My Culture (Almost) Scared Me Out of Intimate Friendships

The amount of pressure that people have put on both Christians and non-Christians alike to get married is immense – and for some people it’s isolating.

“This leaves lots of people feeling inadequate when they’re without a significant other. Romantic relationships, like all close relationships, affirm people in the assurance that they are greatly valued and treasured by someone else. That’s a wonderful thing. But like all good things, we have a habit of distorting the goodness of relationships, and treating romantic relationships like they are the only ones that can make us feel whole.”

Marriage isn’t the only thing that defines people and it’s important to remember that. There are people who will never get married, some who don’t want to, some who can’t, or maybe some who lost a loved one, and that doesn’t diminish their worth.

The culture we live in also pushes a hyper-masculinity, which can really damage people as Joe points out. Stop shaming men for showing emotions. Stop shaming men out of having guy friends.

“We need to stop shaming men out of having intimate friendships with one another. It’s a good thing. Having close friends that you look forward to seeing in the future is healthy. Having friends that you can turn to in times of trouble is wonderful. When did it become wrong for men to be emotionally attached to others? All of us experience loneliness from time to time, but I feel like so many men bring it on themselves. Vulnerability is hard, but we shouldn’t stop being vulnerable just because we’re bad at it. Despite what the world around us says, being open and honest builds relationships, and that open honesty should extend to your friends. If it doesn’t, we’re giving ourselves a more bleak and isolated life than God designed us to live.”

I feel like many of these issues intersect with one another. Homophobia, hyper-masculinity, and yes, even feminism, can all intersect and interact with one another. When men are pushed to shield their emotions, it can put a lot of stress on friendships and marriages, especially between a man and a woman because a woman is expected to shoulder these emotional responsibilities.

Casual and Different

I grew up in a time of widely accepted hyper-masculinity. For young boys in the early 2000’s, it was not okay to be seen as weak or even remotely feminine. It was encouraged to be cold, calloused, and even cruel. I still see this mentality carry over in today’s youth, and I see these expectations projected onto and from grown adults. For young men in America, it is only socially acceptable to show love and affection to young women who we’re romantically and sexually attracted to. And even in those cases, men are still expected to show a lack of emotional attachment and vulnerability. This was a blunt reality when I was a child, and today, it seems like an unspoken assumption.

In addition to this, homophobia was (and still is) a cultural norm. Especially when I was growing up, gay was a word used to demean people for being sensitive…

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