I’m not even going to attempt to define what makes a man a “good man.” Since the majority of our readers are women, please feel free to provide your definition in the comments below. I’d actually be very interested in seeing what qualities overlap and which differ as defined by you. Personally, I’ve chosen instead to focus on a question I found myself asking the other day:

Are good men – loosely defined as the husband-material type – born or created?

However you define it, I think we can all agree that all (heterosexual) women want their boyfriend / husband to be a “good man.” This led me to wonder about three distinct points. Editor’s Note: I’ve paraphrased some feedback I received on my Twitter account today. Thanks to all those who interacted and participated in the discussion.

1. Are Good Men Born?

Socially, a man doesn’t come from the womb knowing what it means to provide tangibles, emotionally, and spiritually for a family – @iVyDeMilo

Just as I imagine some people are born with traits that make them natural athletes, some men are born with natural traits that predispose them to being a good man. Furthermore, as some women noted, these men may be afforded the advantage of having positive male role models in their lives in the form of their fathers or they may learn to respect and appreciate women through their relationship with their mothers, a topic we recently covered here. However, this does not include all men. In other words, not every good man started off that way.

2. Are Good Men Created?

“Good men” and “good husbands” aren’t exempt from making mistakes. Nor should their mistakes be their primary means of learning. – @iVyDeMilo

I have to ask the “good men” in the audience to help me out with this question: Do you concern yourself with how you treated the women in your past or only the woman in your present?

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As I mature as a man, there are times when I reflect back on my past interactions with women and I do wish I handled various situations differently. That is the nature of hindsight. On the other hand, sometimes the only reason I learned how to become a better man is by falling short of the man I needed to be in the life of a woman in my past. Unfortunately, it is only through our interaction that I learned to be a better man for the next woman I encountered. I often say, “I learned more from the women who left me when I did wrong than from the women who stayed and enabled my actions.” This is why I usually encourage women to leave men who are falling short of their expectations of the man they need in their life. This is not only because I think women (and people in general) shouldn’t settle for anything less than the best, but also because as a man I know a man has to want to change for himself long before he can change for a woman.

3. What Happens to the Women Men Encounter on Their Way to Becoming a “Good Man”?

He’s a good man because he was raised right. A good person is good to everyone. Character doesn’t change. – @honeybfly1980

This statement is interesting, but I’m not sure I agree. Is it important to you that a man is a good man to all women? Is someone who was once a bad man (cheater, for example), always a bad man? As a woman, do you care how your man treated other women or are you only interested in the way he treats you within the confines of your relationship? I can assure you that there are married men who treat their wife like a Queen who have women in his past who will always view him as a “bad man” irrespective of the changes he has made in his life.

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A number of women noted that women are socially conditioned to want to be in a relationship. This pressure, good or bad, isn’t imposed on men or at least not in young men. Therefore, most women are readying themselves to be relationship-material on a faster timeline than most men. This isn’t to say a man won’t be ready to commit one day; it will just take the average man longer to get there than the average woman. In the meantime, does not developing those same relationship traits as quickly in himself make him a bad man? Is it really as simple as turning on a light switch for a man to decide he is going to make the change from good to bad, from womanizer to commitment? If that is the case, is it less about a man changing for himself and more about a man meeting a woman that inspires him to change? Depending on the age at which they meet, perhaps these events are one in the same.

Regardless, if a good man is not born, it seems inherent that one or more women may “suffer” as a part of his learning experience. This isn’t always through worst case scenarios – cheating, lying, and general deceit. It can be as simple as the termination of a serious relationship or heartbreak. Frankly, accepting that the person you love doesn’t love you the same way, while perhaps less shocking, is no less painful in its own right.

I think women are fine with having a good man in their life – and they deserve one – but I’m not sure they want to know how he got there. More importantly, I don’t think most women want to be the woman that meets a man along the road to becoming a good man. Instead, they want to be the woman who meets him after reaches his destination. I just wonder how that can be possible. As the saying goes, even the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

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I ask a lot of questions today, because I’m not sure of the answers. Honestly, I’m not sure how a single man matures into someone who will make a good husband without making mistakes along the way nor am I positive how his actions affect the women he encounters along the way.  I do find it hard to believe that every good man grew into that role without hurting, if not outright breaking, a few hearts along the way. If true, it seems one or more women had to suffer so that one-day one woman could prosper. The lessons he learned from other women’s pain created the knowledge and maturity necessary to provide the joy he brings her and I guess that’s fine, as long as you are the woman that meets him at the right part of his journey…

So readers, are good men born or created?

Fellas, if you’re in a committed relationship, what did it take for you to learn how to be a “good man”? In your opinion, what defines a “good man”? Did you have to learn how to become one from your relationships with women or independent from women? What influence did women have or not have on your maturity and growth as a man? 

Ladies, how do women learn to become a “good woman” and how would you define it? Did you learn how to become one from your relationships with men or independent from men? In your opinion, what defines a good man? If you agree that good men are created instead of born, then how does it feel to be a woman that is part of his journey but not necessarily the final destination?