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Perhaps, during those rare moments you have for reflection, when your fingers are not working your i Phone as you sit in commuter traffic, you think about how your social life has changed (or evaporated) since you were a swinging post-collegiate, sharing a loft, say, with three close friends.If so, you’re like millions of other men with enough mileage behind them to look with nostalgia upon The Life, the single life in which you were surrounded by men and dedicated, it seemed, almost entirely to a sworn allegiance to the pursuit of adventure and debauchery.“It seems like we are all engrossed in our own individual futures.” Like many guys soldiering through their lives, fulfilling the obligations of adulthood, Rich has awakened to the loneliness of the American male in his mid-thirties to early fifties. This problem is particularly acute for young, educated men, who have lost an above-average number of “discussion partners”—down from 3.5 in 1985 to 2.0 in 2004—according to the study.Friendship, the report suggests, has taken a serious dive across the culture, and guys like us in particular are shedding companionship faster than anyone else.” 90 percent of American male respondents replied “Wives.” But the Yoko Ono effect “places tremendous pressure upon women,” according to John Guarnaschelli, a New York City therapist specializing in men’s issues.
“And most important [emotive pause], she’s my best friend.” [Applause.] One of the strongest findings in the “Social Isolation in America” study was about friendship networks: “Core confidants surrounding the typical American,” say the authors, “have become smaller and more centered on the close ties of the spouse/partner.” In a different poll that asked men to answer the question “Who is a man’s best friend?Men who have been managing their careers for years but who find themselves, midstream, feeling bereft of the kind of friendships they once had seem to have made four critical life mistakes, according to experts.The first and biggest problem involves time constraints, according to sociologist Theodore F.(For a quick litmus test, ask yourself: Who does the holiday cards each year—you or your wife?) With the growth of the suburbs, explains Wellman, and the gradual evaporation of urban meetinghouses, where men used to gather and form friendships, the planning of a man’s social calendar gradually began to take place in the home, the wife’s domain.