How to Have More Meaningful Friendships
Studies show that men have fewer friends than women.
Why is that?
In a world that is connected by social media more than ever before, why does it feel like it’s so hard to make friends?
Sure, a lot of us have friends online, but taking it offline seems to be a problem. Not to mention, so many people had to rely on Zoom calls and FaceTime just to see our friends in the pandemic.
But as the world gets back to normal, it’s important to spend time with friends. And, possibly, making some new ones as well, even if it feels like an uphill battle.
Why Men Need Friends
Men need to make an effort to have more friends, as there are tons of benefits.
According to Healthline, “People with more social connections are happier and healthier in a host of ways, such as the following:
- Lower blood pressure
- Live up to 22 percent longer
- Lower body mass index (BMI)
- Less likely to experience depression”
Not to mention, they have a stronger support system.
Unfortunately, the same study from Healthline found that between 1985-2004, men’s average number of friends dropped by 44 percent!
It’s time to change that in 2021…
How to Meet Like-Minded People
The data shows, it's clear that men benefit from having close friends. So, how do you make friends in today’s world?
Here are five steps to help you succeed:
1. Be Intentional and Outgoing
When it comes to meeting new people, the first thing to focus on is being intentional about it. Set yourself up for success by declaring this a new goal instead of hoping that new friends stumble into your life.
You can’t wait for friends to just show up, instead, you have to put yourself in the right position to succeed. As Psychology Today said,
“It takes some courage, but engaging a co-worker, fellow gym-mate, or child’s friend’s parent in conversation can help you determine common interests, and develop a future friendship. So strike up a conversation or ask a question. Be outgoing. You never know where it might lead.”
I promise the potential awkwardness is worth it. Even if every conversation doesn’t go how you imagine, you could meet someone that could be a new friend for life.
Related: How to Master Small Talk
2. Connect With Old Friends
New friends are great, but don’t forget about the old ones too.
The same Psychology Today article also pointed out that it’s important to regularly connect with old friends as well. A lot of times we lose touch with someone we were close with and not because someone did something to end the friendship.
Life happens - people move, get new jobs, get married, and get busy. But that doesn’t mean they still aren’t your friend. Make it a point to connect with old friends by texting, emailing, or messaging them on social media.
The worst thing that could happen is that they don’t respond. No harm, no foul, and you’re in the same situation as before. The best thing is that you could rekindle an old friendship, catch up, and have a great relationship moving forward.
3. Pursue Your Hobbies Relentlessly
Going after your hobbies and passions is never a bad idea in life… especially when it comes to meeting new people. As a Distilled Man article said,
“Take a class. Join a club. Put an ad on Craigslist for an “activity partner.” Go to a new church. It’s nearly impossible to have an interest that no one else is into. And the great part about this strategy is that it allows you to “pursue making friends” without doing anything you wouldn’t normally want to do.”
The best-case scenario here is that you meet new people who are passionate about the same things as you are. This could lead to a long-term friendship where you both continue to grow with your passion.
The worst-case scenario is that you don’t meet anyone and still get to do what you love. So it’s kind of a win-win situation.
For example, I love golf and went all-in on the sport since 2016. I started competing in events, found a men's league, and joined a networking league too. By pursuing my passion relentlessly, I’ve been able to attract a ton of new friends into my life.
While the bond started with golf, we were able to expand it to other areas of life too. Sometimes all you need is some common ground to start the friendship and can then expand.
Just remember, when you do meet people through a shared hobby, make it a point to continue the relationship outside it as well.
4. Join Random Groups and Clubs
While pursuing your passions is a great idea, sometimes you might want to make it a point to get out of your comfort zone. Aside from your hobbies, do something random that you wouldn’t normally do.
For example, in 2015 I was feeling lost in life and wanted to try something new, so I joined an acting class. I had zero experience as an actor but loved movies and TV so I gave it a shot.
Not only did this get me way out of my comfort zone and have some fun, but it helped me meet new people too.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, check out an app or website that helps people connect, like Meetup. This is a good way to find local events and outings in your area that you can join. You can meet people, find support, get help with your business/career, and connect with new people.
Getting out of your comfort zone is well worth it. As Roy T. Bennett said, “It’s only after you've stepped out of your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.”
5. Find Mentors, Mentees, and Masterminds
A great way to meet new people is through business connections. Some great friends I’ve been able to meet have been through business events, paid mentorship programs, and high-level mastermind groups.
Sure, they cost money, but it’s a great way to ensure that you’re connecting with like-minded people who are looking to grow and evolve. Plus, you know that if someone is willing to invest in themselves, they are there for a reason and committed to their goals.
If you’re looking for a more affordable way to meet up, find business organizations in your area. A great example is Toastmasters, which helps people in the art of public speaking. Not only will you get to develop a professional skill, but you can also meet like-minded people in the process.
How to Evolve Your Relationships Over Time
Finally, I think it's important to provide a few tips on evolving your relationships over time. I’ve found that some of my friends in my 20s now feel like strangers in their 30s. And that’s both of our faults for not evolving the relationship as we get older.
While it’s okay to cherish the memories from when you first met a friend, make sure to evolve with time. Otherwise, you risk falling out of touch and losing out on a valuable friendship that takes years or decades to cultivate.
Here are some ways to keep growing and evolving with any friendship:
According to the same Healthline article from above, men tend to bond around experiences, not feelings. In fact, a lot of men struggle with sharing their problems and view it as weird more than anything else.
But if you want to maintain and grow your friendship over time, you need to open up. In general, men tend to suffer in silence, which is why suicide and substance abuse are higher among men.
Yet, a lot of times, other men know exactly what you’re going through but might be scared to share it.
Don’t forget, vulnerability is a superpower.
Take About The Future
With long term friends, it’s important to talk about the future, not just past memories. Instead of living in the “good old days” make it a point to share future goals and dreams too.
Hold Each Other Accountable
Good friends should hold you accountable, even if it’s uncomfortable in certain situations. But a lot of times, men let other men slip on their goals and take the easy way out after you’ve known someone for a long time. It’s easy to do, as you don’t want to rock the boat and potentially ruin your friendship.
I would argue that most of the time it’s worth it, as your friends will appreciate the extra motivation and accountability. As Dr. Bob Proctor said, “Accountability is the glue that bonds commitment to results.”
When you help someone get results, they’ll be very grateful for the push in the right direction.
Connect Your Friends With Other Friends
Finally, try to mix up your friends and get together with multiple groups.
Act as a connector by hosting happy hours or dinner parties with friends from different groups of people. Encourage them to bring new people too. This is a great way to introduce new people, strengthen your friend group, and meet new people.
Remember, if you are looking to expand your network and make new friends, the most important step is to be intentional. Set yourself up for success by getting into situations to meet new people and develop long-lasting friendships.
Then, don’t be afraid to make plans, be vulnerable, and push each other. Friends should help you live a better life, not hold you back.