What is a Polyman?

40 Comments | Topics: Being a Man, Definitions, Theory

Da Vinci - Vitruve Luc ViatourDa Vinci — Vitruve Luc Viatour

Update: Check out the new companion video that compliments this article.

Throughout the ages, men of greatness have been referred to by many a name. These names hold values and virtues of masculinity portrayed by the men brave enough to earn their titles. It’s amazing how some of the greatest stories in the world (especially in mythology) embody men with key masculine traits. Just notice how words such as the following, conjure up scenes of great men in your mind now:

Emperor. Casanova. Knight. Renaissance man. Samurai. Hero. Adventurer. Philosopher.

Most of the “ancient” societies that they were raised in, embraced, encouraged, and actively taught the qualities that forged these men into who they were. Those not as fortunate, chose to force pressure upon themselves to become diamonds – rising from the dust of coal that their people so negatively casted upon them. Regardless of conditions, achievements, and recognitions; these men defined the qualites of what it meant to be a man in their age.

Fast-foward to the 21st century, where the lines of masculinity and femininity are blurred each and every day (and life is a lot less epic and swordless). Not only is it normal for men to embrace their feminine side, and women to take charge and assert their masculinity — it’s now “politically correct”. We’re coming from an age of hard lines and definitions, to an era where it’s okay to discover things for yourself – which is fantastic – but herein also lies a problem:

Men are confused.

Hell, let’s be honest: most of us are …and who can blame us? The bulk of modern western society does nothing but provide contradicting advice on how to be a real man, especially in regards to sexuality, dating, and relationships. Pop culture dating advice is atrocious, and even caused an underground movement of men to start figuring out what really works. This alone is a HUGE sign that these kind of traits/values/beliefs are tremendously lacking in most men’s lives.

There’s a tremendous lack of guidance on how to really live the life men want.

Why is this? Think about it. There’s no more “rite of passage” to become a man for most westerners; just government defined ages to prevent smoking and drinking, and academic graduations. On top of that, there are very few role models in the world (let alone in most young men’s lives) that they can actually learn from. For most men, their fathers are usually the biggest masculine influence growing up, and while I believe they honestly do their best rearing their sons, they’re not always the most excellent source to model.

If that wasn’t enough, take a look at the bigger picture: a lot of the education systems, governments, religions, and media sources are actually designed to disempower people. I bet if you’re here, reading this now, you probably know this on some level already. Yes, of course I’m generalizing tremendously (and maybe a taaad bit exaggerating), but I’m trying to stress a point:

For most men, there’s a tremendous lack of guidance on how to really live the life men want, and how to be the man they’re destined to be.

This causes a tremendous imbalance, and is apparent everywhere you look:

  • big macho men, overcompensating is some way
  • spineless guys getting walked over for being ‘nice’
  • corrupt CEOs obsessed with money
  • abusive relationships
  • working 80 hours a week at a job they hate
  • non-threatening, boring, average, joe shmoes
  • lifeless, passionless, directionless “grownup boys”
  • great guys with their life together, but still missing something

While those are just a few specific examples, I bet you can find a plethora of guys in your life that match all of those (admitted) stereotypes. The thing is, it’s not (completely) their fault — they’re doing the best with what they got, and are all trying to meet a positive need for themselves (albeit some in a negative way). Some don’t even know anything else — they think they’re doing the best they can — and, in their reality, they’re right.

And it’s OK. If they’re happy with their life, then great — there’s no ‘better than’ or ‘worse than’. People are where they are in their lives for a reason, whatever that may be. It doesn’t make anyone right or wrong, it just is. (While there is a chance these may even be polymen, and they just haven’t reached the more “enlightened” stage yet, let’s just assume they’re not for the sake of comparison).

So, what exactly is a polyman?

Now that you’re aware of the challenges men face, and the disparities between past and present (as well as what obviously isn’t a polyman), it’ll be much easier to understand what a polyman actually is – and what makes him so different.

First, the actual word “polyman”. The two influences on the word are ‘polymath’ and ‘man’.

  • polymath – (Greek polymathēs, πολυμαθής, “having learned much”) a person whose knowledge is not restricted to one subject area. Simply, one who knows a lot about a lot of things.
  • man – straightforward and simply; a man. The embodiment of masculinity, virility. The stage of a male after boyhood, after a rite of passage to manhood.

You might be connecting the dots by now, and if you’re starting to think that it’s quite similar to a renaissance man, but with a concentration on true virility… you’d be pretty damn close – and I’m not talking about “jack of all trades, master of none” either.

