Why Older Men Tend to “Go It Alone”


When I was a kid, my guy friends were everywhere, though I’m not sure “friends” back then had much in common with friends of today.

As I’ve gotten older, I notice that friendships are something I have to pursue and nurture or they will fall off the face of the planet.

To wit, I received a phone call from a guy I know fairly well who was dismayed that after an 8-month hiatus from town, no one bothered to check in on him.

I got it.

Older men tend to fall away into their own lives like Mad Max in a desert with a dog and a shotgun.

We don’t bond well…or at all.

Why is this?

The following article sets up this discussion pretty well, and I will follow up with comments and a summary.



5 reasons why older successful men I know don’t have close friendships with other men:

1] Men are viciously competitive

As I state in my new book, Urban Dystrophy [@Amazon], “older men are fully assembled entities, no longer young men of endless promise,” and therefore, disparities in life achievement can – and do – drive a wedge between relationships.

In my own life, I still feel tremendous competitiveness from my close friends, particularly those in similar lines of work.

If, however, we’re both equally successful [or close enough], we cheer lead each other.

The truth is I have yet to meet a man who applauds the success of another when his career is in the toilet. It just doesn’t happen.

Both must be on top in order to maintain balance…and applause.

This is why men who tout their success on social media often get likes from everyone but their “closest friends.”

2] Intimacy avoidance

If an older man’s greatest fear is loss of control, the last thing he wants to do is talk about his issues with his mother.

This is why men can spend 5 hours on a golf course and recall nothing more than sports statistics.

In this sense, Freud’s “Madonna-Whore” model is just as applicable to male-male friendships as it is to men and their wives.

If the guy’s too damn close, he’s cast aside.

If he’s too distant, it’s time for a fishing trip and 3 strippers.

3] Too many demands on our time

With all of the demands on our time, why attempt a communication campaign with other men when we have no idea how to do it?

Most guys I know are always busy with something, even if it’s nothing at all, which is why it’s never a good idea to cross examine them on this.

This is defense mechanism, of course, designed to maintain mystery – and distance.

Again, we’re back to competitiveness.



“Hey, Tom, how’s everything?”


“It’s all good. How about you?”


“The same. How are the wife and kids?”


“They’re all good. Back to school after our vacation in Aspen.”


“That’s great. We’ll all be up there in December.”


“No place like it. Great catching up with you!”


Yea, you too. Take care.”


So that’s it, a full-on man conversation. They both keep the narrative short and sweet, while conveying certain key points:

a] We’re both happily married, highly successful [think Ritz-Carlton, Aspen], and run in similar circles [think Aspen…again].

Slam-dunk. Now we can applaud each other.

No wonder women outlive us.