I heard an NPR segment from the Hidden Brain the other day it is called, “Guys, We Have A Problem: How American Masculinity Creates Lonely Men” I would highly recommend giving it a listen. Even if you are not terribly interested in traditional gender roles and the inherent societal norms that come along with them, it is a fascinating piece.
It speaks to the traditional male friendship in America. Something that I am sure many males have felt. Male relationships are expected to look a certain way, we don’t show emotion, don’t tell one another we love or care about each other, and our only interests should be concerned with watching sports, working out, playing video games, and talking about girls or fast cars. This is what I received as a template for male friendships.
This attitude towards friendships can be very isolating. It creates situations where men have no friends, and often leaves very shallow relationships with the friends they do have. The domino effect this can have on an individual was astounding. Loneliness is a predecessor to a plethora of physical and mental health issues. Having strong friendships can literally extend your life, and as a culture we are smothering the ability of young men to create, strengthen, and keep male friends.
As always, I have no solutions. I think the best thing we can do is be aware, have conversations, and be vulnerable. This means that as humans we can make a point of sharing how much we care with our male friends. I have done this often in the past two or three years. I am becoming less apprehensive about it, however it is still hard for me to share with other men that I love them. I can say it has been well received from every friend I have given the opportunity to. We should continue to work towards a more open model of male friendships and allow for a continually evolving definition of what it means to be masculine in today’s world.