These are the guys that women dream about: “I want a real man with paradox x, paradox y, and paradox z all in one”. One of the few people you look at wondering to yourself: “wow, what it is they can’t do?”. The ones that grew up outcasted, but now have more real friends then some people even know. The guy that can be a ‘bad boy’, take control, and drive a woman ridiculously crazy in bed – yet still does genuinely care about all the beautiful women in his life (even his grandmother).

The guy that knows 3 languages (and actually uses them in the countries he visits) just for fun. The man who learns tango and yoga because he enjoys them, the culture, and their benefits – not (only) for the beautiful women that are in the class. The one that doesn’t try, he just is. The “dreamer” that’s crazy enough to think he can change the world… and actually is.

Here’s the kicker: these aren’t examples of different polymen – they all describe the same man.

Now don’t get all idealistic on me; the polyman isn’t perfect, and can’t 100% master everything in life – and he knows this. Instead, he strives for excellence in all the most important areas of his life. And while there are inherently areas and traits in life that are necessary to excel at [for a polyman], which specific things that are important, are completely up to him. This isn’t about setting boundaries or creating moulds that men have to fit into in order to be successful – it’s about attitudes and beliefs.

He is unapologetically masculine, and goes for what he wants.

He often fails small, but he doesn’t consider it failure – only feedback. He learns what he needs to from those experiences, so when he does win – he wins big. He is constantly learning what he needs to learn to become a better man, and loves the journey, knowing that being a polyman isn’t really about being a polyman – but about becoming one.

He is zen. He is fun. One with himself, and one with the world – he is a servant of others, and master of himself. The leader that inspires and protects, not orders and attacks. The peaceful warrior. The superior man. He aspires to create the best life(style) for others and himself, and will not tolerate mediocrity. With ridiculously high standards yet no expectations, he also knows there are times when ‘good enough’ is perfect, and 80/20 is effective.

He is unapologetically masculine, and goes for what he wants without concern for approval. He is understanding and compassionate, yet he will say what needs to be heard, rather than what one wants to hear. He makes no excuses, and accepts no one else’s either. He lives with integrity and honesty in the face of ridicule and punishment. He is afraid, very afraid – yet has the courage to face it anyways.

A polyman is wise beyond his years, with the spirit of a child. He is the true balance of yin and yang, in-touch with both energies, and yet knows he is inherently masculine. Always clever; with a witty sense of humor, he is serious about life, but doesn’t take it too seriously. He builds and destroys, and accepts death as a part of life. Knowledge + observance = awareness; the first tool used by the polyman in catalyzing the change he embraces. He is not always all these things all the time, but is aware when he is not, and is always striving to the be his best.

The polyman is a paradox; an absence of duality. He lives his purpose. He is a real man.


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40 Comments on “What is a Polyman?”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    […] the hell is a polyman?! I go into great length defining EXACTLY what it is in my first post here: What is a Polyman? | The Polyman Let me know what you think! Q: Is this something you as a man would be interested in aspiring to […]

  2. song says:

    I am very surprised at this age, someone know what a polymath is and even created a blog dedicated to it. I first came across the word when I was reading information on Da Vinci on wikipedia. That was when I realised my life begins to resembles his.

    I always feel that society or the world is evolving to become a factory churning out the same social conditioned person that the government or the society tells them too. For example, if the economy says that biomedical industry is profitable now, everybody flocks to study biology to follow what popular. This is exactly the same thing that is happening in my society. Everybody is chasing what the masses tells them to

    We all know that many works of geniuses was created not because they followed the trend but because they believe in following their passion and stick with it. The modern society don’t like such disruptive behavior and sought to influence the repression of such behavior.

    If you think you are a polymath, then it time to stop repressing those behaviors and unleash the power that you have within you.

    1. Drew Gerald says:

      Thank you for the comment! I agree, it’s a very little known concept. Really though, look at generals, ceos, political figures… they’re usually quite successful at a lot of things.

      Good point about following your passion and not always following a trend. You should totally unleash the power within, it’s just some people don’t know they’ve got it.

  3. Michael Chui says:

    That sounds a lot like the viewpoint espoused by Odysseus in Dan Simmons’ Ilium (pages 594–5):

    Arete is simply excellence and the striving for excellence in all things,” said Odysseus. “Arete simply means the act of offering all actions as a sort of sacrament to excellence, of devoting one’s life to finding excellence, identifying it when it offers itself, and achieving it in your own life.”

