14 Basic Skills All Men Should Possess

Written by Sean Percival

In today’s modern world there are many things we take for granted, many things our fathers would have known how to do, and some others that might baffle them. Additionally, on average, Americans and European men are starting to get married older, meaning that there is now a need to be self-sufficient in things long-considered to be within the realm of the woman. Whether you’re out camping, or at home or work, there are some basic skills a man must possess. The following are fourteen of examples of these skills – if you don’t know them, you should learn them, or you may be caught unaware sooner than you think. If you can think of others, please leave them in the comments below.

Drive a Stick-Shift



It’s a sad thought that more men, every day, are coming of age with absolutely no experience driving a stick-shift. To really add insult to injury, there are more men running around who don’t know how to drive a car period, but they’re beyond help if they’re that far gone. Driving stick is not a difficult thing to learn, and you don’t need to own a manual-transmission vehicle to acquire this skill. Have a friend teach you, hell, rent a car if you have to, it only takes a couple of hours to get the hang of it. At some point, just about everyone comes across a situation when they need to drive someone else’s car, and there’s a pretty decent chance that car will be stick. You’ll want at least a vague familiarity with it.

Hook up an Entertainment Center



There is absolutely NO excuse for this one. It’s now 2009, TV’s with wires coming out the back of them haven’t been new or fangled for 20 years. The wires are color-coded, and even labelled with handy names like “input” and “output.” Here’s a hint, if something outputs, there’s an input somewhere waiting for it. With HDTV’s on the rise now, it’s even easier with HDMI plugs, since there’s only one cable. Your grandfather may get away with having the Geek Squad come out to the house to install his new TV, but you need to man up and handle your own business.

Fix a Toilet



Everyone has a toilet, most houses even have more than one. They’re not new and they’re not that scary inside, either, yet somehow this all goes out the window the moment that flush handle stops making noises. Odds are, if you take the lid off the back of the toilet and peek in there, you’re going to immediately see what’s wrong. It’s not a complicated assembly, and if you really can’t figure out how the flapper works, the guy at Home Depot will be happy to take one and half minutes to explain it to you.

Navigate a Map and Use GPS


There should never be any instance when a man is handed a map and says “I don’t know what I’m looking at here.” It may sound silly to some, but it happens every day. The culprit is usually the same guy who can’t drive. Roadmaps aren’t exactly of the difficulty level the Goonies had to deal with; they have clearly marked labels and landmarks, just like the road you’re on. The same goes for ditching the map and using a GPS device, which are built to be easy enough to operate one-handed and without looking. That’s their purpose, so you shouldn’t have a problem learning how to use one.

Change the Oil


Granted, in a decade or so cars that even have oil to change will be much less common, but right now they’re the run of the mill and have been since your grandparents were toddlers. Every man should be able to, if needed, change the oil in his car, as well as swap the spark plugs and the air filter. These three things make up the bare minimum maintenance-skills trifecta for car-owners. The only exception to this rule would be if you grew up filthy rich, and only drove cars that required special garage tools and special knowledge and calibration. That’s probably not you.

Balance a Checkbook



A man needs to be able to manage his money. That’s just a simple fact of life, a part of growing up, and a major factor in whether or not he spends his life alone and miserable. Now, while it’s true that money isn’t everything, it definitely matters quite a bit. A woman isn’t necessarily shallow if she doesn’t want to spend her life with a guy who can’t keep his bank account from over-drafting, she’s just got good sense.

Cook the Perfect Steak



A timeless symbol of manhood, cooking the perfect steak is a long sought-after goal for any man who’s ever touched a grill. It’s just one of those things we all have to strive for in life. On top of that, it’s a great way to garner respect around the neighborhood, and it’s sure to get you a reputation as a good cook regardless of any actual cooking skills. The last thing you want is for your own wife or girlfriend to ask that you let your friend man the grill on the 4th of July. It should always be you.

