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Can More Friendships With Other Guys Improve Your Marriage?

If you aren’t constantly mining British tabloids for the latest social science, you may have missed this alarming headline a few months ago in The Telegraph: “2.5 Million Men ‘Have No Close Friends.'” The article reports on a survey of 5,000 men, which found that over half the respondents had 2 or fewer people outside the home with whom they could talk about worries over things like money, work, or health (the attention-grabbing number in the headline is based on extrapolation for the British population). One-in-8 claimed to have no one at all, and the problem is apparently acute among married guys, who are a third more likely to put the number at zero than their single counterparts.

The research found that friendlessness doesn’t rebound for divorced guys, which rather strongly implicates marriage as a root cause of loserdom. And since you missed that article, you almost certainly missed TheTelegraph article from about a year ago that seems to have predicted this issue — the one that blared “Men Need Nights Out With The Lads, Scientists Say.” That study found stress hormones tend to spike when guys are around their partners or family members, but dip when they’re surrounded by other guys. Clearly, if your marriage puts an end to all your bromances, you’re putting your marriage and your mental health at risk.


Then again, while the study on friendlessness included actual human males, the study on your need for a night out with the lads was done with … Barbary macaques. Whatever the similarities between your biochemistry and that of a Barbary macaque, you might want to think twice about citing that research when telling the missus that you’ll be at the pub for a few hours tonight — just like you might want to think twice about getting your social science from British tabloids.