Why Male Friendships Matter: The Role of Male Support Networks in Mental Health

Reviewed by Jeremie Walker, MD, MBA · January 19, 2023
male friendships

Male friendships are an essential but often overlooked aspect of men’s mental health. Research has shown that having close friendships with other men can provide a sense of belonging, support, and purpose, which can help men to cope with stress, anxiety, and depression. 

However, many men struggle to form and maintain close friendships, often citing busy schedules, social isolation, and a lack of shared interests as barriers to building meaningful connections with other men. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of male friendships and offer tips for making and maintaining friendships.

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Why Don’t Men Have Enough Friends?

So, why do men not have enough friends? One reason may be that men are often taught to be independent and self-sufficient from a young age. This may make it difficult for them to reach out to others for support and companionship. Men may also be more likely to prioritize their careers and other obligations over building and maintaining friendships, leading to a need for more social connections.

What Characterizes a Healthy Male Friendship?

It’s important to note that when we write “male friendships,” we mean healthy male friendships. Many men have friends but don’t necessarily have open or healthy relationships with those friends. 

So what does a healthy male friendship look like?

  • Mutual respect, trust, and support
  • Open and honest communication
  • A willingness to be there for each other during both good times and bad

Healthy male friendships are also built on shared interests and activities. They may involve doing things together regularly, whether playing sports, watching movies, or simply hanging out and chatting. Because interests tend to change over time, making new friends is normal (and often necessary). 

In a healthy male friendship, there is a balance between giving and receiving, and both friends can be vulnerable and open with each other. As a result, there is a sense of acceptance and understanding, and friends can be themselves without fear of judgment.

Additionally, healthy male friendships involve flexibility and adaptability, as friends may go through different life stages and phases. Therefore, a healthy male friendship can withstand changes and challenges and evolve and grow over time.

The Benefits of Healthy Male Friendships

The benefits of male friendships are numerous and can profoundly impact men’s mental health. For starters, having close friends can provide a sense of belonging and purpose. This can help men feel more fulfilled and satisfied with their lives. In addition, friendships can provide a sense of support and companionship during difficult times, helping men cope with stress, anxiety, and depression.

Furthermore, male friendships can be a source of accountability and encouragement, helping men to stay motivated and achieve their goals. Friends can also provide a sense of perspective and help men see things from different angles. This can be especially helpful when facing challenges or making important decisions.

6 Tips for Making and Maintaining Friends: 

How can men make and maintain friendships? Here are a few tips:

Get involved in activities that interest you

Participating in activities you enjoy can help you meet like-minded individuals with similar interests and values. This can be a great way to build friendships naturally and organically. For example, try an improv class or join a rec sports team. 

Take the initiative to reach out to others

Don’t be afraid to initiate contact with others and ask them to hang out. This can be as simple as inviting a colleague for a drink after work or joining a group that meets regularly.

Be open and genuine

Authenticity is vital in any friendship. Be honest and open with others; they will likely respond in kind.

Be a good listener

Showing interest in others and actively listening to what they say can help build strong, lasting friendships. Give your full attention, make eye contact, ask questions, and avoid jumping to conclusions. 

Make time for your friends

Life can be hectic, but making time for your friends is essential. Set aside regular time to hang out and catch up, and make an effort to stay in touch even when you’re busy. Schedule a regular hangout or make catching up a recurring item on your to-do list. 

Be there for your friends

Friendships are a two-way street. Be there for your friends when they need you and be willing to offer support and encouragement when they need it.

Male friendships are important to men’s mental health, but many men struggle to form and maintain these connections. By getting involved in activities that interest you, reaching out to others, being open and genuine, and making time for your friends, you can build and maintain strong, lasting friendships that can positively impact your mental health.

Opt Health is a men’s telemedicine platform with the goal of optimizing men’s health. In addition to helping with mental health issues, we work with patients on men’s health issues like low testosterone, insulin resistance, ED, hair loss, and more. To start your journey with Opt Health, click here to get started, or call (855) 443-8678 for a free consultation.

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