I haven’t directly linked to an article in a long time as a main topic of a post, but this was powerful enough that I thought it worthwhile. Toy Soldiers just wrote about Millions of Men have No Close Friends. I just wrote in yesterday’s Five F”s post the importance of Friendship to a great life.
New research by the Movember Foundation reveals that a devastating number of men feel friendless.
The survey found that 51 per cent of respondents – the equivalent of about two and a half million British men – have no close friends.
Being married or middle-aged significantly increases the likelihood that men have no one (apart from their partner, if they are married) they feel they can turn to in a crisis.
He then unpacks what this may mean when Marriage is the only friendship you have, and what happens if that falls apart:
Marriage, however, presents a different problem. It is not an issue of proximity. We hear the jokes about “the old ball and chain” all the time. This trope of the wife or the girlfriend cutting their partners’ friendships with the boys is ancient. It also is apparently true. One can imagine the devastation that can create as a man gains a life partner but loses everyone else that matters to him.
The potential for this going bad is obvious as well. As I mentioned before, at least half of these relationships will end. Think of the situation that puts the men: they lose their only emotional support and they have no one to turn to in order to rebuild it.
It’s a good article, you should read it in its entirety.
Around here it’s hunting season, with many men going away on the pilgrimage to bond and shoot deer. There’s a lot to be said for that tradition and having a stable base in your life of men that you can interact with and be a MAN. I wasn’t raised in that tradition, but my brother is starting one. At 34 years old (bachelor) he took hunters safety and watched Youtube videos on how to clean a deer and hunted for the first time last year. He’s going out again this year, and my other brother is going to partake in the bonding but not the hunting. Me – I intended to get my hunters safety but other things took priority and it didn’t happen for a second year, but soon. I promise.
But that is not to say I don’t have close friends. Tomorrow I’m joining some friends for a local show. It seems like every other month or so I get together with close guy friends for dinner or a comedy club or fishing or just lunch. We talk smart, but mostly just catch up without all the bullshit and drama that women bring. We talk about sex and marriage and work and getting old and having kids and passions and all that stuff. It’s not forced or driven like conversations with wives are – you know what I mean, like they’re interrogating you or have some sort of agenda. It just flows.
If you don’t have close male friends, here’s what you need to do, and it’s hard as hell:
Making friends isn’t easy for us men. We have a hard exterior shell, but if we find other guys who are passionate about the same stuff we are, whatever that may be, open yourself up to spending time with them away from the wives, even if it you’re worried about how it makes you look (desperate, gay, like you have no friends). In fact, do that because of those things. So if you don’t have hobbies or passions, then that is step one. And step two is find away to link those with friendship. I put myself out there a lot, to try and deepen friendships. I invited a casual friend to coffee last year to learn more about him and try to strengthen that bond – about a year ago I wrote about it in Putting things in perspective, talk to a veteran. You need to face rejection to build those bonds, and put yourself out there. Be vulnerable and you can build those key friendships we crave as men.
I’ll leave you with one final quote from the Toy Soldier article:
Males know what types of relationships they want. We have to allow them to have those relationships rather than constantly shaming them for wanting to have a connection to another man. It is not a “bromance.” We already have a word to describe the bond between two unrelated males: friendship.