Why Men Need Other Men

Category: Weekly Columns

As a dad advocate that means I’m also a man advocate. Years of doing “men’s work” have taught me much, but top of the list is the fact that men need other men in their lives. A great way to have men in your life is to be part of a men’s group. There are many kinds of men’s groups. After you’ve read and agreed with this list, go out and find one that is right for you.

The sad generality is that as men get older, have families, and get involved in their careers, they tend to allow their male friendships to drift. Or, they become friendships around carousing: poker games, trips to Vegas, golf, or other hobbies/sports. Do men get together and “Shoot the sh*t?” like women regularly do? You know the answer.

I’m a believer in the non-PC notion that men and women are built differently. Generally, women are better at maintaining relationships and caring – sometimes too much – about the emotional side of their families and themselves. As I also say when I discuss the differences between men and women, it’s those differences that can make us better. I learn from my wife and, hopefully, she learns from me. In a broader sense, this is an area where we men can learn something from the women.

Sometimes It’s Best to Air a Problem Before Bringing it Home

Given that men generally want to “fix it” that usually means a man will want to deal with a problem often in the heat of the moment. Reflection can’t hurt and talking to another man or the men in your men’s group will likely help you reframe your response.

Hello? It May Not Be About You

One of life’s great lessons is that it isn’t always about you. Yes, teenagers tend to only see the world through their own prism but even we adult men can believe the world revolves around us. Talking to other men may help in the realization that whatever problem you may have may have nothing to do with you.

Taking the Time to Reach Out to Another Man Will Give the Problem Perspective

Taking #1 and #2 a step further it is often very helpful, as it was in my men’s group, to air an issue/problem with “the men” and get a different perspective. In my men’s group we had a rule that we brought ANY problem to “the men” before acting on it…assuming, of course, that it could wait. Most problems can wait.

When a Man is About to Do Something Stupid – Which is Often – It’s Good to Have Checks and Balances in Place

The first four items on this list are really all variations on a theme. When a man is about to do something stupid, airing it before another man or men will usually give the stupid idea extra stupidity upon disclosure. I remember one man in my men’s group who wanted our permission to regularly go to strip clubs. When questioned about his sex life at home, he revealed that it was non-existent. He was summarily told to get his own house in order before considering ANY outside activities.

Truly, Before You Do Something Stupid…

Oh, you want more examples of the stupid things men can do? How about a half-dozen?
1. Infidelity
2. Gambling
3. Mid-life crisis Porsche
4. Mid-life crisis attempt at doing a triathlon or mudder
5. Quitting job due to ego reason
6. Drugs and alcohol abuse

Men Need More Help Than Women

Yes, it’s a gender generalization but women tend to reach out for help more readily than men do. Having good men in a man’s life – especially via a men’s group that has a good leader – gives the man without that wisdom to seek help a forum for when he does need that help.

With a Little Help From Your Friends

Too many men have too few male friends. Fix that.

Friends Fade After Divorce

Again, it’s a generalization, but men tend to lose more friends due to divorce than women do. My own experience was shocking in this regard. I knew my marriage was failing and I joined a men’s group several months before my wife and I separated. Those men became my lifesavers while my so-called friends from my marriage largely retreated.

The Kids

Yes, dads are taking a more active role in parenting but, again, as with the earlier examples, men don’t tend to have those clicks of support that the moms have. Learning from other men who have experienced issues you may be facing with your children is just smart. Women do it all the time. Men need to do it more. The goal for both of us is to be the best dad or mom we can be. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of caring and desire to do the best job possible.

Men Should Leave Their Comfort Zone and Men’s Groups Help That Happen

Human beings are creatures of habit and men probably fit that description more than women. Other men will help a man break bad habits, begin better behavior, and challenge a man to be the best husband, son, and man he can be.

Men Need to Fix Themselves Rather Than Trying to Fix Their Women

Duh!? Like we men don’t need as much fixing as our women? Other good men – other men in a men’s group – will be brutally honest about what needs fixing. Your golf and drinking buddies won’t.

Maybe Your Wife Should Not Be Your Best Friend?

