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Why Men Need Close Friendships—and How to Kick-Start Them

The loneliness epidemic has affected men the most. How can they pull themselves out—and together?

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Friendships offer so many benefits that can improve men’s lives. Many studies have found they can give guys a trusted outlet for sharing their feelings without judgment, which can improve their mental health. But putting yourself out there and being vulnerable doesn’t always come easy to guys, who are usually told from an early age to always be physically and emotionally strong.

Many men face unique challenges in making close friends because guys are generally not socialized to show “internalized” emotions or communicate those emotions, like sadness and anxiety. This is why there is a growing body of research exploring why more men don’t go to therapy and how and why that should be changed. In fact, more and more men have been turning to the internet to seek answers to their problems or make a connection. The restrictions of the pandemic only fueled this, while making it harder to connect with real friends and near-on impossible to make new ones.

At SELF, we believe men have every right to rich friendships. It led us to put together a guide for men on how to make and maintain friendships, as well as how-tos on accessing therapy, finding connections at work, and more. We’ve gathered them here—along with a look at the dark side of what can happen when, starved for real connections, men attempt to find meaning and answers online.

Image by Flashpop / Getty Images

The Grown-Ass Man’s Guide to Making and Keeping Friends

Mathew Rodriguez

“Having someone you can be your real self with — outside of your romantic partner — is worth its weight in gold. But what if you don’t know how to make new friends or you’re struggling to connect with the ones you have? This article provides some tips to help you create, strengthen, and maintain healthy friendships.”-Rachel Quigley

3 Things to Do If You’re a Guy Who Has No Idea How to Start Therapy

Cathryne Keller

RQ: “Maybe you’re not ready to make a new friend or you’re not comfortable being vulnerable with current friends—and that’s OK. That’s why we have trained professionals, and finding a good therapist can help you open up about your emotions. But if you’re not sure where to start, these three tips will get you started on the right path.”

Here’s What I’ve Learned About Raising Boys in My 30 Years as a Child Psychologist

Michael Reichert

RQ: “Hearing from psychologist and writer Michael Reichert about how harmful the traditional ideals of masculinity can be on young boys was such an eye-opening take, and the phrase: “Every boy, known and loved,” really stuck with me. Growing up around boys who were definitely encouraged to be strong in body and mind, it’s refreshing to read that times are changing.”

Boy Problems

Eamon Whalen
Mother Jones

RQ: “Fractured social networks can drive people online and into the dark corners of the internet where toxic masculinity is rife. This story follows one young man whose google search did just that, and is an eye-opening account of what happens when vulnerable young men turn to the internet for help instead of making IRL friends.”

How to Feel Less Lonely at Work

Gyan Yankovich

RQ: “We don’t talk about workplace loneliness enough. With the rise of remote and hybrid work, it’s easy to forget how much joy clicking with people you spend so many hours a day with can bring. This article looks at how to connect more with your coworkers from home or the office.”

How to Vent to Your Friends Without Bringing Them Down

Jenna Ryu

RQ: “If you’ve ever thought, “I don’t need a therapist, I have friends,” then this is the article for you. Sure, it’s fine to vent to your friends after a particularly taxing day, but have you ever thought about the emotional toll it takes on them? We asked experts for tips on how to offload without loading your BFF down.”

Rachel Quigley

Rachel Quigley is SELF's Executive Director of Audience Development and Social Media. Currently based in New York, she also works for Glamour and Allure, and has previously worked for publications like Vogue, Teen Vogue, GQ, Daily Mail, and InTouch. Born in Ireland, Rachel has worked in Japan, Australia, England and India. When she isn't working or traveling, she can usually be found playing with dogs.