Anyone who has even the slightest interest in popular culture is likely to be aware of the AMC Television program Mad Men that aired from 2007-2015. The main character of the Peabody, multiple award winning, critically acclaimed series was a conflicted, tormented, womanizing, chain smoking, alcoholic, upper middle class, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant advertising executive named Don Draper. Draper was the phenomenally successful, wizardly talented advertising executive who worked at the republican leaning, conservative advertising firm, Sterling Cooper.
He was brash, bold, intense, secure, insecure, arrogant, ambitious, insightful, ruthless, confident, aloof, temperamental, romantic, business savvy, unpredictable, a vicious bully, and much more. It goes without saying he was a dynamic, complex human being. Many individuals, both friends and foes were often in awe when in his presence. He was a formidable force to be reckoned with.
Don Draper was undoubtedly, a talented, colorful figure. He was literally tall, dark, and indisputably handsome. He was the type of man who other men simultaneously admired and feared. He was the man many women wanted to go to bed with and frequently did. He was the embodiment of the Alpha male that made other men want to be like him and be his buddy. He often provoked jealously and resentment among those guys who were unable to measure up to his larger than life presence.
Yes, Mr. Draper seemed to have it all: Money, looks, significant power, a beautiful wife, three children, a beautiful home in suburban Ossining, New York, and all the outward trappings of success. He was a living embodiment of the American dream. He had arrived.
Despite his material and enviable career success, Don, like many of his midcentury contemporaries and many men today, was hampered by a common theme that is prevalent in the lives of men—a lack of genuine friendships. The old saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same” certainly rings true in this regard.
Don Draper, like many of his midcentury contemporaries and many men today, was hampered by a common theme that is prevalent in the lives of men—a lack of genuine friendships.
There have been a number of theories and explanations from experts as to why so many men have difficulty establishing and maintaining valuable, close relationships with other men.
- Social awkwardness
- Fear of intimacy with other men
- Concern with being viewed or labeled as homosexual
- Societal mores that have historically frowned upon intimacy among men
- Being totally consumed with one’s career to the detriment of having any healthy relationships
Reasons aside, many men experience a real deficit in their level of camaraderie with other men. The undeniable conclusion from many psychologists, psychotherapists, mental health experts, as well as testimony from a number of men themselves, is that too many men have too few, if any, real male friends. There has been a plethora of studies providing evidence that men who are largely friendless are living in an unhealthy situation: often resorting to alcohol, engaging in drug use, or suffering from depression. Men need to reexamine their current predicament. Some things to consider:
Reaching Out To Other Men May Provide You With Advice That Can Be Useful
There are times that we as men act on impulse and engage in unwise and foolish behavior. Men who have close friendships are more likely to approach their buddies with their concerns and get some reasonable perspective before acting on the problem at hand. This could potentially spare some unnecessary pitfalls.
Learn to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
We are all are creatures of habit and your real friends will likely be more candid in telling you (in a polite way) about your shortcomings or assisting you in refraining from engaging in negative habits, challenging you to be the best man that you can possibly be.
Male Friends Can Serve As Valuable Confidants
Over time, if men are willing to be vulnerable and let go of social inhibitions that have largely been imposed by a sexist, patriarchal society, many men find that establishing solid friendships with other men can be exceedingly rewarding and healthy.
Other Men Can Serve As Effective Mentors
Women can certainly serve as mentors for men but as a female mentor once noted, there are times when people of the same gender can provide advice in ways that others cannot always do so. It is a wise man who seeks out another man to be a mentor.
There are times when men need to be among other men
We as human beings tend to want to be around people with similar interests or with people of the same gender. For good or ill, we are more inclined to be more introspective with like-minded individuals. I have been in all male settings—bars, men’s groups etc.,—where men were refreshingly candid and forthright with one another in a manner that likely would not have occurred had the setting been a mixed gender crowd.
As the saying goes, “no man is an island.” Unfortunately, Don Draper and many men of today have few, if any real male friends. As a result, the emotional and psychological impact of this can result in tragic outcomes. Such an intense level of constant loneliness is unhealthy for anyone. While some guys seem comfortable with such a situation other men readily acknowledge the potential danger of such isolation, and would desperately like to change their situation. Making a valiant effort to develop deep friendships with other men can lead you to a healthier and more fulfilled life.