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Especially as we get older, men often have fewer close male friendships. Yet, according to researchwe crave intimacy in our friendships just as much as women. Worst of all, this lack of close relationships could be very, very bad for us. Prolonged loneliness can have serious consequences for cognition, emotion, behavior, and health —and may even speed up physiological aging.
Ironically, as we start our journey to becoming men, some of us become preoccupied by worries about not fully reaching some manly ideal. In high school I vividly remember being petrified that I would be a virgin for the rest of my life. During this time, we may also start to see other men as competition—probably some primal vestige of our more Darwinistic caveman days, when the only thing that mattered was A Am I strong enough to fight you? The end of high school and college seem to be the prime time for men to make friends with other guys.
This is when we start to zero in on our interests and begin finding paths for our adult lives. The activities we choose at this time often become the centers of our social spheres. But our common interests become a non-threatening foundation for friendship—they allow us to reinforce our value to each other without having to get overtly sentimental. But beyond college, as we settle into our lives, it gets more and more difficult to make new friends—and to maintain existing friendships.
Keeping friends as you get older is the difficult part. Life gets in the way. Not to mention if you spend more time with your buddy than your wife or girlfriend thinks is appropriate then they think that you are neglecting them. So enjoy the quality not so much the quantity. Increasing time-demands from our jobs, from our spouses, and from our children make it more challenging. And where we once may have explored other interests and made new connections, it becomes harder and harder to fight that inertia and broaden our social circles. I am good at making acquaintances with NEW guys that I meet.
I can hang out, laugh, have inside jokes, etc. But many other men feel a loss of connection as they get older—and the sense that having more close male friendships would be valuable. Yet, it can feel like an uphill battle. Some of the common themes that emerge are:. Growing up, most men are pretty motivated to learn how to approach and talk to women. For this reason, many men find that in their adult years, they are still far more comfortable talking to women—even in a platonic situation.
I can theoretically go up to a girl at a bar or coffee shop and start talking to her. Maybe ask her out and start a relationship. For some reason, in our society, walking up to a guy and doing something similar with a friendship being the only desired outcome seems strange and bizarre. Is this a real barrier in our society? Yes, there might be some awkwardness at first.
Or, the conversation ends after a while, and you both go your separate ways—still no real consequences. Yet still it holds us back. We all get nervous, we all get stage fright. The key is acknowledging your nerves and then calmly stepping past them. Once you do that, there are a of things you can do to increase your chances of making new guy friends. So too with making guy friends. Here are some tips that can help you increase your chances of making guy friends as an adult:. As I mentioned earlier, work and family play a larger role in our lives as we get older. So why not embrace it? The irony of work connections is that you probably spend as much time if not more with them as your family.
The only potential downside is if you feel your friendship might interfere with work. Though expanding your relationship from from one sphere to the next is generally positive—it can help relieve stress and make you more resilient at work.
I had an experience where a close college friend ended up working with me—actually reporting to me—shortly after I moved to San Francisco. At first I was worried how working together would affect our friendship. I was surprised to find that we actually appreciated and respected each other more after spending time in a professional setting. Very similar to the way that small talk becomes a pathway to genuine rapportshared activities can become the bridge to real friendships. Take a class. a club. This makes the events a non-threatening way to simply socialize. Many of the guys who attend Meetup events are young, post-college professionals who either A want to meet women or B want to meet other guy friends, or C want both.
ing an organization can be a great way to meet new guys who could become potential friends. Best case, you expand your mind and change your opinion. Worst case, you reinforce your beliefs and civilly agree to disagree. You can certainly explore organizations specific to your profession. The nice thing about this is that you get the advantage of having a common interest your industry —but without the potential pitfalls of being direct coworkers.
There are also other cross-industry organizations solely for the purpose of networking. The group aims to simply connect people without any specific agenda. It really can be an opportunity to connect with people on a fundamental personal level.
Those are the conversations that can establish a business relationship, but also potentially lead to friendships with other guys. But you can also look at sites like Eventbrite. The truth is, most of the people attending are there to meet other people—or at least not afraid of making new connections.
Hell no. You may not make ANY close friends. But, again, much like in dating, simply getting out there helps increase your chances of making an acquaintance that may eventually turn into a true friendship. A cafe, your regular bus or train route, a bar you frequent, even your gym?
The key is simply to make the initial connection, without trying to force a friendship at first. Often, breaking the ice once can lay the groundwork for a real relationship to develop over time. But what if…[suspenseful music]… gasp …you decided to actually meet up with some of these guys in person? Face to face. It may not always be possible for connections that live on the other side of the country or worldbut there may be opportunities to meet up Lonely guy seeks friendship contacts that live within a reasonable distance.
When writer Bob Gordon was looking to reinvigorate his social life and meet guy friends, he started going to Reddit Meetups. He had an interest in raw denim, and ended up finding a meetup that he drove to, where he met a bunch of new, like-minded guys.
Not all of them became lasting friends, but having the in-person interaction definitely helped create a new bond with some of his connections. Even though the idea of getting set up may seem awkward, it can often take the pressure off meeting new people. To start with, you have a common interest talk about Lonely guy seeks friendship the get-go: your mutual friend. So starting a conversation is fairly easy.
His goal was more specific than just meeting new friends; he wanted to surround himself with rich and influential people he was familiar with that adage that you are the average of the 5 people you hang out with most. I want my booze now! He would repeat that trick each time he grabbed a drink. And that simple exchange would often turn into multiple connections throughout the night. If you have 12, friends on Facebook but no one to give you a hug when your girlfriend dumps you, then you need to reevaluate your social life.
Record labels have the same challenge. Meanwhile, they expect to lose money on the other artists on their roster. We have to get be comfortable simply making initial connections—acquaintances—which may or may not develop into friendships down the line.
Can we predict how often those acquaintances will turn into friendships? Much of the anxiety that men feel around trying to pursue male friendships seems rooted in the notion that the stakes are higher than they actually are. That by simply having a conversation, they are making themselves vulnerable and opening themselves up to be judged. I know how to comport myself with women because I practiced hard in high school and in college. Will he accept me or not?
Because that is the potential runway to friendship. One of the best ways to make personal connections is through the guise of networking. And this is far easier—and less awkward—now that our understanding of networks is changing. With employees staying at jobs for shorter periods and as technology has enabled more mobility and competition in the workforce, the importance of having a professional network is even clearer. Can I buy you some coffee sometime? You might feel uneasy asking to connect without having a specific plan. But usually the best thing to do is just focus on helping the other person somehow.
And often this means simply introducing to someone else you know who might be useful to them.
As Adam Grant shows us in Give and Takethis kind of selflessness can actually drive our success in big ways. You can think of it as making a goodwill deposit that may yield a return later. They may return the favor and help you professionally or personally —or maybe not. And that goodwill may blossom into a deeper connection later on. Otherwise, grabbing a drink or going to a show—really any kind of activity that you both might enjoy—can work. Ultimately, the best way to get comfortable seeking out new connections is to practice: to do it over and over.
To build the habit of connecting with people…. Without any specific agenda. Say hello to people men and women. Engage them. Make conversation. Take an interest in their lives. You may become friends or you may never see each other again. Will everyone want to talk to you? Plus, there are fundamental techniques you can use to make yourself more successful and connecting with people.
Note: some of the links above are Amazon affiliate links, meaning if you buy the books through the link I get a small commission at no extra charge to you. But I would recommend these books regardless. Kyle Ingham is the Founder and Editor of The Distilled Man, an online channel that helps everyday guys become well-rounded gentlemen.
Kyle is a husband, new father, blogger, podcaster, and a recovering advertising executive. For the past 7 years, he's been helping men learn the essential skills and knowledge they need to become better, more confident men. Kyle enjoys Bourbon, burritos and the occasional pirate joke. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and son. Thanks for this article. Please post these articles to Facebook!
Articles like these are the reason I use Facebook, and I would love to see yours on there as well. I second the thank you for writing this article. I found it very helpful in giving me a place to start creating new and solid relationships with other guys. Thanks again! I loved this. You created an extensive piece of content that should help any man out there make new friends, with no problem! What helps me with connecting with other guys out there are definitely interesting conversations that will probably involve certain similar interests.
Thanks Samuel! Keep it simple….Lonely guy seeks friendship
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Man seeking friendship with women