Tag Archives: Friendships

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It’s hard to make a good male friend.

When I was younger, I used to have many friends and I was able to say anything to them and laugh about everything with them.

But as I’ve gotten older, it’s been harder to make a good friend. I almost thought I never would again.

Then Selman came along.

I met Selman in an intensive German course I took last fall.

On the first day of class, both Selman and I arrived early and we began to talk after he sat down  next to me. He told me that he was from Guatemala but had recently moved to Germany because he had had a child with a German woman and he wanted to be closer to his child.

I thought that that was honorable of him and by the time the teacher
called the class to attention, I figured I had made a new acquaintance.

But then something happened.

As the class progressed, Selman and I began to bond. We both found humor in the same things and this seemed to bring us together.

For example, when another student in the class asked the teacher a mildly stupid question, Selman and I looked at each other and snickered. We also exchanged a smile after the teacher
made an off-color comment.

We continued to bond on the second day of class.

We spent the entire 45-minute break together, talking about things both important and insignificant and by the time the week was over, it had become clear: I had again made a good male friend.

It was, in fact, possible.

So I guess it’s only fair now to ask why. Why was I able to bond so
well with Selman?

Well, for one thing, Selman truly listened to me when I spoke. I got the sense that he truly cared about what I had to say and really wanted to know more.

We were also able to laugh about anything together – the smallest thing could get us going – and he wasn’t scared to discuss his vulnerabilities with me.

You know, it’s funny. The qualities that drew me to Selman were
similar to those that would draw me to a mate.

I recognize that that may sound kind of strange, but it may help explain why making a good male friend had been so difficult for me. I needed it to be like love.

And we all know love is hard to find.

Chad Smith is a freelance journalist and English teacher who is originally from Queens, New York. He now lives in Hamburg, Germany. Some of his hobbies include swimming, chess, reading and photography.

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Getting by With a Little Help From Our Friends

It is not every day that the entire About Men Radio posse gets together.

In fact, it took a bit of carbon-dating to determine that the last time Silvio, Rich,  Pedro, John and I were all in the same room together was 1985!

It is almost hard to believe that it has been that long and that so much time has gone by in what feels like an instant.

To celebrate the occasion, we got together and memorialized our thoughts about our enduring friendship and its origins in a free-wheeling but sincere conversation presented to you here in this podcast.

The talk was revealing in how much Silvio can remember from yesteryear, how tenderly we feel about each other (please read that carefully as I did NOT say we felt each other tenderly) and what these connections mean to us as middle-aged men looking down the long barrel of families, careers and other pressures.

What the conversation underscores is the importance of having and maintaining these kinds of connections into male adulthood.

What are your friendships like and what do you do to nurture them? Tell us your story in our comments section on our website, on our Facebook page or write us at amr@aboutmenshow.com

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Getting the Band Back Together

I’ve always been pretty good at making friends in school and work, but none of those relationships are as close as the ones that I have with my About Men Radio posse.

As I look back, Pedro and I worked together in two different jobs as did Pedro and Chris.

Chris and I worked together briefly and I was his backup newspaper delivery boy when he went to Disney World with his family. Silvio and Rich also worked together on a neighbor’s food truck.

Oh the stories….

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Chris was the first to get married and moved way upstate. We’d exchange cassette tapes to give him an inkling of what we were doing.

Pedro was the next to take the dive.

Upon his breakup and with no place to go, he called me, and Father John’s chalet was open for him until he was back on his feet.

Pedro may have seen it as me helping him out, but he helped me through the grieving process of losing my dad.

Several years later, I was again cleaning out the apartment for my then-wife.

Joe McNulty, another longtime friend, helped paint and install some phone extensions in the house. Once the apartment was cleared out, my wife then thought it was suitable to move in.

The apartment was then redecorated with most of her things, which she took with her when she left.

What I didn’t realize is that Pedro and the guys would email me, but my wife (now ex-wife) was deleting the emails.

I eventually met Pedro for lunch and we re-connected. After my divorce, Pedro, Rich and I were driving around and I had a million questions of what I had missed over the previous three years.

Surprisingly, not very much.

Back in college hanging out with Pedro, Gary and Rich became relatively the same each weekend.

We’d get into the car and Pedro would say, “Rich, where do you wanna go?”

Rich: “I dunno. John?”

John: “I dunno. Gary?”

Gary would say that since he was driving that we could pick a place. Pedro would usually offer his suggestion, which was fine with us because we didn’t really have anything in mind.

Chris and crew-3

Years later when we reconnected, it was the same. It felt a bit like “Waiting for Godot.”

Godot never came and I thought in those three years that I missed out on things. Yes, there were moments that I did miss but rejoining the posse felt good.

The same thing happened over 10 years ago when I reached out to Carla, Chris’s then-fiancée, and Pedro and I drove out to Pennsylvania.

Upon seeing Chris, there was a feeling of no passage of time.

The band was finally back together.

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Friends Fill a 14-Year Void in My Life

Men, how many of you have male friends?

I mean close friends — not just co-workers, a brother-in-law or virtual friends on Facebook. And I don’t mean your “bros” with whom you might watch a game once in a while.

