I feel extremely lucky to have a group of friends I’ve known since I was a little kid. We meet up regularly and hang out, we go on holiday together, and I like to think we’re always there to support each other.
Humans are social animals, and friendship groups like this are essential to our wellbeing.
Unfortunately, a lot of men don’t have that support network.
A lot of men are lonely, and it’s hurting them.
The folks at FiveThirtyEight recently conducted a study on the state of manhood.
They found that around half of the men surveyed said they often felt lonely, and roughly 40% didn’t have a friend to turn to for support.
As far as I’m concerned that’s a whole lot of lonely men.
There’s a lot of discourse surrounding the fact that men don’t like to talk about their problems, and the solution seems to be focused on the idea that we should encourage men to open up about their problems.
But if 40% of men don’t have someone to turn to then who are they going to open up to?
Women are great at maintaining friendships and networks of other women who compliment each other, support each other, and most importantly, listen to each other.
Men aren’t so good at it. We find the whole friendship thing a little awkward. We don’t like to talk to each other. And, seeing as friendship is based on communication, that poses quite the problem.
Not everyone is lucky enough to keep in touch with their childhood friends. Remember when it was simply a case of approaching some other boys and asking to join in with their game?
If only it was that easy as an adult.
There’s a stigma attached to making friends as an adult. It should be easier. Let’s face it, adults should be more confident in themselves, and have a better understanding of how to communicate with other people. Both of these combined should make friendship forming a triviality.
Yet, as it turns out, men struggle with this.
Asking a fellow man if he wants to hang out is essentially the same as asking someone on a date. Rejection hurts. It’s embarrassing.
It seems most men are scared to get to know each other because they’re scared of that rejection. We want to be liked, so what if we aren’t? How could we deal with that? It’s better not to know.
Perhaps the takeaway here is that we’re mostly the same. It’d be pretty hard to find someone who has decided that they don’t want more friends.
Sure, I might not have much time to spend with other people once you take my partner, friendship group, and colleagues out of the equation, but if someone approached me and wanted to go for a drink, I’d try to make that happen.
We all enjoy meeting new people and getting to know them, but we’re all scared of making that first move. Like I said, it’s just like dating.
So here’s the practical challenge…
Every guy that reads this, I want you to do one simple thing.
I want you to reach out to someone. It might be someone you’ve crossed paths with before. It might be a Facebook friend, someone you follow on Twitter. Maybe it’s someone at the gym, or someone at work you don’t speak to.
Reach out to them and ask them if they want to go hang out. Maybe you could go for a coffee or a beer, go for a walk, go for a jog. It doesn’t matter.
Reach out to another man and get to know them better. Maybe just maybe you’ll make a new friend.
And boy do we need them.