It even sounds weird to try to title this post. We’re so programmed to think that guys aren’t supposed to develop deep relationships with other men that even when we try to talk about it we get all clammy. Maybe that’s just me. But I feel it in the room every time the topic comes up amongst other men.
In the last episode of the MTR podcast, we talked about this struggle. America is built on the idea of radical independence. No one shall be messing with my freedom! Of course, that value gave us the world we live in today. But, it has not come without a cost. Since World War II individualism has been escalating without restraint.
At the same time, loneliness is sky-rocketing. Big shock, right? 35% of Americans report being chronically lonely. Great Britain now has an official “minister of loneliness.” And maybe most dangerous and pertinent to our conversation is the fact that the average American only has one confidante. One. One person with whom they can share their deepest struggles, fears, and anxieties. One person who knows them and loves them unconditionally. One.
So, how do we make friends with other guys? It’s not like we can just slip a guy a note and ask them to check the box if they want to be our friend.
In the podcast, we talked about a few practical suggestions:
- Make the Time
- Shared Experiences (Episode 13 with my brother Jon.)
- Find mutually enjoyed activities
- Sing up for a challenge together.
- Talk about your interests (Deeply)
- Ask for or offer help
- Be it as much as you seek it.
- Don’t just look for someone who will be a good friend for you, be a good friend.
But, because we really want to help you be the kind of man people will remember when you’re gone, and because having beneficial male-to-male friendships is so important for that, I wanted to share a few more ideas with you.
Everyman.com has an equation for this very thing: Vulnerability x Time Spent = Depth of friendship.
The challenge we face is simple: relationships develop over time. We don’t just meet someone and then instantly know them and feel comfortable sharing from the shadows of our soul. So, we’ll have to make a commitment, even before we’re sure if we like the guy.
But wait a second, do you really expect me to make a commitment to a guy I don’t know and might not like?
We have so insanely romanticized everything in our culture, that we’ve forgotten some basics. There are plenty of times when you don’t like the people you know and love the most. But because you have a relationship with them, you don’t dump them on the curb. Building relationships requires a similar commitment.
You might discover, over time, that you don’t care for their personality. I get it. But, everyone has personality quirks. Eventually, if given enough time, everyone will get on your nerves. But still, there might be a guy that you just can’t stand. I’d still challenge you a bit. Because, sometimes those guys make some of the most loyal, supportive friends. In the end, you don’t have to remain friends with anyone you don’t want to. I can’t force you. But, don’t be too quick to cut bait.
“The Man Effect” suggests, finding some common ground with others through activities like Rock Climbing, religious groups, or volunteering. They also emphasize the importance of sharing experiences, feelings, and thoughts.
“Medium” says that developing genuine male friendship requires mutual support. “You appreciate each other’s values, virtues, qualities and them as a person.” So they suggest that we 1.) Open Up, 2.) Listen and Encourage, 3.) Go on Adventures Together, 4.) Push Each Other, and 5.) Cultivate Ploutonic touch (Don’t worry, it’s the bro-hug).
Three more thoughts on this topic.
1.) Your Boys Need To See It Modeled.
My dad never really had a lot of guy friends. He had a couple and I remember seeing them from time to time. But, not a lot. In fact, when one of his lifelong guy friends passed away a couple of years ago, my mom told me how broken up he was about it. And I was surprised because they just didn’t seem that close to me.
Consequently, I don’t have a lot of guy friends. Never have. But I’m working on it. And one of the reasons I’m doing so is because I want my boys to see it, experience it, and have a desire to create it for themselves when they grow up.
Guys don’t typically open up, sitting down for coffee at Starbucks, making prolonged eye contact. I notice that even when I am sitting down for coffee with someone, neither of us usually makes eye contact while we’re the one talking. But, if you can do something side by side, like riding in a vehicle somewhere, going for a walk or hike, working on a project, etc. then you’ll both be more likely to open up.
3.) Ask Questions, Be Interested.
You might be an introvert like I am, and feel like you wouldn’t have anything to talk about with another guy for very long. Here’s the trick, if you run out of things to share, ask questions about them. Ask what hobbies they enjoy, books they’ve read, shows they watch, favorite Marvel characters, favorite musicians, etc. They’ll get to talk about themselves, which most people usually enjoy, and you’ll probably hear something that reminds you of something else you can share.
Really, it comes down to this. Make the effort. Be committed (and talk about the importance of mutual commitment). Take the risk and share something with them. Give it a shot and see if you can’t find a few men who will help you become the kind of man people remember.