As has been my practice the last few years, I write a post that reflects on and summarizes my writing for the year for this GodBuddies blog (these links take you to Reflections on Year 1 of GodBuddies, the “Upside-Down” Year 2, and My Journey through The MANual: Year 3). This year’s reflection is about my series, New Year; New Types of Friends, in which I suggest men should reflect on and evaluate the value of their friendships. Evaluate not just for the value of friends to your life, but also for the value you add to theirs.
My plan was to write posts that describe the many aspects of friendships and provide real-life examples of friends who helped each other through thick and thin. I also wanted to address the question I get most often, “What is the difference between being a good friend and being a GodBuddy?”
Over the years, I’ve read that loneliness due to the lack of friends is detrimental to a man’s health. It’s the main reason I believe all men need deeper, more meaningful friendships with other guys who help them get through the stresses and difficulties of life. I also believe that when men become better men, we can reduce many of the problems in the world today. Good friends help make men become better men.
So the following is a summary of this series with links to each weekly post so you can go back to read the ones that seem most interesting. My hope is that it helps you see why I am so passionate about helping men make better friends.
An Introduction to Friendships
The opening post started by suggesting the need to discern the differences between your acquaintances, casual friends, close friends, and best friends. Sadly, many men report they don’t have any close friends. So to help your evaluation, I included a free download of my Relationship Self-Assessment.
I followed with separate posts about the Philosophy, History, Psychology, and Physiology (physical aspects) of friendships. After those posts, I described The Friendships Throughout a Man’s Life to show how our friendships change over time. I then wrote about How Much Time Men Need to Become Friends since we must invest time and energy in our friendships by making them a priority so they are beneficial to you and to them.
Each of these introductory posts set the foundation to show that male friends are important. Those also give you a starting point for how to make better friends.
Examples of Real-life (mostly) Friends
After those initial posts, I wrote an Introduction to Examples of Real-life Friendships which suggested every man needed six archetypes in his “inner circle” of closest friends. These included:
- The Mentor
- The Wingman/Bachelor
- The Handyman
- The Fitness Buff
- The Work Pal
- The GodBuddy (my personal favorite!)
I followed with several sets of posts that included examples of friendships grouped by politics, sports, entertainment, and literature. Following is a quick recap of each set.
Friendships in Politics
The examples of friendships in politics started with Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill, who became close personal friends despite their party differences. I wrote about Winston Churchill, who was a selfless friend, which played a central role in his moral vision of politics. The Close, Intimate Friendship of Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed was similar to a post I wrote earlier about the biblical friendship of Jonathan and David to help men become more comfortable with emotional openness with another guy.
The friendship of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in The Frenemies of Our Founding Fathers and Alexander Hamilton’s Challenging Friendships show that even enemies can turn into good friends when they set aside their political differences for the greater good.
Friendships in Sports
The subset of friendships from the sporting world included the Unlikely Friendship of Jesse Owens and Luz Long, who became friends at the Olympics despite being from countries with opposite ideologies. The Paradoxical Friendship of Joe Louis and Max Schmeling also included racial differences. However, both sets of friends overcame those barriers for the greater good.
Arnie’s Army of Friends showed how Arnold Palmer relied on many people as his personal board of directors. This approach helped the golf legend widen the appeal of the sport and then do great things through his charities. The Opposing Personalities of Magic and Bird showed how opposites can blend together over a shared experience of basketball despite their fierce competition. Lastly, the Grand Slam Friendship of Martina Navratilova and Chrissy Evert showed how a personal rivalry gets put aside to help someone through serious health issues.
Friendships in Entertainment
The world of entertainment includes movies, TV shows, music, and the theater. In most cases, the examples of friendships in each subset I used reflected the good traits of friendships. Unfortunately, many did not.
