Methods for fostering and enhancing relationships between men.
As a psychotherapist with more than 20 years of experience, Garfield (Psychiatry/Univ. of Pennsylvania) has heard countless stories from men about how they wish to nurture and develop their relationships with other men. Using techniques he has perfected in his “Friendship Labs,” the author gives readers the tools men need to “develop emotional competencies—The Four C’s, we call them—which include learning how to make good connections in close relationships, share heartfelt communication, develop a strong practice of commitment, and learn to manage conflict.” In order to implement these strategies, one must develop a sense of trust and overcome negative behaviors such as machismo and a desire to compete, homophobia, being unaware of the feelings of others and misogynistic attitudes. By addressing these issues, Garfield assures readers they can embrace strong bonds between men their own age, younger men, sons, fathers and even wives. Many of the practices he recommends to bolster the Four Cs will be familiar to those who have read or studied relationship-building strategies, whether for men toward women, women toward men or any other combination. Being honest with one another, staying in regular contact, listening empathically, creating a safe environment for the full disclosure of emotions—these are all common practices for which Garfield advocates. His message is solid, and the end results are better relationships for men with other men and women. The use of his own experiences, as well as those of men from his Friendship Labs, lends credibility to his ideas, but these concepts are not revolutionary; they simply cover well-known territory from a slightly different perspective. In an appendix, the author includes the “first published report of a national survey on men’s friendships and emotional intimacy,” which he co-wrote.
Informative but hardly groundbreaking.