The Importance of Trusting Men in Your Circle

by A Manly Guest Contributor on August 26, 2011 · 43 comments

in A Man's Life

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Wayne M. Levine of BetterMen.org.

I lead men’s groups. I’ve seen the obstacles men face in developing trusting relationships with other men. These obstacles come in all shapes and sizes. But what they have in common is their power to keep men stuck…right where they are. The key to getting unstuck, to becoming a better man, father, husband, and leader, is to find a way through these obstacles, and to allow yourself to fully trust the men in your circle.

Why is developing these trusting relationship so important? Well, to become the best men we can be, we need to be in the company of other men. Many men feel far more comfortable in the company of women. That’s to be expected in our feminized culture. Most men of the last couple of generations were raised by their mothers, or other women, while their fathers were barely present. These boys didn’t receive their fair share of masculine modeling, guidance, and nurturing. It stands to reason that these men would feel more comfortable sharing their feelings, time, and trust with women.

So what’s the problem with that? If you’re still young, you may not have bumped up against the issues that will undoubtedly arise as you find yourself facing the challenges of long-term relationships, career choices, child rearing, mid-life, addictions, fidelity, and mortality, to name just a few!

Those of us who are longer in the tooth have had to confront our doubts, fears, and limitations as men who have been taught to rely primarily on women for advice. Women can teach us many things, but they cannot initiate us into manhood. For that, we require other men, fathers, and mentors.

Men who have continued to rely on their female significant others as their sole source of guidance, their only sounding board, or for their psychotherapeutic interventions, have seen their long-term relationships deteriorate. These men are asking too much of the women they love.

Those who have chosen to deal with these challenges alone have, more often than not, found themselves on the losing end of their own counsel. But those of us who have been fortunate enough to be introduced to the benefits of these strong male relationships have received the guidance, butt-kicking, love, and mentoring we’ve needed to navigate the treacherous waters of our lives.

Some of you may have already dismissed this notion of men needing other men. It’s difficult to see the need you may have for something you have never seen, experienced, or valued. How can you be expected to appreciate the benefits of something that our society has relegated to the shadow for generations? But I can assure you, each of us men have so much to gain through our relationships with other good, committed men. More about the benefits in a moment. Let’s get back to the obstacles.

Obstacles

I want to describe some of the obstacles men have to developing trusting relationships with each other by offering short composite descriptions of some of the men themselves. Maybe you know one of these men. Maybe you are one of these men.

Rocky is a smart guy. He really is. He knows a lot of stuff, and he’s not shy about letting you know it. Though he can be very generous with his time and brilliance, he goes out of his way to correct you, and to be the focus of attention, in his Mensa-like way. Rocky’s problem is that he’s so insecure, his mask of knowledge keeps people at a distance so that he never risks being known for the scared mortal he actually is.

Clyde is a victim. And he’s soooo good at it. Terribly convincing. At least he’s convinced. He’s got this story that he’s sticking to. And no matter what reasonable insight about his “poor me” behavior crosses his path, he has this uncanny ability, despite his intelligence, to thoroughly dismiss it. Though he’d pass a hearing test with flying colors, he actually only hears what he wants to hear and what supports the story between his ears that confirms him as a bona fide, certified, and verified…victim.

Biff is a pleaser. Very charming guy. Can’t say a bad word about him. AND, he can’t say a bad word about you. But that’s his problem. He’s a liar. Now, he would never think of himself as a liar. What a horrible thing to say! But that’s what you are when you don’t tell the truth. And in a circle of men, you’re of very little value when you don’t tell the truth. And whether those around him are conscious to this truth, they certainly have no chance of getting to know Biff or trusting him with their own truths.

Chip disappoints. He really did experience some awful stuff as a kid. Either or both of his parents, or other guardians, scolded him all the time. He couldn’t do anything right, according to the tyrants in his life. The problem is that Chip grew to believe it…all of it. Today, when he hears anything directed towards him he deems critical, all he hears is the bad people yelling at him. He can’t hear the men, he can’t feel the support, he just has to “get outta there, fast!”

Huey is angry. And he has every right to be, just ask him. When you listen to his stories, you find yourself getting angry too, just not with him…AT HIM! He makes such a big deal about nothing. But you better watch out. Like a junk yard dog, this fella just might choke himself to death at the end of his leash while barking at you. But he won’t bite. It’s just how he keeps everyone from seeing how sad and hurt he really is.