Friends in Film
My post The Buddy Chemistry of Butch and Sundance showed how the on-screen chemistry in the first-ever movie about male friendship brought Robert Redford and Paul Newman together as friends afterward. The post, A Friendship Sure to Make You Cry depicted the friendship between Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo in the movie, Brian’s Song. These two football players competed but publicly expressed their feelings for one another during serious health issues. The friendship of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in Good Will Friendships Makes You Better shows how friends from childhood can carry over into adulthood.
An important trait of a great friendship is not taking yourself too seriously. Even though Wayne Campbell and his best friend, Garth Algar felt, “We’re not worthy!” in Wayne’s World, the two always managed to have fun. In Friends on a Mission from God, Dan Akyroyd and John Belushi had fun but showed how a bigger purpose can drive a friendship. The example of Maverick and Iceman shows why Every Guy Needs These Top Gun Friendships, especially a Wingman.
Friendships in TV
The subset of examples on television started with An Odd Couple of Friends, in which Felix Unger and Oscar Madison learned that their differences could deepen a friendship. A Small-Town Friendship That Fooled America stated that Andy Griffith and Don Knotts used their squeaky-clean act to cover up their infidelity, anger, jealousy, and mental issues. Despite these flaws, they became friends for life. In A Happy Days Friendship that Almost Wasn’t, I wrote that Henry Winkler and Ron Howard almost didn’t become friends because their egos got in the way.
More recent TV shows also provide lessons about friendship. Friendships About Nothing showed why the cast of Seinfeld were simply “friendships of convenience” and not the deep, authentic friends that many men need today. Young people today lead increasingly busy and anxious lives but can fall into loneliness and struggle without good friends. The examples from the TV show, Friends beg the question, Can a Group of Friends be Good Friends? The colleagues at Dunder Mifflin show that Work Friendships at The Office often include jealousy, one-up-manship, office romances, and stress that affects work relationships and also friendships.
Every Man Needs a Sidekick
I finished this subset with TV Sidekicks Who Made Their Friends Better. I described how Ed McMahon covered up for Johnny Carson’s bad jokes. The post explained that Robin was Batman’s sidekick and also his mentee. You read that Tonto helped keep the Lone Ranger from fighting the battles of life alone and how Ethel Mertz kept Lucille Ball from going off the deep end. Al Borland was Tim Taylor’s handy sidekick because he had all the best tools. And Laverne and Shirley showed how the two were much different but still remained friends.
The main point of that post was that every guy needs a sidekick who helps them realize his flaws and challenges his viewpoints. A sidekick adds humor when you get too serious. He keeps you from going too far with your cockamamie ideas. He’s a friend who rides alongside you when things get difficult. He encourages you to not become lonely.
Friendship in Literature
From novels to comic strips, the best-loved works of fiction feature stories about friendships that helped transform the main characters.
I started with A Friendship that Transforms about The Inklings, a group that included C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, and others who sharpened their viewpoints and deepened their friendships during frequent gatherings in a pub. The post, A Friend Who Helps Keep It Real showed how Sancho Panza kept Don Quixote’s priorities straight. In The Loneliness of Mice and Men, I described how George Milton’s buddy, Lennie Small helped the twosome overcome isolation throughout their pursuit of fame and fortune. The Famous Friendships That Shaped Mark Twain showed why a diverse group of friends is valuable. Twain’s friends included: an author, Harriet Beecher Stowe; a slave, Fredrick Douglass; a playwright, William Dean Howells; an inventor, Nikola Tesla; a blind person, Helen Keller; and a president, Ulysses S. Grant. This diverse group added value to Twain but he also was valuable to those friendships.
Friends in Fantasy and Adventure
The next subset of examples comes from the genres of fantasy and adventure literature. In A Friend Who Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself was based on the friendship of Samwise Gangi and Frodo Baggins. Throughout the books of The Lord of the Rings series, the duo demonstrated many attributes of a great friendship: sacrifice, speaking up about sin, perseverance, and love. The post, Some Friendships Digress While Others Progress described how the friendships between Ronald Weasley, Harry Potter, and Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter novels changed over time.
