Loneliness, Black Men, and Friendships: Part IV

For those keeping score at home, we are at Part 4 in our series on Black male friendships. Up until this point, I have not discussed the issue of how women figure into the situation. And because one post would have been too long, at a later time I will explore how friendships are affected by men in relationships. But today, we will focus on the single brothers.

Let me say for starters that it is probably easier for single brothers to manage more meaningful male friendships. However, this is not always the case.

When things are down, do you call your boy or your “friend”
One issue that many single brothers have to deal with is going through emotional downtimes. And for a myriad of reasons, it is easier for many of us to share our deepest feelings with women rather than men. Now I understand that if you need to get something off your chest, then by all means do what you have to do. However, we should take a step back to think of the long-term implications of never being able to tell your boy what is really going on in your life.

If we were really honest, most brothers do not use each other as sounding boards. However, it is not until a situation has either blown up or otherwise finished, that a brother will then share what happened. But we need to get to a place where we have conversations like this; “Steve, I have this situation and these are the options I am looking at, let me know what you think.”

And since conversations like this are not widespread, it is often the case that brothers will turn to their girl “friends” for comfort. But here’s the twist, whether you are attracted to the woman or not, there is something very intoxicating having a woman listen to your woes while your head is in her lap, figuratively speaking. Now I am not saying brothers shouldn’t be talking to sisters but I am challenging brothers to be honest about what is accomplished after they have heart to hearts with their girl “friends.” Do you get sound, practical advice that you use to help your situation? Do you start out trying to get sound advice but end up talking about topics completely unrelated? Are you intentionally unintentionally laying the foundation for a relationship? Do you find yourself more attracted to this person after talking and/or are you sending signals that might be misconstrued that you may want more than just friendship?

I pray that at least one of these questions speak to you where you are at. My point though is that the majority of these issues could be alleviated if brothers had the courage to have more meaningful conversations beyond work, women, and sports. To be clear, this is not an either/or proposition, such that brothers should only talk to women or men. However, the current balance is heavily in favor of women and we need to tip the balance in the other direction.

Psuedo-girlfriends
For players and non-players alike, it does you no good to be running around with pseudo-girlfriends because you afraid to be lonely. Do some self-evaluation so you can be a better boyfriend/husband for your next relationship. What I mean by pseudo-girlfriend is someone (where there is an established mutual attraction) who fulfills one or some of your needs, but you have no intention of making her your girlfriend. Some examples include but are not limited to physical intimacy, spirituality, emotional support, intellectual debate, hanging out, etc. Situations like this are one of the sure fire ways to guarantee an argument framed around, “What are we?” or “Are we building something serious or not?” So beyond having clear communication, it is important to take advantage of being single and use that time to grow in all the ways you deem important. However, this constant girlfriend status (real or pseudo) does little to help this process. Nor does it help the women who think they are building something that is really all smoke and mirrors.

And if you can’t talk to your friends about real issues, why are they your friends to begin with?

In a word, get off the bosom fellas,

Stay up fam,

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friendships
blackmen
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5 responses to “Loneliness, Black Men, and Friendships: Part IV”

  1. Girlie Girl aka not so Girlie says :

    Don’t hate on the bosom :) Societal norms has told us men are providers and women are the nuturers and maybe we are self-fulling the prophecy. Even though we know it doesn’t have to be that. I’m saying that to say. Men may talk to women because of the open hearts and open ears society has TOLD us we have to have. Maybe some men are breaking stereotypes by having female friends because they realize we are not all illogical basket cases. We have logical and emotional intelligence. Men don’t have to stop having females as friends but maybe they should start taking chapters from female/male friendships and open the communication aka develop an emotional language that society has told them not to have. (I shouldn’t have to explain that last line but I will if folks are confused)

  2. Brandon Q. says :

    Girlie girl,

    I am not presenting an either/or proposition and by no means am I hating on the bosom. But the fact is that too much of anything can be bad.

    To be clear, this post is not a knock on what women are doing. Rather, I am more concerned with the overreliance men place on their female friendships. If I am correct, the status quo is that you are emotional with your girlfriends and you are hardcore with your boys. I think that model is not helpful and should be revised.

