This is going to be an odd opening given the title of the post but I’ll bring it around don’t worry. As a man I particularly pride myself on being a man’s man. I’m not that progressive. I think men shouldn’t cry. I think depression in most cases is a farce. I think excess affection or sentiment is a bit pathetic. I realize that puts me squarely on the side of a minority in this day in age (send all hate-mail and rebuttals to kris.roadruck@gmail.com).

All that being said, I think as men, especially ones who even remotely lean the direction I do on these subjects, we leave a lot on the table when it comes to friendships. We isolate ourselves from connection. Because its expected. Not just because it seems “girly” but because we are expected to focus on success. So many of our labeled friendships are little more than acquaintances. We endeavor to develop them but we don’t.

And to be fair… we give each other a pass. It’s expected. We all know the score. How many of my male readers have a “best friend” that they’ve gone months without speaking to or connecting with? We even re-frame the issue. We say that’s what makes them our best friend; The fact that they can pick up as if we never left off after months of neglect. We are cheating ourselves. Most of us will be “lucky” in that we never scale the precipice required to unveil the disservice we do to ourselves.

I recently asked some of my employees what would motivate them to continue working for my company after they reached their “number”. When they reached a salary that took money off the table. It’s a hard question to answer because most of us have never considered it. We set our sights so high that the likelihood of us ever achieving them is invariably unlikely. Now I ask you as the reader to consider the same question. Assume for a moment you had enough money in the bank that interest would carry you for the rest of your life in fabulous style. What then would be important to you? Family sure – philanthropy even. But what of friendship? Have you cultivated any that can truly be counted on?

One of my favorite television series is Boston Legal. I enjoy law and often joke that I would like to retire into being a lawyer as I feel that litigation would keep my mind sharp. But the real reason I loved that show and miss it is the celebration of the friendship between Denny Crane and Alan Shore. A scotch and a cigar and a daily commitment to sharing your life with a friend.

I think many people in this country attempt to substitute that with marriage. I don’t postulate that this is patently wrong but… let’s face it. Divorce rates in this country are above 50%. As men, and I speak from experience, we become horribly self destructive creatures for a period of years post-divorce when the utter shock of the collapse of companionship provided by that ONE person in our life we share everything with really sets in. We typically don’t have a real backup for such things. We grab our acquaintances and hit the bars and drink our problems away. We swear off women. You know the story. It’s common. But Why? Because we don’t take the time to develop our friendships. To celebrate them and tend to them. We will kill ourselves for success. Many working 60+ hours a week to achieve a modicum of success. But to what purpose? Who do we share it with.

I myself have several people in my life whom with which I should spend more time cultivating friendships. People I know would make excellent friends. I’m going to list a few of them and hopefully they won’t be overly embarrassed for me mentioning them by name. I do so only to encourage you the reader to bring the same thoughts to the forefront of your mind.

Todd freisen. Rock star. Beer drinker. Philosopher and joker. All around great guy. Helped me find my voice in this industry when I was unsure of myself having just switch career paths. This guy has tons of values I admire but even more so he has similarities to me that break generational barriers. I know if I spent an ounce of effort I could take what is currently an occasional beer buddy to a great friendship. But I don’t. And it’s “Ok”.

Jonathan Gibbs. Mentor. Family man. Someone who I can both respect for values I want to have and empathize with for possessing some of the same odd quirks that I carry. Serious best friend material I can’t even begin to cover in this post. Yet I can’t count how many times I’ve turned down an opportunity to play a game of cards or shoot a game of pool with this guy because I “had to work”. And of course… it’s “Ok”.

Rob Adler. Genius. Puzzle solver. Iconic Lech (that’s a compliment coming from me.. hate-mail address above). Like minded entrepreneur. I connect with him – MAYBE once a month for a few sentences in a public forum (the dojo). Why? This guy and I are birds of a feather. I should have gotten on a plane to hang out with him a long ass time ago. I’ve never even bothered to meet this guy in person knowing full well I have the means to do so. But it’s “OK”.

The Critchlows – Will and Tom. Both of them. I respect these men enormously. Individually they each have traits I identify with, admire, and as a pair their sum total adds up undeniably to the type of gentlemen I should endeavor to spend my time with. Yet just this very week I’m guilty of blowing off a standing bar crawl offer with one of them. And I know without even asking he isn’t offended. It’s simply considered “Ok”.

It shouldn’t be. I don’t understand why we as men are so unwilling to prioritize friendship. As a measure of success, it’s hard to imagine a better marker. We’ll kill ourselves to acquire a car, or a title, a pretty woman’s attention, a compliment from an employer. Why do we not celebrate and cultivate friendships? It’s simply not acceptable. Not healthy. I for one am going to stop doing it. I hope you will join me or at least share your thoughts on the matter.