This may not be conventional thinking, but sometimes your wife should not be your best friend, your confidant. Maybe it’s better to discuss your feelings about “wandering” with another man rather than your wife? Maybe when your wife has gained a few pounds, telling her isn’t the right first move? Maybe when your wife has an emotional issue – due to menopause or her period – maybe you should just keep your mouth shut and simply hold and support her?

Too many men that are married with children are just not interacting with enough other men. Some men continue to have “girl friends” which I suggest is rarely a good idea unless that “girl friend” is well known to your wife and probably existed in your life prior to your marriage.

What say you about these assertions?

Please note: This is a re-purposed column, originally written and published at 12Most.com, where I’m a regular contributor. Look for my 23rd article for them about lessons we can learn from Elvis!

  • http://brianvickery.com Brian Vickery

    Bruce, I’ve been enjoying these, and I fully agree with you. The “repeated stumbles” of some friends have been a topic of conversation around our household lately. One of the issues is that they would prefer to keep stumbling – versus give up something like a vice – and the only group they are looking for is the kind that will commiserate with them versus hold them accountable.

    And as I pointed out earlier, my wife is my best friend and #1 confidante. Although I recognize the slippery slope this presents for the very reasons you outline above, it manages to work for me.

    Of course, I’m starting up tennis again, so might get some camaraderie (along with the occasional beer) with guys who share some common interests. One daughter out of the house, and another one getting more independent each day as an upper-classmen in high school, so starting to get some extra time on my hands. And my idea of stumbling involves chasing after a ball or getting thrown to the mat..healthier than the “What happens in Vegas” mindset!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I’m glad your stumbles are on the tennis court. The problem with tennis, however, is that you are across the net from your partner (unless you’re playing doubles). I’m not being funny. At least golf allows some time together over the course of 18 holes but, usually, the talk is about betting on the links. It’s GREAT to love your wife as a best friend, but I again say some things may be best discussed with a good male friend. 

  • danperezfilms

    Lots of generalizations in your post (seems that has become rather customary in your blog posts about men & women). There is some truth here, however…

    PS – what’s up with the black on green? Gives me a headache reading your posts.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I love you too, DP! I don’t see black on green, just a LOT of green!?

  • http://twitter.com/TedRubin Ted Rubin

    Bruce… always love your posts, and generalities are what make it so endearing to me. You are Bruce Sallan and as authentic as they come… no pandering to an audience for you buddy. Keep up the great work. Btw, love the black on green… makes me feel good 🙂

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Aren’t generalities and stereotypes usually accurate? And, aren’t there always exceptions. But, they help us to understand things in my opinion. Nope, I don’t pander. Makes me laugh just to think of that…LOVE your support, TR and looking forward to our next #DadChat together where we’ll have a very special Charity Auction!

  • manvdadhood

    If you don’t speak in generalizations and let people apply lessons to themselves, then you start to sound like politicians.  Say what you know and speak from the heart.  I love stopping by your blog, and this post is a good one with LOTS of great point to think about.   Many of them we talked about when I was doing DADuary.  Men NEED men. 

    Guys may not need or want the extensive support systems that women put
    in place for themselves, but we cannot continue to think we can be the
    husbands, fathers, and men our families need us to be without any
    support.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Very well put, JB…and thanks!

  • @MimiBakerMN

    I’ve always thought men need other men. They get each other just like the ladies understand each other! Men you respect can hold you accountable in all areas of life. We all need a support system and I think men feel they’re an island sometimes.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Yep, which is why I speak about this a bunch, Mimi!

  • Van

    I have essentially no male friends. Why? Because much as I hate to say it, men tend to be shallow and uninteresting, with little to talk about besides sports and cars etc. Few have the kind of cultural interests that I have, and few can keep up a conversation. It’s bad enough that the work I’m in is 98% male; I play the game there just fine (I can talk baseball all day long if I need to), but I see no reason to extend that to my personal life. Women are more interesting, and participate as equals in a discussion rather than having it always be about them.  Anyway, just my view.  Nothing wrong with having women friends — interesting that you jump immediately to calling them “girl friends”, with all that implies. 

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Van, where do you live? I’ll find you some well-rounded men friends! Yeah, you can call me out for the “girl friends” line…I’m rarely PC, but no offense was meant, truly. I’m curious if you’re married? THAT is a big factor in my feelings about opposite sex friends!

