The pandemic is forcing some men to realize they need deeper friendships

For more than a decade, psychologists have written about the “friendship crisis” facing many men. One 2006 analysis published in the American Sociological Review found that while Americans in general have fewer friends outside the family than they used to, young, White, educated men have lost more friends than other groups.

Male friendships are often rooted in “shoulder-to-shoulder” interactions, such as watching a football game or playing video games, while women’s interactions are more face-to-face, such as grabbing a coffee or getting together for a glass of wine, said Geoffrey Greif, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work who wrote a book about male friendship. When Greif surveyed hundreds of men about how they most often socialized with friends, 80 percent of men said “sports” — either watching or participating in them together.

Because of this, many men have probably had a harder time than women figuring out how to adapt their friendships in a pandemic that is keeping them apart.

“The rules for guys pursuing other guys for friendships are not clear,” Greif said. “Guys don’t want to seem too needy.”