    A newcomer ten rows up the hill, a heavyset man who reminded Ada a bit of Daeman, laughed and said, “How can you achieve excellence in all things, Teacher? Why would you want to? It sounds terribly tiring.” The heavy man looked around, sure of laughter, but the others on the hill looked at him silently and then turned back to Odysseus.

    The Greek smiled easily–strong white teeth flashing against his tanned cheeks and short, gray beard–and said, “You can’t _achieve_ excellence in all things, my friend, but you have to _try_. And how could you _not_ want to?”

    But there are so many things to do,” laughed the heavy man. “One can’t practice for them all. One has to make choices and concentrate on the important things.” The man squeezed the young woman next to him, obviously his companion, and she laughed loudly, but she was the only one to laugh.

    Yes,” said Odysseus, “but you insult all those actions in which you do not honor arete. Eating? Eat as if it were your last meal. Prepare the food as if there were no more food! Sacrifices to the gods? You must make each sacrifice as if the lives of your family depended upon your energy and devotion and focus. Loving? Yes, love as if it were the most important thing in the world, but make it just one star in the constellation of excellence that is arete.”

  4. Drew Gerald says:

    That’s an awesome excerpt, and arete is a major concept I’m going to be discussing – thank you!

  5. Frederick Minniefield says:

    Wonderful story.. I will want a good amout of time to think over your story.

  6. Laurie Corzett says:

    This reminded of an article I recently found:

    http://livingstory-ny.blogspot.com/

    Understanding Creative People

    CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CREATIVE PERSONALITY

    1. A great deal of physical energy alternating with a great need for quiet and rest.
    2. Highly sexual, yet often celibate, especially when working.
    3. Both extravagant and spartan.
    4. Smart and naïve at the same time. A mix of wisdom and childishness. Emotional immaturity along with the deepest insights.
    5. Convergent (rational, left brain, sound judgment) and divergent (intuitive, right brain, visionary) thinking. Divergence is the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas, to switch from one perspective to another, and to pick unusual associations of ideas. Convergence involves evaluation and choice. Creative people have the capacity to think both ways.
    6. Both extroverted and introverted, needing people and solitude equally.
    7. Humble and proud, both painfully self-doubting and wildly self-confident.
    8. May defy gender stereotypes, and are likely to have not only the strengths of their own gender but those of the other as well. A kind of psychic androgyny.
    9. Can be rebellious and independent on one hand, and traditional and conservative on the other.
    10. A natural openness and sensitivity that often exposes them to extreme suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment. Despair alternates with bliss, despair when they aren’t working, and bliss when they are.”

    1. Destin Gerek says:

      Well that just describes me to a tee.
      Thanks for the mirror…

  7. Drew Gerald says:

    @Laurie Wow, thanks for sharing that! Personally, I’m a Gemini as well, so that description fits doubly for me. It’s that balance between both polarities those 10 characteristics describe that rings true. Awesome.

  8. James says:

    You’re right, I’m confused about what it means to be a man — or even what the point of being a man is at all. This is because I’m constantly facing double standards: be sensitive, yet dominant, confident but humble, be a man who fits all of the traditional male stereotypes of strength, dominance and competition in a society that seems to devalue those traits while expecting them.

    I’ll be honest and say that this article hasn’t cleared anything up for me. You say yourself that a polyman is a paradox. How then can such a man ever hope to exist, or even resemble a polyman? Take the article from an above comment. How can a man be extroverted and introverted, or extravagant and spartan? It’s like saying I have to agree with a point while at the same time disagreeing with it. And I surely cannot hold my own values and opinions if I am expected to be everything at once. An example from your article is saying that a polyman never accepts mediocrity, and in the next sentence say that there are times when a man knows that ‘good enough’ is perfect. If I have high standards, befitting a polyman, then there should be no time when ‘good enough’ is acceptable, unless I am willing to accept mediocrity.

    I try to achieve excellence in everything I do. I am proud of my accomplishments while knowing there are things I have still need to improve. I have lofty ambitions and I aim to achieve every one of them. Is this enough to be considered a polyman, or should I also be expected to somehow know my own insignificance and accept that sometimes I won’t achieve excellence? If I don’t believe that I can achieve excellence in everything I try, then I won’t achieve excellence in anything, since I’ll just get to the first difficult part and then give up with the opinion that I’ve done good enough.

    1. Drew Gerald says:

      Hey James, thanks for the awesome comment!

      You’re right, this post isn’t necessarily written to clear things up, rather simply to define the goal. There is incredible power in paradoxes and they offer incredible wisdom. F Scot Fitzgerald said: “intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

      If you notice, most of thing I say in that post ARE indeed paradoxical for a reason. We live in a reality that exists in duality, and thus we have to play by its rules while still understanding that’s indeed what we’re doing.

