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Dad's Eye View: How Friendship Changes for Dads

Valeria Petrone

Here's one thing they don't teach dads in prenatal class: Once a baby's in the picture, you're going to be shopping for more than just diapers. You're also going to be scoping out some new friends. Moms go through this friend turnover as well, but I'd argue that we have a tougher time with the transition than our wives do.

Why? Because men and women interact very differently with their same-sex pals. Sure, women do stuff together, but they're also happy to convene over coffee -- a date often planned well in advance -- or call each other up just to chat. Guys aren't quite so down with the whole heart-to-heart thing. We tend to connect by doing something active, such as a hike or a round of golf, typically arranged the night before.

We all know what happens next. When baby makes three, the abrupt lifestyle change spells an end to these spontaneous expeditions. Forget about spending Saturday afternoon with Mike and Dave at the climbing gym -- unless you want to unleash the wrath of your exhausted wife. You need to be physically present, grabbing the burp cloth, emptying that Diaper Genie, and covering for your beloved while she sneaks out for a desperately needed salt glow treatment, whatever that is.

By practical necessity, new dads retreat from what you might call the "dudescape" -- the geographical common ground over which men keep up connections and seek support and advice. Unlike Mom, Dad isn't going to check in with you over a glass of wine at the kitchen table while the little one snoozes in the next room. Sure would be nice, but it just doesn't work that way.

That was my experience with a close friend we shall call Steve. We met at work and fast became good buddies; we shared many road trips, powder days on the local ski slope, and long weekends mountaineering in Colorado and California. Then little Sabrina came along.