I was winning at hide and seek, when through the backyard chain link fence a short but barrel chested kid taunted me. I didn’t know what his problem was. I’d never met him before. We traded insults, but he kept escalating his taunts. “Oh yeah? Come over here and say that!”, one of us must have said. I climbed over the fence and we fought like 10 year old boys. Not strong enough to really hurt each other yet. Probably mostly wrestling. It was a fairly even match, but I came out slightly better.

I think most guys will know what happened next. The next day we became friends. I liked the spunky kids spirit. His name was Todd.

Some classmate owed me two bucks. He’d been owing it for a while, and finally he just flat out told me that he wasn’t going to pay up. That wouldn’t do. I challenged him to an after school fight. I’d never been in any sort of real fight before. We were 13 now, so this would be about fists, and we had more weight in our arms.

I really sucked at fighting, and so did he. The crowd became bored at the slow pace of it. I wasn’t able to make any visible bruises on him, but my knuckles got all bruised and cut up in the attempt. He gave up and asked to shake and make up, and I went in for the shake when he sucker punched me. Gave me a purple shiner that lasted a week.

And then the next day he phoned me up and we had a chat like good pals do. Him and his buddy worked hard to befriend me. I even hung out with them for a while.

There is something intimate about a good fight. You get to know the guy in a unique way. Maybe its the cocktail of hormones in the heightened awareness experience that bonds you to him, like oxytocin binds us to a lover. Maybe it’s something about testing his spirit; he passes the test and he’s the kind of guy you’d want on your team. Whatever it is, its a fast road to male bonding.

I think something similar must be involved in disputes with our women. Only with women if she “wins” by retaining disrespect that you can’t overcome, then the bond will dissipate. But if she sees a strong fighting spirit that won’t back down and won’t take no shit, she’ll know she can trust you. She’ll know what kind of a man you really are.