Matt Forney
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On Male Friendships: Part Two

friendships

This is a guest post by Adiaforon.

Read First: On Male Friendships: Part One

In my last post, I mentioned an article that was a good starting point for talking about friendships. From what I’ve seen on the Net, there’s precious little devoted to creating and maintaining male friendships. Maybe there’s more out there, but I haven’t come across it. Maybe it’s being shouted down by the dreck that is “you go grrrll!” blogging.  Maybe men are just too busy. Very likely. Or, maybe, it has something to do with men themselves.

Let me tell you a bit about myself and my experiences in trying to make male friends. I’ll riff off of the conditions I mentioned at the end of my last post.

I grew up a somewhat sensitive kid. As an INTP (which I knew nothing about until I was around 27 and took the MBTI inventory with the help of an MA psychology intern at my old alma mater), I tended to keep to myself and was in my own little world. I was a creative kid. Some of the creations of which I’m the most proud are building stores and haunted houses (complete with a strobe light one year) in my parents’ basement and dragging my family down to see them, charging them one dollar for admission. I read a lot—Choose Your Own Adventure and Indiana Jones novels were faves—and had the requisite “boy interests” of dinosaurs and space. Then I got into computers, programming on an old Apple IIe one summer. Then, I got into classical music.

For all intents and purposes, my interests were somewhat eclectic, somewhat out of the ordinary, and somewhat rarefied.

Trouble was, I had a hard time finding too many people who shared my interests. Coming from a small town, sports was big. No surprise there. I tried playing tee ball and basketball, but lost interest when I learned that I wasn’t coordinated enough or competitive enough to be a glory hound. Little ol’ naive me thought that we were all on a team and that we had shared goals to win the game and practice good sportsmanship. Bullshit.

I went off to college in the backwoods of Kentucky. Big mistake there. Luckily, I was smart enough to get all of my GenEd classes out of the way and learn about myself in the course of a year before I transferred out of there, back to my hometown. I resolved not to ever make that mistake again. I succeeded.

I had a checkered career path in my twenties. It kept me working and idle when I wasn’t working. I worried a lot about money. Like Danger & Play wrote, I didn’t have a lot of time to think about making friends, dating, or traveling when I wasn’t in the US.  Though not broke (living with my parents was a cushion), money was tight. I was afraid of taking too many unnecessary risks that might put me in the poor house. I soldiered on, inch by inch. I had some successes, but those were trashed after having lived through three economic crises (early 90’s recession, the 1997 Asian financial crisis, and the 2000 tech bust). Throw 9/11 in there just for good measure.

Those were turbulent times. I withdrew into myself, as I had done when I was younger. It would have been nice to have someone to lean on and commiserate with, but those people were few and far between. I found solace more with female friends than I did with potential male friends. Looking back, that was good in the short term, but probably bad in the long term. Having male friends means that you can bounce suggestions off of the other guy and find out what he did. Sharing feelings takes a backseat. This is the hallmark of the rugged American guy: the same one who probably sinks into substance abuse because he’s not in touch with his feelings, aided and abetted by the girl who broke his heart while leaving him when he was down.

When the dust settled and I learned more about steering my own ship, on calmer seas, I sought to find more male friends. I found it difficult and still find it difficult. Why? Let’s look at the conditions I outlined in my last post:

1. Did I have a mutual interest in the other person, and do they have overlapping interests and outlook on life?

With some, I did. With many others, no. I’ve never liked sports and don’t care to discuss it. I can discuss politics, but that’s too polarizing. I avoid religion. So what does that really leave? Literature? Nah. Classical music? Nah. Women? Yeah, within the context of the ‘sphere, but that gets old after a while, especially when you focus too much on PUA stuff and not on how to make yourself a better man. Age will have something to do with this. With older guys, they have their marriages and kids. With younger guys, they might have their heads in their asses and come across as adrift. Not necessarily their fault, but at my age, it take a lot of energy to see them on the right path; as if I really knew where the right path is.

2. Are they proximate?

Some are; most aren’t. The guy whom I consider my best male friend doesn’t live in the same city as I do. Some older military buddies are scattered all over the place. (One is in Afghanistan now.) I can Skype with them, but that takes time. We both have to set aside time. People whom I’d consider “friends” in my current city are gay. Not that that’s a bad thing, but it’s shown to me that having male gay friends is a lot easier to deal with than another American male, who’s likely to be too committed to his own social circle, likely dictated by his wife or girlfriend, or who has that competitive mindset telling him that other males are potential enemies.

3. Do they have a lack of competing alternatives and/or demands on their time?

Hard to really tell, but often they do. If they’re married and have kids; duh, there you go. If they have a girlfriend; another duh, but not as strong. If a budding ‘spherian, they’re likely chasing pussy. Then there’s the Net, movies, music and the like. They have lives, and what’s another guy in that life? What value would I bring? Ditto: it goes both ways.

3. Is there consistency and reciprocity?

Depends. Most shocking and irritating is how men can flake on each other, too. I’ve had it happen more than once, even with a ‘spherian (who shall remain nameless). Kind of depresses you. As much as we piss and moan about women flaking on us, we guys have the gall to do it to each other. Ah, well. Pessimist that I usually am, I take this in stride.

Adiaforon blogs here.

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