I don’t know that a good man has many friends.
I can’t confidently say that men who are part of an established group of friends have really figured themselves out yet. I’ve spoken before on the dynamics of friend groups, or tribes, and how they influence the propagation of toxic behavior, but my current thoughts extend that idea out even further. Even if it’s not every guy and the friends they hang out with, the ones who are very clearly biased, homophobic, sexist, and those who harass others in the workplace and in public fall into this category very nearly 100% of the time.
There are words of wisdom I have heard many times, from many people older than I, that say things about our age groups. They say your teens are when you learn your boundaries, your 20s are when you learn your limits, your 30s are when you discover yourself, and your 40s are when you are comfortable with yourself and have the confidence and knowledge to go with it. As someone who is past the halfway mark of his 30s, I have to say that there is a sobering truth that comes with knowing yourself. I commit myself to work to provide for my loved ones, work on myself, and the things I’ve learned will make me feel happier and fulfilled in my personal and professional life. So when I speak and interact with others who form these groups that go on to start podcasts, set up these ‘weekend warrior’ retreats and spend their time trying to ‘one-up’ one another or establish an arbitrary ‘bro code’, it becomes clear. Engaging people who think like that adds no value to my life, or the lives of anyone looking to work on themselves.
But it’s no less evident when you observe toxic behaviors in your own environments. Men who catcall do so in the presence of a friend group. Men who harass or, otherwise, talk down to co-workers and women; who cordon off the areas and the people they want to themselves by making themselves an imposing presence to others need a group to enable that behavior. They enable behaviors that lead to “fuck your feelings” and “learn to take a joke/compliment” mentalities. All of this is not only encouraged by the friend group but justified by it. By the very existence of this friend group, they feel that what they do is ok. While, objectively, they make it clear why others choose not to be a part of it.
This is not to say that a good man doesn’t have friends, but I think they understand better what a friend is supposed to be. They understand that a friend is someone from outside your family that you invite into your life, and regard as one of your family. A friend understands they are a part of your life without the need for the validation that a tribe creates. And a decent man knows how to find peace in loneliness, and can prosper within it, outside the pursuit of pleasure. They don’t need to carry that loneliness like a cross to bear and have it weigh them down instead of helping them find purpose. They can be the source of emotional support and maturity they need, and not have to place the burden on a partner or learn to live with a tribe that tells them they’re wrong to need it. They don’t have to ask if it will be enough because it needs to be enough. They need to have that emotional maturity so they can love others without passing that burden onto them as well.
But if you want to be part of the mainstream, you have to be a bit shitty.
There may be a part 2 to this, but we’ll see.