A profound change has taken place during the course of the last two decades of my 50 years as a practicing psychotherapist. For the first 30 years my practice was comprised of approximately 90 percent women. In the last ten years or so my practice shifted to where it has become 90 per cent men.
The women’s movement spurred men to begin to think about their own emotional needs making it more acceptable for men to share their emotional life with a trained professional. Unfortunately, unlike women who tend to be quite comfortable sharing their personal story with other women, men continue to be reluctant to be vulnerable with other men.
Even the 30 year olds I have in treatment today have attitudes about male vulnerability that are no different than when I was in my thirties back in the ’60s. Their attitudes about what constitutes masculinity, their relationships with women, and the dominant role of career and money in their lives are all too similar to those of men raised in the 1950s. The strong silent type continues to dominate their thinking: James Bond and Jason Bourne are their role-models.
Women playing their weekly mahjong game use the get-together as an opportunity to share their lives with one another. Not so for men. I know men who have been meeting for a weekly poker game for over of 30 years who tell stories about not finding out about a another player’s divorce until six months after it happened! “We’re here to play cards!” So when do men share anything personal about themselves? Rarely.
It was with these thoughts in mind that I wrote Buddies, a story about the relationship between four men in their early thirties who have been friends since childhood. Their friendship is based on their childhood history, but not on intimacy. They share very little with one another regarding their emotional life, their marriages, or anything else that would reveal vulnerability. They don’t look to one another for emotional support. Unlike women who share their human struggles with one another, these men share very little. Where at one time they saw each other every day, now they only see each other for their weekly racketball competition.
One day, while playing racketball, they meet Raul, a handsome, wealthy South American who invites them into his world of international monied, jet-setters. Unbeknownst to one another, the four buddies each fall in love with Raul’s exotic and intoxicating wife, Sasha. They are each willing to sacrifice everything for the beguiling Sasha. Would they be willing to kill for her?
When men repress feelings, lust can become as addicting as any drug. Rather than reach out for human connection when in trouble, they turn to substances.
It is only when they are accused of murder that the buddies discover their common addiction to Sasha. When their comfortable lives begin to fall apart, they begin to realize how much they need one another. Will it be too late?