“High-Value” Myth: How It Affects African Men’s Relationships and Well-Being

There is an implied expectation for men to ‘man up’ and not express their emotions, which leads to many challenges being swept under the carpet,
The Love Central - "High-Value" Myth: How It Affects African Men's Relationships and Well-Being The Love Central - "High-Value" Myth: How It Affects African Men's Relationships and Well-Being
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A recent Twitter (X) thread argued that a man earning less than six figures should not be considered high-value. Can you blame the poster? Not entirely! It’s natural for humans to want the best. However, solely focusing on income to define a high-value man misses the broader picture.

We are in an era where conversations around this topic spring up daily all over the internet. Many people, especially women, believe that any man whose income doesn’t match their ideal of a high-value man isn’t worth giving a chance.

To help our men and women navigate through the noise, The Love Central team had a candid conversation with Stephen Adekunle Adegboye. Stephen is a seasoned family life practitioner, pastor, author, life coach, relationship therapist, and marriage counselor with 11 years of relevant experience. His insights will help us understand what truly makes a man high-value.

The Love Central - "High-Value" Myth: How It Affects African Men's Relationships and Well-Being
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Understanding the High-Value Man

According to Stephen, the concept of a “high-value” man is multifaceted and deeply rooted in both individual development and societal expectations.

A high-value man is one who embraces responsibility, has found purpose, and is committed to continuous growth—emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and financially.

In Stephen’s words, “A high-value man is not afraid of responsibilities; he is a man who knows his onions and has found purpose. He understands that he is not a perfect man and is committed to daily learning and growth.”

In the African context, this idea is intertwined with traditional notions of masculinity and manhood. Stephen explains that masculinity and manhood, while different, are deeply connected and often dictate what it means to be a man in African society.

The Love Central - "High-Value" Myth: How It Affects African Men's Relationships and Well-Being
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He notes that masculinity is socially constructed and not inherently biological. Boys are taught from an early age about the qualities they must possess, often reinforced through cultural rites and mentoring from older men.

Stephen highlights that an extreme approach to masculinity does not only dominate femininity but is the major cause of gender-based violence in society.

The Pressure of Unrealistic Expectations

Stephen emphasizes that the unrealistic standards associated with being a high-value man can lead to significant mental health challenges. These pressures stem from traditional and modern expectations that often clash, leaving men struggling to find a balance.


“Many African men are caught between traditional roles and modern expectations,” Stephen notes. They are expected to be the priests, protectors, and providers for their families. These roles come with immense pressure, which can only be managed with the right skill set and emotional intelligence.

The Love Central - "High-Value" Myth: How It Affects African Men's Relationships and Well-Being
Image credit The Love Central

This pressure is worsened by overwhelming societal demands. For example, a man might be expected to support his extended family financially, cater to his wife and children’s material and emotional needs, and still maintain a strong, stoic demeanor. Such unrealistic expectations can lead to burnout, depression, and even premature death, Stephen warns.

Masculinity and Mental Health

Stephen highlights the critical issue of mental health among African men, which is often overlooked or stigmatized.

There is an implied expectation for men to ‘man up’ and not express their emotions, which leads to many challenges being swept under the carpet, he says. This lack of open discussion around men’s issues contributes to higher rates of gender-based violence, depression, and suicide.

Stephen also points out that the societal focus on empowering the girl child, while important, has inadvertently left boys behind.

“Many boys have grown up without the necessary support, leading to a generation of men who feel inadequate in the face of well-informed and empowered women”

Stephen Adekunle Adegboye

This dynamic creates further strain on relationships and marriages.

The collision of traditional and modern values creates a complex landscape for African men. Stephen notes that while traditional values often emphasize the man’s role as the dominant provider, modern values advocate for more egalitarian relationships.

“Many men struggle to reconcile these conflicting values,” he says. Some cling to outdated patriarchal norms, while others strive to adopt more modern, balanced approaches. This transition is not easy and requires a deep understanding of one’s identity and purpose.

Stephen advises young men to focus on self-discovery and personal growth before seeking serious relationships. “A high-value man is someone who has found himself first,” he emphasizes. Understanding your own worth, behavior around money, and emotional intelligence is crucial before you can lead a relationship effectively.

The Love Central - "High-Value" Myth: How It Affects African Men's Relationships and Well-Being
Image credit The Love Central

The Impact on Relationships

Unrealistic expectations about manhood have profound impacts on relationships and marriage prospects. Stephen observes that many men avoid commitment due to the fear of not meeting societal standards, leading to a rise in casual relationships and delayed marriages.

“Men are wary of entering marriages without financial stability,” he explains. This mentality breeds a culture of non-commitment, where men prefer to stay single until they feel adequately prepared, often missing opportunities to build meaningful relationships.

The current mantra in our society is ‘NO MONEY, NO HONEY,’ which has made it difficult to know who is real and who truly loves you for who you are.

For women, the challenge lies in discerning genuine, high-value men amidst many societal pressures and distractions.

“Women have to navigate the complexities of finding a suitable partner in a society where men are often under immense pressure to conform to unrealistic standards”

Stephen Adekunle Adegboye

Finding A Balance

Stephen’s insights shed light on the multifaceted challenges faced by African men in the 21st century. The concept of a high-value man, while aspirational, is often burdened by unrealistic expectations that can lead to severe mental health issues and strained relationships.

To foster healthier relationships and well-being, it is crucial to redefine masculinity in a way that accommodates both traditional values and modern realities.

To mitigate the negative impacts of these societal pressures, there is a need to encourage open discussions about mental health, provide support for boys and men, and promote a balanced approach to manhood.

As Stephen aptly puts it, developing a strong sense of self-worth and understanding the dynamics of modern relationships are key to navigating the expectations placed on African men today. It requires finding a balance and creating a sustainable path for personal and relational success.

READ: Dating in your 30s vs 20s: Expert Reveals What Changes (and What Stays the Same)

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