Podcast #360: Understanding Male Friendships

It’s a common trope that adult men don’t value friendship as much as their female counterparts, and that men really don’t need or want friends like women do. But my guest today argues that assumption is wrong and comes from viewing friendship from a strictly female point of view. In fact, based on his research, most adult men very much want good friends but just don’t know how to make them. What’s more, he says, male friendships look different from female ones and we should stop judging the quality of male friendships based on how women do them. 

My guest’s name is Geoffrey Greif, and he’s a sociologist and author of the book Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships.

Today on the show, Geoffrey shares the common myths about male friendships, the benefits men get from having friends, and how male friendships are different from female friendships. He then discusses the four types of friends a man will have in his life, how friendship changes as men age, and how fathers have a huge influence on whether their sons will have friends as adults. Geoffrey then shares his research on how couples navigate friendships together and why some brothers are best friends, while others don’t talk to each other for years.

Show Highlights

  • How Geoffrey got started studying friendship, and particularly, male friendship 
  • The most common myths about male friendship 
  • The difference between male friendships and female friendships 
  • The side-by-side nature of male friendships 
  • 4 categories of friends men have 
  • Why people today are lonelier than ever before 
  • How many friends does someone really need?
  • How male friendship has changed over the decades 
  • The ways in which a father’s friendships impact those of the son(s) 
  • How a father’s sibling relationships carry down to the friendships of the son(s) 
  • How do friendships change as a man ages?
  • Why men sometimes rely on the spouse for their social life, and why making couple friends is hard
  • Why the busy man in his 30s and 40s should be intentional about spending time with friends 
  • So how do men actually go about making friends in adulthood?

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