My last blog discussed how men have male friendships in four categories (just, trust, must, and rust friends). That discussion focused on trust friends - guys you like and trust but who are not in your closest circle of friends. One responder recently asked how a guy can become closer friends with another guy, in other words, how do guys handle the man date? This topic justifies a new blog.
The Man Date is when guys check each other out to see if they can be friends with each other. It is discussed in the last chapter of Buddy System. Here are 10 key points relevant to it:
1. No computer "dating" sites exist for this activity though people can meet others on the web with similar interests - Mick, who appears in my book and is in his 50s, met Jorge over the web because of their common interests in guitars. They are now web buddies - not quite the same as a man date but you get the idea from this that people can meet in cities through their common interests;
2. The reasons people go out on man dates are many --- someone to share an interest in a common activity; someone to help with loneliness; someone to have as a buddy, not out of loneliness but because some adventures are more fun when they are shared with a guy; someone to get to know if you are new in a town, etc.
3. Think about how your other friendships have worked - have they been all consuming where you email often, less consuming where you check in weekly, or casual when you pick up the phone every few weeks? What are you looking for in a man friend. I have golf buddies who are also seasonal buddies. I see them a lot in the summer (at least every Saturday, and email them about plans in between). I may see them for lunch after golf and occasionally for dinner in the summer. Out of season (November to April) I neither communicate with them or see them. Figure this out first so you can understand how the man date works.
4. To look for another guy to be your friend, you have to want to have a friendship --- your wife or girlfriend can't be the reason you want to become friends with someone, you have to want it.
5. You have to be available (see #3). People look for other friends who have space in their life. Being friends with someone who is always too busy to see you or does not return your phone calls for days, is not much fun, especially if you are the spontaneous type.
6. If you meet someone who you want to pursue as a friend, you usually need to have a reason to see him. For most men, it will be around business or sports. Typical lines are: "Let's get together to talk about any deals we can work on" or "Have you seen the new bike trail outside of the city? Do you want to try it next weekend?" These are beginning gambits once you have established similar interests.
7. For some straight men, early in the conversation with a guy they want to befriend, they will establish their heterosexuality. When I interviewed men about their friendships, they want to be very clear they are straight. (see the next point)
8. Get over the fear (if you are straight) that you will appear gay if you ask a guy to play golf with you, meet you at the bar for drinks, or go to a wine tasting with you. This fear keeps men from getting close with other men. Because people with friends live longer, healthier lives, this fear may shorten men's lives (women are much less apt to have the same fear).
9. Figure out if you have a good time with the guy, when to ask him for the next activity together. This is tricky, Guys do not like to be aggressive in approaching other guys and do not want to seem like a stalker. Usually you can get a sense about your new friend by what else is going on his life. If he is telling you stories about all his other friends, the message is different than if he talks about hanging around without much to do.
10. Don't get upset if you don't hear from him for a while. Guys are not skilled at frequent communication with each other.