“No man is an island.” Not to get too esoteric on you, but poet John Donne versed this famous maxim about 400 years ago in one of his Meditations. Roughly translated into current-speak, it means human beings do not thrive when isolated from others. And 21st century science is backing up this 17th century reflection 100 per cent.
Results of two meta-analyses tabled at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in Washington show that loneliness and social isolation leads to a variety of diseases and early death. Not great news for those of us with the nose to the grind 24/7 and no time for maintaining old and making new amigos.
How many bros have you lost contact with over the years? Men need a regular activity together to make and keep a bond. A Saturday morning basketball game. A Thursday suds night with the buds. Whatever common interest binds you and your friends, make it a regular activity. Over time, and mutual willingness to share life’s great, bad and odd moments between shooting baskets or while imbibing pints, these activity-based friendships will develop into deeper, lasting ones.
Making new friends is not as easy as it was when we were children at a playground. “Hey, you want to be my friend?” question posed to another man may just get you a quizzical look with raised eyebrows before a potential chum takes off in a hurry.
But the important thing is to get out there (join social and professional organizations, hang out with co-workers, meet friends of friends), and learn to chat up men. Males know how to chat up females (years of dedicated practice motivated by fairly primitive urges), but starting conversations with other men tends to get awkward. Fear of judgment sneaks in. Male competitiveness issues emerge.
You just have to remember that if the initiated contact doesn’t go anywhere, it’s not a big deal. It’s not a real risk. You lost nothing. Start with small talk on whatever situation you’re in, and proceed to sports. That’s usually a safe bonding topic for most guys. And most important of all, keep it loose and relaxed – over-eagerness tends to turn people off. That goes for approaching both men and women!
Making new friends and maintaining old ones takes time and energy. Oh, I know, you have neither. Your career is demanding, you may have a family you need to spend time with, and those are very legitimate time-consumers. However, time spent with a band of brothers is time invested in your emotional and physical well-being now and into the future. That’s not just a cliché. That’s the finding of scientifically based research studies.