The following piece is written by “Elliot N”, an anonymous member of Courage International. This is the third of a four-part series on the topic of authentic male friendship. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Part 3

Third: COMMONALITY. You have to have something in common with your friend. Seems like an obvious thing to say, but if you are lusting about someone you have little in common with, how is that friendship going to work? This came up at a recent Conference talk. The presenters spoke about how similar friends got together for cigars and sports – or something like that. They made a point of this activity that they had in common being a catalyst for bringing guys together. But if we want to integrate with that particular group of guys, one of the conference attendees quipped, “How do you reconcile cigars and sports when you are more interested in wine and musicals?” Great point.

I’m going to add a qualifier here. It is possible to learn from your friend and become interested in what they are interested in. For example, I grew up with a sports wound. Growing up in a sports town, I played little or no sports. Since I didn’t play any sports, I wasn’t interested in watching sports. But guess what so many men in the world love to do? Watch and talk about sports.

Early in my career, I worked on a construction site. One of my colleagues loved basketball and took it upon himself to teach me how to play. Now I could have said – yuck – forget it. But I went with it, and playing basketball turned into something ‘Jim’ and I now had in common. It was actually pretty cool. Later, my buddy Tom reinforced that common interest. He continued my impromptu lessons, and we started watching NBA games on TV.

This is so important. Just because you think you don’t like something now doesn’t mean you can’t learn to like it. And if that something can open a door into the world of men, why not try it? What do you have to lose? Certainly, you can’t force yourself to like something that just grates against your personality or beliefs but that all requires discernment. As a late-bloomer renaissance man myself, I’ve learned to appreciate seafood, cigars, scotch, wine, sports in general, professional football in particular, opera, ballet, Broadway, fitness, camping, travel – etc., etc., all post-college.

Fourth: Male friendships need to be NON-EXCLUSIVE. It seems to me to be very natural to have more than one close friend. This requires a level of emotional maturity for sure. One can’t be jealous of one’s best friend’s friend. Men, in general, share identical anthropologies so much so that we can consider ourselves brothers even if we’re not related. So how can we exclude one brother from the other in this big family of men? I’m not sure how you could be in a ‘monogamous’ relationship with just one man. It’s sort of denying who you are in a certain sense. You have the potential to miss out on so much. Sure, you can have a bestie in that family, that’s cool. But if you want what’s best for your bestie, you need to allow them many other friendships! Any less generosity on your part smacks of the ugly vice of jealousy.

Come back in two weeks to read Part 4, the conclusion….