by Catherine of Expansive Connection Coaching
I am lucky that I have always had wonderful, complex, deep, and supportive female friendships in my life. These women have laughed with me, cried with me, pushed me, pulled me, supported me, and — time and time again — helped me to be an always developing, better version of myself.
When my husband and I started dating 18 years ago, and we got to the vulnerable very open level of our relationship, I was struck and saddened to realize that was not the case for him. Sure, he always had plenty of guy friends, but none that he connected with on the same level of depth that feels commonplace for me in my female friendships. I realized that I was my husband’s only source for vulnerable, deep connection.
Over the last 18 years, I have watched him strive to develop male friendships that go beyond the typical surface connection around sports, shit talking, and drinking. Don’t get me wrong – he likes connecting with his friends in those ways, but has always felt a little lonely in friendships that remain solely on that level. He has had some successes in this quest, but they are hard won. The ability for him to find and sustain those connections seems extraordinarily more difficult than it has been for me and for most of the women I know.
At the same time, as a counselor, I have always seemed to jive well with male clients. I have felt honored to hear their worries and secrets, and be able to hold a space that is safe enough for them to be vulnerable in ways that some couldn’t and/or wouldn’t be with their partners. I would always ask about their male friendships and support. Their answers often echoed my husband’s:
“Sure I’ve got some guys to watch football with.”
“Yeah, Jim and I play golf together.”
“My college buddies still get together for some debauchery in Vegas once a year.”
They would report what they did with their buddies, not about how they supported each other in the emotional arena that they all reported wanting.
As my husband and I ventured into non-monogamy, I noticed (personally and professionally) that the atmosphere of openness really appeals to men, yet they tend to stumble when opportunities to take the conversations deeper are presented.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard my male clients “admit” something to me, feeling sure they are the only man struggling with the issue. I also can’t tell you how many times I have normalized the same concerns and told male clients that if they would just be brave enough to ask other non-monogamous men, they would very likely be seen, heard, validated, and understood.
Recently, I have decided to do something to try to affect some change in this. The notion of a men’s group course occurred to me, and I quickly reached out to Mr. Jones and some of my male clients to float the idea. I got resounding “Yes this is so needed!” along with pages of thoughts, ideas, and insights. I used what they shared to develop Beyond Bros.
So now I’m ready to introduce Beyond Bros as a quick and dirty 6 week “bootcamp” style men’s group course that will be capped at 10 participants. It has been designed to help its participants navigate the challenges of non-monogamous situations with the support of like-minded men. Each week, I will introduce topics, teach a little, and lead the conversation. If you’re interested in participating in Beyond Bros, you’ll find more information about it here. You can also connect with me and get more information at my website.