Eighteen years ago, Dr Dain Heer come to the conclusion that a world without gentlemen was a world not worth living in.
"From outside, my life looked pretty darn good if not perfect" he tells Executive Style. "I was living in Santa Barbara, I had a girlfriend and was about to open my second chiropractor practice. But inside I'd been depressed for three years, without really sharing it."
"I woke up one day and just didn't see the future changing. I made a secret pact with the universe: it had 6 months to change, or I was out of here."
Within four months, life looked very different – he was single, and starting on a new trajectory of becoming an author, speaker and personal development facilitator.
One of the reasons he was depressed was because of the confused role of men in society - a topic he covers in his new book, Return of the Gentleman.
There are three damaging myths about men, Heer says.
"First, strength is never having feelings. Second, men cannot be sexual and value women's rights. Third, a man can have no stereotypically feminine characteristics or that means he's gay."
As well as exploding these myths, Heer's book aims to re-brand the gentleman, and explore what that means for both men and women.
Two sides of a deadly coin
At the moment, there's a damaging binary men are expected to slot into.
"We believe we can either be a stereotypical macho male, or a SNAG (sensitive new age guy)" he says.
"But I'm here to tell you there's a different way. You can be caring, kind, value women and their rights, but at the same time enjoy sex and be sexual. The problem is, for men who desire to be something different from these two ways of being, there's a shortage of role models. There are a lack of resources to make that possible."
By redefining what it means to be a man, Heer uses a phrase often levelled at women. "Men can have it all" he says.
"They can be more than the fixed, rigid expectations society puts on them."
Like a boy
In the same way the recent #LikeAGirl video tried to redefine the phrase 'like a girl', Heer thinks we need a "cry like a boy" video or campaign that gives men permission and encouragement show vulnerability.
"That blokey idea that you can't show emotions is why men's suicide rate is rocketing" he says. "People who tend to commit suicide are highly sensitive. We're losing some of our brightest people because 'they're supposed to be men.' That's not what we require of men at this point. We require a different conversation."
In November, he'll be coming to Australia to deliver 'Access Consciousness' personal development workshops for a number of professional clients.
The Aussie 'blokes' who attend his workshops are up for re-thinking their attitudes about themselves and others. He delivers workshops worldwide, but the 'gentleman's return' conversation is growing particular momentum in the US and Australia, he says.
How to be a gent in 2018
Here are Heer's top tips for rejecting toxic masculinity and being a true gent:
- "Get rid of everything you bought from every fairy tale, member of family male and female, every friend you had, that didn't make you lighter. The truth always makes you lighter; lie always makes you heavier."
- "You can be and have it all - you don't have to be a doormat (the 'SNAG') or the arsehole that dominates everyone. You can have the [potency and sexuality] of a man and also have caring, nurturing qualities. These can be men's qualities too - if we choose them."
- "Be willing to be as different as you are - whether anybody else gets it or not. If you're afraid of being alone, don't worry, you'll find people that'll support you and have your back"
- Ignore the Right wing who say toxic masculinity is the myth: "They've already made their stand. They desire a world of separation. Let's create a world that includes rather than excludes. There's no reasoning with them - and a true gentleman handles conflict differently. They don't climb into the cesspool to fight with people who can't be reasoned with; they elevate the conversation."