Fritz is great, no problems. Life couldn’t be better. Wife, kids, money coming out of his ears. Generous to a fault. Would give you the shirt off his back. And you’d do the same for him. Gosh, what a wonderful guy. Then one day, something curious happens. You learn that Fritz is getting a divorce, arrested for tax fraud, checking into rehab, or worse. It’s such a shame. If only he hadn’t been so self-deluded. If only he’d been honest with himself, you might have been able to help him avert his crisis.

Such a Shame

What all of these men have in common is shame. Deep down they’re convinced that something is wrong with them. That’s why they work so hard to hide it from themselves…and from you. All they’re doing, however, is recreating the conditions that brought on the shame. If they didn’t continue to see life their way, their behavior would make no sense to them. You might need to reread that sentence a few times. It’s crazy, circular logic. Unfortunately, many of us, on some level, are guilty of a little to a lot of this sort of thinking. Many of us have at least a little Rocky, Clyde, Biff, Chip, Huey, and Fritz in us. That’s why men’s groups work. We all have so much in common, we’re qualified to spot, say it, and hopefully support one another to fix it.

The Benefits to Trusting Men

Through my work with men over the years, I’ve seen the most unhappy, isolated, and despondent men reconnect with their emotional worlds, connect for the first time with other men, and develop strong relationships that have served them as they’ve continued to make changes in their lives.

By revealing themselves to other men, these courageous men have invited others in. They’ve learned to ask for help to become better fathers and husbands. They’ve owned up to their own fears and doubt, making it safe for others to do the same. And as they’ve come to know each other and help each other, the distance between them has diminished.

Now, rather than feeling all alone when a relationship has hit a speed bump, a business transaction has turned bad, or a child has become impossibly defiant, these men now have somewhere to turn, a man to call, and an opportunity to get the help they need to turn things around, sometimes very quickly. Though it may sound a bit dramatic, this kind of support is literally life changing.

Change Your Life

How can you go about developing trusting relationships with the men in your life, or with men you’d like to include in your inner circle? Here’s a short list:

  • Tell the truth to your friend.
  • Ask your brother for help.
  • Thank your dad for doing his best.
  • Invite friends over for a good talk, rather than too many beers.
  • Work with a male counselor to discover your masculine power.
  • Join a men’s group.
  • Start a men’s group.
  • Read books about male psychology and get to know yourself.
  • Replace old girlfriends with new men friends.
  • Risk looking like a fool.
  • Tell someone you’re sorry for having been such an idiot.
  • Be vulnerable and let someone you care about know that you want and need to be closer.
  • Be a man others look up to and trust.

We don’t live in society that honors relationships between men. In fact, our current culture doesn’t care too much about its males at all. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take care of yourself and develop trusting relationships with a few good men. It’ll be worth every bit of your effort.

________________________________________________________

Wayne M. Levine is a life coach, founder of BetterMen, and author of “Hold On to Your N.U.T.s—The Relationship Manual for Men.” To register for the BetterMen annual Initiation into Manhood on September 23-25 in Santa Barbara, CA, visit www.BetterMen.org.

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chris August 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm

I have a friend, J. He’s stubborn, and quiet. He doesn’t have a father in his life, and his mother died when he was young, and while a good mother, had some psychiatric issues. … He still has hangups about crazy women– he dates them! BUT. He manages to make strong friends with men, although his closest friend, N, has moved away to start his career in teaching. We all still talk, but it’s very different with N formerly being J’s room-mate for five or more years. J’s grandmother and older sister raised him, and he was a difficult teen. Now, he’s a pretty solid guy, if a bit proud. But pride is okay. :) He’s figured out how to trust, and figure things out with others, and for himself.

2 Rakshasa August 26, 2011 at 3:15 pm

I agree, that female friends cannot initiate one into manhood.
But I don’t agree on the rest of this article – if one has to make such a big difference between his male and his female friends, either his set of mind is very different from mine (which is quite possible and not necessarily meant negative) or he has just a really bad taste in female friends …

3 Cgirl August 26, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I have to say, as a girl who discovered the power of belonging to “women’s groups” 8 years ago, I feel sad that “men’s groups” aren’t as accepted by society. I’m not a particularly girly girl, but there’s something amazingly strengthening and healing about “women space” I would like to salute all the guys out there working to change society and create safe space for men as well.

