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The Hidden Rules of Brotherhood

By Cultures Of Dignity | July 3, 2018

The Hidden Rules of Brotherhood

The following excerpt is from Chapter 3: The Laws of Brotherhood  of The Guide: Managing Douchebags, Recruiting Wingmen, and Attracting Who You Want. The Guide is a book written by guys for guys with the assistance of Rosalind Wiseman. The book takes experiences from teenage boys across the country and offers advice on important topics and common problems in teenage guys lives but are rarely talked about.

Is there anyone you’d rather just sit on a couch and watch some stupid video on your phone or play games with than your friends? Is there anyone you’ve laughed harder with? Is there anyone who understands you better when something is seriously messed up in your life? Guy after guy I’ve talked to for this book agreed with me. But when guys admit how much they value their friends, they have to make fun of it by draping themselves over each other, pretend-hugging, and proclaiming, “I love you, man!” As Hunter says, “I know it’s ridiculous, but we have to lisp when we say something emotional. We’re just way too insecure with ourselves to show our feelings any other way.”

Life is better—way better—with friends. For guys who don’t have close friends (even if it looks like they have tons of friends), it can feel incredibly lonely. But friendships are complicated. Things aren’t always going to go smoothly. And even though conflict is inevitable, even with your closest friends, Guy World doesn’t allow that. Guys are supposed to let everything roll off their backs or throw a few punches and then forget about it.

No disrespect, but that’s stupid and unfair to you. You can’t go through life thinking that the only two options you have when you’re angry are squashing your feelings and punching people. Your life is way more complex. Think about it: Have you ever been really angry at someone, thought of the perfect thing to say to get your point across … but never actually confronted him? Or if you did say something, he turned your words around or did something else that made you regret bringing it up?

Let’s take a moment and compare conflict between guys to how it goes with girls. You’ve probably seen how girls interact. From the outside, it looks incredibly intense. They’re inseparable, they constantly analyze their friendships with each other, they fight about things that may make no sense to you, and then they hug in the hallway the next day. Some girls will even try to drag you into their conflicts (which is to be avoided at all costs).

Most guys’ response is, “Girls are insane. I’ll never understand them, and even if I did know what they’re so intense/upset/angry about, I’m sure it’s totally irrelevant or blown out of proportion.” These experiences may give you the impression that girls’ relationships and friendships with each other are more complicated and filled with conflict than yours. I disagree. Why?

Because one unwritten rule in Guy World is that a guy, even a close friend, can be as rude as possible and the other guy can’t get upset. If he does get upset, then another unwritten rule is that he can be made fun of even more. If Guy World were a democracy—meaning, each guy had an equal right to go after the other guy—then things would be fine. But that’s not what’s usually going on. Instead, the combination of the ALMB (Act Like A Man Box) and the boy roles combine to control who goes after whom. Now that you know what you’re up against, you need to integrate that knowledge with a strategy to give you more control.

Read more about the “hidden rules of brotherhood” in the rest of Chapter 3 in The Guide.