One of the greatest poverties of the culture of the connected, is the reality of social isolation and the establishment – and maintenance – of authentic relationships.
And no, I’m not actually talking about romantic relationships. I’m talking about friendships but, more particularly, male friendships.
My own awareness of this issue began in 2016 when hubby and I watched the documentary series Man Up. Though this series was primarily about suicide rates in men, what it also highlighted was the reality that, for many men, the support and comradery of authentic friendships was missing. This is not to say that they didn’t have any friends, but that their friendships had never evolved from surface level interactions into something deeper, and more fruitful. It was this lack of meaningful friendships, or even the ability to establish such relationships, that meant they felt they had nowhere to turn to for help when things went south.
Only five years earlier, a blog written by palliative care worker Bronnie Ware, had generated a fair amount of publicity. “Regrets of the Dying” highlighted the main regrets of dying patients under Ware’s care. The one that surprised her, and the readers of her blog, the most was this: “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends”.
Now, author Max Dickins has investigated this poignant phenomenon in his book “Billy No-Mates: How I Realised Men Have a Friendship Problem”, published in 2022.
A fantastic and engaging read in and of itself, Dickin’s book highlights the simple and rather passive way in which male friendships fall by the wayside as men grow, change and begin romantic relationships.
And he also suggests a way forward for blokes everywhere.
Its simply this: contact your mate/s and do something. Men maintain relationships by doing things together. Talking together, the preferred relationship maintenance for women, does not achieve the same for men.
In other words it is the activity with friends that creates and continues relationships. Whilst it might feel natural to let these sorts of gatherings fall by the wayside as we make our way through highschool to university and/or work, begin romantic relationships and begin families, it is imperative that blokes dedicate time to invest in their friendships.
And guys, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are probably already activities that you do that could be utilised as a friendship sustaining activity. Sports, fishing, tinkering with cars, helping move house, erect a shed, the list is seriously endless.
Take the time today, right now. Text a mate; extend a friendship.
You’ll thank me later.
Emily is a former ACPA award winning magazine editor. Emily shares 15 years of marriage with her husband, Ben, and is now stay at home mum of seven and freelance journalist. Emily’s work has been featured in a variety of media internationally, writing on all things faith, parenting and craft. She brings close to 20 years of experience in media — print, online and social — as well as several years in active youth ministry including three years as the Diocesan Coordinator.