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The Man Rules

Self Development

Live with intention. Build connection. Create a more meaningful life. Host Dan Griffin shows you how, through funny and insightful conversations about The Man Rules — those often-unconscious expectations that shape what it means to be a “real man" in the 21st century. It’s a must-listen for anyone seeking to live a more authentic life.


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Live with intention. Build connection. Create a more meaningful life. Host Dan Griffin shows you how, through funny and insightful conversations about The Man Rules — those often-unconscious expectations that shape what it means to be a “real man" in the 21st century. It’s a must-listen for anyone seeking to live a more authentic life.






That’s All Folks.

Welp. Here we are. The final episode of The Man Rules podcast. Dan and Andrea (the show’s producer) take the opportunity to reminisce, reflect, and ruminate on what might be next... Sometimes, abundance comes from letting go. You’ve gotta make room to receive whatever gifts may be coming your way. Thank you for making room for The Man Rules podcast. We hope your time with is was only the beginning of your journey toward freedom and personal fulfillment.


What Men Would Tell You... About Having All The Answers

There's no tenure for manhood. The false promise of The Man Rules, is that if you follow them closely enough, for long enough, you will soon rest easy in your identity as man. But, the truth is, a man's status as a man will have to constantly renewed--daily. Sometimes hourly! Think of all the opportunities he has throughout the day to mess up, and have his man card revoked! (Men: For help with this exercise, see the list of The Man Rules, and ask yourself how many you've followed and how many you've broken today.) In this episode, based on the final chapter in Dan and Allen's forthcoming book, we talk about one of the most frequent opportunities men have to feel emasculated--when someone asks them a question for which they do not have an answer. Women: Dan and Allen help you understand why your man seems to cling so stubbornly to giving advice and solving all your problems for you when you really just want him to listen. Men: Dan and Allen will help you recognize whether you're suffering from working so hard to avoid the discomfort of not knowing, the constant need to prove how much you know, and idea that you should not have to work to know the answers--you should be born knowing, if you are a real man. Dan and Allen don't have all the answers, but they do have their own experiences in learning to let go of the need to know, and they share those with you in order to help you improve your relationships.


Childhood Heroes and Personal Mythologies

All stories we relate to are based either on our wishes or on our fears. Sometimes--or maybe even often--both. That's what makes this week's episode with friend of the show Rick Belden such a powerful one. Rick leads Dan through a fascinating discussion about the ways in which we internalize our favorite childhood stories to develop personal mythologies and use them to guide the ways we show up in the world. Though it may seem a little silly to you at first, if you try the exercise Dan and Rick go through on the show, we think you'll be surprised by how much personal insight you'll gain by revisiting your childhood heroes. If you feel like sharing, we'd love to hear who your mythological figure was as child, and what they meant to you. (Note: Real people can serve as mythological characters. Basketball legend Michael Jordan, for example, is a real person, but also a myth to the many kids who grew up admiring him.) Please let us know on Facebook or in the blog comments.


Coping with Changing Gender Expectations

This week, friend of the show Dr. Michael Levittan is back to help us sort through the many changes in our expectations of men and women over the years, and how psychology and psychotherapy have played a role in helping shape and guide those changes. The conversation centers around the American Psychological Association's latest recommendations for treating men, and branches out into a lively discussion about what "traditional masculinity" means, and whether there are some aspects of masculinity that are helpful, rather than harmful. It ends with some tips for men how to seize on this unique point in history to grow and evolve as a man.


All Good Things Must Come to an End

After more than two years of operation, we have made the difficult decision to end production of The Man Rules podcast. So, this week Dan's solo episode--his last solo episode--is about what it means to embrace change. One thing we know for sure is that change is constant. It's not good or bad. The amount of control you have over what changes and what doesn't is very limited. (Some folks even believe that in most cases, you have no control at all.) So, what do you do with that? Short answer: You roll with it. The more you can embrace change, and look for what it might be trying to teach you, the more your life will flow freely. We are grateful to all of you who have surfed the waves of change with us over the years, and will continue on your own journeys. We wish you all the best.


How to Stay Sober AF

Early sobriety can be lonely. Many people recovering from alcohol and other substance use disorders find that they have to change their entire social structure. And, that's not something that happens overnight. It takes time to develop an entirely new social life when you've had to leave the old one, that was built around substance use, behind. Many people believe that they will have to give up activities where drinking and drug use are sometimes considered "the norm,"--like concerts and sporting events-- for fear of losing their sobriety. But, thanks to Duke Rumely and his organization S.AF.E (Sober As F$@# Entertainment), people in recovery can safely attend events that otherwise may have triggered their addictions. The organization's goal is to create "sober safe zones" at sporting events, concerts, and other social gatherings. In this episode, he talks with Dan about the importance of staving off loneliness and boredom in maintaining sobriety and about the power of community.


