Thaddeus Heffner believes that life is an exciting adventure. But as a man begins to embark on his journey, Thaddeus Heffner says that it’s important to form a strong network of male friends to provide support and guidance along the way.
Licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist, Thaddeus Heffner earned his master’s degree from Trevecca University in Nashville, Tennessee in 2008. Currently, Thaddeus Heffner specializes in issues centering on unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA), part of which includes assisting clients with rediscovering their inner masculinity. Recently, Thaddeus Heffner answered a few questions about the importance of creating a community of friends.
Q: I’ve heard you say that every man needs a good friend. How do you define a good male friend?
Thaddeus Heffner: I ask my clients to think of the person they would call at 4:00 a.m. if they needed help. If they can’t come up with the name of a person, they need to invite more people into their lives. Everyone needs at least one person they can rely on.
Q: You learned some hard lessons earlier in life with the friends in your life, didn’t you?
Thaddeus Heffner: Unfortunately, yes. I had a circle of friends who were very much about pretense. I felt like I was always putting on some sort of show.
Q: What was that like?
Thaddeus Heffner: Well, it was very unsettling. I never felt completely at ease with that group. I felt like I was always being judged, and that gave me the sense that I had to continually worry what others thought of me.
Q: But you’ve since found a new sense of community…
Thaddeus Heffner: The group of friends I have now is night and day compared to those friends. My new community is a group of men with a strong bond–we eat and drink together, laugh together, and we’ve shared life’s ups and downs over the years.
Q: Good friends support each other through anything.
Thaddeus Heffner: Good friends share fears and joys, laughter and tear. Good friends will even die for each other.
Q: Die for each other?
Thaddeus Heffner: Yes, die for each other. They live for each other and would be willing to die for each other. That’s how much they care.
Q: How in the world does one find a community like that?
Thaddeus Heffner: The first step is being open to it. You have to be willing to hope and reach for whatever you want in life, and then be open to allowing people to get close. So many people keep walls up and in order to have true community, those walls must be broken down.
Q: So I have to let others see who I am, at the core of me?
Thaddeus Heffner: Oh, absolutely. Too many people get caught up in showing off what they do and what they own. It’s important to let others see who you really are, deep down inside.