Never Date a Man Who... Doesn't Have Any Real Friends
We are all much more than just romance and sex.
Posted Mar 04, 2021 | Reviewed by Matt Huston
- Having close friendships outside of a romantic relationship is valuable for the relationship itself.
- Someone who lacks an outside support system may disproportionately rely on a partner for support.
- Initial comfort with a partner's neediness can gradually give way to burnout.
Note: Lots of mostly male (OK, exclusively male) readers decry what seems to them to be an abhorrent amount of sexism in this series as evidenced by the titles' references to dating men. Please know that the thoughts expressed here apply to anyone who dates anyone.
So you've met him, you've wined him, dined him and, mmm, all the other not-so-family friendly stuff and so far, everything seems to check out. He's a real grown-up and takes care of himself and his business. He's a sweetheart who takes equality seriously, that's right, seriously. He has even confronted you about sexist generalizations you've made like, "Eww, boys are gross." And it's all good because he does it all without ever being abusive or controlling, just straight up confrontation, lots of love, and lots of really, really good stuff. So what's not to like?
Well, his friends are a problem. Where are they? Maybe you're thinking, "Gee, am I being just a little too picky here? Am I being controlling? They are his friends. After all, all my girlfriends think he's great." So, OK, let’s review the possibilities.
Maybe you actually are a control freak. Scary thought but the condition is treatable and curable. Let's check your historic stream of consciousness: if you've never been able to surrender to the delicious feelings of love and you've never tried to work through becoming more understanding of a partner (because you know you're right) and why can't he see this? Why do men have to be so difficult because, after all, you know that he'll be much happier (and better!) if he does as you've ordered, commanded, ah, suggested, yes, that's it, gently suggested, well, please check YES! for control freak.
But, if you checked "no, I'm not a control freak" then maybe you're on to something significant. You're not being so much controlling as you are being aware and concerned. You're concerned because the man you're attracted to, maybe even love, literally has no real friends. Sure, he's got work buddies and he has drinking buddies. Yes, he's got acquaintances from high school or college, maybe an old frat buddy (or 10) but there's something in the appearance of a social support system that seems a bit off.
Oh, that's it. He has a level of social support but, well, no one is really close to him. No one really knows him. You mention this to him and he brightens, "But, baby, I've got you!" Your heart sinks as you remember that annoying Psychology Today guy who pointed out that we're all multifaceted beings with commensurate broad and deep needs and that we ALL need a supporting cast of thousands (or a dozen or so) to make for an epic love story. We all need real friends in our lives. Their absence is cause for real concern.
Sexual Futurists know that we can't predict the future. But we can consider probabilities and potential outcomes before we sign on the dotted line. So if a man (even a great one who really seems to love you) has no intimate social support system, does that mean he doesn't need one? Nope. We're all members of a social species. What his not having a social support system means is that you are about to become his social support system. Are you comfortable with that? Is that even doable?
Some women are very comfortable with this level of exclusive neediness, at least at first. "He loves me, he really loves me. He literally doesn't have eyes for anyone but me!" What these women discover over time is that their man takes all of his needs to her and again, over time, she begins to feel burned out. "Don't you have any other friends you can hang out with?"
The burnout is understandable and predictable. We all have many needs. Expecting one person to meet all of our needs is unreasonable because, after all, they have needs too. Not to mention that our neediness is not synchronized. I can be needing peace and solitude when they're needing someone to talk to. Sometimes this is OK. But is it sustainable? No.
There are darker sides to this darker side. What if he doesn't have any friends because he doesn't know how to have men friends? Well, think about it: If a man doesn't know how to have men friends then he's got major social skill deficits. If you're going to partner up with someone who has no idea of how to make and keep friends, then you're partnering up with someone who's got a long future of friendlessness ahead of him and his future as a mate overlaps heavily with your future. You already know this is not going to work. Just think of what your girlfriends bring to your life: the companionship that warms you, the conversations that confront you, and the perspective that informs you. Imagine doing without all that and you'll see how his being friendless is not a sustainable proposition.
But what if he has lots of friends and they're all women? This is a problem for so many reasons. For now, let's just consider that maybe his circle of (women) friends is a result of his discomfort with men... or their discomfort with him. What are these men picking up on? Something you can't see since, unlike you, they aren't blinded by love. And women friends? What, he's going to spend the weekend fishin' with his very attractive friend? I've had male clients over the years say that of course his attractive woman friend was a friend only because "We've never had sex."
Friendship is based on a platonic affection, that is, one free of animal passions. If you like the idea of having a boyfriend (or life partner) who is capable of developing a platonic affection for you (as opposed to one that is really hot erotically but only erotically) then you're on to something. We are all much more than romance and sex, more than genitals on legs. We have minds and souls, opinions and differences. It's good to have some friends to get away to from time to time. It's good for him to have the same option.