Thank you, gentlemen.

4 Jonathan August 26, 2011 at 3:20 pm

This article hits close to home. My dad wasn’t around for my formative years, really, and while I get along well with him, I don’t have the relationship I think I need as a young man growing up. I have a son of my own now and I hope I am teaching him how to be a good man, but it’s difficult sometimes to know how. Like you’ve said, you cannot rely on your signifcant other to fill in the blanks. My wife is my partner, but I must make the hard decisions, the ones that that are my duty and honor as the head of a household.

I enjoy this site because I feel like it fills in some blanks for me. Not everything, not like an interpersonal relationship can, but some good notes and outlines. I’m not where I need to be, but I’m working on it, and it’s inspired me to try some things. And while I am often concerned with what is correct, I am also as quick as I can be to admit when I’m wrong.

Good article. I see some things I’m doing, more that I’m not, and how I can improve.

5 Jonathan August 26, 2011 at 3:22 pm

As an addenum about today’s culture, I feel like Judd Apatow, Paul Feig, et al have actually moved togetherness in men forward. It’s veiled in humor, but there is some real honesty behind the idea that best friends aren’t something men should give up when they hit high school. A good friend is a wonderful thing.

6 David P. August 26, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Sorry, but no – this touchy-feely ‘trust men’ bull doesn’t wash with me. In my life, the only men I interact with are, due to our jobs, men with whom I am in direct competition. There are only three options for me – lead, follow, or quit. I ‘trust’ these other men as much as the situation calls for it, but that’s it.

In my personal life, I prefer the company of women, but I only keep two or three of what I would call ‘friends.’ Otherwise, my life is my own. My father raised me to be self-sufficient, to understand that being born alone means that one will die alone as well. That is why my father is the only man I’ll ever trust.

7 Steve Harrington August 26, 2011 at 3:46 pm

I get the feeling that Brett is friends with Wayne and publishes his articles because of that friendship, not because he actually agrees with their content.

I’ve actually enjoyed Wayne’s previous outings, even vehemently defended the last one, but here I will have to respectfully disagree with pretty much the whole article.

Men’s groups are an outdated Baby Boomer idea. Ostensibly, they are supposed to counteract a “feminized culture” but they do quite the opposite–they feed into it! Do you know who likes to sit around and talk about their feelings? Women! Not men. Baby Boomers believed that men needed to be freed from cultural constraints that “forced” them to to restrain their feelings. But the idea that male bonding was something that men used to do for generations before it went away is simply historically false, as many of Brett’s articles have attested. For thousands of years males competed with other males for mates and status. That is why the male is naturally the lone wolf. Sure, men did used to spend more time with other men, but it not like they spent that time kvetching about their mid-life crises. They bonded over a shared purpose and mission. That is true male bonding–working together. Men’s groups that are built around sharing your “truths” and feelings are unnatural on every level and only serve to feminize men further.

So in summary, while I appreciate Brett putting up different viewpoints because it creates good discussion, I hope men who read this will stay away from men’s groups as they are the wrong path to manhood.

8 James August 26, 2011 at 4:49 pm

I think there may be one or two similarities between the “For it” and “Against it” camps.

For instance, guys who claim to be a proper man, after a few drinks, sit and confide in their best bud(s)? Quite a few. I mean, isn’t that letting yourself be vulnerable.

I personally don’t see anything wrong with what seems to be a bit of ” Male empowerment”

I’m too young to remember the whole ” Womans’ empowerment” thing, Hey! born in 1987, some of you guys probably have underwear older than me, but I digress…

There seems to be a bit of a role reversal going on but I say, whatever makes that dude feel like a better man, be it sitting in a circle banging a drum or building a scale model of a Spitfire. Whatever!

9 Kayode August 26, 2011 at 4:53 pm

It’s unbelievable how some people completely miss the point and argue about something that isn’t even in the article. I guess the author got something right since there is so much resistance. Someone even defends the idea that men are better off with female friends.

