Los Angeles might be one of the biggest cities in the world, but for many, it’s one of the loneliest. I often forget about when I first moved here. I left behind comforts and close relationships in Missouri. My early days consisted of work, gym, and time alone.
So, it’s true, I thought. Loneliness sets in at 30.
I was missing friends. But, I realized I needed more than just regular friends, I needed close friendships.
Whether you live in a big city or a small town, lonely men are common.
Men need a band of brothers: a group of men down for adventure and adrenaline, but who can also challenge each other to become better men. Beyond that, every man needs confidants in other men.
Men need an opportunity to be authentic and real.
Men need more than casual friends. Men need close friends.
Men Need More Than Bar Buds
But, one month I went away for work training. Silence. I realized those friendships continued only as long I was at the party or club. Those friendships were not real.
Beer and women might help a man forget loneliness for a night, but they don’t dissipate the problems and shame that wake you up the next day.
Men Need More Than Game Day Pals
As I’m on the tread mill, guys around me are all tuned to ESPN or Fox Sports. Working in sales, I try and keep up as well. Why? Because sports stats are a language among men.
Watching your team win provides an emotional high every guy can bond over. But, what happens when the game is over? What happens when you hit a rough spot? Where’s the team?
Sports are a safe place for men: 100% testosterone, 0% estrogen. Yet, in some sense, game day is restrictive. It’s not ok to share personal problems over sports. Empathy and football don’t go hand-in-hand. Men need connection beyond a game.
Men Need More Than Co-Workers
For many men, work becomes their safe haven. But, it turns out, it’s not that safe of a place after all.
@YouGov survey for Movember asked men to say how many friends, if any, outside the home they would discuss a serious topic such as worries about money, work or health with.
Just over half (51 per cent) said two or fewer but one in eight overall said none.”
Men Need More Than Spiritual Friends
If you can’t get depth at sporting events and work, surely men can find comrades at church, synagogue, mosque or temple? Not necessarily. Men’s group can be too activity related or too spiritual to the tune of no one getting honest.
Deep friendships take time and require more than a simple church setting, casual conversations, or once a week attendance. Not to mention, depth will never be built based on your convenience or your expectations of what the group should look like.
Men will find deeper friendships when they go outside their comfort zones. That includes inconvenience and friends who don’t look and act like you.
Go out on a limb. Take a risk. Australian research found over a million men were lonely or dissatisfied with their friendships.
The two main reasons for this were that they didn’t feel as if their mates could help them with problems they were facing, so they didn’t bother bringing them up (79 per cent) and that they didn’t feel emotionally supported (76 per cent).”
Men Need More Than Marriage
For anyone who believes finding “the one” will solve everything, you’re wrong. Loneliness is still common in marriage. Why? Because we will need connections with others outside the home. Honesty is key in any relationship, but men still need a sounding board in other men. Some topics should only be discussed with other men.
Having a band of brothers is healthy. “Research by the World Health Organization has shown that a lack of close friends has a significant impact on men’s health in the long term, leaving us at risk of depression, anxiety, and suicide.” Keep in mind, these are close friends, not casual friendships.
Men need friendships beyond the bars, sports, churches, and marriages. Men need covenant friendships. As author Stephen Mansfield writes,
It is natural for our friendships to be largely about the things we do. We can have sports friends, work friends, and friends we make music with, for example. Yet covenant friendships have to be built on something more, on heart and purpose and matters of destiny.”