Boys don't cry? It's not macho - or necessary - to suffer alone or in silence. Girls often talk. Lots. They usually feel better just for telling someone what's on their mind. How are lads supposed to cope? 

What are lads worried about?


There is often pressure on boys and young men not to show emotion and to deal with problems on their own. It can be really hard to talk about personal things - especially with family and friends - and things that start off as little niggles can easily grow into big issues that really get in the way of life.

All the usual stuff, so you should look at the other topics in what's making it rough? which are for everyone, but sometimes there is a need for something specially from a male point of view. We've tried to mention some of those here.

 Because it really is different for girls. Take a peek into their world if you think they are from a different planet and you've no idea what THEY worry about.

Think your mum or your sister or your girlfriend ought to know some of this stuff? Get them to have a look at all this too. They think YOU'RE from a different planet. It might be the Boys Zone, but Girls are Allowed...get it?

Body image and self esteem

TeensHealth reckon the reality is that a lot of guys spend plenty of time in front of the mirror. It's a fact — some guys care just as much as girls do about their appearance and body image is just as important to them so they need to feel positive about themselves too. Have a look at A Guy's Guide to Body Image. The media manipulation wants you to think you should look a certain way or feel inferior. Struggling for an impossible ideal wastes time, money and makes lads just as unhappy as girls.

Colby Jarvis made versions of his Campaign for Real Beauty film exposing the media hypocrisy both for men and women. Here's the one for lads :

                                           

Blokes can suffer just as much from low self esteem and sometimes this makes them behave in an extreme way in an effort to look "hard" and confident. Learn to deal with peer pressure. Get help to boost your self esteem instead. You are under no obligation to be "macho" - what is a man meant to be anyway?


The Campaign Against Living Miserably
(CALM)'s manifesto declares  " Men are often ignored. What is the modern man meant to look like? We’re not talking about using moisturiser, this isn’t the 1990s. Billboard hunks ignore reality, “lads mags” ignore diversity (no, not that Diversity). All that men are and can be in the 21st century is lost in marketing crap."
"We would like to help you tear up the stereotypes and challenge the norms. We want to make a space for you to be opinionated, funny and outspoken about everything that you are and want to be. We’re not here to preach but to inspire, to ‘reset’ male stereotypes so that we can live our lives without bowing to the expected."

General body stuff

Too fat? Too skinny? Spotty? Smelly Feet? Feeling unfit? Want to stop smoking? Confused about contraception? Worried about the size of you know what? NHS Choices Teen boys section covers the lot and doesn't mess about with the information and the answers. If you've got problems with boys' bits, there's even a visual guide and advice on keeping things clean and working well! Read about how boys develop and get answers to some common questions in the downloadable leaflet 4boys - a below the belt guide to the male body.

Being comfortable with yourself and not being conned by the media images doesn't mean it's ok if your armpits reek of sweat or your hair needs a wash!

Find out how much you really know with some of the NHS Choices tests (like how much do you know about safe sex).

Fitness

If you fancy getting fit and you're a football fanatic, combine the two with the NHS Football Fan Fitness Challenge . Take the lifecheck and see what you can do to boost your general wellbeing and fitness. Investigate local sports centres, gyms and clubs. You can find some suggestions from feel better and get fit.

Problems and needing to talk

If you want more in the way of support and advice and the chance to admit you have problems and to help you to open up there are websites aimed specifically at lads and young men to reassure you it's ok to do that. The CALM ZONE is probably the best of its kind.  Men are three times more at risk of suicide than young women – in 2010 75% of suicides were men. So it's important to tackle things before they get that bad.

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) was set up to reduce the high suicide rate amongst men under 35, currently the single biggest killer of young men in the UK. Their slogan is 'Being Silent Isn't Being Strong.  Their web site is packed with loads of interesting and fun magazine style stuff as well as a place to share experiences and get help and information, working with big names from the music, sport and club scenes. Check it out for help, information, interest and fun. 

You can also talk to any of the other helplines or services such as Childline, Supportline, Centre 33 and the Samaritans who are there for everyone. GTRT has pages with information on all kinds of problems.

Relationships and sex

Relationships are a learning process. Having a girlfriend (or boyfriend) is one thing, but treating her or him right might be another. If you think maybe you're getting it a bit wrong, wise up to how to be fair and honest and not any kind of a bully to your girlfriend (or boyfriend) before things turn nasty. Being a friend is good advice for how to get on with partners as well as just friends. If you've got an anger management problem or you realise you are a bit of a bully emotionally or physically, get some advice fast and try to change. If you discover you can be a bit handy with your fists or anything else which hurts and you are heading down the path of domestic abuse, don't think it doesn't matter because you don't live together, violence or abuse towards a person you are dating is no less serious. If it is happening to you, get out fast and if you are the one making it happen, get help to stop before you really do some damage and take those kind of bad habits into adulthood. Or get arrested.

No boy or young man should feel he is expected to know everything or always take the lead in a relationship. Lads can be just as overwhelmed, confused or bewildered by love and sex. You don't have to take the lead and you should not feel under pressure to have sex until you are ready - whatever you think your mates are doing or your girlfriend expects!

But if you are having sex, contraception should be a joint decision and responsibility so make sure you know enough to do your bit and look after you and your partner's sexual health. Making the right decision suggest that whilst you might think you know about the risks to girls from unprotected sex, you probably haven't thought about what could happen to you. And it's scary. GTRT has a separate  page on sexual health and pregnancy.