This article does not explicitly tell us to form male groups and cry together about our feelings. It tells us to TRUST the men in our life. Tell them the truth. Man nowadays don’t know how to communicate with each other in really helpful ways. They get together to talk about…. other women and most of the time it is not their significant other they are talking about, It’s the “hot girl in the other department”. How can we achieve any purpose if we can’t come together to improve our lives.

Anyways I love this article.

10 digital_dreamer August 26, 2011 at 5:27 pm

To bond with other men, you must first respect them, and they respect you. But, that respect doesn’t come automatically. And, most certainly, it doesn’t come from just talking, as may be the case in men’s groups. Talk is cheap, as well all know, and men can be highly critical of the spoken word and would rather _see_ what you are really made of. (I have no actual experience with men’s groups, I admit.)

I once read that women bond by talking together and men bond by working together. This I agree to be true by personal experience. Women like to talk and they grow together by doing such. But, this doesn’t work for men, at least initially, which explains why men’s groups – a gathering of strangers – aren’t really popular.

So, what works for men? Working on a project together. As if by magic, when men are working hard together, their respect for each other grows. And, so does the bond. But, this only works when you work hard and make sacrifices – like a man – and the other men do likewise. Otherwise, your respect for them, or their respect for you, disappears, along with any chance for bonding.

Hard physical work and getting the job done is the typical trademark of manly men. Some of the strongest bonds are by those who served together in war, for obvious reasons. Other bonds are created by fellow workmates, whether working together at the same company or working in same trade or industry. They share a common background in work experience and feel an immediate connection.

Unfortunately, much of the work men do in this society is work women can do – working in a A/C office, making phone calls, typing emails, scheduling, pushing pens, barking out orders, etc. – work that doesn’t really garner respect from lots of men, particularly if they serve under you. If you don’t believe me, just ask them. If this sounds insulting, realize I fall in this category, as well, as my work has changed through the years. Men working under you and doing the “grunt” work aren’t going to automatically respect you, especially if they perceive that you got to your rank by self-promotion, manipulation, and talking yourself out of a paper bag. (This will depend on how you treat them, of course. If treated like a solder and with respect, rather than like children, you have good management skills.) However, if you have worked hard in previous years and now have a “desk job”, men can still respect you when they realize your knowledge reveals hands-on experience and you once were them. That respect can lead to a bonding experience, if they have earned your respect, as well.

Show me a men who do hard physical work together, makes sacrifices together, push the limits of human ability together, and you’ll find men who respect each other – men who enjoy spending time together when the work is done – that is, bonding.

MAJ

11 James August 26, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Kayode,I don’t think it’s fair to say that Men nowadays don’t know how to communicate with each other in really helpful ways, or that when they get together then it’s to talk about Women. There’s alot of guys of whom I’m sure are exempt from that line of thinking.

For some Men, it’s possible that the sort of trust between men that’s being encouraged by this article may seem to be a sign of weakness or indeed a contradiction to what it means to be a proper man?

12 Nicholas August 26, 2011 at 6:05 pm

I was happy to find this through Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the men’s music fraternity. Not that my father didn’t do an excellent job, but his mind and mine are on two totally different wavelengths – but my brothers know and understand more about me than most others.

This is the truth – find a small circle of male friends. It will help you, in the long run.

13 Chris August 26, 2011 at 9:04 pm

there’s a concept in the study of history known as ‘the pendulum,’ Basically, what comes around goes around; if this group of people are liberal now, they’ll be conservative later (in a few generations/what have you). Right now, the pendulum is swinging back from “GIRL POWERRR” from the sixties, seventies, and eighties. It’s even acknowledged in the word “bromance”– a non-homosexual, very intimate relationship with another man! This concept’s been around a while, even as close as the 1800′s with ‘Romantic Friendships.’– not necessarily, and probably not, sexual, but very close in a way even marriages miss out on (and usually end in divorce). I look forward to the day that American culture can see that men don’t have to be lone, isolated people whose only worth is their bank, car, and … um… physical assets/prowess. After all, men have feelings too… right? (yes, they aren’t the same/don’t manifest exactly the same as womens’)

14 Cody August 27, 2011 at 8:04 am

I’m 26- and totally agree with this article. DD hit it on the head about bonding via ‘doing stuff.’

