Generally, men are pretty bad at making friends—especially with other guys. Its an important, yet scary step to find that “right guy” to be your first God Buddy. So where do you start? A good place might be your “Third Place”. If its the right place!
According to a post titled, What Is a Third Place and Why Do You Need One?, one thing missing from the lives of most modern American men is a “Third Place.” The post’s author, Johnny Dzubak suggests it is important — even essential, for a man to have a Third Place in his life to socialize somewhere other than his home or work.
So first, let’s define a Third Place and why is is important.
What is a “Third Place”?
Sociologist Ray Oldenberg first pioneered the concept of a Third Place in his 1989 book, The Great Good Place. Oldenberg explains that it is a hangout spot, community center or your “home away from home”. A Third Place is usually the gym, coffee shop, restaurant, or bar where you go for a brief respite or to recharge. For some guys, their Third Place may even be their church.
Third Places have “regulars” so if you go there often enough, it becomes just like the TV show Cheers “where everybody knows your name.”
Conversation is the main focus in most Third Places but those interactions are often very superficial. Weather, sports, work. No depth. Casual friends and acquaintances usually gather just to hang out, chew the fat, discuss the issues of the day, talk about sports, vent about their jobs, and maybe get to know one another a bit.
But these type of Third Places are mostly places full of superficial relationships and small talk. Yes, everybody may know your name but they do not really know the real you.
So I suggest that we need a different type of “Third Place”; one with authentic relationships where a few people know you more on the inside.
Why Is a Third Place Important?
In his post, Dzubak writes “A third place is especially important because the modern American home has effectively become a place of social isolation, particularly outside of major cities. American homes are set up to be a place of total retreat from the world, where you can zone out and exist in a bubble you construct for yourself. It doesn’t matter how many devices you have plugged in, how many parties you throw or how many emails you answer on your couch. On a basic human level, you’re still disconnected from a broader community.”
I explained in my earlier post, Where Did All My Friends Go? that as men get older, we often have fewer close male friendships. Yet, we crave friendships just as much as women.
We also learned in my post, Loneliness: a Huge Threat to our Health that isolation causes many men to hide behind a proverbial “mask”, which doesn’t help their friendships either.This epidemic is literally killing us so we need to develop and maintain deeper friendships.
Most men though don’t know how or where to find some close friends, especially where they can find someone they can trust.
So let’s develop a “Third Place” of God Buddies!
Authenticity of your new Third Place
Men need authentic relationships with other men beyond our spouse, work colleagues and neighbors.
Now, I’m not suggesting family isn’t your top priority — in fact, they are your “first place”. In fact, I might suggest that a man’s “second place” is his relationship with God, which absolutely takes priority over work and casual friendships.
This Third Place of God Buddy relationships needs to be a “safe place” to take off the mask. You need a place to vent and discuss topics that your spouse just might not understand such a problems at your job, sexual temptations, and personal struggles. Your GB relationships are genuine and authentic. These are non-judgmental and require everyone in the group to adhere to a policy of strict confidentiality. Over time, it becomes a safe place after you develop a level of trust that nothing is shared beyond your group.
I will write more about the characteristics of your God Buddy relationships in future posts.
Until, then, where is your Third Place?
Feel free to comment below.