Why men are just worse at friendship
Male loneliness is a bigger public health issue than obesity, writes Donal Lynch, so we really should make more of an effort
Are men worse at friendship than women? I'd always assumed that the answer was 'yes', but only because I am a man, bad at friendship, and sort of entering that period of life where a lot of the comrades of youth are increasingly Facebook phantoms, if that, and actual socialising frequently feels like a major expending of effort, requiring weeks of notice. Not that it's not pleasurable when it happens, but I find you need less and less of it.
I'm past the age of needing a wingman, and can't handle hangovers any more but what does that leave? There's a whole generation of men in Ireland who are valiantly trying to drink less but seriously can't figure out what the hell to do with each other sober. A coffee sort of feels like a business meeting. The cinema is too much like a date. Perhaps this was why there has never been a male Sex and the City. They'd never actually make it to brunch.
Selfishness is a part of it. Men are notably bad at putting up with the bulls*** of other men. We cannot fake it like women and we do not relish discussing personal problems, like a lot of women do. There is a self-serving pragmatism at play too. According to the Male Deficit Model, the result of a 30-year US study, friendships between men function and falter within strict pragmatic categories: "convenience friends," for example, exchange helpful favours but don't interact much otherwise; "mentor friends," who connect primarily through one man's tutelage of the other; or "activity friends". The study holds that the closer men adhere to traditional male gender roles, like self-reliance and a reluctance to spill their guts, the worse their friendships fare.