It shouldn’t surprise any of us that some of us are defending dead-end behaviors. They don’t know any differently and have been taught by our society (both the feminized and the Homer Simpson stereotype) that a man shouldn’t have authenticity with other men.

Just read a couple books on the subject: Bond of Brothers-Wes Yoder, Stepping Up-Dennis Rainey, and Masculine Mandate-Phillips. Recommend checking ‘em out if you want to read more.

15 Michael August 27, 2011 at 11:58 am

The author has the problem right — men separated from other men — but not the source. Sure, our emotional life is feminized. But not because our culture is. Our culture is hyper-masculinized, to the point where men are not allowed to express emotion of any sort, other than anger, greed, and domination of other men. When all other men are our competitors, none can be our allies or our fathers or our friends.

Women picked up the slack, because they had to. But it’s not them we blame. It’s our grandfathers and great-grandfathers, who were so harmed by WWII that they retreated into petty authoritarianism and cut themselves off from their own children.

16 Matthew August 27, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Amazing article. It’s so sad how brainwashed people are in this day and age, mens groups are seen as “gay” due to the extreme homophobic nature of our current society, while womens groups are totally acceptable.

17 L Neal August 27, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Let’s look at the list from the article:
* Tell the truth to your friend.
Real men don’t lie anyways, it’s dishonorable. Not tell everything to those you don’t trust? Of course.
* Ask your brother for help.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for assistance when you need it.
* Thank your dad for doing his best.
If he did you should, not every man has a father who has acted like one.
* Invite friends over for a good talk, rather than too many beers.
Women get together to chat, men get together to fix things or to watch or attend an event. Many men don’t drink at all.
* Work with a male counselor to discover your masculine power.
Your masculinity comes from within, it is a part of your being. Expressing it is a different matter, but new-age “get in touch with your manliness through counseling Blah blah blah” is simply not necessary and is a very feminine modern society suggestion. If you can’t figure out what being a man is from reading history and things like this site you’ve got some real problems.
* Join a men’s group.
Look at history, mens groups from the past aren’t about hanging out yakking about how you feel, they’re one of two kinds, gentlemen clubs where you could relax and read a book or play some chess or cards and interact no more with others than you chose. The other kind still exists, they’re clubs for activities, like climbing, hiking, scuba, etc.. or for hobbies like woodworking, etc..
* Start a men’s group.
see above, the old school ones are pretty much gone thanks to the feminist movement and the others are still around. You could start one, but getting together to chat probably isn’t going to cut it.
* Read books about male psychology and get to know yourself.
I don’t need to read what someone else thinks about what’s in my head to know myself, it’s mine, not theirs, and I live in it every day. Each man is unique in his own head, no two are alike.
* Replace old girlfriends with new men friends.
Many men, like myself, have no interest in making lots of acquaintances. I have a few actual friends that I see from time to time, they, like me, are busy men with much to do. We don’t socialize much, we help each other get things done and go do something once in awhile. What “girlfriends” I have are actually my wifes friends who she socializes with much, doing what women do, so I am acquainted with them through her and consider them friends because they’re hers.
* Risk looking like a fool.
If you’re a man you already do this, it comes with taking action and a man who takes no action is no man at all.
* Tell someone you’re sorry for having been such an idiot. Apologizing for mistakes is good, but who says every man has to be an idiot?
* Be vulnerable and let someone you care about know that you want and need to be closer.
That’s what you do with a wife or a romantic girlfriend. It’s okay to tell your male friends you wish you could spend more time with them or suggest doing stuff more often, but again, guys don’t hang out and chat about their feelings, guys discuss things in terms of “Should something be done about _____, does it need fixed?” not “how do we feel about ____”.
* Be a man others look up to and trust. Every man should be, and if your truthful, hard working, and responsible you will be.

18 Tarun August 27, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Looks like my small group of friends act as a men’s group without even knowing it.

When we would have someone outside our circle join us, they would think we were really odd. Often, they would secretly ask one of us in a corner and ask if we were okay. Thinking that the group was really insensitive and attacking people for certain ideas or actions committed.

I’d like to think of it as a group that will constantly remind you of your faults, things you do wrong, etc. (but also always respect the good acts witnessed). Over the years, we’ve torn down the walls of self-defense. Now if I get criticized, rather than give excuses, it’s more like “Wait, run that by me again, I never looked at it that way before”. As foreign as this may seem, my personal growth in the last couple of years greatly surpasses what I learned from the rest of my life and I’m a better man for it.

