Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Male friendships declining??

“The May 2021 American Perspectives Survey [found] that Americans report having fewer close friendships than they once did, talking to their friends less often, and relying less on their friends for personal support.” The number of American men with no friends increased from 3% in 1990 to 15% in 2021.

This survey got lots of international attention (eg, CNN-2022, El Pais-2023, Guardian-2023, Telegraph-2023). However, I cannot find any similar finding by Pew Research Center; see query results. I did find this 2022 Pew survey: Partisans agree: Time with family and friends is meaningful and fulfilling.

A decade ago, I might have agreed with this 2021 finding. Back then, I still confused (work) acquaintances with friends. I lost many acquaintances following my 2010-13 divorce battle, my 2010-11 relocation to Belgium, and my 2013-14 burnout and depression. I did not lose friends.

Hence, I don’t relate to this finding and doubt that it’s even true. The definition of friend and/or friendship will differ per person. The term Facebook friend is even an oxymoron. A LinkedIn connection is neutral and valid, as long as you only accept the people whom you actually know.

I tend to have female friends rather than male friends because the friendship remained once the relationship was over. I once had an online friendship with a gay man, who claimed he was in love with me. We were both uncomfortable. I wonder if fear (eg, homophobia) is relevant to the above.

I still remember walking in an American city with a (former) male colleague in the 1980s. Suddenly, a group of 5 or 6 American teenagers started yelling at us (eg, faggots). It was the first and only time ever. With hindsight, their insults might have been reverse psychology and projection onto us.

A 1970s memory is seeing my father and his two male friends making fun together, drinking beer, and smoking cigarettes. All three men owned their own business. The quote below argues that male friendships are quixotic: easy to understand, though difficult to achieve. I cannot but agree.

“All male friendships are essentially quixotic: they last only so long as each man is willing to polish the shaving-bowl helmet, climb on his donkey, and ride off after the other in pursuit of illusive glory and questionable adventure.”

A quote from Wonder Boys (a 1995 book and 2000 film) by Michael Chabon, an American novelist and 2001 Pulitzer Prize winner.

Can We Still Be Friends (1978) by Todd Rundgren
artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-artist, Wiki-song

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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