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The Necessity of Virtuous Friendships for Men in Contemporary Society

In today's fast-paced and often isolating world, the importance of good, virtuous friends for men cannot be overstated. 


The traditional notions of masculinity, coupled with societal pressures and the advent of digital communication, have created an environment where meaningful, supportive friendships are more crucial than ever. Here, we explore why men today need good virtuous friends and how these relationships can profoundly impact every man’s well-being and success.


Emotional Support and Mental Health


Men often face societal expectations to be stoic, self-reliant, emotionally reserved, and financially suceasful. These pressures can lead to significant mental health issues, as men might feel discouraged from seeking help or expressing vulnerability. Good, virtuous friends provide a safe space where men can share their struggles, fears, and emotions without judgment. 


This support network is vital for mental health, helping to reduce feelings of loneliness and anxiety. Research consistently shows that men with strong social connections are less likely to suffer from depression, other mental health problems, infidelity, and/or various damaging addictions.


Accountability and Personal Growth


Virtuous friends act as a mirror, reflecting not only our strengths but also our flaws. They hold us accountable for our actions, encouraging us to strive for personal growth and self-improvement. 


In a world where distractions and temptations are abundant, having friends who prioritize integrity, honesty, and virtue can help men stay true to their values. These friends challenge us to be better versions of ourselves, fostering a sense of purpose and direction.


Combatting Toxic Masculinity


The concept of toxic masculinity—where traditional male stereotypes lead to harmful behaviors and attitudes—remains a pervasive issue. Virtuous friendships can serve as a counterbalance to this, promoting healthier, more constructive forms of masculinity. Good friends encourage empathy, compassion, and emotional intelligence, helping men break free from damaging stereotypes. By fostering environments of respect, accountability’s, and mutual understanding, these friendships contribute to redefining what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world.


Enhancing Physical Health


The benefits of virtuous friendships extend beyond emotional and mental well-being to physical health. 


Studies have shown that strong social bonds can lead to lower blood pressure, reduced stress levels, and even a longer lifespan. Friends who value health and well-being can inspire each other to maintain healthy lifestyles, whether through regular exercise, balanced diets, or stress-reducing activities. The encouragement and camaraderie found in these relationships can be instrumental in adopting and sustaining healthy habits.


Professional and Personal Success


Success, both professionally and personally, is often influenced by the company we keep. 


Good friends can provide valuable advice, networking opportunities, and support during challenging times. Men with virtuous friends celebrate each others’ successes and help each other navigate through failures. 


In professional settings, virtuous friendships can lead to collaborations, partnerships, and mentorships that open doors and create opportunities. On a personal level, having a trusted circle of friends enhances our confidence and resilience, enabling us to pursue our goals with greater determination.


Building a Sense of Community


In an increasingly digital world, genuine face-to-face interactions are becoming rare. 


Virtuous friendships help men build a sense of community and belonging, counteracting the isolation that technology can sometimes create. 


These relationships remind us of our shared humanity and the importance of connection. Whether through shared activities, deep conversations, or mutual support, virtuous friends help men feel connected to something larger than themselves.


Groups That Help Men Establish Virtuous Friendships with Fellow Men

Several men's groups and organizations focus on helping men build friendships rooted in virtue, personal growth, and mutual support. These groups provide a sense of community and foster connections that encourage men to strive for integrity, empathy, and emotional intelligence. Here are some notable examples:


The Mankind Project (MKP)

The Mankind Project is a global organization that offers programs to help men develop emotional intelligence, personal accountability, and leadership skills. Their flagship program, the New Warrior Training Adventure, is designed to help men discover their authentic selves and build deep, meaningful connections with other men.

Everyman

Everyman focuses on helping men connect on an emotional level through group experiences and retreats. They provide a safe space for men to express their emotions, share their stories, and support each other. The group emphasizes emotional literacy, vulnerability, and building authentic connections.


Sacred Sons

Sacred Sons offers retreats, workshops, and online communities that focus on brotherhood, personal growth, and spiritual development. The organization aims to create a supportive environment where men can explore their inner selves, heal from past wounds, and cultivate deep connections with other men.


Good Men Project

The Good Men Project is a multimedia platform and community that discusses what it means to be a good man in today's world. Through articles, forums, and social media groups, it fosters conversations about masculinity, ethics, and personal development, encouraging men to support each other in their journeys.


