does right now.

How It All Fits Together

I hope that this text gave you some appreciation of how the constant change in the modern world and the instability it brings impacts us all, and men in particular.

I structured the whole text around a philosophical argument aimed to show that humans find it difficult to thrive in times of change and that all this change impacts men even harder.

In the first part of the argument, I showed that the world is changing fast in the public sphere. While in the past people could withstand those changes by finding stability in the private sphere, this is now also difficult as family and relationship structures are also rapidly changing.

All this change — even when it is change for the better — creates a lot of instability and fear of the unknown, pushing people towards focusing on re-establishing their safety, tending to their basic needs at the expense of higher needs, and following selfish instead of moral motivations.

Meanwhile, our attempts to limit this instability end up only adding to it. We all are pulling towards resolving the state of flux in a slightly different way, which only creates even more chaos in the world.

Now, the starting premise was that without stability humans find it difficult to thrive in the modern world. And this is what we’re experiencing right now. All this change is at least part of the reason why so many people struggle to find their place in life, to feel like they’re safe and can thrive, both in their professional and also in private lives.

I then further enquired into what makes some people better at coping with change than others. People who have objectively more security in life, be it through financial stability, loving relationships and strong friendships, people who score high on openness to experience, and people who perceive a given change as benefitting them, are much more likely to cope well with it.

Conversely, people who are less stable in life, less open, and don’t see a given change as benefitting them, will be more susceptible to the fear of instability, struggle to thrive, and focus on re-establishing their safety often in problematic ways.

I then argued that we men, in particular, find change psychologically difficult because we are the ones who have been traditionally seen as creators and maintainers of this order. When order is torn down, it feels personal and is difficult to deal with.

Furthermore, men are still today led to believe that their social role is to bring order: be the protectors, providers, and keep uncertainty away. As this is objectively very difficult these days, men continuously feel like they fail at being men. Consequently, they are susceptible to grifters and manipulators who promise to teach them how to be successful in that role.

Instead of following these sorts of promises, often very simplistic and very immoral, I think men should turn to the two solutions I’m proposing. Both of them focus not on stopping change (which is often good anyway) but on thriving despite change.

First, I recommend that we create order around ourselves by arranging our own personal lives in a way that makes us feel safe. In doing so, we should pick our battles: make improvements which require little energy but create a big effect. Naturally, it is very important that in the process we stay committed to ethical concepts such as equality, fairness, and peace.

The second solution is to develop greater tolerance to change by creating a better material and social safety net which will catch you even if change knocks you off, developing your openness to experience to make you like change more, and inquiring into the details of a specific change to look for ways in which it actually benefits you.

I hope that this text gave you a new perspective on why it is objectively difficult to thrive in this constantly changing, uncertain world. Why you might be feeling like the rug is being pulled from under your feet all the time, like something is amiss, something is wrong, something is not okay.

Why you might be bothered by the fact that it just seems like nobody knows what’s what anymore and that when you try to find a little bit of peace, safety and stability in your relationships, it is so frustrating that even there it is so hard to get.

But you’re not alone in all of this struggle. We are all struggling with all this change and it is very important that we really understand the mechanisms behind our struggles, because understanding is the cornerstone of finding solutions which will actually work.

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