Why do men often have a hard time building friendships?

American Counseling Association

        As kids, most all of us had close friends. Maybe they were classmates, neighbors, or sports teammates. Studies now show that for many women, those friendships often carry on throughout their lives, while for men, not so much.           Researchers say one of the reasons for this is that men and women relate differently to those of the same sex. Men tend to have friendships with other men that are based on shared interests, such as their profession, sports or perhaps a hobby. Women, on the other hand, tend to be more sharing with other women of their feelings and emotions. Women learn early on that it’s okay to share what’s happening in their lives with their friends. Men, instead, are often more comfortable with a “manly” image, perhaps covering up what they’re really feeling and experiencing. Men often believe it’s not right to discuss their personal matters with another man, while most women think that such sharing builds friendship.
        Studies have shown that early in life, men are usually so caught up in work, career building and being more involved with their children than their own fathers were that they don’t believe they can make time to foster close friendships with other men.
        Women, however, even though they may also be pursuing career goals, working just as hard, and raising children, seemed to have learned that there’s real value in maintaining friendships with their female friends, and often have closer relationships because they’re based on emotional connections, rather than simply shared interests.
        For many men, this lack of close male friends can become a problem, even a source of loneliness and depression, later in life, especially after the loss of a spouse. But experts advise it’s never too late to build or rebuild male friendships.
        The key is for a man to simply get out and meet more people. It might mean taking courses at a local college or senior center. Joining a gym or the Y can let someone see the same people on a regular basis. Hospitals, museums, animal shelters and similar organizations are always looking for volunteers. And simply getting in touch once again with old friends can often result in a surprisingly warm welcome.
        Studies have shown that creating and maintaining friendships may even play a role in longevity. With a little effort it can be a very rewarding for a man to build friendships.
        “Counseling Corner” is provided by the American Counseling Association. Direct comments and questions to ACAcorner@counseling.org or visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.


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