Review of Lonely at the Top: The High Cost of Men’s Success by Thomas Joiner, PhD


I cannot express enough how much I appreciate the perspective of this book.
After reading so much about feminism and gender in the last year, it was
interesting to read a book that looks at things this way. The author does
not argue that white, heterosexual, cis-men are not more privileged or
successful than the rest of us in general. In fact, he uses this very thing
to lay out his point. They more privileged, he even uses the word spoiled in
relation to their experience with relationships. This book focuses on the
effects of this privilege, their subsequent spoiling, and the indoctrination
of independence as we know it in the US. It was interesting to follow him
down this path and see where it is heading and that it is predominantly
heading there for these men.

The possible solutions that he encourages men to practice are not difficult
or strenuous, though they do have barriers. He encourages behaviors that are
largely associated with women and with femininity, but that are still found
in men of other cultures to a lesser degree than women in general. He
suggests that white, America, heterosexual cis-men are simply not taking
caring of this particular need because they are focused on other ones and
that society plays a key role in encouraging them to take on this damaging
behavior.

As I read through it, I found myself agreeing overwhelming with his concept.
It was rather fascinating. The conclusion includes a disclaimer that seems
to ask the reader to shy away from creating a stereotype within this. All
people are susceptible to this problem when taking this road, it’s just a
road that is overwhelmingly populated by a specific kind of man. He doesn’t
ask for pity or anything of that nature either. These are men who dug their
way into this mess and he encourages them to take the steps to start to dig
out. When they are isolated and lonely, there’s no one around to help. They
have to start to find people around them in little ways. The little ways
lead to big ones. What’s a little awkwardness on the road to relationships?

While not about romantic relationships specifically, as most of the rest of
my March reading and posts were, this book focuses on friendships. It
focuses on the way the push for success can isolate people when they aren’t
paying attention to it. Friendship is an important relationship that we
have. Community is an important part of our lives. I like this spent time on
considering the men we push our boys to be. Work success shouldn’t define
their lives any more than beauty should define the lives of women and girls.
I was heartbroken to read that most men in retirement homes talk about who
they were, as if the lack of a job or career change who you are.

It was a very enlightening read and definite fuel for the idea that we
should be encouraging our boys and men to be more than their jobs.


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