This is a big week. With the NCAA tournament in the backdrop, Dove Men+Care (our sponsor for Friday’s watch party, our bracket contest, the Dad 2.0 Summit, and many other fatherhood initiatives) led the way in releasing a new study about male friendship.
On the surface, the initial finding is not surprising: “84% of men say they would drop everything to be there to care for a friend.” While we know guys can be good friends, what doesn’t always follow is the acknowledgement of the depth of the caring involved in our friendships. In the same study, “74% of men still told [researchers] that pop culture does not give enough credit to the support and care involved in men’s friendship.” So essentially, our bonds are much deeper than meets the eye.
The study also found that athletics plays a role here, with “Two-thirds of men saying they bond with their friends over sports or fitness.” The bonds then extend way beyond sports, as is documented by Dove’s highlighting of the relationship between Jim Calhoun and Kevin Ollie.
When I think back to some of my own meaningful friendships, the themes involved in this study ring true. I think of my friend Ernesto. Before we were friends, we knew each other from the Boston hip hop scene, but it was our initial get-togethers to play tennis that led to a much deeper friendship, including us living together. I also think of my first time meeting my friend Brandon. The circumstances had us, as complete strangers, sitting on a couch at my mother in law’s house watching NFL games with nobody else in the room. With that day as the beginning, the depth of our friendship now extends well beyond sports. This research is definitely on to something. Sports are a great way to cultivate a bond between guys that can lead to something deeper.
Switching gears, there’s something else that our Dallas Dads Group members, the members of the other 19 City Dads Groups nationwide, and the folks at Dove Men+Care know is a kickstarter to male friendship: Fatherhood. For me, my relationships with Ernesto and Brandon have become more substantial now that we are fathers. Likewise, since becoming involved with Dallas Dads Group, I have a whole new set of friends that I didn’t previously.
Fatherhood is an automatic commonality for dads. Regardless of race, religion, class, sexual orientation, political beliefs, personal interests, or any other cultural differences, two guys who are involved fathers have something in common. However, while fatherhood is bonding, it also makes it tougher for guys to seek friendships. We need to first be responsible to our families, and that takes commitment of all kinds that we didn’t have before our kids.
This is the foundation with which Dallas Dads Group, and the other City Dads Groups nationwide were formed; to acknowledge that dads need and want meaningful bonds with each other, and to provide guys with easily accessible, no-strings-attached opportunities to find them. We love the support that Dove Men+Care provides to help us achieve our mission, and thus we can be found on our social media channels sharing their #RealStrength hashtag, but don’t be confused about this. The soap and shampoo is great, but for us, it’s much more real than that.