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Illustration by Ruth Basagoitia

I host a weekly virtual happy hour for men all around the country and the world. Remarkably, these men have already opted into an ethos of vulnerability, connection, and personal growth.

The happy hour is simply a relaxed and fun time to tell stories and get to know each other, but the participants come in with their guard down.

They share amazing stories of adventures, romance, and just plain weird sh*t. They talk about what’s difficult in life and what’s going great. They laugh. Hard.

There’s no posturing, no guarding, and no holding back. These men are just being themselves, together.

It’s utterly remarkable and beautiful — and an incredibly rare window into the truth of men.

What men want in a friendship

Last week, I asked the group to weigh in on friendship. Here’s what they said:

  • Making friends as an adult man is hard and awkward.
  • They may want more friends, but they really want deeper friendships.
  • They speak wistfully about their high school buddies or college bros and wish things could be like that again.
  • The idea of “making friends” is mysterious and serendipitous.
  • One man shared how a deep friend saved him in the midst of a huge breakdown, and another man courageously shared that he wants friends that he can love.

There were tender moments, and I could feel a dense loneliness silently permeating the conversation.

That loneliness isn’t something to be trifled with.

Statistically, adult men have the fewest friendships of all other demographics. This isn’t just sad. It’s dangerous. Having friends and confidantes plays a critical role in our health and well-being, regardless of gender.

People with more social connections are less depressed, have lower blood pressure, and live up to 22 percent longer.

In addition to what we eat, how we move our bodies, and how we deal with stress, friendship and connection has a massive impact on our lives.

So the big question is, how do we give men the permission and the tools to make more and better friends?

At EVRYMAN, we have an equation:

Vulnerability x Time Spent = Depth of Friendship

Here’s the straight truth. Men go through life with their guard up. Without the skills and practice in sharing one’s true vulnerable self with others, the human connection and bonds needed are incredibly hard to develop.

Men have two options to make some really good friends:

1. Keep showing up. Find a practical way to be in the same place with other people you respect and like, and make it your new hangout spot.

This will work, but it’ll most likely take a ton of time. And if time is a resource you don’t have much of (which is the truth for most men today), you might just be out of luck.

2. Get vulnerable. The other option is to learn and practice the skill of being direct, honest, and asking for what you need.

Men who come to our retreats commonly make lifelong friendships in as little as an hour.

Each one of us has the capacity to create meaningful connections at any time we choose. These connections, when honored and cultivated, become the friendships that keep us happy, healthy, and supported.

Vulnerability x Time Spent = Depth of Friendship

Was this helpful?

Anyone can learn how to make friends, but it comes with one very important requirement: the willingness to be uncomfortable.

The discomfort includes the willingness to be in an awkward moment, the willingness to be rejected, and the willingness to share what’s true.

But here’s the cool thing: Men have a long history of doing uncomfortable things to better their health. We do hill sprints, we sit in ice baths, we drink terrible protein shakes.

In a way, seeing how uncomfortable we can be is a pretty common male trait. It’s culturally accepted.

Now we just have to co-opt it for our social and emotional health.

So here’s a simple, uncomfortable guide to making friends as a man today.

Step 1: Get in touch with your true want and need to increase friendship in your life.

Be honest with yourself. Are you lonely? Who do you go to when you’re lost or hurting? Do you have someone to call to celebrate your big wins?

Slow down and really feel what you want. Own it.

Step 2: Identify a few people in your life that you would like to be closer to.

Maybe it’s a work colleague that you talk shop with but nothing more. Maybe it’s an old friend who’s drifted away.

If you can’t think of any at all, you’ll have to find a way to put yourself in the vicinity of others. Don’t overthink it. Just put yourself out there.

Step 3: Make a direct and vulnerable move to engage with them.

This might be the hardest part. The best way to do this is to simply own the discomfort of what you’re doing. Here’s some language to help:

“Hey, I don’t know why it’s so awkward to ask this, but I’d love to get a beer after work sometime and ask you about [mutual interest].”

“Hi old friend, it’s been a really long time, and I’ve been thinking about you. I’d love to catch up sometime soon.”

Step 4: Show up as yourself.

Relax, take a deep breath, just be you. It’s what we all actually want from each other, but it takes someone courageous to go first.

If you show up with your guard down, others will let theirs down, too. Be real, be honest, be bold.

Just be you.

We’re not wired to keep our inner truth at bay from everyone else. We’re not wired to do life on our own.

If any man reading this wants a shortcut, it does exist.

Join a men’s group. You get the vulnerability training you need, and you’ll automatically make the friends you don’t currently have.

Specifically, join EVRYMAN’s online membership platform. All around the world, men are waking up to their own truth and learning to share it with others.

You can too.