Swim the Breaststroke



The need to be able to swim is one of basic survival. If you fall into a body of water, you need to be able to get back out, otherwise you’re a danger to yourself and others. You don’t need to be an Olympic-style swimmer, but you should at the very least be able to pull off a breaststroke if your life depended on it, and it might, you really never know. If the whole impending doom thing doesn’t sway you, then the fact that you look lame dog-paddling across the lake might.

Write Effectively


Unless you plan on spending your entire life working construction, and not as the foreman, you’re going to have to write more than one paragraph at some point. When that time comes, you need to be able to string something together that’s both coherent, and correct. That means spelling, grammar, and proper punctuation, all things taught throughout high school. If, like most young men, you weren’t paying any attention during high school and now can’t write a paper to save your life, there are plenty of resources available on the Internet; take some time and rectify your mistakes before it’s too late.

Dress for the Occasion



Jeans and a T-shirt are great, every guy needs to be comfortable, and nobody would fault a guy for wearing his favorite jeans to the store. That’s a far cry from going to a job interview, a wedding, or to a yacht party dressed like this. A man needs to have a presence and that means not looking like a drowned rat in unwashed clothes. You need to be able to dress yourself, and women will attest to this. It may be a little more expensive than the thrift store, but the payoff is ten-fold. If you lack fashion sense, and many men do, take a woman with you. There is no better shopping partner than a fashion-conscious woman.

Sew a Button


Yes, you can run around asking every woman in sight if she can help you fix your broken button, but you’re going to look like a jerk. It’s pretty easy to fix a rogue button if you can get ahold of a needle and thread. All you need to do is thread the needle, and then start looping it through the button holes and fabric. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to keep the button on your clothes until you can replace them or find someone to do a professional job (like your mother). The last thing you want to do is to just walk around missing a button, that just looks ridiculous.

Do Laundry Properly


Many men get away without the most rudimentary of laundry skills, but they’re the guys who only own one pair of Levi’s and three black T-shirts. Socks and underwear are always optional to these gentlemen and they live the perennial single life. A man needs to be able to take care of his clothes, and that includes sorting them to allow for color-bleed as well as fabric types. The dryer can also be a deal breaker- even when washing correctly, and you don’t want to end up with a shirt that fits a 10 year old. Learning this skill is actually a pretty involved, drawn-out process, but with enough trips to the laundromat, and enough stupid questions annoying the women that happen to be there, you can learn how to handle your clothes like a fashion expert- and maybe even get a date while you’re at it.

Handle Roadside Emergencies


If you’re going to be out on the road, then you need to be able to handle a flat tire or jump a battery. Not knowing these two simple things can be just as bad as walking into the desert with no water. It’s also important that you be able to stop to help others who are stranded on the side of the road when they don’t know how to change their flat tire.

Build a Fire


Much like swimming, this is a basic survival skill that mankind developed long ago. There is always the off-chance that you may need to spontaneously build a fire, and you should have at least some inkling of how to go about doing it if the need ever arises. You don’t need to become an expert fire-starter, but you should at the very least be aware of the various methods that exist. There is no shame in taking the easy way out; always having a lighter, or a book or box of matches on hand. Weatherproof matches in your glovebox are always a good idea, and flint-strikers are cheap and non-combustible alternatives as well. Man discovered fire, don’t be the guy who never learned how to use it.

69 thoughts on “14 Basic Skills All Men Should Possess

  1. Kathleen

    Hmmm, I can do all of them except balance my checkbook and change my oil. (But to be fair, I’ve never tried to change my oil.)

    This may be why men sometimes assume I’m a lesbian. :-/

    I would add one more to the list:

    “Lead a creditable Foxtrot”

    Foxtrot is a versatile dance that can be done to several different genres and styles of music. Great for weddings.

  2. Mike Wilson

    I’ll second that. Ability to dance (and willingness to do so, no “I can cut a rug in my apartment alone” nonsense) is a solid skill men should have.

    I’m 13/14 of this list. Can’t sew a button to save my life.

  3. Char


    Ride a horse.

    Start a fire without matches or a lighter.

    Save someone from drowing.

    Cook pasta.

    Train a dog.

