Why Male Friendships Are So Hard to Maintain

A 2017 study found that men value male friendships—or ‘bromances’—as much or even more than they do their own intimate relationships. Yet, so many of us struggle with maintaining our friendships as we get older, pair off, or simply lose track.

For the latest Friday Session, Dr. Drew Ramsey, M.D., spoke with Cleo Stiller, a Peabody and Emmy Award-nominated journalist and author of Modern Manhood, about why these relationships are so hard to maintain—and what it means for your mental health.

According to Stiller, there’s a disparity among how women and men approach their own friendships. Deep friendships, she said, involve sharing of your emotions, stories, and secrets. “Women are socialized to do this from a young age,” she said. “Men not so much.” The effect is that so few men actually talk to other men about what they’re going through.

“I talked to one guy who has college friends,” she continued. “They go away once a year together. It’s kind of just a ruckus, blackout weekend. And then one year, one of their fathers was dying, and on the ‘blackout’ night, the guy broke down and started crying to tell them ‘my father has been dying his been going on all year.’ They were shocked that they didn’t know that he’d been going through this.”

And choosing not to share you own feelings can be harmful for your own well-being, she said. “If you’re not telling anyone how you’re feeling, after 35 years, it’s really hard to remember that you feel that way at all.”

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to solve this: actually communicate what you’re going through and be honest. “Now those guys who go away, on their last night, they do something called the ‘feels.’ Everyone has to show up, talk about something really happening for them. It can’t be bullshit, like my boss is a jerk, it has to be deep.”

For the rest of the conversation and more on improving your friendships, check out the video below:

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