“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
I probably tell my buddies I love them so often it gets weird. But, at least they know.
Guys aren’t always great at expressing their feelings. Inserting monikers like “man,” “dude,” or “bro” provides a comfortable cushion for men when saying things to their buddies they might not normally say. The best example of this is, “I love you, man.”
Years ago, I found myself at a funeral for an 18-year-old kid whom I didn’t know (no, I wasn’t funeral crashing; I went with my grandma as consolation). It was difficult to sit through as the packed sanctuary reflected together on a life taken too soon. Throughout the service, I wondered what people would say about me. I imagined that I was the one in the casket.
My pondering was interrupted by a good friend’s testimonial which echoed through the church and shook the walls I had built around myself. “Occasionally,” the sobered voice filled the auditorium, “he’d get serious for a moment, look me in the eye and say, ‘I love you, man.’”
For the first time, I was introduced to the concept of showing affection for a guy friend in four simple words. To express love for a buddy was foreign to me–men aren’t supposed to do that, right? But, in that moment, I thought that if I were the one in the casket, I would want those I value most in the world to know how much I loved them…even if they were dudes.
Now, I’m a words guy. My love language is words of affirmation, and it means a lot to me when someone I care about offers genuine encouragement, so I very well could be biased toward this advice. But, imagining yourself in that casket, would you not want, even your “bros,” to know how much you love them? How much you care?
Saying, “I love you” to a friend is crucial in deepening your relationships and validating buddies. Doing so will likely be uncomfortable at first, but just tag a “dude” to the end, and smash the awkward silence with a noogie to the head or a brute punch to the arm. Or just get over it. It’s okay to love your friends.
Set aside your machismo, and communicate how much you value and appreciate your closest friends. There are thousands of men moping about, silently struggling beneath the burdens of mental illness. You might never know who in your life most needs to hear the words, “I love you, man,” until, one day, someone’s in a casket, and it’s too late.
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