Now only if I’d be able to have this type of relationship with my father …

19 Joshua August 28, 2011 at 6:26 am

Interesting article! I would like to believe more in these ideas. Yet, twice in my life, some men in my “circle” rather became flaky and moved on to different people, or, an individual would take advantage of the rest and manipulate the others into believing he was a good guy. I’ve never really settled into a strong, trustful, male circle. And perhaps the reasons why these men went their different ways/acted the way they did was because of the societal issues that influence men, commonly discussed on this website.

I would be interested to see a follow-up article about the proper/manly way to deal with the trust in a “trust group” being broken.

20 Ferg August 28, 2011 at 11:20 am

This is pure B.S. How did this fluff make it to AoM???

“Hey, hey guys! Lets meet at my house and chit chat! Oooo!”

That won’t fly with my pals nor with any man I’d want to be friends with.
Male counselors? Mens groups? We’ve had these for years. They’re called fast pitch softball teams, hunting clubs, etc.

You pansies…

This entire article sickens me. Lace up your steel toes, go eat some red meat and toss the tofu mentality, girls.

21 Edin August 28, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Men need men to be men. There is no alternative. Great article.

22 JeffC August 28, 2011 at 5:18 pm

So Ferg, that means we won’t be seeing you at Bunko next Tuesday?

23 Tyler August 29, 2011 at 12:10 am

Nicholas,

I am now a current brother of PMA and I found this tonight after a meeting and I have to agree, I feel that my bond between my brothers has made me a better man.

Communing with men is what makes us better men if we work towards the good of all men then we as individuals become better men ourselves.

24 BenG August 29, 2011 at 1:21 am

I think what we run into in the split reaction to this piece has a lot to do with personality type. Some guys really like to talk–period. They’ll do it over beer or not, at softball or work or wherever, it’s just who they are. Others will seem to go weeks without uttering syllable more than what is absolutely necessary to survive. And of course there is everyone in between. Some men have more feminine traits when it comes to talking–they want to talk about feelings, relationships etc. That doesn’t make them girls or pansies, just men with different styles and needs. We aren’t all the same! Some of us will never set foot in a “men’s group” because nothing could be further from our natural inclination to discover and interpret our lives on our own, but if we have our heads halfway straight we’ll know when to go looking for someone with more gray hairs than we have to bounce an idea or predicament off of. Sometimes we’ll pay that guy $85/hr to tell us to pull our head out. My point is that as men, we have the shared experience of needing to forge a path in life that we can be proud of, and we all have our own personal bag of krunk to deal with, as well as our own personal box of tools to do it with. Some guys are going to climb over a ridge before dawn, land a couple of steelhead and come back with a new understanding of who they are, and other guys are going to meet up with some buds after the kids are down and come back with the same result. Sharing what works for you can be enlightening to someone who happens to share some of your personality traits, but there is really no sense in dictating which path another guy ought to take because you can’t stop a Real Man from reaching his destiny–one way or another.

25 BenG August 29, 2011 at 1:24 am

Geez that was long, I must be one of the ones who likes to talk!

26 Greg August 29, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Ferg You sound like Frank Barone!

“I could of ate a box of Alpha-Bits and craped a better interview.”
- Frank Barone in Ray’s on TV – Everybody Loves Raymond

Great response!

27 toby August 29, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Freemasonry.

28 Scott August 30, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Here’s my immediate take on these clowns:

Rocky is a smart guy. He really is. He knows a lot of stuff, and he’s not shy about letting you know it. Though he can be very generous with his time and brilliance, he goes out of his way to correct you, and to be the focus of attention, in his Mensa-like way. Rocky’s problem is that he’s so insecure, his mask of knowledge keeps people at a distance so that he never risks being known for the scared mortal he actually is.

Know it all douchebag.

Clyde is a victim. And he’s soooo good at it. Terribly convincing. At least he’s convinced. He’s got this story that he’s sticking to. And no matter what reasonable insight about his “poor me” behavior crosses his path, he has this uncanny ability, despite his intelligence, to thoroughly dismiss it. Though he’d pass a hearing test with flying colors, he actually only hears what he wants to hear and what supports the story between his ears that confirms him as a bona fide, certified, and verified…victim.

