“I have friends…” and other half-truths men tell themselves
Recently a friend called me unexpectedly.
Him: “Bro, I’m having neck surgery tomorrow. Just thought you should know. I’m worried about my kids.”
Me: “What? Why? Is everything ok?”
Him: “Yeah. It’s ok. I’ve had some problems with my back…. It’ll probably be fine…. Anyway, it’s still a serious surgery, and I’m just stressed. I wanted you to know what was going on with me… Just in case.”
Of all people in America, adult, white, heterosexual men are some of the most socially isolated, having on average the fewest friends. Look it up. It’s a fact.
Who are your friends?
Make a list of your 10 closest friends.
With whom would you….
Share a joy or accomplishment?
Share an event? A Saints game, movie, night out, etc
Share a struggle?
Share an anxiety?
Share a health concern?
Share a parenting stress?
When men do hang out, rather than talk and conversate, they’re more likely to do an activity together. According to a recent Salon article, “friendship scholar Geoffrey Greif calls these “shoulder-to-shoulder” friendships, contrasting them to the “face-to-face” friendships that many women enjoy. If a man does have a confidant, three-quarters of the time it’s a woman, and there’s a good chance she’s his wife or girlfriend.”
That’s a lot of pressure to put on your wife or girlfriend.
Over the years I’ve had many male clients that, when honest, were socially isolated with few friends. This makes coping with life challenges all the more difficult and lonely.
We’ve become much better at Facebook sharing, than face-to-face sharing, and this is a problem when life smacks you in the face.
If you want to go fast go alone if you want to go far go together – African Proverb
How can you cultivate genuine friendships? It’s actually quite easy if you keep two concepts in mind: Share & Bear – both of which necessitate engagement.
To share means that you engage other guys and let them in on your life. Let them know what you’re going through. Volunteer information about yourself… your accomplishments, your goals, your stress, your struggles, and your failures.
To bear means that you engage other guys with support for what’s going on in their life. You help them carry their loads and celebrate their successes – together.
This is what happened when my friend picked up the phone and called me. He shared. I got to bear. Next time, it will be the other way around.
One loyal friend is worth 10 thousand relatives – Euripides
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender heart. – Henri Nouwen
Share & Bear Friendship is not optional in this life. It’s essential. Cultivate your’s today.