Filed under: Musings

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  1. Jey Pandian:
    When I used to live in Oakland, I made it a point to cultivate my friendships. I used to visit Jason, my best friend - once every other month by car - an 8 hour trip to Los Angeles for me. My friends who play as DJs in bars and clubs, every other week, I'd make it a point to grab a few more friends and support them as they play. Recently you've seen me playing League of Legends on the computer at work during after hours. Team-building aside. Why? All my closest (irl) friends are gamers but we are located so far away from each other that once or twice a week, we'll all log online together and play as a team against our opponents - where we once used to play basketball, soccer or some team sport. For me, my friendships mean everything to me. I was always the loner and most unpopular kid in school and often spent my time in the library reading books. Most of the so-called friends I've had in life have betrayed me at one point or another to the point that I've tried to take my own life. What friendships I have and am able to develop - I cherish deeply.
  2. Kris - interesting timing with this post. As I was driving home from work the other day, I saw a bunch of teenage boys walking down the street, in their little clique of 5 or 6, and thought to myself "Wait, at what point does that end? At what point do we stop just hanging out with our "boys" the way we used to when we were growing up?" - Kind of upsetting, but maybe its more of a reminder to pick things up where they left off and try harder.
  3. I appreciate the shoutout son, and we'll get together soon <3
  4. Love this post. Cements a lot of what I've been thinking about recently. I'm still in turmoil after abandoning all the friends I know and deciding to move to NYC. Next time don't blow me off and let's meetup!
  5. John Doherty:
    I think we all feel this from time to time, and it is important to realize that we all feel this way, and that we all need relationship friendship! No man is an island, I say, so let's make a pact to fight against these easiness of pulling away, and to instead move towards the messiness of being real and close in relationship. Of coure this is harder at some times than others, especially when you move/are moving to a new place, as Tom said, so it is a constant battle. I wonder why this resonates with us. It's easy to be in our Internet world, even if we are connected on Twitter or blogs or whatever, and I must remember to engage in the real world too. Last night I was reading the book Switch, by the Heath brothers, where they talk about changing behaviors. I realized I need to put away my iPad/computer more often and engage where I am. Thanks for writing this post.
  6. John Doherty:
    I think we all feel this from time to time, and it is important to realize that we all feel this way, and that we all need relationship friendship! No man is an island, I say, so let's make a pact to fight against these easiness of pulling away, and to instead move towards the messiness of being real and close in relationship. Of coure this is harder at some times than others, especially when you move/are moving to a new place, as Tom said, so it is a constant battle. I wonder why this resonates with us. It's easy to be in our Internet world, even if we are connected on Twitter or blogs or whatever, and I must remember to engage in the real world too. Last night I was reading the book Switch, by the Heath brothers, where they talk about changing behaviors. I realized I need to put away my iPad/computer more often and engage where I am. Thanks for writing this post.
  7. I was glad to read this post and realize that you re asking the same questions I am, only doing it ten years younger than I am. I have a few friends that I would drop everything and travel around the world to help, and would do the same for me, but we don't spend nearly enough time getting together just to get together. We have gotten complacent in keeping our friendships fresh and today and instead rely on the relationships we built as younger men and expect them to continue unchanged forever. As for your second question, that's easy, what do you want to do when you grow up? Being financially solvent enough to be able to ask a child's question, with a child's expectations and concerns, is without a doubt one of the most freeing positions you can find yourself in.. So Kris, what do you want to be when you grow up? Me, I'm heading back to grad school in the fall and my wife if becoming a gentlewoman farmer.. Now all we need to do is reconnect with our friends and be more involved in each other's lives.
  8. Eren Mckay:
    I have to agree with one thing in this post. Rob is a really great friend. All the best, Eren
  9. Sarah Jo:
    Great Posts
  10. you are fast becoming one of my favourite bloggers... but let's not expect to be mates because of that, shall we? ;)
  11. Great post, Kris... I imagine you must have been waxing philosophical when the idea was born. Since I'm about twice your age, I've had similar musings now and then. Just a couple of years ago, I finally managed to finally track down my best friend from high school (probably closer than a brother, for most folks), on the other side of the continent. We picked up our friendship where we left off forty years ago, and it felt great. To me, "friend" implies a lot, whereas most of my close on-line contacts are "buddies" or "acquaintances". I think Steve sums it up pretty well, when he talks about "...drop everything and travel around the world to help, and would do the same for me". For me, a real friend is someone I'd take a bullet for, and that I know would take one for me, but would also be the first to cold-cock me if I was seriously out of line. I can count those on my fingers over my lifetime... on one hand, those with whom I currently have contact. I think we all come across people in whom we see potential for a great friendship, and for one reason or another, we never make the effort to make it happen. Work, commitments, timing, priorities... convenient excuses, but they rarely justify depriving ourselves of the benefit of having a true friend. I do agree that Denny and Alan share that no-barriers level of friendship that is rare and special. That's the kind that you don't want to let fade. You'd kick yourself soundly if you did. So why would we kick ourselves any less for missing the opportunity?