  4. Lindy

    How about eat a ***!! If my man couldnt eat a *** he would be out the door, the rest of this stuff is pointless

  5. GarandFan

    How about how to shoot, safely load and unload a gun? Be surprised how many ‘metrosexuals’ are out there who’d hold up a weapon by two fingers (if they didn’t faint first) and go “Ewwwuuuuuu”.

  6. Eddie

    My additions:

    1) Frame a wall
    2) Build a wall
    3) Wire something electrically
    4) Understand what wine to order when, and why
    5) Be able to listen, not just wait to talk
    6) Know enough to “take care” of a woman
    7) Hold the door (both building and car)

  7. PeterA

    A man who can’t fight and defend a woman is not worthy. That should be on your list.


    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. – Robert Heinlein

  8. a man

    Change a diaper?
    Ability to dance?
    we’re talking things every man needs to know. Not things told to do by his wife or girlfriend!
    I’d add, know how to fight and know how to negotiate. Play poker is also missing.

  9. MarkFu

    Hey Eddie,

    You were doing great from 1-3 but faded fast after that. The rest are just niceties that might get you laid, lol!

    I agree with GarandFan. I think it is a basic skill to learn to shoot a firearm.

    I would add to be able, minimally, to do at least a couple of pull-ups, 25 push-ups and run a mile in under 12 minutes.

  10. Jack Rawlinson

    Here’s another one: not be an antiquated, sexist ass who gets his opinions about the male sex from the Boy Scouts, circa 1973.

  11. Sapwolf


    I can’t do all of those things, but I can lead a very relaxing and smooth Foxtrot, Waltz, Tango, Rumba, Nightclub Two-Step, East-Coast Swing, Samba, Bolero and Hustle.

    Other things I recommend that I’m not particularly great at that are crucial:

    1) Use of firearms for defense including handgun (with 30-state concealed carry), shotgun, and rifle (preferably assault rifle semi-auto).

    2) Use of a knife for self-defense.

    3) How to fish.

    4) Ride a horse.

    5) Train dog.

    6) Smoke a cigar at special occasions without mangling it. I once near caused a man to faint when I didn’t smoke a cigar right and this guy was a real man’s man. His face went white for a sec. Hilarious.

    7) Have a favorite drink. I like Old fashions before a dinner. I’m a bourbon guy.

    8) Understand the rules (we’ll forgive you for not knowing the balk rule) of baseball.

    9) If under 40, climb a mt. of 14k+ ft.

    10) Always be alert and protective around women. We men are STILL expendable unfortunately.

    11) Know first aid and CPR.

    12) Anything dealing with taking care of a baby short of breat-feeding.

    13) Always be working like a male beaver. Real men are do’ers and don’t get idle. Idleness let’s the Devil temp you.

  12. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA)

    a) allow a woman to come to her pleasure *first*

    b) completely clean and keep house for one month (probably supports ‘a’)

    c) grow, harvest, and preserve potatoes, tomatoes, and onions

    d) develop and implement a robust home security and emergency plan

  13. Harcort Fenton Mudd

    The breaststroke a required skill??? I can see side stroke and the crawl. Handle firearms should be up near the top. Also know how to handle a first aid case.

  14. Corky Boyd

    Like your take on this. There are many other items for men to know in the “handy” category, but your point is well taken. It would be interesting to do a survey by location to find the “handiness” of men. My guess is New Yorkers (city) would be at the bottom of the list.

    Before I met my wife, she was dating a New Yorker who was on his way to becoming a surgeon. He drove her from the city to meet her mother on Long Island. Serious stuff! On the way his car had a flat. He was at a total loss on how to mount the spare. So she did it.

    Dropped him the next day.

    His loss was my gain. We’ve been married 46 years.

  15. Rusty Shackleford

    WTF? Is this what passes for manhood in the USA today?

    A 12 year old boy scout could do all of those items.

    You and your readers should pull the metro sexual butt plugs out of your collective asses and man the fuck up.

    I’m surprised you didn’t list eating, breathing, and bowel movements to your pathetic list.

