Got loads of male friends? Do you see them often? Can you call on them when you’re running rough?
If you can, you’ve hit the jackpot. I meet a lot of men these days who lack really solid mates, particularly as they get older, and who wish they could establish better friendships with other men.
Younger men may start with a strong cohort from school, work, sports clubs or college, but it can be a challenge to maintain a core group as they disperse, have kids or just work long hours. In Australia, the population is very concentrated in the capital cities and people often move away from where they grew up. Many men I speak to lost contact long ago with their peer group and never entirely replaced them.
They tell me they feel unsupported and lonely, starving for mateship. If that’s how things are for you, you may have been wondering how to collect more good men around you. Men to chew the fat with and to lend a hand when things are tough.
I’ve just been on a men’s weekend retreat because I crave better male friendships as most of my friends are women. The male mates I do have are always pretty friendly towards me – we have a laugh and a chat when I see them, at swimming or in the surf club – but I can’t imagine any of them calling me, as my female friends often do, just to hang out. They don’t message me on Facebook, asking if I’m going to this or that event.
It’s all a bit brusque as if anything more would make them seem…. What, exactly? Queer?
I run the risk of gender stereotyping here, so I must admit to my own discomfort at having emotional weather on display. I feel like I’m letting the side down, so I’m finding men a little challenging to get to know. I have an exception though.
I have coffee of a morning with a bunch of men at the surf club, most of them in their 70s. We have a laugh and I feel the depth of friendship – I’m part of the gang and they’d never let a member fall. Is it age that allows men to care openly about one another?
I wish I had been taught to be a little more open and emotionally expressive. Is my inner life really so scary? I would like my range of emotions to extend beyond a gruff and distant cordiality.
Hence my adventure on a men’s weekend, where I found a bunch of bighearted guys offering a brotherhood of unexpected depth. They focus on supporting one another, new friends and old, in a warm, openhearted way that I had never encountered before, even in Buddhist groups. If you or a guy you know experience loneliness, is a men’s group an option?
We’re human, we need one another.
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