the ‘RULES’ of Open Men

I’m sick of rules. Life seems to be full of them. I think men like to break the rules, but it’s hard to find a safe place to do it. See if some of these might sound familiar.

  • Don’t trust anyone, especially men
  • Don’t trust anyone, especially women
  • Go it alone, you’re safer that way
  • Don’t show weakness or vulnerability
  • Don’t show power or mastery
  • Don’t feel sad, angry, ashamed or guilty
  • Don’t look too happy, people will worry
  • Don’t admit when you’re wrong
  • Don’t take the blame
  • Take ALL the blame
  • Always say you’re wrong, even when you’re not
  • Don’t say NO, people might not like you
  • Don’t say YES, people will take advantage of you
  • Keep it to yourself, nobody cares anyway
  • Don’t share what has hurt you, people will use it against you
  • Take care of everyone else before you take care of yourself
  • Don’t get support. Only wimps get support
  • Don’t let down your guard
  • Don’t let the rage out, you might hurt someone
  • Don’t let the grief out, you might never come back
  • Don’t let the power out, people might expect big things from you
  • Don’t let the brilliance show, people will hate you
  • Be better
  • Stop doing that
  • Keep it together
  • Put her before you
  • Don’t ask for what you want
  • Don’t risk looking like a fool
  • Don’t forgive them
  • Don’t ever forgive you

I can say with confidence that I have broken every one of these ‘Rules’ that I have had in my head for most of my life. I have done this by attending a men’s group.

You can too. You will be surprised by how powerful and courageous you really are.

Now the ‘other’ Rules:

These are the ‘Rules’ we use in Open Men and the commitment we make to you.


  • Confidentiality – What I say here is confidential. I will not share another man’s words or actions. I will only speak of my own experience and personal learnings. This goes a step beyond medical or legal confidentiality, to create a sense of safety for each man. There may be mandated reporters in attendance.
  • Punctuality – The group will begin on time and end on time. If I arrive late, I will not interrupt the flow of the group.
  • Ethical Relationships – This is not a business group. No Solicitations. If I need something, I can ask for it before or after the meeting. I can leave literature on the table.
  • Non-Violence – Violence can be physical, verbal or emotional. I acknowledge that my words and actions have an impact on those around me. I am responsible for my words and actions.
  • No Drugs or Alcohol – If I am high or have been drinking, I will tell the group. I accept the choice of the group in handling this.

Guidelines for Participation

  • Speak openly and truthfully, speak for yourself. Speak in “I” statements, not “we” or “you” statements.
  • Any man may pass at any time. Any man may STOP a process.
  • I am not here to give advice. If I want advice, I will ask for it specifically. I will ask permission before offering feedback.
  • I am responsible for taking care of myself. If I need something, I will ask for it.

Our Ethical Commitment

This Open Men’s Group is facilitated by members of the ManKind Project, or “MKP,” a 25 year old international not for profit education and training organization. Neither MKP nor this Open Men’s Group are affiliated with any religious practice or political party. We strive to be increasingly inclusive and culturally aware. Open Men’s Circle is not here to sell you anything; attendance is free and there are no obligations nor expectations, financial or otherwise, beyond the groundrules we’ve just mentioned.

The men of MKP have attended a 48 hour primary training called the New Warrior Training Adventure, or “the Training.” To attend the Training, a man needs to pay a fee to cover MKP’s costs to put on the Training. Some scholarship money is available, and a flexible payment process is used to help men of limited means. This Open Men’s Group and the men of MKP receive no financial benefit from you being here now, nor if you someday choose to attend the Training.

The members of MKP who offer this open men’s group do so because we believe in men and we care about our families, our communities and our planet. Every man in this Open Men’s Group is invited to participate fully in the group – to challenge himself. This group is intended to help men grow and meet the challenges of their lives with strength, skill, and peer support. This group is not a substitute for professional mental health services. If you are currently in the care of a Mental Health Professional, ask them if a peer support group could be beneficial for your treatment.

If you are interested in learning more about MKP or the Training after tonight’s group ends, you are invited to take the literature on the table or talk to MKP members. MKP members who are available to talk about these topics, please raise your hands now.


That’s it. We’re not here to sell you anything, we’re not here to replace therapy.

We help men grow, because we believe the world needs grown up, mature, and powerful men.
Your family, your community, and the world benefits when you take an active role in your personal growth.

Our goal is to help you learn more about who you are and what you’re passionate about, and help you get more of it. And we want you to help us learn more about who we are as well. It’s always a two way street.

Open Men’s Group meets on the first and third Wednesday of every month from 6:30 – 9:00 PM in West Springfield, MA.


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