A Groom Without a Best Man

I recently attended a wedding for a colleague at work and noticed something odd about the groom: he did not have a best man. Instead, he had a female friend (a best woman?) standing on his left whom he apparently had known for a long time and even dated at one point. For those who naturally found this a little awkward, the friend explained later that evening in her toast that she eventually became closer friends with the bride when they met. After that, everyone chuckled at how these women seemed to affectionately tolerate this man-child who loved his videogames and children from his first marriage (this one was his second). I would have joined in had I not found the whole thing rather sad.

This experience reminded me of a movie from a few years ago, I Love You, Man, which involves the same dilemma—at least the characters in that movie saw it as a problem unlike the couple at this wedding. Paul Rudd’s character, a true modern man (and thus a feminized man) lacks male friends, which presents an issue for his upcoming wedding with Rashida Jones’s character. The women tease him about his inability to bond with other men, causing him to set off and find a male friend. Unexpectedly, at a house-viewing he meets Jason Segel’s character, a bona fide bro who happily teaches him the arts of letting loose and “being a guy.”

Real bros eat hors d'ouvres and checking out property.

Real bros eat hors d’ouvres and check out property together.

The rest of the movie plays out like any romantic comedy, except it substitutes two men in place of a man and woman. As such, it tends to oversimplify the dynamics of the relationship and injects an implausible conflict and resolution to move the plot along.

Furthermore, as with most rom-coms, this brom-com leaves the audience happily amused, but all the more confused about real relationships. Rather than taking Paul Rudd’s character’s problem of no male friends seriously, most people now simply laugh about the idea of bromances. Missing the chance to highlight a real concern in today’s culture, the movie fails to make the argument that men need other men in their lives; it predictably takes the easy route and makes a joke of it all and depicts male friendship as something shallow and silly.

And thus men come away from the movie, thinking little of making friends or cherishing the friends they already have—and end up having to call up an old girlfriend to serve as the best man for their wedding.

The Need for Friendship

In truth, before a man finds the woman of his dreams, he should find a male friend. As it stands, countless lonely men scan dating sites, their classes, or their workplaces for a soulmate; too often, they thwart their search by lacking that ever important component—an actual mate, or friend.

Many men might protest that they do have friends, like their coworkers, their classmates, or their teammates, but this does not necessarily indicate a true friendship. True friendship requires more than a mutual activity or even a shared space for a period of time; it requires love and a respect and understanding of one another that transcends mere use and convenience. Friends know one another, care about the other, have genuine fun together, and, most importantly, push the other to grow towards personal excellence. If a relationship does not do this, it qualifies as either an acquaintanceship or some uneven pairing where one party might have to set the other party straight about their relationship.

Yeah, I'm not sure how he can steal his friend's girlfriend either.

Yeah, I’m not sure how he can attract his friend’s girlfriend either.

Movies like I Love You, Man—which itself was based on the somewhat less funny French movie with Daniel Auteuil, My Best Friend dealing with the same topic—sadly distort the depth and goodness of male friendship by characterizing it has an occasion for men to be weak and infantile together. For instance, Jason Segel’s character teaches Paul Rudd’s character the fine art of secretly farting at a social gathering as well as letting out a primal scream to prove one’s masculinity. The French original has the main character constantly belittling his so-called friend and even stealing his girlfriend by the end of movie. Far from making men better, friendship in these movies seems to bring out the worst in them.

In reality, the opposite occurs. A good friendship helps a man understand himself better and can provide a much needed emotional and intellectual security. Men usually have their best moments, those of insight, of joy, of peace, with their male companions. They rarely have this with the women they date or their coworkers or classmates since they feel pressured to perform and impress them.

That said, a man with strong friendships will fare much better in life than the friendless loner. He will have the confidence and ability to converse with women, with his employers, or with any other audience. Additionally, having had plenty of occasions to reflect with his friends about his life and theirs, he will also have a clearer view of who he is and what he wants. His friends will keep him honest about his vices and his virtues, and they will work together to improve themselves and seek higher things. Few things are more attractive in a man than this kind of maturity and strength.

The result of having no male friends.

The sad result of having no male friends.

By contrast, the friendless man knows little about himself and suffers from all kinds of insecurity. He will not know how to talk or socialize, lacking opportunities to learn. Additionally, all the extra time he has to himself will lead him into vices like pornography and videogames, further clouding his mind and corrupting his soul. Moreover, it is all too likely that he will pathetically cling to the first kind female who unwittingly gives him the slightest bit of attention and make a mess of things. In the real world, men without friends do not act like cool, suave Paul Rudd, but more like the gamer villain Jenkins from South Park.

Go Make Some Friends!

As a matter of course, fathers rightly encourage their young sons to go make friends at their school. This is advice they should continue to give their children well into adulthood; and, to really make this advice effective, they should try to model it themselves. The need for male friends does not go away after marriage; it actually increases. Navigating through the complex social and academic demands of school pale in comparison with the demands of marriage, family, and work.

As with finding a spouse, finding a friend takes time and patience, so a man should allow for this by opening up his schedule and his heart. He should accept those invitations for a drink after work, or a lunch out somewhere, or dinner with someone’s family; and he should return the favor and make some invitations of his own. And just as he would with a woman, he should charm a man with humor, openness, and personal regard—in fact, this is usually much easier with guys because they do not require as much flattery or sensitivity and will probably share more of your interests. Keep in mind, these efforts may not always lead to a friendship, but it will at least serve as a chance to practice socializing and broadening one’s perspective.

It's hard to imagine anyone more manly and tough than Gilgamesh who could handle anything except the loss of his friend Enkidu.

Friendship can even create epic heroes like Gilgamesh.

For those who scoff at all this and call the whole effort to find and make friends “stupid” or “gay,” they only betray their own insecurity. More often than not, it is these friendless effeminate men whom girls love to friend-zone and who feel weird about connecting with other males. These types should take it upon themselves to read more articles on this site and consider the fact that behind all great men is a great friendship—even with Jesus. Once they overcome their fear of men, a fear that the feminist world has assiduously nurtured, they will uncover sources of strength and joy that they never knew they had, and handle life with logic and boldness, like real men.