Every woman, married or not should let her man make friends with other men. This is because of a potentially dangerous syndrome called Friend Deficit Syndrome (FDS)
For many men, friendship” has come to signify ..a largely artificial tie based on little more than a common interest in beer, cars, sports, and/or the promiscuous pursuit of young women. By contrast, a genuine male friendship is a deep and lasting bond.. not common among men today.
One reason being the extraordinary physical mobility of families impedes the development of neighborhood and parish relationships capable of blossoming into friendships. Above all, the widespread breakup of families by separation and divorce deprives young boys at a crucial time in their lives of virtuous male models—conscientious fathers, that is—and impairs their emotional capacity for friendship.
The problem extends beyond the teens and twenties. It is increasingly rare for a man in the course of his career to work for only one or two employers. But job hopping impedes the formation of lasting friendships as former colleagues and fellow workers are abandoned—or in some cases become competitors.
It is a major obstacle to happy marriages and family life.I recommend that women who care about men—mothers, sisters, wives, and prospective wives— pay close attention and and help combat FDS by encouraging their husbands to spend more time, not less, with their male friends. Yes, you heard me right—more time, not less.For the absence of strong men capable of entering into and sustaining healthy relationships—including friendships with other men—marriage and the family are at risk. And when marriage and family crumble, women and children are bound to be the big losers.
I realize perfectly well that women who work outside the home while at the same time having domestic chores understandably want their husbands home as much as possible in the evenings and on weekends—for companionship and also to help with the work. But if a wife insists that her husband always be at home when he isn’t at work, she may be denying him the opportunity to become a better husband and father by learning how to be a better friend. In concrete, individual circumstances, striking just the right balance in the allocation of the man’s time is a problem I can’t presume to resolve for any particular couple. I can only say that it has to be done.For many contemporary men, loneliness may be the greatest affliction, and FDS may be at the heart of it. The title of a much-discussed book a few years ago got it just right: Bowling Alone. True, the syndrome has many causes: small families resulting from contraception and abortion; absent spouses (attributable to divorce and also to the economic pressure put on wives to work outside the home in the absence of a truly family-friendly tax system); frequent moves that make it difficult for people to put down roots (often the result of corporate policies that place profit above the interests of families); attaching more value to material possessions than to human relationships; the worship of youth.Somebody once said the average American man has “one good friend, and that is his wife”.
It is essential for a wife to be her husband’s friend, of course—but his only good friend? Surely not. That reflects the individualism of a culture still shaped in many ways by the Popular culture cherishes two ideal images of the American man. One is the image of the isolated male figure riding off into the sunset by himself. As he goes, he is leaving relationships behind. He hides his feelings behind a crusty exterior and feigns indifference to the rest of the world. He answers to his own conscience and to nobody and nothing else. And side by side with this image is another: the fast-talking, wise-cracking, woman-ogling American man on the make.
In today’s America, that isn’t so easy. Apart from participation in a few sports (and even that traditional male bastion is now subject to female encroachment), many young men have very little opportunity to enjoy exclusively male companionship. Laws, social policies, and cultural pressures combine to make that increasingly difficult to do. The decline in single-sex high schools and colleges complicates the task. Many formerly all-male clubs and organizations are now open to women. So are the ranks of Catholic altar servers (no longer called altar boys). Even the military services are becoming more and more sexually integrated—sometimes with disastrous results, including the sexual promiscuity that any reasonable person might have expected from a practice that represents the triumph of ideology over good sense.
Again, in present-day, yet another reason for that concerns the fact that many male relationships are openly homosexual. That is to say, they are relationships based on mutual exploitation of each by the other as a source of pleasure. Movies,books, television, and plays now present homosexuality as normal, perhaps even desirable, and actively propagandize the rest of us to buy into that fiction. One unhappy side effect of the marketing of the gay lifestyle is that, especially in big cities, two men or a small group of men seen socializing with each other in a public place are likely to draw stares from others and the unspoken question “I wonder if they’re gay.” In these circumstances many heterosexual men skip the hassles and the embarrassment by not socializing much with other men.
Resisting this tidal wave of social pathology is enormously difficult, but resistance is necessary for many reasons— including the reestablishment and defense of male friendship.There can be no friendship without communication—a conversation of some sort, whether spoken or written.
In trying to size up one’s own friendship deficit syndrome, it might be well to conduct a kind of FDS inventory, along the following lines:
— How many true friends do I have? — How many would lay down their lives for me—and I for them? — How many men do I know to whom I can open up my heart in total trust?
— If I were to die today, how many would deeply care? — How many people’s lives have I changed in a positive way by being their friend?
Fr C J McCLOSKEY the Friend Deficit syndrome ( FDS) . Extracted from his book, “Good New, and Bad News”