A key element to friendships is being vulnerable. Most men, however, are afraid to draw near to others and be vulnerable. Ironically, we don't realize our fears nor our distance. Our communication is shallow: all the while we believe that it is deep and meaningful. We go through the motions with other people. We repeat our stock answers:
'How are you?'
'Not bad. How 'bout yourself?'
'That's great. Anything new?'
Psychologist Joel Block questioned eight hundred men about friendships and discovered that men are frightened of one another. We fear most the harsh judgments of our brothers in Christ. Being competent has been drilled into us. As a result, it is extremely difficult for us to reach out to one another, to be vulnerable, to ask for help. And yet, the true friend is one with whom you can be vulnerable. Many men say they don't feel 'safe.'
But if we are truly friends, we are safe. We're safe because the promise we make to each other as friends, and the faithfulness and loyalty we use to maintain that promise keeps us safe. And yet people are anxious about being honest and revealing what really is going on inside.
We are vulnerable to the degree that we feel safe. And we feel safe to the degree to which people through time have kept their promises to us. Those who have been severely abused as children or who have had trusts betrayed (adults or children) in the past will find it very difficult to be vulnerable. Yet all men have some fear of being vulnerable. Finding safety in godly relationships is essential for friendships."
--From Bonds of Iron: Forging Lasting Male Relationships James Osterhaus, Ph.D
(Chicago, Moody Press 1994,) pg 60-1, "How Friendships Work."