Was he raped? If not, quit whining, douchebag.

Biff is a pleaser. Very charming guy. Can’t say a bad word about him. AND, he can’t say a bad word about you. But that’s his problem. He’s a liar. Now, he would never think of himself as a liar. What a horrible thing to say! But that’s what you are when you don’t tell the truth. And in a circle of men, you’re of very little value when you don’t tell the truth. And whether those around him are conscious to this truth, they certainly have no chance of getting to know Biff or trusting him with their own truths.

Liar. Nobody likes them.

Chip disappoints. He really did experience some awful stuff as a kid. Either or both of his parents, or other guardians, scolded him all the time. He couldn’t do anything right, according to the tyrants in his life. The problem is that Chip grew to believe it…all of it. Today, when he hears anything directed towards him he deems critical, all he hears is the bad people yelling at him. He can’t hear the men, he can’t feel the support, he just has to “get outta there, fast!”

Join the Corps, deal with it. Actually, don’t, non-hacker.

Huey is angry. And he has every right to be, just ask him. When you listen to his stories, you find yourself getting angry too, just not with him…AT HIM! He makes such a big deal about nothing. But you better watch out. Like a junk yard dog, this fella just might choke himself to death at the end of his leash while barking at you. But he won’t bite. It’s just how he keeps everyone from seeing how sad and hurt he really is.

Tough guy douchebag? Needs to get an ass kicking more often.

Fritz is great, no problems. Life couldn’t be better. Wife, kids, money coming out of his ears. Generous to a fault. Would give you the shirt off his back. And you’d do the same for him. Gosh, what a wonderful guy. Then one day, something curious happens. You learn that Fritz is getting a divorce, arrested for tax fraud, checking into rehab, or worse. It’s such a shame. If only he hadn’t been so self-deluded. If only he’d been honest with himself, you might have been able to help him avert his crisis.

Cocaine is a Hell of a drug.

These men have hard times finding trusting relationships because these men all sound like they suck. Don’t men already have a support group called AA?

29 Brad P. August 31, 2011 at 1:37 am

What if you belong to a men’s group where everyone has bitch tits? Does this negate the defeminization?

30 Wolf Pascoe August 31, 2011 at 4:44 pm

I’ve been in a men’s group since 1984. We get together very two weeks. Twelve guys, six of us from the original group. We’ve learned a lot in that time. When we started none of us had a clue what it was to be a man. We’ve built a container where the truth can be spoken. Doesn’t have to be spoken, but can be spoken. It’s not anything like a group of women. A lot of the time, we say nothing at all. Maybe we were lucky because when we started, there was no stigma attached to it. I couldn’t care less what anyone thinks of us now. It makes me sad when I think that some men will die never having opened their hearts to another man.

31 Buster September 1, 2011 at 1:04 am

I’ve never really understood why I’ve never had close relationships will male friends. I’ve always been more comfortable around women. My dad owned his own business and I felt like my mom and I came third or fourth to his business. Also, I guess like another poster, I feel like I am constantly competing with any other male. Being around a group of women, if I am dating one or not, makes me feel like the alpha male.

32 ---Simon--- September 1, 2011 at 6:23 am

Great post – it would be nice if you could suggest some of the books that has helped you.

Man up
Simon

33 Nathan September 1, 2011 at 11:10 am

@ toby (post 27):

Great answer.

34 Claucio September 1, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Hi. I’m from Brazil and I’ve followed AoM’s articles for six months or so. All I have to say is
congratullations. This is the best post I’ve read around about manliness, and sure I’m sending the link by e-mail to my circle friends. Thanks!

35 Brad Alexander September 1, 2011 at 9:14 pm

They say men have to sit in silence for hours, fishing, just to break the ice before they get into deep topics that take women 5 minutes.

But I think what you are saying makes perfect sense. Men want to talk about things and develop close relationships with men they trust. But we are afraid. We don’t want to come across too deep too soon in a male friendship. But by making the first move I think many men would open up quite quickly.

