My current GodBuddy series, New Year; New Types of Friends suggests that every man must evaluate his friendships periodically. I included posts about The Philosophy, The History, The Psychology, and The Physiology (physical aspects) to help us understand some barriers to having close, intimate male friendships. I then wrote The Friendships Throughout a Man’s Life and How Much Time Men Need to Become Friends to explain why and how long it takes to find the friends every man needs. This post introduces the foundation for examples of friendships in politics, sports, literature, and entertainment.
My hope is these upcoming examples of real-life friendships are a fun diversion but are also educational. I have some initial ideas for the format but am not sure exactly how those will flow or how many examples I’ll provide. Feel free to provide feedback and suggestions along the way.
I trust this series also helps you begin to see the importance of developing deeper, more authentic friendships that help you become a better man. These are what I call GodBuddies; your small group of godly men who can help you develop an eternal mindset so you can live out your best life.
The Types of Friends Every Man Needs
Let’s start by differentiating the types of friends every man needs. I’ll also describe some friends you should stop having or avoid altogether.
The basis for these groups from a post on one of my favorite websites, the Art of Manliness. In this post, Jeremy Anderberg writes that evolutionary biologist and author, Robin Dunbar argues the average human can only sustain about 150 stable social relationships but that everyone has circles of more intimate relationships. Anderberg says a man’s “inner circle of intimate friends” should contain these five archetypes:
- The Mentor
- The Wingman/Bachelor
- The Handyman
- The Fitness Buff
- The Work Pal
Of course, I would add a sixth type:
- The GodBuddy
I agree that every man needs to connect with these types of friends on a regular basis. A man’s inner circle makes life easier when he uses the strengths and talents of each to counterbalance any weaknesses and close the gaps in his own abilities.
In the case of a GodBuddy, I also believe there’s a mutual benefit since you add value to your friends and share the common goal of becoming more Christ-like.
Here’s a brief description of the six archetypes and their purpose.
The Mentor is a peer or an older gentleman you can turn to for advice. The mentor gives you constructive criticism when he sees something not going so well in your life. He confronts you when you have developed a bit of hubris. He challenges you he catches you flirting with the barista or when you talk unlovingly to your wife.
The mentor ultimately wants you to be a better man. He is not always your favorite fellow but is possibly more necessary than anyone else on this list. He can be a guiding hand through the crazy and often confusing world we live in.
You can find mentors among your dad, your uncles, in church/religious organizations, and in fraternal organizations (Freemasons, Knights of Columbus, the American Legion, Elks Lodge, etc.).
This friend serves different purposes, depending on your stage in life.
When you’re single, this guy helps your confidence when interacting with the opposite sex. He may distract a woman’s friend so you can make your move on her. He is adept at making any outing go smoother and feel less stressful. Your wingman is often gregarious and charismatic, which takes the pressure off of you. He puts people at ease and lets others know about your positive traits, so you don’t have to mention them yourself. This guy pumps you up to take risks and helps restore your lost confidence. He also kicks you in the rear to get back into the dating scene after a break-up.
This perennial bachelor stays away from the altar longer than anyone else among your friends. In this role, he’s the one who doesn’t let you forget about that much-needed guy time. Once you are married, time away becomes more difficult since you have kids or need to plan things out weeks in advance. But he’s also the guy who can be there at a spur-of-the-moment to watch the football game. He also provides a needed shot of undomesticated masculine energy to your life.
You will find your single guy/wingman in college, at work, or at the local watering hole.
The relatively narrow term, “handyman” describes the guy who just seems to know everything about everything. He helps you with home improvement projects. He can tell you how to grill the perfect steak and give you tips for negotiating on that new car. He’s similar to the mentor, but instead of waxing philosophical, he gives practical tips you can implement immediately.
The real benefit of the handyman is that he can teach you everything he knows. Instead of letting him re-tile the bathroom floor, he insists you do it with his guidance. His approach helps you become a handyman friend in the future.
This friend is one of the more valuable types have to around. But be careful to not take advantage of him. If he does do work for you, or even just helps, make sure you thank him by feeding him dinner or taking him out for some beers. A manly thank you note could also be a nice touch.
