Understanding Male Friendships
Male friendships: Yes, we have them.
Posted Sep 27, 2008
I am thrilled to be blogging for Psychology Today on the topic of men and their male friendships. It has long been established that people with friends live longer, healthier lives. Men's lives are shorter than women's. By helping men to better connect with other men through supportive friendships, I hope to help enrich men's lives. My initial postings will be based on my research on more than 400 men and 120 women into how they define friendships, how they make and maintain friendships, and the suggestions they offer for enhancing friendships. Some of these postings will come from my book on men's friendships and some will come from other events and research that I come across.
Two initial points to be made from the book and one observation:
1. Men, from an early age, are socialized by society to have difficulty establishing and maintaining friendships. We have been raised to compete with other men and not co-operate with them. We have been raised to hide our vulnerabilities and have often lacked friendship role models in our fathers.
Yet we have friendships with other men - do they look like women's friendships? No. But we have them and we value them.
2. Aristotle has written that friendships are the purest type of virtuous interaction, a giving of oneself to the other. He observes that one can only be friends with a peer! If you have something to gain from someone else, or that person has something to gain from you, it is not a true friendship as one must be equals to participate in a friendship. Consider in your own life, whether your closest friends are peers.
Observation - John McCain used the term "friend" three times in the first presidential debate. Would Aristotle agree with McCain as to his use of the term "friend"?
(I wish to thank my wife and my two daughters, one a psychologist and one a social worker, for helping me to be a better person so I can be a better friend to other men.)