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Friends  

Most men don’t have many friends, and far fewer than a typical woman. One simple reason: women work at having friendships, investing a lot of time and effort into their relationships, and men don’t. In fact, men are so lazy in this area, that they often simply piggyback off their girlfriend’s or wife’s social networks. Ask yourself a question guys; when you go to a party, or a dinner, or whatever, how often is it someone connected to your woman, and how often is it someone connected primarily to you, and not connected to work?

To most men, there is still something vaguely effeminate and off putting about the whole idea of male friendship that involves anything other than beer, barbecue, and/or strip clubs. Men are okay hanging out with guys they work with, or people they’ve known forever from school or an old job, but once they leave school they make very few friends outside of work and not connected to their girlfriends, wives or children. When you go to a restaurant, you’ll see plenty of straight women dining out with each other, but far fewer guys. Is there something in manly DNA that just requires less social bonding, or are men just not very good at it? Probably both.

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Men may not need as many close relationships as women, but they do enjoy the male bonding that used to take place in many male dominated institutions. As hard as it may seem to most younger people, not too long ago we lived in a male dominated world, where basic institutions such as the workplace were, for better or worse, absent of women. Male only fraternal organizations like Elks clubs, masonic lodges, Vet’s clubs and other organizations served important civic and philanthropic purposes, as well as providing bonding opportunities for mainstream middle aged men.

With women becoming lawyers, cops, construction workers, politicians, and just about every conceivable profession or trade, the basic tenor of the workplace has changed, accelerated by many thousands of workplace discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits. In some cases, the lawsuits targeted clearly abusive behavior; in many others, they were just yet another excuse for a greedy and undeserving plaintiff, and their contingency fee based lawyers, to generate a settlement from a craven corporation. But the net effect in many cases has been to change the workplace environment from a convivial one to a one where men have to be very careful about what they say, and to make sure good-natured humor does not give offense, or give grounds for legal action.

The workplace has become, overall, just less friendly. But many other formerly male bastions – barbershops, bars, gyms, gun clubs, hardware stores – have gone unisex, depriving men of a place to meet and talk in a masculine environment. Sharing cigars and a drink with the boys to watch the game is a fine thing, but given that there are fewer places you can smoke, concerns with drinking and driving, and the invasion of women at every former refuge, it’s no wonder that men don’t see much opportunity to share each other’s company. Women enjoy shopping, eating, and spa-going together, among other things, and the fastest growing gym in the country, Curves, is for women only. But where do the guys go?

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