Significant literature now exists which strongly suggests men in Western countries are shedding orthodox masculinity tropes in favor of greater male friendship intimacies and bonding. Inclusive Masculinity Theory (IMT) has emerged to explain and give direction to these sociocultural changes, suggesting men are gaining emotional and health benefits from greater inclusion of diverse masculinities, homosocial bonding, bro-bud closeness, platonic touch, all without the former fear of being labeled homosexual. However, there is also significant and concurrent literature which suggests men remain lacking in friendships and are lonely; conditions reported to worsen over the time periods studied and despite seeming advances made in male-male homosociability. In fact, this other literature suggests men not only and increasingly lack friendships, but that such lack worsens health outcomes, many self-reporting the effects of emotional and touch isolation from other men.
This discussion article reviews unobtrusive sources: research reports, published articles, online posts and materials, to assess and discuss trends indicated, and unravel their seeming contradictions. Additionally, this discussion article asks if Christian males fare any better—given the faith’s emphasis on love (agape, philia) and mutuality.
Review of findings allow for trends to be understood in light of generational change, underscoring that both conditions—social changes to male homosociability as well as stasis in male-male stereotypic relationships—can be true: younger generations embracing novel changes, while middle- and older generations not doing so. Overall, data confirm that men in all generational cohorts lose friends over time, especially intimate friendships, and this is concerning. Reviewing available literature on Christian male friendships, findings suggest how cultural norms and beliefs can work to undermine male friendship formation and intimacy between men of this faith as well.
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