Men, loneliness and vulnerability
Men are vulnerable to loneliness, and we’re vulnerable because of loneliness. As we grow up, we absorb countless messages about being strong and self-sufficient, and experience at first or second hand the many ways a man can be judged and punished for being ‘weak’.
One of the impacts of the pandemic is that we lose most of our regular avenues for socialisation, and we start to feel the absence of all those easy and informal opportunities- a conversation in the staff kitchen, singling out one or two people in a group at a bar or a barbecue to talk to, sitting with a bunch of friends in front of the tv watching sport.
To prevent loneliness, we need a certain amount of one-to-one contact, the sort that you just can’t get from a Zoom group chat. But when the alternative is making a call, being the first one to reach out, this is when we start to get into trouble. The vulnerability is right there. Will he think I’m being weak? What if he doesn’t want to talk? A man I was talking to last week said that friends found out he’d been dealing with something (after it was over), and told him they would have been there for him if only he'd contacted them. So, feeling down a bit later, he tried taking them up on the offer, but they wouldn’t even answer the phone.
Some men manage to do male friendships well, and don’t seem to struggle so much with having men in their lives who can really be counted on. We need to have them tell their stories, so the rest of us can learn from them, and start preparing for when the going gets tough, or even when it’s just moderately uncomfortable. I mean, just how bad do things have to be for men to reach out?
Read more on the EveryMan blog here: Men, loneliness and vulnerability