I work with a lot of men who don’t have meaningful male friendships. Usually during the course of our work together they say something like, “I don’t have any good guy friends, and I wish I did.”
I think there is something in our biology that makes a man want to be seen, acknowledged, and valued by other men. Personally I believe that that it takes one man to sharpen another man, similar to steel sharpens steel.
So if this is true, if it’s obviousness is correct, why don’t men have more meaningful friendships with one another?
North American western culture does not promote collaboration between men. It promotes competition that is viewed as “I win, you lose.” In addition there can be a subtle, unhealthy messaging that takes place in the process.
It isn’t just that you lose in a competition for a job position or in an event, but it is that you are a loser. You are worth less, you are weaker, your importance as a man is not as great as the man who wins.
Think about the implications of this when wanting to create a meaningful friendship with a man in the work space. The “I win, you lose” and its messaging lends to thinking that If I let you know any of my weaknesses, let you see my vulnerabilities, then you can exploit them and use them against me in the future.
This culture and mindset keeps men distanced and separated from each other.
Men Are Scary
One of the other sad truths I know from coaching men, as well as personal experience, is that fathers, brothers, other male family members and friends in childhood can create traumatic experiences that leave the then boy, and now man, not able or wanting to trust men.
How can a meaningful friendship be created without trust?
When you have viewed a man as dangerous to your well being, and then extrapolate that to all men, you are going to be defensive, self-protective, and even aggressive toward other men. Often times these are the very friendships you want in your life, yet you push them away.
So why do guy friendships matter? If the dynamics are as I described above, why not just avoid having them at all?
Male Archetypal Energies
Let’s go back to my statement that it takes one man to sharpen another man. What needs to be sharpened?
As men we carry and express four energies…Lover, Warrior, Magician, and King. The sharpening that happens to us from other, trusted men is how we are able to develop these energies into a whole, mature form in our lives.
There is a lot that could be said how these energies show up in our daily lives, but for now let’s keep it simple.
Lover energy is your ability to express and receive love, and be vulnerable with others. The Warrior is how you stand your ground, create healthy boundaries, protect those you love, and serve the communities you are in. Magician energy is how you create and manifest things into your life and into the world. The King is giving blessing, providing stability, and sharing wisdom in life.
Can you see yourself in these different energies? When you can fully manifest them in your life, you show up as a strong and powerful man in the world.
Meaningful Male Friendships
This is why having trusted men in your life is so important.
As you create meaningful friendships with men, you may discover a man carries one of the energies more predominately than the others.
I didn’t intentionally seek this out, but as I began to develop important friendships with men, I found my four closest male friends uniquely expressed one of the four energies. I learned from each man; I was challenged by each man through the presence of his predominant archetypal energy to hone and sharpen my own.
Guess what? I became a man who could be more vulnerable with those he loves. I learned how to create strong and healthy boundaries…I found my voice to say no when needed.
I was able to dream more, trust more, risk and create more of what I wanted in my life. Finally, I was able to drop many of my protective defenses and stand in the wisdom of my experience and being, and bless and support others without fear.
In the end, it has been the close friendships I had with men in my life who helped me heal the wounds that were created by men to begin with.
It was seeing myself reflected back in the eyes of other trusted men where I found my brilliance, my confidence, my voice, and my path to live fully as man…how I choose to define it.
Freedom is found when a man knows who he is, the value he brings, and has the confidence to trust himself in that.
Having good men, trusted men, as friends in your life will help you on this journey.
Author: Todd Gorishek
Todd is a certified Men’s Life Coach, an entrepreneur, a licensed healthcare professional, a husband, a father, and a world traveler. His mission is to co-create a strong and compassionate world by facilitating transformation through understanding, trust, and empowerment.
He received his professional Life Coaching education from Newfield Network, a certified Life Coach training school, and is a member of the International Coach Federation.