I mean flesh-and-blood friends whose numbers you have programmed on your phone and who you could call and rely on to help you out of a jam at 2:30 in the morning?

I bet that most of you can count on one hand – or less — the number of friends who truly qualify.

A recent story in The Telegraph from the UK reported that 11 percent of single men said they had no friends to turn to in a “serious situation” and that figure rose to 15 percent among married men.

Those numbers came from research conducted by the Movember Foundation, which is raising awareness of mental health issues among men.

It’s a stunning statistic but one that I can readily attest to.

I had about a 14-year stretch where my friends from my childhood — truly my only friends — were out of my life.

It was, to borrow a cliché, “just one of those things.”

I had gotten married and moved 300 miles away, and then when I moved closer to my friends, so much time had passed that it felt difficult to pick up their trail. Plus, I was busy raising a family, advancing my career, etc.

You get the picture.

I would pick up morsels of news from my mother, who was still living in my old neighborhood and remained plugged in about whose parents had died, who was working where, etc.

I pined to reconnect but somehow just could not get out of my own way to make it happen.

Then a crazy thing happened: Unbeknownst to me, my then-fiancée connected with Pedro and John by email and arranged for them to make a surprise visit at home.

The night of their arrival, she was acting all kinds of peculiar. I wanted to go to bed early and, she was like: “Don’t you dare! Stay up!”

Meanwhile, she would leave the room and have these furtive phone conversations with the guys, who in keeping with a time-honored tradition, were lost and late.

If memory serves, I think they were supposed to arrive at around 8:30 p.m. and instead showed up at 10:30 p.m.

It could have been 2:30 in the morning and I would have been just as thrilled.

In the years since, my circle of friends and I have made it a point to be in contact and to get together regularly. One of the side benefits of the About Men Radio podcast and website is that it bonds us and allows us to share our feelings for one another in a way that is funny and genuine.

A photo that Carla took of me the night of their surprise visit captured the absolute shock and joy I felt at seeing them as they came up the stairs.

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Doing my best to be an impromptu host, I got out the grill and whipped up barbecue hamburgers and hot dogs, all the while Pedro busted my stones: “What? We come to your house at 10:30 at night and there’s no lobster and filet mignon?”

It was as if nothing had changed and I knew then that a great hole in my life had been filled.

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‘I Love Them Like Brothers’

​I was deeply unnerved by what I read but I could not deny the truth of it:​​ A significant number of men have no close male friends they can turn to for help or advice.

An article in The Telegraph also suggests making close friends as adults is rare, and for​​ some guys, almost impossible.

Careers, marriages and kids eat into our free time and myriad distractions like television, the Internet and video ​games become substitutes for real, person-to-person, non-virtual social interaction.

Playing Fallout 4 or binging on Netflix during your downtime, rather than​ ​developing new relationships, is just easier. ​

​While 11 percent of single men said they had no friends to turn to in a serious​ situation, that rose to 15 per cent among married men.​

I’m no math wiz but that is 26 percent of adult men who have ZERO male friends to turn to​ ​when they need support.

The harsh reality is that there are some things​ ​a wife or a  mother just can’t help us with.

That brings me to the About Men Posse.

I’ve known Chris, John, Rich and Silvio since we were in grade school and while we​ ​​have occasionally drifted apart for a few years, I know every one of them would be there for me in a crisis.

Let me rephrase that.

Each and every one of them HAS been there for me in a crisis​ ​and they know that I have their back 24/7. ​

At the risk of a being on the receiving end of a merciless roasting from the dirtbags, I will go on record as saying I’m honored to be their friend and I love them like​ ​ ​brothers.

 

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Modern-Day Man and His Lack of Friends

Recently I read an article from the UK on how “2.5 million men have no close friends.”

Fifty percent of them have two or less friends, while 1 in 8 said they have no close friends they could to turn to in times of need.

This really piqued my interest, especially when thinking of my crew from About Men Radio.

We were all friends early in our lives — some of us from grade school and then through high school and college.

After that, many of us went off in different directions to pursue careers, marriages, family, kids, etc.

Twenty-plus years later, we have reunited as a group and have picked up our friendships just where we left off.

What makes this article about us men having few or no close friends really hit home is when I think about how many close male friends I’ve had in the interim.

The friendships are very few and not the lasting friendships like the ones fostered from when we were kids.

So, can I be considered to be part of this group of men that do not have close friends?

It seems that being married and raising a family definitely has limited the time and desire to make lasting friendships with other men.

Now that my kids are older, I have found that I allow myself to foster more male bonding with some work friends and some dads who have kids who are friends with my kids. (It makes it easier.)

Twenty-one years at the same place of employment also helped to allow me to build some good friendships of both men and women, but again nothing like the relationships that I have with the About Men group.

What is it that makes these older relationships stand the test of time while the newer friendships typically fade without much consequence and we can easily live without them?

I will be interested to know what others in my age bracket think and what experiences they’ve had with friendships over the years.

Email us at amr@aboutmenshow.com to share your experiences of friendship.