Relationship development experts explain why men today have no friends—and how to fix it
Research shows that modern men are experiencing a loneliness epidemic. In particular, heterosexual men have fewer friends than any other demographic, and even when they do have friendships, they are not deeply supportive or emotionally intimate relationships.
“Research shows that most men only have one confidante, and three-quarters of the time, that confidant is a woman and generally their significant other,” says relationship development expert AJ Harbinger, who hosts popular lifestyle podcast The Art of Charm with Johnny Dzubak. “It is clear that men today are really struggling to connect with other men, and this has a negative impact on everything from their physical to their emotional health.”
Dzubak agrees, and points to research that says loneliness is the biggest threat to middle-aged men’s health, even beating out factors like smoking and obesity.
“Not having friends isn’t just a bummer on Friday night,” says Dzubak. “It can actually decrease the length of a man’s life, not to mention decrease their quality of life.”
So how can men connect with other men and create those supportive, life-enhancing bonds that seem to come so naturally to women?
“There is no denying that women are more gifted at social-building blocks like empathy, openness and the ability to express emotion,” says Harbinger. “But this isn’t because men don’t have those skills. It’s just that we never learned how to access this ability because we are afraid of seeming ‘weak’ or emasculated.”
Dzubak says men are never going to be able to create lasting, intimate friendships with other men if they don’t first tackle that deep-seated sexism and instead allow themselves to be vulnerable and open.
“The first step in curing male loneliness is removing the stigma around male friendship,” says Dzubak. “As long as men are afraid that needing friendship makes them less of a man somehow, they are never going to allow themselves to address their need for connection.”
Harbinger says that men also have to realize that women aren’t naturally born with a set of close friends.
“Women invest in their friendships,” says Harbinger. “They put time in. They focus on their communication, they reach out on friends’ birthdays, they send emails checking in, they clear their schedules and offer emotional support when one of them has a bad day. These are all things that men need to learn. We need to think of our friendships the same way we think of any other investment, whether it’s building a six pack at the gym or growing our investment portfolio.”
“You aren’t going to see any returns if you don’t put the time in,” says Dzubak.
For more on this topic or to speak to AJ Harbinger or Johnny Dzubak, please contact me.
This post republished here with permission from the author.
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