The Epidemic of Male Loneliness

And this is also a dude who had a close friend named Jonathan. And we get this verse after Jonathan’s death where David says, “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.”

As a very heterosexual man, this makes me feel a little weird. I mean, here is this emotion toward another man which seems like it has no place being in the Bible! I mean, aren’t men only supposed to love women or else things get weird?

No.

Our perverted culture has twisted up the word ‘love’ to a very base and carnal definition which can only be interpreted sexually. In other words, we cannot hear that “David loved Jonathan” without immediately thinking “David was gay??”

I do not think that’s what this passage is saying at all. There is so much more to love than mere sex. I think he was deeply grieving for a very close friend of his. I would certainly express a similar sentiment if Dave or any of my other close friends were to pass away, because I really love my guys a lot.

And I tell them that often.

And I am very straight.

I think the problem of male loneliness has arisen out of fear and a misled perception of masculinity. Our culture subliminally preaches the idea that real men are lone wolves who do not need help or close friends. They need a wife and they need to be a good father and good worker…but friends?? There’s not really a category for it anymore.

In my experience, the breakdown of close male relationships has led not only to a breakdown of male friendships, but of other man-to-man relationships like mentoring and accountability. I can count on one hand the number of guys I know who have intentionally sought older men for the sake of growth and wisdom. For millennia, there was a system in place for younger men to be raised up and encouraged by older men, but that seems to have disintegrated with a culture telling us that we can do it all on our own.

So what do we do about this problem of male loneliness? How do we begin to address a culture which informs us that male friends are weak or weird? I think the first step is to name it. Identify that our culture (especially Christian culture in America) gets weird about men being too close.

If you’re a man and as you read, you’re thinking to yourself Gee, I don’t have that many close dude friends! it may be time to change that! It is not healthy to have a life devoid of testosterone. If your only friend is your girlfriend/fiancée/wife, or you have a host of female friends without any guys, you are missing out on brotherly fellowship which, I would argue, is necessary for a healthy and holistic life.

If you’re a woman reading this and a particular guy keeps popping into your mind as you read, perhaps it’s worth gently bringing up the topic and encouraging him to find men to do life with. I do think it’s toxic when a man only has female friends and confides in them things which should be reserved for other men or a spouse.

Obviously I’m not pushing for an extreme here, where we should only have male friends and no female friends. What I’m pushing for is balance. We (men) are averse to intimacy with other guys, and I would love to see that change. We do not need to continue living under the stigma that men don’t need male friends, so let’s strive to repair this.

Let’s reignite the bromance.

This article about male loneliness originally appeared here.

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Ethan is a speaker, writer, and photographer currently living in Los Angeles. He has lived on 6 continents, gone to 6 schools, had 28 jobs, and done 4 one-armed pull-ups. He recently graduated from Moody Bible Institute. Follow him at ethanrenoe.com.