True Friendships Among
I was having a hard time of it. Really
struggling to keep my head on straight and
emotionally spent. A friend called just to see how
I was doing.
- He did not share his
- He did not try to give
me advice or win me over to seeing things his
- He did not start
talking about all the things my situation
reminded him of.
- He did not start
talking about other people.
- He did not do much
talking at all.
In that moment, what he
did not do defined as much of what I consider
authentic friendship as what he did do.
So what then did he do,
My second sentence from
the top is a giveaway.
He just called to see how
I was doing--- with no other agenda.
After he asked the
question, he listened. Really listened. So well I
could tell he was not quietly constructing the next
thing he was going to say. He was present for
Many men today have a
difficult time doing this. Ive spent years
learning it and am committed to getting better at
it for the rest of my life. Ive come to see
not doing it can leave me and other men feeling
isolated, lonely, friendless and depressed.
Learning and practicing this has provided me with
untold benefits, surprises and treasures. You may
have heard the expression, if you want
friends, be one. Well here is a pretty good
place to begin. When was the last time you called
up a man friend just to see how he was
.and then listened?
With the kinds of training
and conditioning boys and men receive that pits
them against each other in the competition and
comparison game, the homophobia that only more
recently is beginning to ease up in some cultures,
and the epidemic problem of depression in both
young and older men, men are often challenged to
find models of true friendship, and further to
create and sustain their own. Many men carry a big
load of hurt from absent, neglectful, emotionally
distant or abusive fathers or father figures. And
from an early age weve been separated from
other boys and men by ruthless competition.
Its no surprise that many men only feel
comfortable being close and vulnerable with women,
or more particularly with one woman. That
dependency comes with its own problems for
both men and women.
What do I mean by
true friendship with other
Ill begin with two
elements that the great American philosopher Ralph
Waldo Emerson believed formed the backbone of his
closest relationships with men. I believe they form
mine as well.
Emerson said that these
two elements were equally important.
One is truth. A
friend is a person with whom I may be sincere.
Before him I may think aloud. I am arrived at last
in the presence of a man so real and so equal that
I may drop even those undergarments of
dissimulation, courtesy, and second thought, which
men never put off, and may deal with him with the
simplicity and wholeness with which one chemical
atom meets another
The other element of
friendship is tenderness. We are holden to every
sort of tie, by blood, by pride, by fear, by hope,
by lucre, by lust, by hate, by admiration, by every
circumstance and badge and triflebut we can
scarce believe that so much character can subsist
in another as to draw us by love. Can another be so
blessed and we so pure that we can offer him
tenderness? When a man becomes dear to me I have
touched the goal of fortune.
There are most certainly
as many ways to express friendship as there are
actual friendships, and the language with which we
express our truth and tenderness can vary in
I so appreciate the work
of Gary Chapman and his series of books beginning
with The Five Love Languages. Gary talks about how
people have different preferences for the way they
both receive and give love in relationships. The
way they prefer to receive and get most filled up
is generally the way they deliver it to others,
usually not recognizing that their friends or
partner may have a different preference. The five
- Acts of
- Words of
My top two love language
preferences that are pretty much guaranteed to fill
me up are Quality Time and Words of
One of my great passions
in life is to spend quality time with friends,
which can range from a half hour phone call to a
multi-week outdoor adventure. Because it is so
difficult for many men to initiate that, I often
find myself to be the one to do so and am so
thrilled and grateful when others initiate, even if
I have to decline an invitation to talk in the
moment or get together right away.
The important thing to
understand here is that when you learn the love
language preferences of your friend, new or old,
you are taking another step closer to true
friendship by speaking their language instead of
just your own.
For example, if I get that
my friends preference for receiving love is
helping him work on his car, house or boat, (Acts
of Service) I offer to help. Its also a
pretty good fit as my preference is to spend
Quality Time, which could really be doing most any
activity as long as we are hanging out
There are many more
aspects to the art of friendship and many reasons
friendship is so important to me and others. My
hope is that every man will in his life have close
true friends, not to do what he can do for himself,
but to reflect the best in him in order for him to
be his best.
Another man I respect
shares this about true friendship.
With every true friendship
we build more firmly the foundations on which the
peace of the whole world rests.
Like what youve read
here? Let the author know about your interest in
the forthcoming book: Lone Ranger No More: A
Guys Guide to Making, Keeping and Letting Go
of Friends at firstname.lastname@example.org
* * *
Crutcher has over three decades of experience as a
teacher, counselor, and community
organizer/builder. He is a personal and
professional development coach, facilitator, and
consultant to both large institutions and small
organizations in the public, private, and
non-profit sectors. He has done extensive work with
men and boys to become all they can be having
opened one of the first state grant funded
mens counseling centers in America. He
developed programs to assist men in learning
alternatives to violence, father and son workshops
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