Do you have solid male friendships in your life right now? Do you have other guys in your life you can call and hang out with, and enjoy being together with? Are you one of those guys who’s had a hard time keeping friendships going, either because life has happened or you’ve gotten too busy?
I think male friendships are valuable and necessary for a varied and meaningful life. Good friendships can provide support, brotherly love, masculine energy, common interests, reliability and happiness for a lifetime. They are an antidote to loneliness, stress and depression, and can meet your needs in a way that a marriage or intimate relationship might not. Marriages or intimate relationships can meet a lot of needs, but not all of them, and male friendships can fill in those gaps to create a complete life for yourself.
Male friendships take work and investment. They don’t just come to you – you also need to go to them. If you want friendships that last, the relationships require that you put yourself out there to make the effort of keeping the relationships going, by making the calls, setting the plans and doing the groundwork needed to keep them up. They demand you be there and “show up” by being present, and not be withdrawn or aloof, as well as not too needy in them where it’s one-sided.
A lot of men don’t want to put themselves out there, especially to make new friendships, because they’re afraid of rejection. They don’t want to be seen as not being wanted, not having enough to contribute to a friendship or being deficient in ways that they won’t be acceptable for. On the flip side, some guys have too high of expectations for others, which can translate into other guys not being good enough for them, which can create isolation and loneliness.
To make new male friendships can be hard, especially when you don’t have other men around you that you would necessarily hang out with. Without the comforts of college, work or another structure, it can be hard to find easy access to new male friendships. When career, family and life start up, the time and availability factors make it harder to meet new people and continue to connect with them on a regular basis. That’s why it takes a little extra work when your a working guy, married guy, or family guy – or all three – if you want a new male friendship, or to keep old ones going.
Laziness is also a friendship-buster. If you’re lazy, and don’t really want to do the work that is needed to keep a friendship going, you’re putting the expectation on the other person or people to do all of the heavy lifting involved to keep the relationship going. Then, it’s only one sided, and one-sided relationships can only go so far and only have so much shelf-life. People get tired and friendships burn out without both of you working towards it.
Making excuses is also another factor in squashing male friendships. Statements like, “I’m too busy,” or “I don’t have the time for anyone else,” may be true, but it depends on how bad you want make friendships. Do you really want them in your life? What are you willing to do to make them happen for yourself?
Here are some thoughts about how to go about and what to think about when increasing your male friendships.
What can you do to increase or improve your male friendships on a regular basis?
- See what you want or need: do you actually want more time with friends? Do you want more male friendships in your life? What are you actually needing, and what are you willing to do about it?
- Know who you want, and who you don’t want: not everyone you meet will fit the bill. Also, you may have outgrown other friendships, so see if there is still enough there for you to maintain the friendship. Sometimes, friendships change for the worse, and you can outgrow them, so know if it’s still worth the time and energy invested to keep old ones going.
- Take a risk: put yourself out there and take a risk to meet new people, or reconnect with old friends.
- Challenge your barriers: laziness, fear of rejection, inadequacy or other barriers can get in the way of you taking the step to keep friendships going. See what’s getting in your way and do something about it. Challenge yourself and your barriers to friendship.
- Project your life into the future and see: are male friendships something that you see for yourself in your later years? Would more friendships make for a happy life as you age? Work backwards and do the work now; investing in good, quality male friendships now will pay off down the road, like a good retirement plan.
- Find new friends: seek out parts of your life where new people may already exist, or find new places to go find people. Think about what interests you have, and where other, likeminded men would be to share those interests. Spend the time to go to where other guys who are like you would be hanging out.
- Talk with your girlfriend, wife or spouse: maybe doing double dates would work in the beginning, so as to ease the transition into a new male friendship. It’s possible that your wife or girlfriend knows another female in her life that she would like to spend time with and get to know, and maybe that person has a significant other that would like to meet you. Plan an evening outing for the four of you, get a babysitter, and find an interesting new restaurant to meet up at. Take a risk, and even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll have put yourself out there anyways.
- Go through your Facebook or LinkedIn contacts: this doesn’t have to sound cheesy, but maybe there are actually Facebook friends that you could meet up with in real life. Hey, it’s an idea, and who would have thunk: actually meeting someone live in the flesh from Facebook. It’s possible there is one or two guys who you could see yourself spending an afternoon hanging out with, or drinking a beer with.
- Carve out the time: actually find the time in your busy schedule to meet a friend. Stop using the excuses that you can’t or don’t have the time, and make it happen. Create the time on a regular basis, on a weekend or weeknight evening where you’re available to meet with someone, and work around your and your family’s busy schedule to prioritize this for yourself, without impinging on any one else’s needs.
Male friendships – whether old or new – make for a happy and varied life, and can give a lot to you. They require work and availability, but they are some of the most important things for a fulfilling life. Think about the ideas above, and challenge yourself to see if you’d like more male friendships in your life by reaching out beyond your comfort zone to make a friendship happen for you.