What makes masculine friendship work? Start by rejecting effeminacy.
We are working through a very simple approach to improving self-discipline by consciously deciding to do simple tasks each week, then doing them. We are now in week 4: Friendship. We will cover some tough stuff in this piece, so get ready.
But first, a quick re-cap of last week.
Last week was Week 3 of AM’s 4-week Self-Discipline Challenge. We looked at how self-discipline can improve the romantic relationship with the lady in our life.
Task 1 was to open doors for her, Task 2 was to stand when she enters or leaves the room and to stand if she gets up from the table. Task 3 was to improve how we communicate: Listen more attentively, don’t solve her problem [prematurely] and pay her at least one sincere compliment a day for a week. Reading this back to myself before we go final, it sounds mechanical. If this sounds mechanical to you, it’s not. It’s important and deserves that we do it well.
A general note on how to be a good, masculine friend to another man.
The general rule of how to be a good masculine friend to another man is that you will for him, you want for him, what is good for his own masculinity and what helps him to be a better, stronger, more masculine man. You help him to be tougher. This means you discourage or even reject any kind of effeminacy in your friend, but without being cruel.
The topic of effeminacy is broad and complicated, so we won’t address it in full, here, but here’s a general introduction: effeminacy is softness and everything that softness leads to. It can include being irresolute, inappropriately tender (for instance it is appropriate and masculine to be tender toward women and children under the right circumstances), self-indulgent, to crave luxury, to be weak or to be easily influenced. Essentially it’s being weak or soft or encouraging other men to be weak or soft.
Let me give you an example. I am a happily married man. Under no circumstances can I envision myself cheating on my wife. One thing I know without a doubt is that if I ever went to any of my closest friends and said, “That’s it, I have had it with my marriage,” and gave them even the most horrific excuse for cheating on my wife, they would never tell me it’s ok to cheat on her. If I DID justify cheating on my wife and engaged in sustained behavior that hurt my marriage and family, I know they would sever their friendship with me if they had to. That makes them loyal, good, strong masculine friends. A good friend doesn’t tell you it’s ok to do the wrong thing.
OK, now on to more practical application of disciplining ourselves to be good friends.
Self-Discipline in masculine friendship
Week 4, Task 1: “Don’t be a jerk to your friend.” Respond constructively. Want what is best for your friend.
The task here is to be a positive friend. Dig out from your character any trace of sarcasm, criticism or envy.
If you are a man’s friend, treat him well. Don’t criticize him. If he gets a new truck, be happy for him. If he tells you he’s facing a challenge, listen attentively and seriously. Respond positively and with strength to a friend in need. The strong man is gentle without being effeminate, so respond positively and with practicality to whatever you friend tells you. Don’t be catty, don’t be petty, don’t be critical. Be strong and constructive. Be a man.
Week 4, Task 2: “How are you on time?” Ask how much time he has.
Part of being a man is being efficient with resources and taking responsibility. Nobody can waste my time but me, because I have to take ownership of my time as a precious resource. However, other men can show they respect my time. Do this same courtesy for your friend.
This may seem a little counter-intuitive, but for one week, when you meet with a friend, ask about his time. Even though your friend will likely always be generous with his time, men appreciate respect, so don’t take time for granted. Even if he is your long-time close friend, this question, “How are you on time right now?” communicates respect in a way that never grows old.
Week 4, Task 3: “How can I help?” Ask how you can help.
This is a sure-fire way to be a good friend. Even if you think your friend is fully self-reliant, if your friend confides a problem to you, ask, “How can I help?” It is a simple thing and it is powerful. Likely he will say, “No, brother, I got this,” but he should know you are his ally. We all need allies in this battle for dignity we call life.
Why is disciplining our actions important? Because we build ourselves each day through what we do.
I know it sounds a little crazy, but our habits actually form us. What we do and fail to do shapes our character. For a little more on this, enjoy this short video by Jordan Peterson:
Be bold, be authentic, be masculine— we have a lot of ground to re-take.