You can find the handyman friend in your neighborhood, at a hardware store, or via hackerspaces, the community-operated physical places, where people can meet and work on their projects.
The Fitness Buff
This may be one of your least favorite of friends but could be one of the most important. He runs marathons with ease or bikes a hundred miles without breaking a sweat. He does an Ironman triathlon and even enjoys it. The worst part is he invites you to join him and won’t stop inviting you until you say “Yes.” He’s the guy who motivates you to get off the couch to hit the gym on your own.
At some point, you do need to join your fitness friend in an activity at least for the sake of maintaining your friendship. If for nothing else, he provides a boost of confidence. At some point, you’ll thank him for challenging you.
You may find the fitness buff at the gym, in intramural leagues, at races, or on the trails.
The Work Pal
Most guys spend at least 40 hours or more at the office each week including lunch, overtime, or the times you show up early to get things done. This is almost half of your week’s waking hours so you need a pal at the office with whom you can shoot the breeze or enjoy lunch. He doesn’t need to be your friend for the rest of your life. But if you happen to hit it off, you can always take the friendship out of the office.
This type of friendship can be tricky to navigate because it’s very dependent on your job. Navigating the hierarchy of the business world can be difficult so you probably shouldn’t be friends with your boss since they give performance reviews, discipline you, and decide on your raises/promotions. Try to find someone in a similar position or someone higher up in a different department. You don’t have to become best friends, but those water cooler chats make the workweek more enjoyable, especially if you don’t particularly love your job.
Find the work pal at the office or your local coffee shop if you work from home or are self-employed.
If you follow my blog, you already know I believe every man needs friends who help them grow spiritually and understand how to live to higher standards for manhood. Your GodBuddy is the friend who helps guide your spiritual growth and teaches you about God’s biblical standards. This friend knows your eternal importance. He encourages you and holds you accountable to act like an adult. He prays for you and with you whenever needed.
Author, Jonathan Holmes describes this type of friend this way:
“Biblical friendship exists when two or more people, bound together by a common faith in Jesus Christ, pursue him and his kingdom with intentionality and vulnerability. Rather than serving as an end in itself, biblical friendship serves primarily to bring glory to Christ, who brought us into friendship with the Father. It is indispensable to the work of the gospel in the earth, and an essential element of what God created us for.”–Jonathan Holmes, The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship
Once a man understands that God loves him and has an eternal purpose for his life, he begins to look for friends who are spiritually mature. These are friends who teach them about what it means to be a godly man.
As I wrote about in The Philosophy of Friendship, these are what Aristotle called “friends of the good.” who share a common goal of becoming more like Jesus Christ. You will likely find potential GodBuddies at church, in Bible studies, and in book groups.
Friends to Avoid
It’s important to also know that everyone has friends they should avoid. Those may be buddies from your past. They could be the obnoxious guy whose kids are on the same soccer team who tries to befriend you.
Today, we see too many examples of what some people call “toxic masculinity” where guys take advantage of others sexually, emotionally, financially, or professionally. Many boys – I won’t call them men since they still act like children, hunt for sexual conquests in every relationship. They mismanage their money or do just enough to get by in life. They mentally intimidate and bully people or act so passively that they avoid all leadership roles. As a perpetual “momma’s boy”, they avoid their responsibilities. They look for their wives who run the entire household. Nor do they help manage their family’s affairs. They feel the world revolves around them. They are egotistical, do not seek guidance, and have no long-term vision for their life.
We all know at least one guy who is fun to hang out with or is generally interesting but has that one glaring character trait that drives people crazy. I wrote a funny post earlier that describes several of these friends you will find just about everywhere. Don’t Be That Guy!
During my preliminary research for this series, I found several interesting examples of friends in politics, sports, literature, and entertainment. I hope to follow a consistent format to describe the friendship and what is unique about it. Each should fit nicely into one of the aforementioned archetypes for the types of friends a man needs. Some may be a stretch but each has a purpose and will reveal some obvious benefits. Some may even reveal good reasons for you to avoid or even end a friendship. It’s why every man should evaluate his friendships periodically.
So stay with me as I begin in the next post using examples in the world of politics.