  16. Just Jon

    Most of these things are things that ALL people should be able to do, as just a basic tool for survival.

    I would add the it: Beat the crap our of Jack Rawlinson from above who thinks he’s better than all of us.

  17. LarryG

    Being a real man is really easy: unless we’re talking about man/woman interaction, all you have to do is learn one simple phrase. “Yes, dear, you’re right.” Then go about your ordinary duties as an obiedient mule. Might even get fed!

  18. Toads

    I agree with the commenters who say that this is setting the bar far too low.

    Ditch the steak and entertainment center, and replace it with a number of items relating to who men relate to women (far more useful in the modern world).

    1) Be able to pass the various tests that women throw at a man (i.e. make the man spend money, jump through hoops, etc.)
    2) Know how to ask for, and get her to agree to, a pre-nuptial agreement. This is the most important financial planning step you can EVER make.
    3) Know how to seduce a woman without spending money
    4) Truly understand WHY the bartender and broke drummer/guitar player get laid far more than the investment banker or high-income executive. Then work on the personality traits that trigger female attraction.

    You get the idea.

  19. KCL

    Wow, my husband can do all of those but sew on a button! I knew I had a catch, but this only confirms it. I would also add that men need to know some rudimentary conversation skills. They should know how to make conversation with different types of people in various situations. I’ve noticed that this is a skill some intelligent men do not possess, particularly the left-brained types. And there’s no mention of the use of power tools. Tim Taylor would be disappointed. And finally, men should know how to make at least 5 cocktails.

  20. Cindy

    What a sexist piece of trash “article”. Could you imagine the outrage that would be directed at a “14 Basic Skills All Women Should Possess” article?!

  21. Sgt Johnson

    Man the fuck up! that is the most pussified list I have ever seen!
    Props to Rusty for telling the truth.

  22. TMA

    Perform CPR
    install a home computer network
    Cook (not just “the perfect steak”)
    Manage finances, pay taxes, pay attention to IRAs, 527 plans, etc.

  23. Jay

    I can do everything but the breaststroke, but I know 3 other swimming strokes so that’s n/a as far as I’m concerned.

    I agree that, like myself, all men should be able to safely handle firearms, and CPR proficiency should be a prerequisite for anyone to get a drivers license IMHO.

    Q. Why does Jack Rawlinson prefer the company of Keebler elves to women?
    A. Because they’re all fudge-packers.

  24. PIF

    How ’bout:
    Be able to sew a gillnet, fix a purse seine, mend a crab trap, and catch fish by the ton… 🙂

  25. Hflomberg

    OK, I’m over 60. I can no longer do the physical things – but here are a couple that my experience tells me works – especially when dealing with women.

    1. Make a woman laugh! not at you, but with you.
    2. Earn a living.
    3. Treat people with respect.
    4. As an old scoutmaster – enjoy working with kids.

    You’d be amazed how much female attention I used to get – running into the supermarket to pick something up, while wearing an adult Scout Uniform.

  26. GregGS

    There are 15 things a man needs to know, as noted above using a knife in self defense, that’s close but no cigar, but keep the knife for that bloody steak. #15 shoot and clean a gun. Whoops! It’s 16, learn how to smoke a cigar properly.

  27. Richard Walker

    Be sensitive enough to get called “pussified queer” by Jack Rawlinson and Rusty Shackleford

    Be masculine enough not to give a crap

    Be smart enough to know that “manrammer” is a compliment paid to gay porn stars

  28. Ernst Junger

    Things a man should be able to do, according to commenter Jack Rawlinson

    1. Be able to successfully perform the reach-around
    2. Know when to clench and unclench his anus
    3. Be able to shave ALL the hair off his body
    4. Be able to watch “Meatspin” to 1000 rotations
    5. Suppress his gag reflex

  29. Jeana

    Jeezus that Sean fag that wrote this little piece must be aching for some man meat between his cheeks.

