When was the last time you told a male friend, “I love you“? When was the last time you held a man who was crying? When was the last time you just sat there and listened to a man, without giving advice?
If you are like most men, it has been a while since you have had any of these experiences with men. Men will go to war and risk our lives for our friends, but when we come back home, we go back into our emotional man caves.
Many years ago, I realized something was missing in my life. I knew it had to do with how I related with men. But what it was, and how I was going to get it, I didn’t know. I knew being with more women wouldn’t give it to me. Psychotherapy wouldn’t give it to me. Reading books on it wouldn’t give it to me.
I needed to be with men in a new way. To do that, I needed a new venue. My old friend Jim Heaney suggested I check out The Mankind Project (MKP.org); they have a training that sets you up to join one of their men’s groups. While living in Phoenix, I went through their training weekend, then joined a group. That group wasn’t what I wanted, but it germinated a seed; when I moved to Northern California, I helped form the first MKP group in Sonoma and Napa Counties. And THAT group rocked!
That group of twelve men was committed. These mature men were there for each other. I saw men communicating in ways I had never seen before. These weren’t “New Agey” men, either; they were consultants, a lawyer, a physician, several business owners, and a student. Every week, we listened as each of us shared what was up in our lives. We guided each man through his changes—not by giving advice or fixing him, but by drawing out of him the resources he needed to produce what he wanted.
A year after starting that group, I moved to Sandpoint, ID, where I started a few men’s groups, but I wasn’t happy with them. Then, 6 years ago, I decided to start from scratch. I created a new design and invited new men. Today, after several incarnations of that original group, I sit with 9 other men for 4 hours every Wednesday night. Every man, in his own way, has repeatedly said “I love you,” and held another man and just listened.
We have learned a tremendous amount about emotions from women. But men need to learn how to be emotional as men; it’s different than how women are emotional. Men can’t learn that from women. There is no better way to learn and embody this than being in a men’s group. Because of the need for men to learn this, and for the power of men’s groups, I started Men Corps, which we will launch as free support for men to start their own group.
For those who don’t have a group, for women (who will never be in a men’s group), and for those who need inspiration to make that leap, watch this new documentary, Five Friends, about one man’s journey through male friendship.
What are your thoughts and feelings about male friendship? How expressive are you? If you are a woman, what are your feelings about men’s friendships?