What Men Would Tell You... About Winning

"If you're not first, you're last." That's the mantra of Ricky Bobby, a champion NASCAR driver (played by Will Ferrell) in the cinematic masterpiece, "Talledega Nights." The great thing about that quote, and about the movie, is that it gently pokes fun at The Man Rule that says real men always win. And, in the process, helps us begin to see that rule in a new way--or maybe to see it for the first time if it's been part of The Water for you most of your life. In this episode, Dan and Allen talk about The Winning Rule, a chapter from their forthcoming book, What Men Would Tell You If They Weren't Too Busy Watching TV. They break down the ways in which the Winning Rule affects relationships, and show us how we can become more conscious of The Winning Rule and recognize when it's hijacked our reactions and behaviors.


Leggo my Ego

Dr. Lou Cox has studied the ego for decades. He joins Dan to talk about his work and his new book, Ego: The Ghost in Your Machinery. Specifically, he and Dan talk about the male ego and how men thrive and suffer as a result of their dances with the ego. Cox talks about two essential needs every human being has: the need to be accepted and the need to be true to who we are, our own unique self-expression. These two needs can be in conflict with each other which creates confusion and feelings of disconnection. These needs are pure when we are children but they gradually, and seemingly inevitably, get corrupted by our conditioning from our parents and society. The ego is this complex combination of all the ways that someone tries to meet those needs and be safe. Ultimately, Cox says, while we cannot overcome the ego we can step aside from it and move toward our native, and more authentic and vulnerable, self. At the end of the day it comes down to a person being willing to realize that they have unconscious parts of themselves that can run the show without them realizing it. The more awareness the more you can see those parts and make different decisions about who and how you want to be.


Support the Podcast

This week, Dan's back with an update on our makeshift pledge drive. We hear from Noah, a longtime listener who has pledged his support, and Dan makes a case for you all to be like Noah. (If you can.) Would you be willing to offer a small monthly donation to keep the podcast running? (Say, around $5 or $10 a month?) If so, send an email to and let us know you’re interested. If enough folks say “yes” we’ll go through the process of setting up an official donation channel…


Loving Like You Mean It

Chances are, you've had several relationships throughout your life. Some are ongoing (friends, family, etc.) Some ended. (boyfriends/girlfriends, spouses, lovers.) Some maybe even ended badly. If you reflect on the relationships that ended badly, and on the times in your ongoing relationships where things weren't going so well, do you notice any patterns in your behavior and reactions? If so, you are likely starting to uncover your attachment style. In this episode, Dr. Ron Frederick, psychologist and author of "Loving Like You Mean It" breaks down the four basic attachment styles, explains where they come from (childhood, of course), and how to use emotional mindfulness to build stronger, healthier and happier relationships. He also offers up a simple, four-step approach to help you break free from old habits, befriend your emotional experience, and develop new ways of relating.


Is Masculinity Toxic?

Thankfully, discussions about gender conformity and its influence on mental health, crime, and violence have hit the mainstream. A big part of that discussion focuses on the idea of "toxic masculinity." Is masculinity itself at the center of all of mens' problems? And are men at the center of all the world's problems? It can certainly feel that way if you spend a lot of time on Twitter... Randy Flood, author of the best article on toxic masculinity we've ever read (as well as several other books and articles about men's issues) is on the podcast this week to set the record straight on what toxic masculinity is, and what it isn't. He helps us understand that traits that are considered "masculine" aren't toxic, but that the rigid adherence to those traits in all situations, even when they are damaging to self or others, is.



We've been producing episodes of The Man Rules podcast every week for almost 2.5 years now. It's been an honor to provide this for free to our listeners as a resource for those in recovery, and those who just want to live more conscious lives. Unfortunately, we've reached a crossroads with the show. If we can't find a source of funding to cover the show's monthly expenses, we'll have to discontinue production. Would you be willing to offer a small monthly donation to keep the podcast running? (Say, around $5 a month?) If so, send an email and let us know you're interested. If enough folks say "yes" we'll go through the process of setting up an official donation channel...


Sugar Addiction and Compulsive Overeating

When we think about addiction and recovery, we tend to think specifically about drugs--both recreational and prescription-- including alcohol. But, some people struggle with other substances and behaviors that we don't often talk about when we talk about addiction--things like compulsive shopping/spending, work addiction, video game addiction, porn addiction, and compulsive overeating, to name a few. In this episode, Andrea (producer extraordinaire of our podcast) talks vulnerably with Dan about her own struggles with an addiction to sugar and other disordered eating behaviors. She discusses the ups and downs of recovery from an issue that many don't understand and yet is an epidemic in this country.

