I’m currently working on an article for the Fuller Youth Institute on boys and emotions — more specifically how we as a culture tend to sabotage boy’s emotions — making it unsafe for them to express them. As I’ve been editing this article, the Associate Director of the Fuller Youth Institute, Brad Griffin, pointed me in the direction of a blog article he wrote called Boys Need Their Friends.
In this article Brad cites a New York Times article by Jan Hoffman, Allowing Teenage Boys to Love Their Friends. In the article Hoffman cites the work of Dr. Niobi Way and her book, Deep Secrets: Boys Friendships and the Crisis of Connection.
A couple of sections in the article just really resonated with me and the research I did for my new book What it Means to be a Man. Hoffman, commenting on Way’s work, writes:
Despite stereotypes of teenage boys as grunting, emotionally tone-deaf creatures who bond over sports talk and risk-taking, she said, their need for intimate friendship is as potent as it is for girls. Boys in early adolescence would speak candidly about those friendships to Dr. Way and her researchers, acknowledging the importance of having a best friend who was both repository and guard for their most private feelings.
But as the boys grew older, the intensity of those relationships faded. Boys feared being seen as “too girly” or even gay for expressing attachments to one another, even just for feeling them….
Indeed, the shutting down of those relationships is part of what turns boys into taciturn, emotionally disconnected men…