Going to the bar and hanging out with your closest friends is a ritualistic activity for many men both young and old.
Going to the bar and hanging out with your closest friends is a ritualistic activity for many men both young and old. And, as The Daily Mail points out, according to a recent review led by the University of Pittsburgh, it's probably not a coincidence that your preferred hangout destination with the guys is the local watering hole.
The study tested 720 people, both men and women, and monitored their interactions among one another while drinking alcohol together.
The review's research concluded that, while both sexes benefited from the loosening effects of beer and liquor, men were more likely to smile at each other and experience fewer awkward silences with one another after they've had a few drinks.
Women were able to more readily experience positive interactions without any outside influence.
But what's most curious of all, and, frankly, a little sad, is that men want to have healthy, sober interactions with other men just as easily as women have them with other women. Dr. Catharine Fairbairn describes the problem in more detail in Behavior Research and Therapy:
"Although there is little evidence that men actually desire intimacy and close social relationships any less than women, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that societal ideas about masculinity and masculine gender norms often constrain expressions of warmth and affiliation among men in social settings."
So, while we want to be friends with one another, we just don't feel like we can be until we've lowered our inhibitions.
The takeaway here, though, is not to start visiting your neighborhood dive on a more regular basis. Basically, guys, it's time that we let our guard down around one another more frequently, without the aid of spirits and other social lubricants.
Developing healthy social behaviors has long-term benefits that can sustain us for the rest of our lives. Yes, there are health benefits to having an after-work beer or two as well, but it's not something that should make or break your social life.
Ultimately, you're better off saving yourself the $5 ($10, $20...) at the bar, and learning how to soberly smile at and say hi to another man without feeling weird about it.