What is Love?

Is love a feeling or an action? Is it a choice we make, or is the result of a magical bond with another person that is impossible to explain? Do you decide to be a loving person, or are you just born that way? If you've listened to this podcast before, you've probably guessed that the answer is "both/and." Psychiatrist Michael McGee joins Dan this week to talk about love as both a practice and a guiding principle. And, this is not mere navel-gazing, people. Dr. McGee breaks it down into a series of practical steps to being more connected, more purpose-driven, and more fulfilled by building a more loving presence.


What Men Would Tell You...About Sex

"If it's true that men want sex 24/7, what does it mean if he won't have sex with me?" "Why won't he engage in foreplay before sex or cuddling after? There's no affection or intimacy." "Why is sex only about what he wants? Doesn't what I want matter?" If you're a woman who has asked yourself these questions about your man, you are certainly not alone. Why are these issues so common in relationships? And what can be done about it? This week, Allen Berger is back to help Dan shed some light on the thing that often prevents men from experiencing real intimacy through sex--fear. Specifically, the fear of violating the man rule pertaining to sex, which frankly might also be called "the porn rule" because so much porn reinforces a very narrow perspective on what men should want, how they should behave, and how they should approach sex in general--but, we digress. Listen for a very candid discussion of the fears and false beliefs that likely limit your man's expression of his sexuality and find out how to work alongside him in overcoming them.


Doing 'The Work' with Byron Katie

Look around your local gym long enough, and you're likely to see the phrase "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional," emblazoned on a bumper sticker, a T-shirt, or a bicep in the form of a tattoo. It's one thing to adopt that mantra as a way to encourage yourself to eke out one more rep or run one more minute. It's another to adopt it as an overall way of life. That's what Byron Katie specializes in. "The Work" that it takes to wake up to reality, let go of negative perceptions about yourself and your place in the world and to stop judging - others and yourself. Ask yourself a series of four questions when you're having a strong emotional reaction-- 1. Is it true? 2. Can I be sure that it's true? 3. How do I react when I believe that it's true? 4. Who would I be without this thought? If you do this simple--but not easy--exercise on a regular basis you can begin to opt-out of suffering and make more conscious decisions about your life. And remember, as Katie says: Reality is always kind. It's just that we so rarely live in it.


Let's Talk About Sex

Our culture is weird about sex. We're surrounded by allusions to it constantly--in our advertisements, TV shows, movies, music, websites--but it's rare for any of those mediums to address it in a way that isn't salacious or jokey. It's rare to see any real or fictional characters in popular media talking about sex in a way that's mature and reflective. In this episode, Dan gives a short talk on what it might mean for men if we all started having more earnest conversations about sex, reflecting on what we want from it, what we need from it, and what it means to us personally. How can we move beyond some of the unhealthy and unrealistic expectations The Water sets up for us, and define our own sexuality.


A Deep Dive with a Stay-at-Home Dad

Men's experiences as fathers are more varied than popular culture would have you believe. Although the doors are beginning to open a little wider for men who want to take on duties that were traditionally only part of Mom's domain, there is still a lot of stigma to battle. Today, in honor of Father's Month, Nate Brewer talks to Dan about his experiences as a stay-at-home Dad. He explains both how he made the decision to stay home with his kids, and how people tend to react to the revelation that parenting is his full-time job. If you are also a stay-at-home Dad, Nate's story will help you feel less alone. If you have some assumptions about what being a stay-at-home Dad means--playing video games in your pajamas all day, perhaps?-- his story will likely entirely change your perception.


What Men Would Tell You... About Their Fathers

When we become fathers, so many of our choices are reactions to how our fathers raised us. We often either fall in line with his expectations, or rebel against them. Either way, we aren't really making our own choices, based on who we most want to be. In this episode, Dan and Allen offer up some exercises you can do to begin to separate your own needs and desires from your father's. It's the first step toward developing more conscious fatherhood, and more conscious masculinity.


Gay Men and Their Fathers

In honor of both Father's Month and Pride Month, we're replaying this episode from 2018, featuring the late Tim Clausen. Tim interviewed more than 80 men for his book Not the Son He Expected: Gay Men Talk Candidly About Their Relationship with Their Father. The book, and Tim's interview here on the podcast, are helpful and encouraging resources for gay sons, their fathers, and for all those who love and care about them. Tim's own personal stories about his relationship with his father, and his relationship with his own son, serve as great examples of how to live with emotional courage while navigating the powerful, and sometimes troubling, relationships between fathers and sons.