“You can’t make new old friends.” It’s wise counsel to take time and nurture your friendships. In my 23 years as a divorce and child custody lawyer, the one thing that I have seen time and time again with the (mostly) men that I represent is the absence of their support network. Too often they have allowed friendships to fade in favor of their spouse’s friends.
This is the topic of the week for me, because I’ve had a bit of death in my world on the one hand, and I’ve had the great opportunity to nurture those old relationships this weekend.
In today’s parlance many times this withering of the friendship is referred to as “coercive control” or domestic abuse as one party is isolated from their network of family and friends so the abuser can do more damage and escape scrutiny. While I certainly have had cases where this is true, in many cases, the reality is that for many a man, it just seems easier to live the ‘happy wife, happy life’ path and let their partner decide all social activities.
But it comes at a cost. The cost of true close friendships. The cost of lack of a safe male space for a man to share his doubts, fears, and insecurities with another man and get the type of support and insight they need.
I see too many men who are lonely, isolated and depressed because they have no one to open up to safely. It’s one of the leading causes of suicide among men over 50. Now before the cries of “that’s toxic masculinity – that’s what needs to change” come for me, I want to suggest that the history of mankind has been to have each sex turn to each other for support. Whether it was the ‘quilting bees’ of yore, or the true ‘gentlemen’s clubs’ or just hanging at the garage while Gomer rebuilds a ’57 Bel-Air, the fact is that people got comfortable talking about what was happening in their life and getting feedback and support, sometimes nothing more than a gentle nod and a “Yep, been there and it sucks” can be helpful.
Last week a young man, a father of 2 who has been alienated from his kids took his own life. I don’t know what drove him to it entirely, but that’s a big factor I’m sure. Would he have not made such a drastic choice if he had more male friendships, who knows, what I do know is the sense of hopelessness, the isolation, the desperation was overwhelming him. Could a good male friend have been a lifeline to him? possibly. These events always leave so many unanswered and unanswerable questions, but the one thing that I do know is it happens too often.
On the other end of the spectrum, I had the joy of traveling with my friends to Las Vegas to see a Silk Sonic concert with Bruno Mars. Road trips are great experiences for me. My buddy and I can sit in a car for 3 hours, speak 10 words and be totally fine. It’s the adventure and the comfort of knowing someone, and just ‘being’ that provides the sense of place in the world. We have our routines. We stop at Peggy Sue’s, have coffee in the morning at the bakery, stay at New York New York and it is that consistency which provides the security.
Nurturing friendships takes effort, time, and a willingness to be honest. My friend John and I go weeks without speaking, but inevitably one of us will reach out and suggest dinner to get caught up. I know what’s happening in his life and his business and his family. And he knows my dreams and goals. Last night we had the joy of trying a new restaurant in Ocean Park. Now we normally go to Bruno’s for a pizza, but there’s a new pizza place in town to try called Ghisallo.
This is a gourmet pizza place with a selection of creative and enticing salads. I wanted the heirloom tomato and peaches – which is a marvelous combination when paired with a hint of fresh mint. John wanted the kale, and I have to say that after my initial reticence to something I have always thought of as a garnish, it was quite pleasant. To round out our vegetable choices we had the crushed Persian cucumber salad with feta, which is always a winner.
Our Spartacus pizza came with large slices of spicy pepperoni and crumbled fennel sausage and we deemed it a winner. We’ll definitely be back to enjoy the outdoor dining in the back where you are sheltered from the street noise of Ocean Park Blvd. John had a red wine that he said was lovely, and I enjoyed the overall ambiance and vibe of the setting.
I highly recommend that you call an old friend, arrange to meet for a pizza and nurture that friendship over some fresh and delightful salads. The sense of ease and comfort that old friends bring is worth the price of admission.
Ghisallo (https://www.ghisallo.la) is located at 1620 Ocean Park Blvd across from the school.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra