More and more men say they have few or no close friends in their lives, especially close male friends. The mental and physical health damages of loneliness are profound and increasing numbers of men end up taking their own lives as a result. What’s the answer? We need to learn to socialize and make friends again, especially with men. It is important because when we connect with other men, we have a sense of accountability and belonging. Humans are social creatures. Some people are more social than others and that’s OK, but we all need connection in one form or another.
When did we lose our ability to connect with one another?
Not that many years ago men used to socialize a lot. We had our colleagues at work, we went to the pub with the guys after work, we played sports and we went to social events. Now we sit at home playing video games, watching TV, watching porn, scrolling through social media, and rarely go out. We’ve slithered off to our caves and it’s killing us in droves.
The biggest issue we face is we have forgotten how to connect with other guys without using technology. Likes and comments on social media posts and gaming chats don’t count. Everything is so fast in the modern world. We are all so ‘busy’ that we don’t make time for one another.
How do you connect with other men?
It starts with learning to talk about emotions. Men are great at brushing off questions like ‘how are you?’ with simple responses like ‘fine’, ‘good’, ‘ok’. When was the last time you said how you really felt?
It’s ok to not be ok. Responses like ‘I’m doing ok, but I’ve been having a tough time at work’ or ‘I’m not sure how I feel but I have had an argument with my girlfriend, and it’s been busy at work’. When you say it out loud to other men, you will be amazed how many feel the same as you right now or have felt the same in the past. And if they haven’t then it is totally ok for them to say, ‘man that sucks, I don’t know what to say but I feel for you, must be tough’. Validation is key to healthy conversations.
Real conversations start by sharing openly. It can feel a little weird to start with, but it gets easier over time. If you are a complete novice to talking about your feelings get a notebook and before you go to bed write down 1 thing that went well and 1 thing that could have gone better in your day. Also note what your part was in that thing going well or badly. This brings a consciousness to your day, which can easily go missing as you drift from thing to thing keeping yourself busy from thinking about how you feel.
Go to social meetings. If you have an interest or want to meet new people, social events arranged by groups on Meetup can be a great way to connect with more guys. There are hundreds of groups covering everything from discussion groups through to activities. But it doesn’t have to be through Meetup. If you have always wanted to try something new like joining a men’s group, sport or have a special interest, search for an independent local group that offers what you want and go along to a meeting.
Really not sure what you want but you are craving company, go to a coffee shop or a pub that has a bar where you can sit facing the server. Servers often are happy to talk to customers and will strike up conversations with people sat at the bar. In fact, if you are struggling to learn how to talk to people become a server or speak to one about how they talk to strangers. Sure, they get paid to talk to them but there’s still a skill in learning to openly talk to people and the more practice you get the easier it becomes.
A great way to start getting comfortable connecting with other people is start making eye contact with people you walk past in the street. Eye contact and a smile or a small nod of your head is so profound. You never have to see them again and it makes a world of difference to you and other people – it says ‘I see you and you exist’ without having to find the right thing to say. The number of times I have walked past someone and smiled and received a smile back are countless. I might be the only person who makes eye contact with them in the day and it reminds them they are seen, and they don’t drift around unnoticed.
The most important thing is to start connecting with more men in person. Until you do there is going to be a hole that just gets deeper and deeper. You are allowed to make mistakes too. We don’t always get social meetings ‘right’ first time, that is just an opportunity to learn and develop.
If you want to talk about your barriers to connecting to other men, get in touch today and let’s have a chat. We can make it a virtual coffee date if you’re not in Vancouver. I am all about Bro dates.