What's Causing the Male Friendship Recession?
Play • 42 min

According to a recent survey, the percentage of men with at least six close friends has fallen by half since 1990, and men today are 5X more likely to say they don't even have a single close friend than they were thirty years ago.


What are the reasons for this seeming friendship recession among men? Today I talk to the man who conducted that survey to try to find out. His name is Daniel Cox and he's the director of the Survey Center on American Life. Today on the show Daniel takes us on a tour of the state of friendship among modern men, beginning with the fact that men today have fewer friends and feel less emotionally connected to the ones they do have. We explore the irony that while people have long said that traditional norms of masculinity are what's holding men back from having fulfilling relationships, it's younger men, who are more progressive on those norms, who are struggling the most to make friends. Daniel talks about the fact that the male friendship recession isn't pandemic related, but rather seems to be linked to the weakening of ties to community institutions like church, the changing nature of work, and the fact that Americans are spending more and more time with their families. From there we go down a bunch of interesting avenues, including the fact that husbands rely more on their wives for emotional support than vice versa, why Daniel finds it concerning that young men today are more likely to first talk about their problems with their parents rather than their friends than was true 30 years ago, and the irony that single men are struggling the most to make friends even though they need them the most.

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