      About always striving for excellence, yet knowing when good enough is perfect… there’s a difference between being efficient and mediocre. For example, when I’m working on a project or have an idea, the circumstances won’t always be excellent or perfect when I start or finish, and if I wait for that moment or state it will never happen at all. It’s better to have something that exists that’s excellent, even good enough for that moment in order to move onto something better, rather than the perfect idea that doesn’t exist.

      It’s balance. If one spends their whole life unhealthily obsessed with one thing, while neglecting others in the pursuit of perfection, I personally think that’s not the best option. If you’re goal is to get 1.5 million dollars, and to get the last 100k will cost you your lover, family, and friends… I think 1.4 is “good enough” while still reaching excellence. Make sense?

      The ultimate polyman is an ideal, but we’re always striving towards it, and because of such, that makes us a polyman. Ah, one of my favorite paradoxes ;)

  9. N'guessan says:

    Comment connaître ma passion ?
    aidez moi

  10. Benjamin says:

    Hi Drew,

    I am wondering if you are aware of the realm of inquiry concerning integral theory and ken wilber and integral enlightenment? If you haven’t come across them yet, here is a great hub site I would recommend checking into http://integrallife.com/
    If you have, I would love to hear how you see the polyman, which you brilliantly bring forth, by the way, integrating into the ideas associated with integral.
    Peace, and thank you so much for this site, it is relatively amazing (reserving absolutely for the absolute).
    with and in love and light,
    Benjamin

    1. Drew Gerald says:

      Hey Benjamin, The only thing I think I’ve seen of his was a clip on ayahuasca (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HPQgKbxIjk) which I absolutely loved. I haven’t heard any of his other stuff, but if it’s anything like that talk, I’m sure I’ll dig it! Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll have to check some more of his stuff out.

  11. braian says:

    wow the is explaining me all so well i want to change the world i know i can ive been an out cast since i was in kinder coming from Argentina, and now i have more friends than i ever had and i can change the world with their help oh and im 16

    1. Drew Gerald says:

      That is awesome. I can totally relate my friend, I’m glad this help explained things and it’s great to know you’re only 16 and find that this holds true to you in your quest to change the world!

  12. Drew Gerald says:

    Testing first Polyman Blog Facebook comment!

  13. Michelle Terrell says:

    I’m very impressed and my faith is renewed. Go Drew!

    1. Drew Gerald says:

      Thank you Michelle, always glad to have the support of women!

    2. Dheeraj Koossool says:

      Drew Gerald ‚that’s very impressive and so real whatever you have mentioned in the above article.

  14. Martin says:

    Drew, I connected with this right away. While reading this excerpt I became instantly aware of my ways of being as a man, and can embrace both the dichotomy and self expression fully.

    1. Drew Gerald says:

      Hey Martin! That’s so good to hear. I’m really glad it helped you have that awareness that you’re already embracing your masculinity. Rock on my friend.

  15. Zia Holte says:

    Wow, yet another great, “accidental” find. Thanks for defining pretty much exactly what kind of man I am hoping exists for me. With the addition of monogamy, perhaps. : ) In fact I think PolyWoman might have to be coined if it has not, already, cuz I kind of see some mirroring in what I want and who I am. I love and appreciate men and their complexity as you describe women, for example. Neat site. Thanks for that… <3

    1. Drew Gerald says:

      You’re welcome, I’m glad you found found this! There’s no such thing as acci­dents ;) By the way, just to clarify, the poly in polyman does NOT mean polyamorous. The poly is from poly­math, again, not from sleeping with many women. Hope you find your own polyman to enjoy a rela­tion­ship with!

    2. Drew Gerald says:

      You’re welcome, I’m glad you found found this! There’s no such thing as acci­dents ;) By the way, just to clarify, the poly in polyman does NOT mean polyamorous. The poly is from poly­math, again, not from sleeping with many women. Hope you find your own polyman to enjoy a rela­tion­ship with!

  16. Stephanie Tupas says:

    Nice article! :)

  17. Sapkota Roshan says:

    great way to put things in perspective,!

  18. Matt H Kennedy says:

    The polyman sounds (and looks at least in your photos) to be a self absorbed narcissist. And boy is it a stupid term. It conjures an image of a plastic doll, not a man. A true, well rounded man doesn’t contrive to be so, he just is. You my ‘evil rich kid in an 80s movie’ looking friend, are so far from being a renaissance man it’s not funny.

