Why Michelle Obama says Barack needs more friends.

Speaking at the Obama Foundation Summit earlier this week, former first lady Michelle Obama heaped praise on her husband — with one big caveat.

Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Glamour.

She praised Barack Obama's decency, honesty, and integrity and talked about how important those things were to her own growth and success — but she was careful to note that he is just one part of her much larger support network.


"I love my husband, and he is my rock, but my girlfriends are my sanity," she said while being interviewed by her friend, poet Elizabeth Alexander.

Obama spoke about how close-knit friendships with other women calmed her during a frenzied existence in the White House, kept her grounded, and even held her accountable to her values and ideals.

Then, addressing the men in the crowd, Obama added: "Y'all should get you some friends."

It's well known by now that men and women generally do friendship differently. Women's friendships are known to be much more emotionally intimate and rewarding while men's often are more likely to be surface-level and based on shared activities. According to some real talk from the former first lady, women just do friendship better.

"I’m, you know, sad for you guys," she said. "Y’all should get you some friends. Get you some friends and talk to each other, ‘cause that’s the other thing we (women) do; we straighten each other out on some things, our girlfriends."

Her husband, she says, is no exception.

"Sometimes I’m like, 'Barack, who you talking to? And it can’t just be Marty [Nesbitt],'" she joked. "Y’all need to go talk to each other about your stuff because there’s so much of it. It’s so messy."

Speaking off the cuff, Obama pretty much nailed what friendship researchers (a real job!) have been saying about men for a while.

Men do need more friends.

Studies show that chronic loneliness is a near-epidemic in adult men, with both the quantity and quality of our friendships falling off a cliff once we reach adulthood, and that the suicide rate for middle-aged men is more than three times that for women.

This doesn't happen by accident. We live in a society that encourages men to suppress feelings from a young age so they don't appear "weak." The emphasis on "strength" in men often comes at the detriment of many other (arguably more important) traits.

It's time for this to change. "It’s powerful to have strong men, but what does that strength mean?" Obama mused. "You know, does it mean respect? Does it mean responsibility? Does it mean compassion?"

It'll take a big cultural shift to get more men opening up to each other, but having someone as influential as Michelle Obama addressing the issue is a good start.

You can watch the full interview below:

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Davina Agudelo was born in Miami, Florida, but she grew up in Medellín, Colombia.

"I am so grateful for my upbringing in Colombia, surrounded by mountains and mango trees, and for my Colombian family," Agudelo says. "Colombia is the place where I learned what's truly essential in life." It's also where she found her passion for the arts.

While she was growing up, Colombia was going through a violent drug war, and Agudelo turned to literature, theater, singing, and creative writing as a refuge. "Journaling became a sacred practice, where I could leave on the page my dreams & longings as well as my joy and sadness," she says. "During those years, poetry came to me naturally. My grandfather was a poet and though I never met him, maybe there is a little bit of his love for poetry within me."

In 1998, when she left her home and everyone she loved and moved to California, the arts continued to be her solace and comfort. She got her bachelor's degree in theater arts before getting certified in journalism at UCLA. It was there she realized the need to create a media platform that highlighted the positive contributions of LatinX in the US.

"I know the power that storytelling and writing our own stories have and how creative writing can aid us in our own transformation."

In 2012, she started Alegría Magazine and it was a great success. Later, she refurbished a van into a mobile bookstore to celebrate Latin American and LatinX indie authors and poets, while also encouraging children's reading and writing in low-income communities across Southern California.

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via Pixabay

As people get older, social isolation and loneliness become serious problems. Many find themselves living alone for the first time after the death of a spouse. It's also difficult for older people to maintain friendships when people they've known for years become ill or pass away.

Census Bureau figures say that almost a quarter of men and nearly 46% of women over the age of 75 live alone.

But loneliness doesn't just affect those who reside by themselves. People can feel lonely when there is a discrepancy between their desired and actual relationships. To put it simply, when it comes to having a healthy social life, quality is just as important as quantity.

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