How much do your friends really know about you?

Written by: Anel Martínez



Time to read 6 min

When was the last time you spoke to your male best friend? Were you able to express yourself with complete sincerity and open up emotionally? If your answer is no, you are not alone. It happens more often than you think.

Male friendships, like any other form of social connection, can be complex and varied. While some men may have deeply intimate and sincere bonds with their friends, others may struggle to build meaningful connections. In this context, understanding how much your friends truly know about you becomes important, as it forms the foundation for building more sincere relationships.

Let’s explore this topic further. In order to understand better male-male relationships, we had some volunteers answer some personal questions about this topic.

Challenges on communication

Miscommunication is a common challenge in male friendships, influenced by societal expectations that emphasize stoicism, emotional restraint, and self-reliance. As a result, men often struggle to openly express their vulnerabilities, emotions, or personal struggles, leading to a limited understanding of each other’s true selves within friendships. 

When asked about their comfort level in expressing emotions, one volunteer shared, “It depends on the context. It is true that I am reserved about certain topics, but not just with friends, in general. Thinking about it, I don’t really understand why I find it difficult to share certain topics with friends if they have never had a problem listening to me”. This response reflects the complex nature of male communication, where personal reservations and societal expectations intersect.

Men often struggle to openly express their vulnerabilities, emotions, or personal struggles, leading to a limited understanding of each other’s true selves within friendships. 

Opening up as a barrier?

When asked about the challenges they faced in opening up about their emotions with male friends, one volunteer highlighted the difficulty of gauging the other person’s receptiveness, saying, “Well, the main challenge is when men don’t share their thoughts and I can’t guess how receptive they might be if we engage in a conversation with more intimacy”.  Another volunteer shared their experience of encountering laughter and subject-changing when discussing serious topics, indicating the obstacles they faced: “My male friends laughed when any other male talked about serious topics, and they ended up changing the subject”. These responses shed light on the barriers and complexities men face when attempting to engage in intimate communication within male friendships.

Man vs. female style of communication

When it comes to emotional expression and communication in friendships, there are differences between how men and women approach these aspects. One volunteer expressed their perspective, saying, “Of course, I think they are quite different. Each person is unique, whether male or female, but as I interact with more people, I discover patterns of behavior”. They acknowledged that women tend to be more expressive and open in externalizing their emotions, both positive and negative. They added, “Her way of expressing these moods is usually based on what she tells and how she expresses it to her friend”. 

Male friendship vs female friendship

Another volunteer highlighted the societal factors that influence men’s approach to emotional expression and communication. They stated, “Yes, from my point of view, women are more likely to communicate in general and express their feelings, such as in therapy. On the other hand, men tend to be more skeptical and usually refrain from discussing their emotions, as they perceive it as a sign of weakness”. They emphasized that education plays a role in shaping these differences, as men may initially view emotional expression as a vulnerability. However, they noted that once men experience conversations about their feelings and problems, they often find understanding and support from their friends.

These responses show how men and women have different approaches to expressing and communicating emotions in friendships. Women often feel more comfortable openly expressing their feelings, while men face societal pressures that make it challenging for them to discuss their emotions. However, by breaking through these barriers and encouraging open communication, men can experience better understanding and support within their friendships.

Are there any psychological repercussions?

When men or any person does not communicate their feelings, it can have significant psychological tolls on their well-being. Here are some of the potential consequences:

1.  Emotional Suppression: By suppressing their emotions and not expressing them, men may experience a build-up of emotional tension. This can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and even depression. 

2.  Isolation and Loneliness: When men do not share their emotions with others, they may feel disconnected from their friends, family, and even themselves. This isolation can exacerbate feelings of sadness, frustration, and a lack of fulfillment in relationships.

3.  Impaired Relationships: When men struggle to communicate their feelings, it can strain their relationships with friends, partners, and family members. The lack of emotional sharing may lead to misunderstandings, unresolved conflicts, and a sense of emotional distance.

4.  Limited Emotional Growth: Expressing and discussing emotions is crucial for personal growth and self-awareness. By avoiding communication about their feelings, men may miss out on opportunities for personal development and understanding. This can hinder their ability to process and navigate complex emotional experiences.

5.  Impact on Mental Health: The suppression of emotions and the lack of emotional communication can contribute to mental health issues. Men may be at a higher risk of developing conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse as a result of not addressing their emotional needs.

6.  Increased Stress and Coping Challenges: Without healthy communication of emotions, men may struggle to effectively manage stress and cope with life’s challenges. Emotions that are not acknowledged or expressed can manifest in unhealthy ways, such as through anger, aggression, or risky behaviors.

Worried man sitting down alone

What can be done?

Breaking the Barriers:


To build stronger and more genuine bonds, let’s break down the barriers that get in the way of open and honest communication. One important step is to encourage vulnerability. We can create a safe and non-judgmental space where friends can openly share their thoughts, feelings, and challenges without fear of being rejected or ridiculed. By leading by example and showing our own vulnerability, we send the message that it’s okay and even beneficial to express our emotions.

In order to do so, we have to engage in active listening. It’s a great idea to truly listen to our friends so we can offer support, empathy, and validation by showing that we understand and genuinely care about their experiences. This helps create a deeper sense of connection and encourages a give-and-take dynamic. 

Let’s also aim to have deeper conversations that go beyond superficial topics. By diving into meaningful subjects such as personal values, aspirations, fears, and dreams, we can develop a deeper understanding of each other’s identities and experiences.

Engaging in shared activities or hobbies is another fantastic way to build bonds and foster deeper understanding. When we participate in activities that require cooperation and teamwork, we can develop trust and connection on a whole new level.

Cultivating Trust and Acceptance:

In sincere friendships, trust and acceptance are key. One way to build trust is by respecting and maintaining confidentiality. When our friends know that what they share with us will be kept private, it fosters a sense of trust and security.

Having a non-judgmental attitude is crucial too. Let’s avoid being harsh in our judgments or criticisms about our friends’ choices or vulnerabilities, and try to understand our friends’ experiences from their perspective.

Remember, building sincere bonds takes time and effort. It’s worth investing our time in our friendships by actively engaging, checking in regularly, and being there for both the good and challenging times.

Male friends gathering and talking

Seek professional help if needed:

There are times when deeply ingrained patterns of miscommunication or emotional barriers may need some professional help to overcome. Don’t worry, though! Individual or group therapy, counseling, or workshops that focus on male communication and friendship issues can offer valuable guidance and support.

By incorporating these strategies into our friendships, we create an environment that encourages open communication, vulnerability, trust, and acceptance. This, in turn, helps us build more sincere bonds with our male friends, leading to better mental health and overall well-being. So let’s embrace these approaches and enjoy the benefits they bring to our relationships.

The way men communicate

Let’s address this toxic trait within our male friendships and strive to build more sincere bonds. It’s crucial for our well-being to recognize the significance of being vulnerable and openly discussing our emotions with our male friends. Creating safe spaces where we can have open dialogues, fostering empathy and understanding, and challenging societal norms around masculinity are key steps in this process. By doing so, we establish a foundation of trust, support, and authenticity. Embracing vulnerability not only deepens the quality of our friendships but also contributes to our individual mental health journeys. By nurturing these sincere bonds, we open the doors to more meaningful connections and personal growth among men. 

Anel Martínez

Author: Anel Martínez  (Sexual Coach at MYHIXEL)

Sexologist specializing in sex therapy and sex education, mental health and human behavior.