Developing More Male Friendships

Good friends are a premium. They’re with you through all of life’s up and downs, and challenge you when you need to be challenged. Too many guys, though, get into the routine of life, and friends seem to drop off one by one. Sometimes, it’s because the friendship ends, but often times, it’s just because life happened. Developing more male friendships is really important, because it’s one more way your can develop good mental health, positive self-esteem and happiness in your life.

Families, jobs, responsibilities – they all find a way to push that remaining free time in a guy’s life to the sidelines, and without proper attention, the friendships in a guy’s life suffer. Without making friendships a priority, they fall away and stop being as close as they used to.

How to prevent this “friend drain”? It’s tough, when life gets going, and you find yourself distracted with ten other things that consume your time and attention.

I think it’s really important to maintain these friendships for several reasons:

  • It allows you an outlet from your day to day responsibilities and tasks
  • It helps you stay connected to another man
  • It helps “diversify” your sense of identity: too often, men end up falling into “dad, “husband” or “professional” roles, only to feel like that’s the totality of whole they’ve become
  • Friends help in the aging process, because when you’ve invested in good friendships, they can support you and help stave off the consequences of aging: losing jobs, spouse, children leaving home, etc.
  • They can be hobby or interest friends, holding you accountable to get out of the house and stay active
  • They add another dimension to your life
  • They can help stave off loneliness or boredom
  • They’re good for your health: emotional, psychological and physical

I’m fascinated with those studies researchers do with the dying. They review dying patients regrets, and consistently, responses include that dying persons wish that they would have spent more time investing in relationships, not necessarily making more money.

A lot of men end up stumbling at retirement time and don’t have friendships to support them. After the kids have left the home, and working life has come to its end, many men stumble because all they have are their wives and a few hobbies to give them enjoyment from life. A lot of men I talk with don’t have male friendships that can enrich them in other ways, which is a real loss for “diversity of happiness” in life.

Friendships take energy, and plenty of men don’t have the “relationship glue,” that their female counterparts have. Where women are more biologically-adept at making and sustaining friendships, men need more help. A lot of times, friendships fail simply because neither party is putting in the effort to keep it going. This is usually the case where the friendship has withered or died because of lack of attention. If you want friendship in your life, you’ve got to be prepared to work for it, like anything else in life.

Here’s strategies to consider when you want more male friendships in your life:

  1. Decide if you want more male friendships in your life, and commit to making that a priority.
  2. Take the risk, and put yourself “out there” to meet other likeminded guys, or take a chance and see if someone you know and like would want to get together for a beer or go out as a double date with you and your wife and him and his wife.
  3. Invest time and resources into the things that you already like doing that you’re currently not, like tennis, photography, other group activities. Find local groups, such as Meetups or other organized events, and get to a gathering or two. Come from the place of wanting to do your hobby first, and then be open to meeting new people – like dating.
  4. Don’t be needy. It turns people off, and they can smell desperation from a mile away. Be cool and easy about wanting to make more male friendships.
  5. If you’re in a committed relationship, see if there are any potential hazards with making new male friendships (i.e. you’re not spending enough time with your wife and kids as is). This could create other problems for you at home, which we don’t want. Try talking with your mate or partner about the potential pitfalls. If you’re in a same sex relationship, talk with your partner about the jealousy factor, and address that from the start as to minimize conflict. Here’s a 3-minute video talking about how to balance male friendships and the needs of your marriage or relationships.

Friendships are part of a well-rounded and happy life, and if you commit to and invest in your male friendships, you’re ensuring that much more happiness for yourself and those close to you. Make sure to work out the fine details with the suggestions above, remove any potential barriers to meeting friends and conflict at home, and you’re on your way to being a successful friend.

 

About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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