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The Friendship Recession Among Men

Men have fewer friends than women and are at a greater risk of isolation. The gap has widened in recent years. A 2021 report identified a male “friendship recession,” with 15% of men saying they have no close friends, up from 3% in 1990.

The researcher of this study concluded that in 1990, nearly half of young men reported that when facing a personal problem, they would reach out first to their friends. Today, only 22% of young men lean on their friends in tough times.

In his novel Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck’s character Crooks pinpoints why this matters so much to men. At one point in the novel Crooks tells another man, “A guy needs somebody … To be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody … I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.”

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