The statistics are staggering and sad. Recent studies have suggested that only 11-15% of men in their early 20s through late middle age have a good friend they confide in when things are tough, and suicide among men, age 50 and over, has risen by nearly 50% since 1999.
Men are more isolated, with fewer close friends, leading to increased health problems, depression, and suicide.
Having close friends and a network of acquaintances, however, has been shown to increase ones well-being, health, and happiness (and even earnings, according to one study).
“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”
–William Butler Yeats
What are some ways we can combat isolation and build a stronger network of friends and acquaintances?
Try one or more of these six methods:
Connect (or Reconnect) with siblings
Sometimes we take for granted those closest to us and our siblings, if we’ve been fortunate to have them, can often develop into our best friends throughout our lives if we make the effort.
Join a local recreation team
No matter your age you can connect with others around sports and recreation, from golf and bowling leagues to volleyball or basketball, there are recreational opportunities for all interests.
Get involved in a group in your religious community
If you attend a religious gathering often there is a group of men meeting on a regular basis for fun and fellowship. Join them.
Attend a local meet-up
Check out the opportunities at www.meetup.com and meet up with some new people with similar interests.
Get up and out
Go for a walk around your neighborhood or town. Head into your local coffee shop. You never know who you’ll run into and you just might start up a conversation that leads to a developing friendship.
Be proactive and start your own social group
A group of senior men meet regularly at a local Panera. They always look like they’re having a great time and enjoying each other’s company. A group of dads in my hometown have been meeting monthly for a drink at the brewery. This has provided an opportunity for some guys whose children will likely attend school together for several years to get to know one another and begin the process of developing lasting friendships.
Take the initiative and start a group if one does not exist where you live.
You’ll likely discover that other men have been waiting for an opportunity to hang out with the guys.
“A friend is what the heart needs all the time.”
–Henry Van Dyke