Male friendships are a critical component of overall health and happiness for all men, despite social pressures to maintain a stoic attitude. Developing and maintaining male friendships can help you lower stress, improve your overall health, and strengthen your emotional intelligence.
While male friendships are important to our longevity and health, there are several reasons why men struggle to develop meaningful and lasting friendships. In this post, we outline why men tend to struggle to make friends and why male friendships are so important.
Why Do Men Struggle to Make Friends?
As an adult guy, you may be wondering how you’ve ended up with few or no close friendships—when for most of us, it was easy to make friends as a kid. Between playground games and afterschool activities, there were plenty of opportunities to make friends with like-minded people in school.
But as we grew up, things began to change. In high school, there is mounting social pressure to not appear “girly” or “sensitive” with your friend group. Over time, we learned to shut off our most authentic selves to avoid being ostracized and left out.
The problem with this systematic emotional shut-down begins when we enter adulthood. It seems we all wake up one day, going through the motions of our daily grind, and realize we’re lonely. Now, we’re not saying men don’t have friends. Instead, we’re saying men struggle with making the deep personal connections that define true friendship.
This type of close relationship is vital to our health and well-being. A recent study suggests satisfaction in our close relationships can extend our mortality rate by up to 22%. Despite knowing these figures, we struggle to connect with other men in a way that opens us up for deep relationships that provide the emotional support we need.
While there are a few reasons men struggle to make friends, the core issues lie in strict gender roles that perpetuate the idea that guys should “man up” or avoid displaying any signs of weakness.
We’re here to turn all that on its head. If you want to make friends as a guy, it’s time to understand why male friendships are so important to your health and well-being.
Four Reasons Why Male Friendships Are Important
Turn on any documentary about the animal kingdom, and you’ll see how few species live in total isolation. Isolation in the wild, and your own life, leaves you at risk of early death. While this is a staggering statement to hear, the point of sharing it with you is to open your eyes to the harm of going through life alone.
Deep, meaningful friendships are an important part of life – to such an extent that not having close friendships can mess with your health, productivity, and life satisfaction. Developing and maintaining male friendships has tons of advantages for your well-being and happiness. We hope that learning about the importance of male friendships encourages you to make inroads in this area of your life.
Live a Healthy Life
A study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found social interaction had a positive effect on the health of its male test subjects. Friendships increase the level of oxytocin (happiness hormone) in the brain, which inevitably increases your ability to lead a longer and healthier life.
If we put science aside for a second, we also know that having close friendships just feels good. Knowing you have someone you can count on when life gets tough, or celebrate with when you achieve your next big goal, does a lot to keep you healthy on a mind-body level.
Reduce Stress Levels
We’re more stressed than ever before, and lately, it may feel like it’s hard for you to disconnect. Luckily, we know a solution for these stressful times. That same UC Berkeley study we cited found that men who bond and socialize more frequently reduce their stress and increase their resiliency.
We all know stress kills. Which is why it’s important to focus on stress-reducing activities. And what better way to destress than finding a solid group of guy friends who can connect on a true, authentic level?
Strengthen Emotional intelligence
There’s a lot of buzz around the concept of growing your emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is our capacity to recognize, control, and express our emotions in our relationships. Strong emotional intelligence is key if you want to grow personally and professionally.
When you learn to express yourself authentically and be vulnerable in a group, your EQ skyrockets. Forming strong friendships is one of the best ways to build your emotional intelligence because it forces you to pay attention to your feelings and beliefs in a social environment. Having a sounding board for your ideas and challenges gives your new perspectives and helps you build emotional resilience.
Form a Lasting Support Network
There’s no better feeling than knowing you have a group of supportive people on your side, cheering you on through challenging moments and celebrating when you win. Forming close bonds with like-minded men is your ticket to a better life.
As we’ve outlined in this post, going it alone is nothing to brag about. To isolate yourself is one of the easiest things in the world, but to show vulnerability and open yourself up to deep connections takes real courage.
All this time, we were conditioned to believe that deep emotional connection and sharing your true self through authentic friendships is a weakness. How wrong they were! The truth is, the bravest thing you will ever do is open yourself up to the benefits of strong male friendship.
We hope you realize the importance of male friendships after reading this post. And, if you’re ready, we hope you make the courageous decision to join a men’s group like EVRYMAN to start forming those valuable male friendships.