  30. Bob

    If you don’t own, carry, and are competent with, a gun – you’re a fag
    If you can’t grow and hunt your food – you’re a fag
    If you can’t cook the aforementioned food – you’re a fag
    If you can’t stop your teensy pecker from squirting after a couple of pumps – you’re a fag

  31. Finbar MacAloon

    ‘Always be alert and protective around women.’

    Feminist are a craven, deadly lot these days. Most women are feminist when they can use it to their advantage. Always be alert around them.
    Look at the generations of beta male, metrosexual dunsils the government run, feminist, public indoctrination system has turned out.

  32. Bob

    If you can’t break a nose/jaw with one well-executed punch – you’re a fag
    If you can’t build furniture from scratch – you’re a fag
    If you wear designer jeans – you’re a fag
    If you wear flip-flops – you’re a fag
    If you think ‘bed head’ is stylish – you’re a fag
    If you wear those ridiculous emo liberal reading glasses – you’re a fag
    If you are reading articles like this – you’re a fag

  33. Richard Walker

    You should try to appear less frightened and full of homopanic – you don’t have the guts to be a fag, and come off like an angry little bully.

    I’m sure that’s a big hit with the ladies.

  34. Gino

    Not a bad list, but if you want a better one…read the Boy Scout handbook. Any man worthy of his package better be able to get through first class.

  35. badcrow

    1.) Clean a fish.
    2.) Plant and tend a garden.
    3.) Use tools.
    4.) Hold your liquor.
    5.) Know when to be silent.
    6.) Live with a broken heart.
    7.) Play a musical instrument.
    8.) Shoot an animal with a rifle.
    9.) Put down a pet.
    10.) Raise a child.
    11.) Hold on to a woman.
    12.) Do what’s right, even if you suffer.
    13.) Speak the truth.
    14.) Respect your God.

  36. Frank


    It’s been awhile – drop by when you have a minute. The beer is cold, the DVDs are ready, and I have nothing but time.


  37. The Ronin Edge

    1: Shoot a gun.
    2: Reload spent brass.
    3: Gut and clean an animal.
    4: Build a basic survival shelter.
    5: Fish.
    6: Effectively use a computer.
    7: Acquire potable water.
    8: Light a fire in adverse conditions – rain/snow.
    9: Set animal snares.
    10: Navigate by the stars/sun.

  38. shiden

    Good list! But I agree Kathleen, men ought to know how to dance…and I can lead a Foxtrot! Swing works better though and is more versatile!

  39. Steph Mineart

    I have to call sexism on this one. Women should be learn to do all of these things, too, as well as most of the additions in the comments.

    And women should know how to protect themselves, and not need a man to do it for them. Hell, half the men in this world are the danger women need to protect themselves FROM. No use relying on a good man to be around when you need to foil the many bad ones you encounter every fraking day.

  40. Ried A. Book

    A. This list is pathetic.
    B. Anyone who thinks real men care two bits about what gimcrackery a woman believes or feels is a jackass. The only “man” who cares about that is a weenie advertising executive trying to sell cosmetics and diet food.
    C. If you can’t kill, butcher, and cook anything larger than a rabbit, you’re a tap-dancing democrat sissymary queen. “Look, I made fire! Now my starved-to-death corpse will be warm!”
    D. Woman’s List? They wouldn’t follow a list to save their mule-headed lives. They would rather walk off a cliff than be useful to anybody but pimps and credit card companies.

  41. Greg H.

    There’s obviously different variations of this list (with some overlap)…
    1. The Redneck’s version
    2. The Professional’s version
    3. The Family Man’s version
    4. The Bachelor’s version
    5. The College Guy’s version

    Which one do you adhere to?

  42. spincut

    Satisfy the most beautiful women in the world, again and again.

    Put a .380 slug between the eyes of a Russian spy, from the hip, on the run.

    Beat a 6’6″, 240 lb. KGB thug to death.

    Drink anyone in the bar under the table.

    Be able to say, with a Welsh accent, “Bond. James Bond.”

  43. Paul

    Sounds like the list just needs to be longer than 14–especially since no one mentioned unhooking a bra with one hand, and I’m sure that falls into the top 50 at least.

