The “Mask of Masculinity”: Underreported Declines in Male Friendship and Happiness in the United States

Jessie Klein


Men suffer more as a result of contemporany social trends than is commonly known. A recent focus on women’s greater malaise may unnecessarily and inaccurately pathologize women’s emotional well-being. A widely cited study declares that women are less happy than they were thirty-five years ago and that their unhappiness is increasing at a faster rate than men’s. A closer examination of related research, however, indicates that men are faring at least as badly as women, especially due to trends in decreased social connections. In particular, the dissolution of marriage, one of the few institutions fostering social connections, may be particularly debilitating towards men. New technologies, increased pressures towards self-reliance, and extreme economic pressures are also linked to higher stress among men. This gender comparison, regarding whether men or women are less happy, occurs at a time when depression and anxiety are extremely high among American adults and youth; and happiness, according to several studies, is decreasing. In light of these concerns, future research must address these gaps in order to accurately assess men's well-being and social ties; and social change regarding efforts to increase well-being and community must be sensitive to needs more commonly associated with men (as well as women).


masculinities; friendship; well-being

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