What happens if you get your girlfriend pregnant? Childline understand that if this happens you may not know how to feel. The prospect of being a teenage parent is scary for both sexes, but you may not react the same. If your girlfriend is pregnant and wants an abortion but you don't, or if she has the baby but doesn't want you involved, what are your rights - and responsibilities? There is specialist advice on your rights  available from Brook, not just about becoming a dad - or not.  You can also get advice on your rights from the Citizens Advice Bureau. Information and advice specifically for dads can also be found from dad.info and the people who counsel pregnant girls and women will also help prospective fathers. Find local help on the sexual health and pregnancy page. If you go ahead and have the baby together, you might benefit from support and parenting skills available locally.

Bereavement and loss

rd4u.org.uk has a special section for lads who have been bereaved or feel suicidal to encourage you to share your own experiences and read about others, and tell them what you would find helpful on the site. See also the GTRT page "someone close has died" for what help is available to all young people.

 

Alcohol

Getting hammered on a regular basis? A thumping hangover could be the least of your problems, according to the NHS Choices page about binge drinking aimed at lads. It affects your health, your finances and your relationships and combined with driving could cost you your licence and chances of work. It's not big and it's not clever, so learn to drink sensibly. See also the GTRT page on alcohol and drinking for the low-down on what you're dealing with, how to cut down or stop.

Smoking

Quitting smoking, or wanting to, doesn't make you a wimp. NHS choices has advice for teenagers. See also the GTRT page on smoking for the stark facts and how to cut down or quit.

Old enough to drive?

Too fast to live but too young to die? Watch a video by a guy who found out the hard way that being a boy racer wasn't clever :

In 2009, more 16- to 19-year-olds died as passengers in cars than those who died as drivers. When the Commons Transport Committee recently investigated, it was told by Chief Superintendent Geraint Anwyl: “The greatest risk for a young lady is being a passenger in a car being driven by a young man.” He said the greatest problem was “adrenalin, not drugs or drink”. Tell that to your mates. And your girlfriend..........

Other boys toys

Lads are also more likely to be heavily into hand held or online games, anything with a screen and a plug the other end, so whilst you think you might know more than the girls, the amount of time you're spending means you REALLY need to to know how to stay safe online. Check out how much you really know about internet and mobile phone safety.

Boys are more likely to be obsessed with sport, weapons, music or cars than girls of the same age. They are arguably more likely to join a gang, gamble  and even get into trouble with the law during their teens.

These things can amount to obsessions, bad habits and addictions and affect your education, lead to arguments at home and money troubles.

So it's important for teenage lads to know where to get help and advice, how to get -and stay- out of trouble without worrying they will be a wimp if they admit a weakness or worry.

It's a myth that boys and men don't get raped, or suffer from domestic violence

Survivors kick the myths about male rape and sexual assault into touch. Check out their website if you want to see for yourself that it happens to real blokes who weren't asking for it.

If you are being abused by someone you are in a relationship with, you need help just as much as if you were attacked by a total stranger after a night out or in the street.

Supportline have a section for male victims of rape or sexual assault, including some contact numbers for helplines. It is sad but true that there is relatively little help for blokes because the majority of rape and sexual assault victims are female, but if this happens to you it is important that you keep looking for help and don't give up - what happened to you is no less a crime.

Rape Crisis have information and suggestions for help on their website and by phone 0808 802 99 99Try the Rape and Abuse Line on  0808 8000 122 answered By Male Support Workers or email support@rapeandabuseline.co.ukVictim Support Male Abuse Helpline:   0800 328 3623  - for victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse. See also GTRT's page on rape and sexual assault.

Gay and transgender

Boys who are, or think they might be, gay have their own problems, as do transgender boys who feel they are girls trapped in the wrong body. We've got a lot of information about sexual identity as a separate section. Problems might also include violence towards you because of your preferences or how you look. The organisations who help victims of rape or sexual assault don't judge. You can get also get help from the services for LGBT who will understand your unique perspective. Checkout who can help you on our rape and sexual assault page and as well as the LGBT services on sexual identity.

More myths exploded

Eating disorders don't just happen to girls either. Boys get anorexia too gives information and personal stories of some who had it. Boyanorexia are there specifically for lads. Anorexia and Bulimia Care recognise that boys usually have different reasons but just as much trouble as girls with their body image and eating disorders because of it.

Boys also self-harm and need just as much help as girls.

Girls are not the only who should think about how to stay safe. Checkout being unsafe or in danger for stuff you might never have thought about, like getting your drink spiked.  

It's not all about problems 

There are plenty of games, fun stuff and things which interest more lads and less girls - including getting fit and taking part in sports. Exercise doesn't have to mean torturing yourself at the gym, for instance 10 ways to get fit while you have fun. It's a good idea to Feel good and get fit and plenty of stuff which appeals to lads trying to get more out of life.

Good guy stuff


Celebrate your strengths and what makes you unique, whatever that is. Be your own man and true to whoever you are, not some stereotype. It's about what kind of man you want to be. Get some inspiration from real life heroes and not just sports celebs who are often no better behaved than spoilt little kids!

Being a whole person with a full range of working emotions is a good thing.

Boys don't cry? Good song by The Cure, but otherwise it's just another myth.  

The page was last updated on 17 June 2014 by andrea.bateman.

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