  44. Marsh

    Like Ronin Edge I too think these are the most important.

    1: Shoot a gun.
    2: Reload spent brass.
    3: Gut and clean an animal.
    4: Build a basic survival shelter.
    5: Fish.
    6: Effectively use a computer.
    7: Acquire potable water.
    8: Light a fire in adverse conditions – rain/snow.
    9: Set animal snares.
    10: Navigate by the stars/sun.

    No 11. Learn to lie w/a straight face on the “Honey how do I look”questions

    We teach these skills except #11, your on your own there!

  45. Michael

    There are only two skills that matter:

    1. Determine for yourself what skills you need to possess.
    2. Find and use the appropriate resources to learn your missing skills.

  46. Brian

    Have practical self-defense skills. Like it or not, it can be a violent world, and men are still the default choice for who is looked to for defending themselves, their families, and their communities and nations.
    Im glad to see that at least being able to cook at least one thing a steak, made the list. Not only do some minimal but real cooking skills keep a man from being to ignorant to know how to properly feed themselves, later it can make for a good dating advantage, and a memorable family tradition of “Dad’s night to cook.”
    It’s a pity that no matter what basic skill someone will write, and how they write it, the writer may feel like they are on thin ice of being old-fashioned and/or sexist, and no doubt somebody will take it to be that way.

  47. Mr. Gillis

    1) Eat your dinner,
    2) Eat your pork and beans.
    3) Eat more chicken any man ever seen.

  48. Man

    How about:

    Bench press your body weight and do a pull-up. You should be ashamed if you can’t do both.

  49. Mel C

    Greg H., Spincut and Michael: I agree with you all. You only need to know what’s important in your immediate circle of family/friends. Everything depends so much on the man’s status in his life: If you live in Alaska, you probably need to know how to fish/hunt and cook what you’ve caught. That does no good to a man who lives in NYC… what is he going to hunt? Pigeons? Women need to know how to do these things too… what if something happens to your man and he becomes disabled? Are you going to be a bad mate and leave him because he can’t fix the toilet anymore? It IS a very easy skill. All of them are!

    And, also, I’m sure the big Viking-like Europeans who are not allowed to own guns can come a beat the crap out of Bob and Rusty, while wearing flip-flops and reading glasses…

    What’s the matter Reid??? Did a woman beat you up?

  50. Jack Rawlinson

    “I would add the it: Beat the crap our of Jack Rawlinson from above who thinks he’s better than all of us.”

    “Jack Rawlinson= manrammer”

    “Q. Why does Jack Rawlinson prefer the company of Keebler elves to women?
    A. Because they’re all fudge-packers.”

    “Things a man should be able to do, according to commenter Jack Rawlinson

    1. Be able to successfully perform the reach-around
    2. Know when to clench and unclench his anus
    3. Be able to shave ALL the hair off his body
    4. Be able to watch “Meatspin” to 1000 rotations
    5. Suppress his gag reflex”

    Well, you all certainly showed me just how wrong I was to suggest that this list would appeal primarily to retrograde sexists with outdated attitudes. Good job!

  51. Claudia Madrigal

    Wohoo! I guess I must be Lucky!!! ty Martin (^-^)
    xoxoxoxo I guess I will start appreciating you more Lol

  52. just commenting

    How to treat a lady in all aspects of a relationship and friendship. love, life, repect, bedroom ,

  53. Thera Zac

    How to get down on one knee and ask a woman to marry him! not all the flashy stuff either. Just the original WILL YOU MARRY ME! 🙂 Of coarse you still ask the father for his daughters hand first.

  54. Slips and trips Toronto

    Like your take on this. There are many other items for men to know in the “handy” category, but your point is well taken. It would be interesting to do a survey by location to find the “handiness” of men. My guess is New Yorkers (city) would be at the bottom of the list. Before I met my wife, she was dating a New Yorker who was on his way to becoming a surgeon. He drove her from the city to meet her mother on Long Island. Serious stuff! On the way his car had a flat. He was at a total loss on how to mount the spare. So she did it.Dropped him the next day.

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