In May The (Friendship) Force Be With You, I stated that Star Wars started as a book before the first movie was even released. Nonetheless, the friendships in that franchise had a “force” that guided their relationships. The force helped them stay loyal. It helped them overcome and resolved their differences. It led to kindness and acceptance. The Clive Cussler novels about Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino showed why every man needs adventure in their life.
Friends in Cartoons and Comics
Even cartoon friendships show why good friendships are important. The comic strip, Calvin and Hobbs show Friends Who Help Your Imagination and Creativity. In The Jungle Book, the Bear Necessities Friendship between Mowgli and Baloo eliminated stress and increases happiness. Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robbin showed that Good Friends Stick with You because “A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside.”
In a nod to Disney animation, I wrote that Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa were Friends Who Help You Learn From Your Past. In The Lion King film, the trio showed that you can either run from your past or learn from it. Lastly, Woody and Buzz Lightyear had A Friendship to Infinity and Beyond. All of these friends helped each other get outside their comfort zone.
The Benefits of Friends
As I turned toward the home stretch in the series, I came across an article that led to a post about how Music Strengthens Friendships. It included examples of the Father-figure Friendship between Aaron Copland with Leonard Bernstein; a Friendship of Diversity & Love between Herb Alpert and Louis Armstrong; how Elton John supported his friends through crisis, and how Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur helped each other’s careers.
I also wrote about The Benefit of Diverse Friendships which can lead to deeper, more meaningful conversations. I suggested it’s not always easy to add racial or religious diversity to your group of friends. You may not have friends of different socioeconomic or educational statuses. You may also not have friends of different genders or sexual orientations. Most don’t have friends of other nationalities and ethnicity. Many older guys need younger friends to give them purpose. Younger guys need older men who pass on wisdom and perspective. I also suggested you could even consider adding friends with differing political views. Diversity helps you reflect on the value of all of your friendships
But with diversity comes a word of caution: make sure you maintain proper boundaries to enjoy close, loving platonic friendships. I wrote about the Differences Between Male & Female Friendships since close friendships between the opposites-sex can become a danger zone. I explained that men and women see friendship differently, which adds to the risk of sexual attraction.
In Why Friendships End, I explained that all friendships will come to an end. There are reasons such as when you slowly grow apart when your obligations or interests change. You may also grow apart when distance increases due to a move across the country. Or you may choose to end a friendship when negativity creeps in or when there is a betrayal of confidentiality. Some friendships end when there’s an unexpected death. But they all end because we all eventually die.
As such, I believe that every man should think about his legacy and the eternity of his soul. I finished the series with my theory that The Highest Type of Friendship is Spiritual and provided My GodBuddy Friendship Formula. Although every person needs to understand their purpose and legacy, I believe all men need another man who helps them become better men. It’s how we can raise the bar for proper manhood and eradicate the toxic male behavior that permeates the world.
You Need a GodBuddy!
Of course, you should pursue meaningful relationships with all your good friends and neighbors. But men need mentors, wingmen, handyman friends, fitness buffs, and work pals among their good friends.
However, not every friendship will reach the level of depth needed to become GodBuddies. It only comes when you have a friendship with another man who shares the common pursuit of living according to God’s standards and learning to become more like Jesus Christ.
Shameless plug: You can find out more about this type of friendship by purchasing a copy of my book, Get Out Of Your Man Cave: The Crisis of Male Friendship and How to Turn Good Friends into GodBuddies.
There you have it! I hope this series inspires you to reflect more deeply on the value of your friendships.
If you are just starting on this path, keep at it! I pray that you will continue the journey and deepen your friendship with a few other men who can become your GodBuddies. The benefit to your family and your friendships is better relationships. But the benefit to you is eternal!
As always, thank you for reading along each week. Feel free to comment on any post and challenge my theory. You can also subscribe to receive an email whenever I write a post by clicking here.