By Funmto Ogunbanwo
A few weeks ago, I was talking to one of my really good friends. As the conversation was about to end, he said, “Thank you for always being someone I can talk to about emotional things. I can’t do that with a lot of my friends, especially my guy friends.” The statement really got me thinking. He wasn’t the first male friend to express similar sentiments, and while I truly appreciate being someone that my male friends feel safe enough to be vulnerable with, I couldn’t help but wonder what it is that makes it difficult for men to be vulnerable with other men.
Now, vulnerability in general is never easy. Regardless of gender, people tend to have a hard time being vulnerable. Vulnerability, in some sense, is like being exposed; on display for all to see. Often times, the thought of this alone is nerve racking. But somehow along the way, courage kicks in, and we finally find that one person (or more) who we can confide in and be vulnerable with. A whole lot goes into selecting that person. Perhaps they’ve proven they can be trusted. Or maybe they were the first to be vulnerable in the relationship. Whatever the case may be, something usually shifts in the relationship for vulnerability to exist.
After my friend made this statement, I thanked him, but I also began to pick his brain to find out why it was difficult for him to have emotional and vulnerable conversations with other men. He mentioned that some of his male friends are simply not emotionally mature enough, and that a lot of male friendships are built on surface-level things. He also mentioned that growing up, men are more likely to have emotional conversations with their mothers, and talk about surface level things with their fathers. I found this very interesting, and I wanted to see if this was truly the case. So, I took to the streets of twitter, and created a poll for men only.
The poll was up for about three days, and these were the final results. I honestly was a little surprised, and somewhat happy by the results. I was mostly happy because the results at least indicate that men are learning to be vulnerable in general, and that in itself is good news. I did get a some responses saying I should have included “no one” in the poll. However, that was not the overwhelming majority.
I was mostly surprised by the results, because I did not expect “my boys” to be one of the lowest categories. Which brings me back to my presenting question – why do men find it difficult to be vulnerable with other men? I have some thoughts on contributing factors, but I really would like to hear from you all.
Let’s have a conversation. Share your thoughts in the comments!