36 FInding the Man September 2, 2011 at 12:44 am

Such a great article! Isn’t the truth that we as men need each other in order to become better fathers, husbands and men in general. For too long society has told us it is not ok to be a man and that the husband who wants to spend some time with his friends is selfish and neglectful. While too much of anything can be a bad thing, overall, men spending time together being men doing manly things it is one of the healthiest things a man can do to better himself as a person.

37 Steven J. Richardson September 3, 2011 at 4:48 am

Great article. If I had to nit pick I’d say the “rehab or worse” comment is misleading and flat out wrong. Many men who come out of rehab and establish a strong presence in AA will find some of the manliest men they will ever meet. The alcoholic is a combination of all the men that you described at the top, but has a boiling potential to be the best man he can be. Few embrace the challenge but if they do, yet will find a group of men from all walks of life to learn from, embrace and love. Going into rehab and consequently adopting AA made me the man that I am today. AA taught me to love other men; to not shy away from another man who might be able to teach me something due to an inferiority complex or fear. That display of affection and guidance
between men is about as manly as you can get in my humble opinion.

38 S September 5, 2011 at 4:02 pm

article is very true. for myself, no father in the house, raised by a very nice(but very weak) mother. no steady male role models either. add to that, I was sexually assaulted when I was 8, by a 12-year-old neighbor. I never told, never dealt with it until recently(I’m about to turn 42). Now, It didn’t turn me gay or anything, but, does that experience fuck with your development as a man? you bet. add to that today’s society, which DETESTS masculinity in any form, because women find it threatening, and you have a recipe for disaster, also known as my life :)

I have a successful career, no relationship luck at all, small wonder. emotional issues cropped up full-speed 5 years ago at the height of my success, which led to a major downfall. if I had learned to trust other guys growing up, plenty of things could have been avoided. always found myself confiding in women(big mistake) about stuff that only your “boys” should know. I’m a little better now; at least I know what the issues are, and I’m working them out. thanks for posting this.

39 Mike September 6, 2011 at 8:21 am

This is something I really need. My wife and I have talked about it for years how I have no male friends, or any friends really, other than her. I haven’t quite figured out why it’s that way though. I have no interest in making friends with most people I work with. It either seems like they are too immature or just don’t share the same interests as me. It has always been hard for me to really connect with someone though I guess. Even in high school, I had tons of peers who I played sports with or would greet in the hall, but not many I could really confide in or have a good relationship with. It was a bit easier to find companionship when I was a Christian and had church functions and groups I could take part in, but unfortunately it is hard to find those kinds of “mens groups” elsewhere. Not really sure where to look for male companionship without some kind of religious organization.

40 James September 7, 2011 at 11:23 am

You’re not alone S. My father sexually assaulted my sister growing up and that really screwed me up regarding sex and making male friends. It caused me to be this over correcting nice guy, but as Machiavelli noted, it will bring a man ruin, and it almost did.

The military taught me a lot about myself, men and relationships. A former supervisor of mine was a marine from a fatherless house and he was such a good role model and friend.

I’m 28 and in college, so I see a lot of sophomoric behavior, but I don’t judge them like I used to. Guys have to learn lessons the hard way sometimes before they realize what’s right, but some may never.

41 Matt Banning September 7, 2011 at 8:42 pm

I agree. guys got to stick together and trust each other. too much hate now and days. even my friends sometime don’t trust each other.

42 Pouyah September 15, 2011 at 5:59 pm

prosperity is in keeping the balance.
I think your female friends help you “understand” emotions and delicate points in daily life etc etc, and your male friends help you “understand” manliness and the value of being truthful, hard working and just. etc etc.
The conventional wisdom holds that you need both to enjoy your life since it’s always easier to go too far in each direction neglecting the other.

43 Andy September 20, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Wow, Steve Harrington.
Good work and thanks for letting me see your wounding around men knowing and expressing feelings. If I didn’t know better I’d call you bigoted because your words are so post-femisist in as far as you have bought into the feminist idea that it’s only women that can express their true feelings.
And then there’s those bigoted ideas about ‘baby boomers’. So much judgement and shaming, a little anger maybe?
Thanks for letting us know how you feel. LOL
I invite you and everyone reading this to a men’s retreat were no one guarantees your safety and your life is in your our hands. Where we will be considering:
IS MY ANGER ANY GOOD?
onthecommonground.org/retreats/fall2011

in brotherhood,

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