      • Van

        Nonsense. It doesn’t matter where I live (it’s in a metropolitan area, though, not lacking for diversity). Go into any group of men and (in my experience) find 2 out of 3 to be shallow and domineering — meaning the third one tends to recede into the background. Seen it happen time after time. Men’s groups are hardly the way to make friends with non-shallow men.  And yes, I’m married (second marriage), and have many women friends, some of whom I’ve known since college, and none of whom are my “girl friends” as you put it. They stood by me in support during my divorce, whereas my male “friends”, without exception, dropped all contact.

        I also take exception to your line about “Yeah, in our 20’s we’re all about two things: making money and getting laid”.   It’s again, revealing of how you look at things, and it kind of confirms my point.

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          So we agree, Van? Lol…I stand my by points and you are, of course, going to stand my yours. 

  • AmyMccTobin

    I see one huge mistake in this post: In your cartoon the man’s brain is far larger than the woman’s… we all know that’s a mistake 🙂    I get it… and I think you’re right, but you point on what TYPE of men’s group is the key. My very blue collar man has a group of, shall we say, Redneck men who are the worst people in the world to bounce an idea off…. they think we’re still in the 50’s. Luckily we left them in Pennsyltucky when we moved South.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      What, aren’t our brains bigger Amy? Lol…

  • http://chopperpapa.com Kyle Bradford

    Bruce, I will likely be writing on this similar topic later this week primarily from an experience I had last week. I have been involved in men’s groups for several years, but more importantly what I refer to as “Intentional relationships”. They have been part of the key that has kept me between the lines. 

    Anyway, at a religious men’s gathering of some 350 men of varying ages, backgrounds, etc., the host asked the question of men to raise their hands if they fall into different age groups. 

    I was surprised that there were so many men there, but it just solidified in be the belief that there is a movement going on regarding men and how they approach life. The popularity of movies such as Backdraft and Courageous speak to this notion, subtle as it is. 

    But what  I also didn’t find surprising was that in the entire group of men there were possibly 20 men who were in their 20’s. So typical of how I led my life during that same time “go with the flow” 

    Great post. This gave me the inspiration I needed to finish mine. I will link yours. 

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I’ll see yours in Triberr, but am eager to read your thoughts. Yeah, in our 20’s we’re all about two things: making money and getting laid…Growth doesn’t come to most men until later, myself included. At least I’m no longer much focused on making money – would rather do good now!

  • http://chopperpapa.com Kyle Bradford

    Oh, and generalities, I speak in them all the time. Unfortunately people who dislike them are usually the ones they are talking too. Whether they choose to believe it or not, we don’t live in an age of relativism. There are universals in this life.  

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Boy, do I get flack for my use of generalities and stereotypes, Kyle! Like most are NOT true? We may not like them, but that doesn’t lessen their reality!

  • http://janiceperson.com/ Janice Person

    And hear I thought guys stood around and talked about technology or something? 😉 

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      A lot of guys do like to talk sports and such. But, many of us dads care about the micro stuff, too! I know you know that, JP given that you’re a regular at #DadChat!

  • http://www.LotusLifeWork.com/ Laura L. Brown

    Hi Bruce –
    Love this article and the mindset it took to write it.  Men’s groups are great!  And any man that wants to learn more about how women think and why we act the way we do, will do a great service to himself, his partner and any women he comes in contact with.  I believe that we can all learn a lot about and from each other to improve our relationships and communication skills.  That’s why I teach men and women in business the neuroscience of gender differences – it’s amazing what a little understanding can do for people.  🙂
    Kudos to you!
    Laura
    [email protected]

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thank you Laura. I’d LOVE you to come to #DadChat any Thursday, from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. PST. Perhaps you could be a co-host one week and we address the issues you raised in your comment with your specific knowledge about the neuroscience of gender differences!?

      • http://www.LotusLifeWork.com/ Laura L. Brown

        Hi Bruce,  I’d love to participate, but I’m not sure how that works.  Is that a twitter thing or a call?  I can do it this week if you like.  Can you email me with the info?
        Thanks for the invite!

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          You’ll enjoy it Laura, I promise. I sent you an email with more details.

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