Making meaningful connections with others influences the health and longevity of recovery. However, men do not always form the skills needed to develop and maintain healthy relationships to the degree that women do. Studies show that as many as 50 percent of men report having less than two people in their life with whom they can discuss serious topics.
Alternatively, developing deep connections with other men can improve the lives of men by helping them become more resilient in their recovery and relationships. However, you might wonder how you can determine whether the relationships you are building are safe and mutually beneficial? Let’s look at five ways to benefit from making deeper connections with other men and how these relationships can help your other relationships.
#1 You’re Not an Island
Whether from male role models or society, men are often taught to prioritize stoicism, self-sufficiency, and independence at an early age. While these are good qualities to have, so is bonding with your community. Connection with others is pivotal to serving your human needs. Isolating yourself and your emotions prevents you from developing the emotional range needed to experience all your feelings and relate to others in a meaningful way. Making deep connections helps with this.
The capacity to help others and ask for help is also a human need and an essential part of the human experience. Therefore, the first step to male connection is to understand that wanting connection is not only normal–it’s crucial for your mental and emotional health. Thinking that showing your emotions makes you weak, dependent, or somehow less masculine holds you back from experiencing meaningful connections and all the benefits that come with it. Building meaningful relationships involves surrounding yourself with friends that want to be there for you and you for them.
#2 Meet People Where They Are
When looking to connect with others, it’s important to accept them where they are, not where you believe they should be. You are on your journey and they are on theirs, which means you will both be at different stages in your journeys. If you compare your path with another’s, you can miss out on the opportunity to make a meaningful connection.
Comparing yourself to another can also create feelings of hopelessness or insecurity if you feel that you are not moving as fast as someone else. Alternatively, you might feel that you are waiting for another to “catch up” to where you are. Instead, accept where you are in life and recovery, and meet others where they are in their lives and recovery. Exercising patience with others, as well as yourself, not only helps build emotional resilience but also gives you and another person the ability to move at a pace appropriate for developing a strong relationship.
#3 Have Patience
Building emotional resilience in yourself and with others takes patience. Relationships aren’t linear and often operate in cycles. There is no destination or finish line to determine the accomplishment of a relationship. People, their lives, and your life will take different twists and turns, and meaningful friendships exist to help you endure these changes. Understanding this enables you to realize that the relationship can flourish regardless of where you are in recovery. Patience also enables you to recognize that what you have been through is an indelible part of your journey. Therefore, you can look to your experiences and relationships to determine which have been helpful and meaningful in your journey and which have not.
#4 Ask For Help
You might find it harder to ask for help because men often believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness. However, everybody needs help sometimes, and so you should never feel like you can’t reach out for help. Asking for mental or emotional support is no different than asking for physical or medical support if you broke a bone, for example. Mental and emotional support can also take on many forms. You can improve your ability to ask for help by developing your emotions through therapies and practices such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness.
Remember, finding the courage to ask for help is the first step toward developing your ability to ask for help whenever you experience feelings associated with disappointment, anxiety, or depression. Working with a professional can help you become more comfortable asking for help because professional settings provide safe, supportive, and confidential spaces to express your emotions. When you feel comfortable enough, you can express your emotions within relationships with friends, family, and peers.
#5 Create a Space for Mutual Support
Once you realize that you are not alone in your feelings, you will become more comfortable expressing your emotions and being empathetic to others. Attending group therapy with other men is a great way to meet people and make meaningful connections with others who have similar experiences and challenges. These group settings create a space for you to be vulnerable, share experiences, and discover that other men feel the way you do. These spaces allow for healing and help build confidence to express yourself with your family and friends outside of recovery. A great sense of freedom and release will happen when you allow yourself to open up. You can look for men-only groups within your community. Supporting these communities helps to strengthen your support and help advocate for men’s needs.
If you are struggling to build meaningful connections and it is interfering with the quality of your life and recovery, then the time to reach out for help is now. At Choice House, we provide a space for men to build a community and openly share experiences and support one another. Our therapies include individual, family, and group therapy. Our goal is to help men feel as comfortable and safe as possible while developing their emotional range. We are located amid the foothills of the beautiful Rocky Mountains and use adventure therapy to help men establish the emotional skills and team-building skills necessary for developing relationships and sustaining recovery. Your health and well-being are our priority. Remember, the path to seeking meaningful relationships and success in your personal and professional life begins when you decide to seek help. Learn more by reaching out to Choice House and calling us at (720) 577-4422.