    Thanks for the comment

  3. "The Consigliere" says :

    B,

    You killin them out there today! You are right. Men’s relationships are predicated on shows of strengths. We are afraid to show our vulnerabilities to each other. I will give you an example. One of my friends was having issues with his girl and he said, “Steve, this is why I need more female friends, because I hate for my boy to see me like this.” And I understand that completely.

    Take it a step further, most men were raised by women and never learned how to share what was on their mind with their male friends. There seems to be a wall in male relationships that just is not as prevalent when you are one on one with your girl or “pseudo-girl”. Plus, women tend to be better listeners. But as you stated, there is a connection that, intentionally or unintentionally, is created. Especially when you keep hitting up the same chick and bearing your soul to her.

    This is something I myself have trouble with, because I love women and I love talking to them and I have always had far more female friends than male. I am just now getting to a place where I feel comfortable sharing of myself and mentoring others, as well as being mentored by other men. It is something about how we are raised, we save our “tender” spots for our mamas, grandmamas, wives, girls, daughters, etc. And when we get around the fellas, we put on the lion’s mane.

    I can’t help but wonder what effect this will have on the next generation. In any event, good post, and hopefully, as men, we will find that balance between building with the ladies, but being honest with the fellas.

  4. Anonymous says :

    I’ve found all of these discussions to be very interesting and I just want to tell my story…

    I am 33-old married black male with 2 kids and I absolutely have no close friends. It’s very disheartening to not have any close friends because growing up I had several friends. I don’t know if I will ever make new friends and sometimes I wonder if I ever had friends at all.

    I grew up in a small white town on the shores of Lake Erie. Growing up, all my friends in town were white. The only black friends I had were my cousins who lived in neighboring cities. Although I was close to all my friends and cousins, I always felt like they resented me. The white kids resented me because I was black. My cousins resented me because I didn’t live in the black community.

    This resentment always seemed to surface when I would acheive something good like getting straight A’s, winning homecoming king,going to state in track,etc. With the white kids, even though we were friends, they couldn’t stand to be outdone by someone black. And with my cousins, they couldn’t stand to be outdone by the Oreo. To my cousins,I was suppossed to be soft and slow because I lived out in the boondocks with the white folks. As a kid, I blocked the resentment out. But in adulthood, I just couldn’t take it any more. I just decided to be independant.

    All throughout our twenties the only time my friends and cousins would come around is when I was down and out. But whenever I would get back on the path to success, I wouldn’t hear from a single soul – black or white. I thought I could survive with just my wife and kids, but I can’t. The male bond is very important. It’s hard to describe but I think it strengthens you as a man.I don’t feel like the man I was when I met wife and I think it’s because I’m around her and the kids 24-7.

    I’m surrounded by people,but I feel so alone. I can’t relate to anyone. Everyone at work is white and in their 40’s or in their 20’s fresh out of schol. I’ve been with the company since I was 24 and I’ve always been the youngest black male at the nothern facilities. The white women at work fear me. All the white men are your typical “angry white men”. Both groups don’t take me seriously in any context. They constantly challenge the little tiny bit of authority that I have. I hate work but it’s a good job and I have to provide for my family.

    In college I was able to find black friends with backgrounds similar to mine. Those were the best times I ever had. I’m 11 years out of school and I haven’t befriended anyone like my college friends. I keep praying I’ll find friends like that again someday.

  5. Frederick says :

    I used to think i was just an avarage black man but as i am getting older it just seema to come more to light that i am not. I know a lot of people and i have family but we just don’t seem to have much in common, now at 43 my life just seem to have stop i do nothing apart from work and look after my love of my life my daughter she has just turned 13 teen. I live in london in the UK and ill like to start by meeting some guy that just want to make friend spend time together as friends do like to walk like to see the city of london and sher thing that we have in common i dont want money to be an issue as most of the thing that we will do will not aways cost. If there are any men out there that will likt to take me up on my offer please Email me I’m just a simple black man looking a friend the girls can come later.

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