31 votes

Men need meaningful friendships, not just mates

7 comments

  1. [3]
    mrbig (edited ) Link
    As I got older, meaningful friendships got harder and harder. Some friends turned out to be just professional associates. My oldest friend became a conspiracy nut with questionable/aggressive...

    As I got older, meaningful friendships got harder and harder. Some friends turned out to be just professional associates. My oldest friend became a conspiracy nut with questionable/aggressive attitudes towards his wife. It's hard to be in his presence these days, and some of my other friends are connected to him. Another vanished after getting married. In the end, only two remained. One lives with me, the other I see from time to time. I'm definitely one of the "reflective guys" from the article, so support and companionship are more import to me than gender validation.

    14 votes
    1. [2]
      Nitta Link Parent
      This is like a treasure. Uncommon but amazing! In the world where people mostly marry romantic partners and kinda disappear for others.

      One lives with me

      This is like a treasure. Uncommon but amazing! In the world where people mostly marry romantic partners and kinda disappear for others.

      4 votes
      1. mrbig Link Parent
        He's a 60-year-old homosexual, I don't think marriage is much of a competition at this point :P

        He's a 60-year-old homosexual, I don't think marriage is much of a competition at this point :P

        2 votes
  2. toly (edited ) Link
    Looking at the friends that I have in my 30's I can divide the groups into two basic categories. The first is the stereotypical friend that you met at some point growing up and due to similar...

    Looking at the friends that I have in my 30's I can divide the groups into two basic categories.

    The first is the stereotypical friend that you met at some point growing up and due to similar interests, mindsets, and geographic location you've stayed friends with. This is the one that is typically thought of as the only valid long lasting relationship but due to age or relocation seems impossible to have such relationships later on in life. And while it is true that you can't aquire more childhood friends if you're past your childhood years there is still hope.

    The second type of friendships I have are those where I've mentored or been mentored by someone during times of need or problems. There's one friend that I've gotten close to exclusively because he reached out to me to help talk through some mental health and relationship issues he was going through. Meetings over coffee turned into longer discussions which transitioned into a full blown friendship. The great thing about these types of relationships is they are "manufacturable". We all have things in our lives where the input of someone we respect or trust but aren't necessarily friends with would be valuable and beneficial. Reaching out to those people or being open to others reaching out to you (making time for others) is something that can be done at any age but requires openness. It requires going out on a limb and being vulnerable to someone who you don't have a history with. Those types of relationships can be just as deep or even deeper than a childhood friend-type relationship and thankfully can be created through our own effort.

    That's not to say there isn't some level of "roasting" that doesn't go on during the conversations but deeper conversations are much more difficult to have group-wise first. They first need to be built on an individual level and then can they integrate better on a group level which is one of the things the article mentioned. The conversations I have with individual friends and the conversations that I have in groups of friends are completely different sometimes. There are things I'm comfortable sharing with one individual because I know they'll take it the right way and understand or help that I know will not work with a different friend and definitely with the group. This might seem like duplicity but it's a very useful thing to understand. You don't say things at family events that you tell your mom in private, why wouldn't you think the same rules apply to friendships.

    Since these deep relationships can be created later in life it might just be that men don't realize (or care) that in order to create a friendship one has to be vulnerable with information that could damage your reputation, standing, or image since that is the only way to create depth in a one-on-one relationship. The reason why work and other social relationships feel lacking is because there is nothing more than a surface level interaction with those people most often in a group format. I have professional and private relationships with people who I've known for years that I very clearly understand I could move on from and my life would be in no way affected because these weren't relationships with people but with groups. The deep friendships that I have, if lost, would take away a significant part of my everyday happiness even though our interactions are not daily or even weekly sometimes. They are relationships of depth not of frequency but on a deeply individual level even though they are part of a bigger set of friendships.

    All of this is said from the perspective of straight, married, employed, 30's, father's perspective so adjust as necessary for your situation.

    6 votes
  3. [2]
    Octofox Link
    I don't have any truly close friends. I meet up with a programming group every second friday and I have people I talk to at work but no one I would talk to about something personal or hang out on...

    I don't have any truly close friends. I meet up with a programming group every second friday and I have people I talk to at work but no one I would talk to about something personal or hang out on the weekend with. But I just can't really bring myself to care. I have a bf and family who I spend a lot of time with and I don't really see why I would need to get really close to other people. Maybe I am missing something but I feel fine having friends who I only meet at the pub for a few hours.

    6 votes
    1. Nitta Link Parent
      Probably your bf as the closest person and those aquaintances (and relatives) satisfy your needs in companionship already and you don't feel the need to form more close friendships. Also this is...

      Probably your bf as the closest person and those aquaintances (and relatives) satisfy your needs in companionship already and you don't feel the need to form more close friendships.

      Also this is probably so common that people older than early 20s mostly use up their capacity for companionship the same way and that's why it's hard to form close friendships later in life.

      6 votes
  4. dubteedub Link
    The opening story in this article about a man getting shut down by his friends trying to cheer him up with some banter is pretty rough. I feel like I am beginning to sound like a broken record,...

    But not only did his mates not encourage him to speak openly about his feelings, their banter shut down any possibility of him expressing himself.

    To a witness to this awkward exchange raised questions about the advice routinely dished out by a small army of men’s health experts that men should open up, express our feelings and show our vulnerability. That's pretty difficult to do when your mates clearly don’t want to hear it or if they turn your pain into a punchline.

    The opening story in this article about a man getting shut down by his friends trying to cheer him up with some banter is pretty rough. I feel like I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but this is one of the ways that toxic masculinity's culture of stoicism / needing to hide vulnerability has a negative impact on men.

    I am glad that this is being discussed, but the need for the author to provide "both sides of the issue" here is pretty jarring to me when they start quoting a researcher defending the insulting behavior.

    “I’m not saying it’s ideal, but we certainly shouldn’t be trying to curb this.
    If there’s only a limited number of repertoires that men can connect with, and you take one away, then what are you left with?”

    I would argue that maybe we can try and bring down those barriers so that if a man needs some actual emotional support he can talk to his friends and not fear that he is less of a man for doing so.

    5 votes