Making friends not always easy for men
OPINION: One in eight men has no close friends. This figure was uncovered in research by the Movember Foundation, and it’s believed that men struggle to maintain (and make new) friendships with other men during their 20s through to late middle age.
Most friendships between men are based on a sense of camaraderie, and this is easily born in competitive environments.
Whether it be on a footy field or in the sales department of a big corporate office, competitive spaces enable males’ relationships with each other to thrive.
With an air of rivalry yet a tangible common interest, such places are prime breeding ground for guys to bond.
Outside of these noncompetitive environments, it’s tough for men to make friends.
In the US, for example, it’s quite common to sit alone at a bar and chat to others who might come your way.
In New Zealand, that’s culturally frowned upon. Any ‘‘loner’’ trying to talk to strangers over a pint risks being considered a weirdo.
Our nation’s capital presents a difficulty in the friend-making and retaining sphere. I’ve lived in and out of Wellington for five years, and come to expect a 20 per cent attrition rate of mates every year.
That is, I can reliably say one in five friends leaves the city annually, making my friendship group ever-diminishing.
For this reason it’s important to always try to make new friends.
When people typically only stick around for two or three years in a city such as Wellington, you must constantly be on the lookout; or else you’ll end up as one of those guys who has no close friends at all.
Trouble is, when you work from home like me, are only interested in solo sports and exercise, and know people aren’t receptive to the eager friendmaker down the pub, your options are limited.
In 2015, my entire group of friends moved overseas. They were all reaching the cut-off age to qualify for UK working holiday visas, and knew it was then or never.
Literally every guy was gone: off to banking jobs in London and weekend jaunts to Barcelona.
It took a solid, lonely year to build my circle of friends back up after that dire situation.
Rather than find myself a new group of guys to slot into, I hedged my bets on individuals who wouldn’t join a mass exodus because a) they didn’t really know each other, b) like me, they’d done their OEs, and c) they owned houses so were saddled with mortgages and tied to the city for a good long while.
I met them all not at bars or sports fields, but at parties.
I literally spent an entire season of Friday and Saturday nights with an explicit goal of meeting new people.
It’s 2017 now and I can say I have about five close male friends. But I don’t consider myself home and hosed. As our paths and circumstances evolve, I’ll still expect to lose one of them every year.
As such, I still see it wisest to RSVP ‘‘yes’’ to every party I get invited to.
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What do you do when all your mates move overseas?