Buddy System

Understanding men and their friendships.

Can male best friends be trusted?

Can male best friends be trusted?

Can male best friends be trusted? If you saw I Love You, Man recently, you learned that Paul Rudd's new best friend, Sidney, crosses a boundary in his attempt to help out Paul Rudd's character, Peter.  It seems, from the movie, that women can share their deepest (read sexual) secrets with their friends and be secure that those secrets won't get shared with someone who is not in the inner circle.  But Paul Rudd's friend crosses a boundary and publicly shares a secret (read sexual) with people definitely not in the inner circle.  Is this an accurate representation of men and their closest friends? Well....I don't think men or women have a corner on closed-mouthedness (is this a word?) From interviews we conducted with 386 men and 122 women about their friendships, it appears that men and women are both capable of sharing secrets inappropriately.   Often when those secrets are shared, the intention is to do harm.  Friendships can end when confidences are not being kept.  Why trust someone if they cannot be trusted? And trust, along with loyalty and dependability, are the most frequently mentioned components of friendship in our research.

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In I Love You, Man, Sidney is just clueless - the intention is not to do harm.  And, he learns from his mistake.  If your buddy has told you a secret, don't share it.

Geoffrey Greif, Ph.D., is a Professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work and author of Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships.

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