Young Guys Try to Read Society's Road Map for Behavior

His last semester of college, he interviewed with several engineering firms and accepted a job.

That spring, "I called them back and said 'I can't do this right now,' " he says. "I wasn't ready to go into the workforce."

But turning 25 last month made him decide to focus more on his long-term goals, he says.

Peers play a critical role in validating gender identity for young men exploring their masculinity, experts say. And even as this generation has more mixed-gender friendships, guy bonding, largely through shared activities, is important, says Geoffrey Greif, a University of Maryland professor who interviewed 400 men of all ages for Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships.

Late teens and 20s is one of "two peak times" in life when friends play a key role, he adds.

Greg Glasser, 19, of Columbus, Ohio, says he and his friends are into outdoor activities, from basketball to hiking and swimming.

In the fall, football is "huge," says Glasser, a sophomore at Ohio University in Athens.

"Saturdays and Sundays are just football days," he says. "Guys gather around and throw a football in the yard during the day and go to the game and party."

So, if all this exposure to "guy culture" isn't healthy, as some suggest, what's a guy to do?

Kimmel says staying connected with parents and finding at least one close guy friend will help.

Some manage to stay on track, including 22-year-old Layne Held, a credit analyst at a bank in Birmingham, Ala. He graduated in May with a business degree from the University of Georgia in Athens, where "people went to class and wanted to do well.

"I knew going into college I wanted to have fun and meet people, but I realized I was going there to get an education. I had to get my studies done."

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