I’m sure we’ve all experienced it – as we get older our social circle seems to become smaller. Blokes often feel this a bit more than women, who tend to form lifelong relationships and attend more social events than us fellas. But it’s important to know that as we get older, it’s normal for the people in our lives to fly the coop. Research suggests this pattern of ‘social ageing’ could be hardwired in men, as chimps tend to do the same thing – and I’m sure the ladies in our lives have had similar thoughts.
Blokes often get put into a box that we don’t want to talk to other blokes about stuff, but recent research says otherwise. Relationships WA found in 2018 that many blokes, whether they’re in a relationship or not, wanted to spend more time with their friends. The majority of blokes also reported that they did have someone to confide in and 75% of the time it’s a woman, mostly their partner. Regrettably though, for us blokes identifying just 2 true mates, outside of our relationship, can be problematic – we say that they primarily come from the categories of our peers and mentors.
It’s normal for us to want to spend more time with friends and the difficulty of meeting new friends once we finish school or study can be ramped up. There could be a number of reasons for this, including:
- Blokes prioritising work and family over social events.
- The warrior attitude of blokes not wanting to appear vulnerable and opening up to others.
- Feeling anxious in social situations or self-confidence issues.
- Subconscious thoughts of ‘not measuring up’ to other blokes.
- Wanting to ‘keep to ourselves’ – cave time and withdrawing.
- Introverted and extroverted personality types.
It’s important to recognise the sort of barriers we may be facing when it comes to making new friends, and depending on our circumstances, there are some things we can proactively do:
- Attend a local community group, ie. a men’s shed, bowling club, the footy club, or church to name a few.
- Try new things – meeting people through a shared interest or hobby is a good way to engage with people. Principal Skinner from The Simpsons was on the right track when he said, ‘isn’t it nice that we both hate the same things?’
- If our issue is related to social anxiety or self-esteem, realising that we’re often our own worst critic is important. It’s important for us to be comfortable in our own skin.
- Realise that most of the butterflies we may be feeling around meeting other people is because we think the stakes are higher than they really are. Research points to the fact that most blokes are eager to meet others.
In summary, it’s normal for us blokes to want to increase our social circle as human beings are fundamentally social in nature. There are some biological reasons for our social circles shrinking as we age and it’s important to recognise the social and cultural reasons for us finding it difficult to meet and connect with new people. If we feel isolated from others, don’t be afraid to seek help – whether that be from a mate, family member, a GP, a counsellor, a pastor, or anyone else you feel comfortable talking to. Mensline Australia is a free 24/7 info, support and counselling service for men and can be contacted from anywhere in Australia on 1300 78 99 78.
Tomas and the Team
The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401
Phone: 08 9690 2277