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Mr Heart Mama (Gregor) is at a friend’s place tonight, playing music.

It sounds lovely, doesn’t it? A bit like what boys do, given half the chance.

But that’s just it. He’s never given half a chance. I don’t think, in the six or more years we have been together he has ever done this, even though music is his life.

And the reason is…

Men don’t have friends

according to a Women’s Weekly article I read a few months ago. The article suggested that while women typically surround themselves with people, it is rare for men to hang out with mates after having families.

Of course, I couldn’t agree completely with the article – there are plenty of men out there, hanging with their mates. Surely. And I didn’t agree with the assertion that the reason men don’t have friends is because women partners don’t allow it. This is a ridiculous suggestion. We are generous, gracious beings. On the whole.

But it did make me think of people we know. Many of the guys we know don’t have a lot of friends, and if they do, they don’t have a lot of time to spend with them. Work and family commitments take up a lot of time, and if you are a baby carrying, co-sleeping, dinner-making dad, chances are you have zero to no ‘ free’ time.

At some point, Gregor played a few evening games of tennis with the lads. That worked well. I put Elka to sleep, and he and the boys hit balls around in the twilight. Followed by an obligatory beer.

But the games fizzled out. Now with a second child, it is impossible to imagine him sneaking out for a hit of tennis. When? How? Why? (when there is still washing up to do, laundry to fold and only two hours to spend with your lovely wife, whom you haven’t had half a moment to talk to all day.)

It isn’t pressure from me that keeps him at work or at home. It’s simply lack of time.

I spend most of my days with friends.

A day with friends is a day well spent.

It works with children. We get to have adult conversation, and kids get to have kid conversations jumping games. When I am not with friends, I am sending a quick message to one, on Skype to another, or at least thinking about someone. Ginny O’Brien (2008) writes that:

Females begin studying faces as babies, which shapes their brain development. Research demonstrates that the skills of baby girls in making eye contact and facial gazing increases over 400% in the first three months of life, while facial gazing skills in boys doesn’t. In one study, year-old girls looked at their mothers faces 10 to 20 times more than boys checking for signs of approval or disapproval. While the boys, driven by testosterone, moved around the room to investigate their environment and rarely glanced at their mothers.

During puberty, oestrogen progesterone, and testosterone continue influencing development. Teenage girls, flooded with oestrogen get stressed around relationships and ease their fear by banning together and being socially connected. Yes, they can be mean and use their language skills – passive aggressive rumour spreading – to undermine rivals in their competition for the boys (from an evolutionary perspective sexual competition is part of the survival mechanism). But they can apologize and re-bond when necessary.

Biology suggests that women are programmed to be social. Men are programmed to compete, protect and provide.

Is this why men don’t have – or don’t need to have – friends in the same way women do?

But seeing the joy in Gregor’s face as he talked about going to his friend’s place to play music this evening made me realise how important it is for men to have men bonds. They need other men to talk with, be with, play sport against, play music with. Whatever men do (not entirely sure).

Although there is no extra time in our lives outside of hunting, gathering, protecting and watching comedy shows on the iPad together at the end of the night, I will endeavour to grant Gregor, and insist he has, Bro Time in the future.

Do you (if you are a bro) or your male partners have bro time? When? (Curious)

{linking with lovely Grace for FYBF}

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