MensGroup

MensGroup is an online community that offers virtual group meetings and forums for men to connect, share experiences, and support each other. It provides a convenient way for men to build friendships and find accountability partners, regardless of their location.


BetterMen

BetterMen offers workshops, courses, and group meetings focused on personal development, leadership, and building healthy relationships. The organization aims to help men become better versions of themselves and build strong, virtuous friendships.


The Art of Manliness

While primarily an online resource offering articles, podcasts, and courses on various aspects of manhood, The Art of Manliness also hosts events and provides a community for men to connect and share their journeys toward becoming well-rounded, virtuous individuals.

Fraternity of Excellence

This organization provides an online and in-person community for men focused on personal development, accountability, and building meaningful relationships. Members support each other in achieving their goals and improving their lives.


Iron John Men’s Groups

Inspired by the work of Robert Bly and his book Iron John: A Book About Men, these groups focus on mythopoetic men's work, using mythology and storytelling to explore masculinity and personal growth. The groups provide a space for deep conversations and forming strong bonds with other men.


Freemasons

Known as Masons, this group  states that it exists to “Make Good Men better”. Even though Freemasonry has been the subject of various controversies which has contributed to its mystique of what the organizaton really does behind the scenes, the fraternity does have a branch called “The Shriners” that provides fun, care, and medical treatment for children whose families cannot afford such treatment. The Masons claim that their only requirement is for a man petitioning to have “a belief in God.”


Knights of Columbus

This is a Roman Catholic fraternal order that is often called “the Catholic Masons”. This organization formed in order to provide financial aid to its members, and engage in charitable work through their shared faith.


Opus Dei

This is another Roman Catholic lay and clerical organization whose members seek personal Christian perfection and strive to implement Christian ideals and values in their occupations and in society as a whole. As they say, "every man should sanctify everything he does."

Christian Men's "Short Courses" and "Reunion Groups":

The original "Short Course" or three-day weekend retreat amongst men was the Cursillo Movement. Cursillo simply means "Short Course". It is specifically a movement within the Catholic Church, where lay faithful working together with priests and bishops, use the Cursillo method to find, form, sustain and link Lay Leaders for Christ and His church.  Cursillo is a means of supporting Christian Community by inviting men who complete the short course to attend Cursillo Reunion Groups in their local area. These Reunion Groups help keep each member accountable for what he has done or is considering to do. In the groups men share where they were closest and furthest from Christ in their daily lives.


From Cursillo other like programs have arisen with a slight variation of the Cursillo program for its specific purpose, and like Cursillo each of the following groups also establish Reunion Groups for graduates of the three-day retreat. Following is a list of other Cursillo-like programs:


ACTS - This is a Cursillo-like three day and three night Catholic lay retreat for men of a specific parish that is presented by fellow parishioners. The retreat begins on Thursday evening and ends that Sunday at a Mass celebrated with the parish community. ACTS is an acronym for Adoration, Community, Theology and Service, representing the primary themes of the retreat.


Walk to Emmaus - This group came out of the Roman Catholic Cursillo Movement when Episcopalians and Lutherans wanted to offer Cursillo for their faithful. In 1978, The Upper Room of the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church trademarked "Emmaus" and adapted it into a Protestant version of Cursillo.


Journey to Damascus - This is another Cursillo-like three day and night retreat that is specifically ecumenical in that it is made up of lay and ordained Catholic and Protestant men who are committed in serving and supporting fellow men in growing their personal relationship with God, and establishing ecumencial Reunion Groups for the well being of each man attending.


Church men’s groups

Recognizing the dramatic drop in men attending church, many congregations have formed   internal church groups for men. 


As a member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Houston, TX, this writer has become a member of The Men of St. Thomas. This church group focuses on men developing friendships through engaging get togethers, theological discussions, mentoring young men, and serving the whole church body by sponsoring off campus activities such as family camping weekends, game nights, etc.


In Conclusion


The need for good, virtuous friends in the lives of men today is undeniable. These relationships provide emotional support, foster personal growth, combat toxic masculinity, enhance physical health, contribute to success, and build a sense of community. 


In a world that often emphasizes individualism and superficial connections, cultivating deep, meaningful friendships based on virtue and mutual respect is essential. 


Men who prioritize and nurture these friendships will find themselves better equipped to navigate the complexities of contemporary life, leading to a more fulfilling and balanced existence.

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Good stuff, Larry. I sent this article to the reunion group.

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