One of the things that has come out of the covid lockdowns is the reality of loneliness for many people. Students have been hit hard as well as other groups. However, I think the reality of loneliness has come to a group that have always had it: MEN. Loneliness has been an issue with men and it is coming to the surface more and more. According to a recent YouGov poll in the UK, almost one in five men (18 per cent) owned up to not having a single close friend. Furthermore, one in three (32 per cent) stated that they didn’t have a best friend. However, the survey also suggests that while men appear to be lonelier than women, in reality they’re less likely to own up to feeling lonely. In 2018 the UK suicide rate rose to its highest level since 2002 – over 6,500 people took their own life (11.2 per 100,000 people) – a figure up 12 per cent on the previous year. And of those registered suicides, a staggering 75 per cent were men. Likewise, in the US, suicide as a whole is the highest it has been in decades and as of 2017, the male suicide rate was over three times that of the female rate.
As men we need to actively combat loneliness. We can easily let our business keep us from the relationships we need. There are 3 ways men can beat loneliness in their lives.
Evaluate Your Friends
Why do you have friends and who are your friends? You want to make sure you have a group you are "doing life with" and not using for ulterior motives.
One of the most common friends we have as men is rust friends instead of real friends. Rust friends are ones we only see once in a while but call them our friends. Real friends are people who are active and involved in your life.
You must look at the reality of your friendships as a man and be honest about the state they are in.
Prioritize Your Connections
Men are created for community. Men do better when they have a community of men that they are connected with. From those connected communities, friendships can develop.
To make friendships develop, men must prioritize their connections with other men and schedule them in their life.
Friendships don't happen by accident and the best thing a man can do to have a strong community of friends is to schedule time with those friends.
Recognize Your Apathy
Too man men are so busy living life that they let their friendships slide to non-existent. However, they must look at their schedule honestly because busyness can be a sign of misaligned priorities. Many men are busy because that makes them feel good about themselves. They feel important when they are busy. However busyness does not do anything to actually help us develop strong friendships.
When we allow apathy to move into one area of our life, it will spread to the other areas of our life. When a man lets his friendships with other men slide, it will affect the relationships he has with his wife and kids. A man will not be as strong or as focused as he could be without good male friends in his life.
The truth is that all relationships that matter take work. To be a great dad, you have to work at it. To be a good friend, it really does take work, but the benefits affect the man and all those who are connected with him.
You don't have to be lonely; however, if you don't do anything proactive, it will happen. As a man, you must find and build a community of friends. Don't wait for someone else to do it. Be the man who helps to bring other men together.