  19. Johnson John says:

    I’m not quite sure how I ended up here, but thanks for the laughs.

  20. The Four Agreements Summary | The Polyman says:

    […] walks of life. For those of you who have never read this short, yet provoca­tive book on how to live life with integrity, I highly suggest it. There’s a lot more in the book than just 4 state­ments of course, so […]

  21. Marcus DiMarco says:

    I think what you are describing is just a man with high testosterone. And no that doesn’t make him an angry abuser. a healthy man with high testosterone lacks anxiety, is very careful about what he says and does and how that will effect his image, and is very successful in what he decides to do.

    The second aspect of the man you are describing is a theorist. A theorist is a person that specializes in understanding and developing theories in many topics that may be hardly relatable to other people. A theorist directs science and informs engineering and medicine.

  22. Marcus DiMarco says:

    You say you have spent 10’s of thousands of dollars learning basically self help techniques. Did any of your learning come from Dianetics or Scientology? Some of the phrases you use are reminiscent of that.

  23. David Allweiss says:

    Hi Drew. I like what this site is about, and I like how you present it. But what about the guys who still need to take that first step — the nice guys, the joe schmo’s the just-friends … don’t they need to self-actualize first before they reach this Renaissance-man status you describe?

  24. Rachael Swe says:

    I am glad I stumbled upon your writing. Thank you so much. Your topic may sincerely be one of the most important and needed explorations of our time, since the consciousness of men translates so urgently into our societies’ structures and inventions for better or worse. Relationships give more people more joy and more suffering that any other single factor. It is time someone came up with a truly admirable Archetype for today’s men that is empowering , without huge flaws and limits.*Picturing Jesus the celibate who hangs with guys, or Zeus the Philanderer.

    Many of our era’s urgent, necessary improvements in female status have confused & vilified masculine traits, leaving a big ? about ‘what is a man’ and what is a state worth aspiring to for a man. Like you said, we’ve even lost rites of passage so a man knows when he is a man.

    There are a lot of empowered women in our society who are still fighting to be safe, paid properly, and credited with their true gifts, but we can also be habitually over-functioning, angry or just longing for a better balance. Nothing is worse than trying to date men who are functioning as immature children or worse, a bitchy competing female-mode in a man’s body. Anger and agendas lurking in the subconscious of a “nice” guy are seriously as destructive as overt “jerks.” And the truth is, most of us women don’t know how to course correct or not make it worse.

    I believe a lot of environmental factors have chemically aggravated the situation, xenoestrogens , etc., yet consciousness and behavior from both sexes do seem to make enough difference. But only when a person knows what they are doing. Consciously.

    I haven’t yet read all your articles, but so far, my hat’s off to you. The collective mindset needs more experimentation and more advice that isn’t simply “gaming” for power or manipulation. Sometimes, intentionally polarizing and specializing can be really eye-opening, and fun!. There is nothing as blissful and deeply “relaxing” to the core for a woman as being around a balanced, functioning, masculine man.

  25. Drew Gerald says:

    That’s a good point. Hopefully my articles help get them there, albeit they do require a certain level of consciousness to really benefit and understand some of these ideas. I don’t cater to the joe schmo’s, I like to focus on remarkable men. But perhaps I’ll make a free guide on the “first steps”!

  26. Drew Gerald says:

    Thank you for the comment and appreciation. I agree with everything you said, there are many factors, including estrogens, chemicals, media, food, lifestyle, vilification, pollution, lack of purpose, financial enslavement, and hundreds of other factors that are contributing.

    I think a major problem is that we don’t value the feminine, so women try and be “more like men” to gain status and equality, when we should value both the masculine and feminine qualities with equality despite a difference in function. We won’t improve with men acting more like women and women acting like men to fix an imbalance in our social structure — we need to change our values.

  27. Rachael Swe says:

    Drew Gerald. Amen. Equally valuable does not mean identical, even among men.

  28. Rachael Swe says:

    Drew Gerald Also, we have pushed for generations now to value the feminine, and a lot of decent guys show their mindfulness by imitating feminine traits and distancing themselves from anything too spontaneously masculine. Separating the dark shadow of masculinity from the desirable expressions is a big step.

  29. Drew Gerald says:

    Rachael Swe Yes! Spot on. I talk about this in depth in my Holistic Sex course, diving into polarity and the traits of masculine and feminine, regardless of gender. I think you’d absolutely love that course, as well as my article on this blog on why women date jerks instead of nice guys.

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