Loneliness can occur in anybody’s life at any given time, including men. However, loneliness in men often derives from how they develop, maintain their social skills, and fulfill their social needs. While men might not nourish their social needs the same way as women, that does not mean that they do not long for friendship and company.
You might wonder if your lack of motivation to seek friendship is because you are less social or because society has not allowed you to admit when you feel lonely. Alternatively, having a healthy social network of friends, family, and peers is essential for your overall mental and physical wellbeing. Let’s look at how loneliness affects men and their social skills and how you can change the narrative while achieving the social interactions you need.
Loneliness in Males
Loneliness is a common occurrence among many individuals. Loneliness is an issue that continues to grow and therefore is affecting men in a representative proportion. However, some studies indicate that most men do not feel as unencumbered to express their emotional needs. Therefore, men are less inclined to acknowledge their loneliness and are much less likely to manage it.
Further, data indicate that loneliness can be present in a man’s life regardless of sexual orientation. The desire to feel interpersonally connected, included, and secure in a social relationship where you feel a sense of belonging is essential. It is important to remember that these needs and desires are a universal, biological need not tied to sexuality or sexual preference. Loneliness affects all men and their need for platonic social relationships.
Why Men Struggle to Keep Social Contacts
More often, the undetectable erosion of your social contacts happens without you realizing it. For many men, nurturing social connections is not something that they learn to do. Most of your behaviors regarding nurturing relationships stem from childhood and could convey an inaccurate definition of what it means to be masculine. For example, whether it is taught or learned through your observations, you might think that individualism, self-sufficiency, and stoicism are the male ideals. However, such an outlook offers little opportunity for emotional intelligence, social sharing, and vulnerability. As a result, you might lack the freedom or vocabulary to express your needs.
Additionally, you might feel disappointment or regret when certain friendships go away. You might also feel uncertain as to what to do about it, and therefore feel frozen to act. As you begin to retreat socially, the dangers and obstacles of isolation grow stronger. Soon, you might hold onto your stoicism and enter a state of quiet desperation. Fearing a stigma or weakness, you may never acknowledge your loneliness and instead continue to distance yourself or even remedy your emotions with substances like drugs or alcohol.
How Your Social Skills Impact Others
Having a few independent friendships can create conflict when you are in a committed relationship. You might feel this way because you turn to your spouse or partner as an all-encompassing sounding board. While this might appear as a gesture of intimacy, the emotional one-sidedness ends up being an insidious form of emotional neediness. In time, your loved one takes on the role of being lover, career counselor, social director, emotional cheerleader, and could even take on a parental relationship.
All of this can become a great burden on your spouse. Having outside platonic relationships is important for you and your spouse. Seeking the company of friends, peers, or medical professionals can help you process your emotions without burdening your loved ones with the weight of how you feel.
Social Safe Places
Given the predisposition, you might be more likely to retreat than seek help. You might not want to seek help in a traditional setting such as a therapist’s office because the focus of discussing your emotions might be too much to handle. However, there are other spaces where you can express your emotions without feeling like the sole focus is on you. Perhaps joining a local softball league, playing basketball, hiking, or participating in local art events can offer spaces where you can safely acknowledge and process your emotions.
When you are ready to seek professional care, therapy is a great way to help you unlearn the expectations of toxic masculinity. Therapy does not need to be one-on-one; there is also group therapy available. Groups can offer a more rewarding and fruitful experience because you can be in a supportive group with other men seeking emotional support. Individual or group support can also help you nourish your universal needs for social interaction outside the parameters of a romantic relationship. Of course, groups are always confidential, so you never need to worry about your counselor or therapist disclosing your information to others.
Nurturing relationships and developing a stronger social language begins with understanding your emotional range. If you are currently having difficulty making meaningful connections and are becoming isolated, then the time to get help is now. At Choice House, we provide a safe, secure, and inspiring space for men to become vulnerable and share their emotional needs. We provide individual, group, and family counseling to help you better understand your needs and how to communicate them to others in a healthy way. Being able to express yourself among other men experiencing the same emotional issues can be a very liberating experience because you will see that stigma and societal perceptions about men’s health are not true. We are also located in the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains and utilize our beautiful surroundings to help prepare you for real-world challenges. To find out more, reach out to us at Choice House today by calling (720) 577-4422.