Dec 11, 2019

How I Learned To Have Male Friends

I was bullied by my siblings for years in my childhood, and my brother was the ringleader of it all. It felt horrible. Like I was unworthy of love. I hated it so much that I tried to kill myself when I was 15 years old. As a result, I built a story in my mind that other men weren’t trustable.

For years I had a constant, low-level sense of fear and resistance to other men.

I balked at all traditionally masculine things. Obsessing over cars? Stupid. Watching pro sports? Waste of time. Beer? Disgusting.

And while I still agree with all three of those things (for me, in my life), it was the implicit belief systems behind those beliefs that was truly fucking me up. The beliefs that 1) I was better than other men, and 2) that I didn’t need men in my life.

At the age of 8 years old I remember having the thought ‘I will be a millionaire by 30 and I won’t need to ask anyone for anything ever.’

In other words, in my deluded state, I believed that one day, I wouldn’t need people.

My resistance to getting close with men compounded when I was fucked over in a business partnership later on in life, and I subsequently entered into an intense lone wolf phase where I went into a form of self-induced isolation for several years of workaholism (#MakeMoneyNotFriends).

I got spat out the other side of those years of intense workaholism feeling the most lonely, depressed, and spiritually vacant I had ever been. Then, after losing an old friend in a car crash and my second most intense bout of suicidal ideation, I knew that I had to confront my demons head on.

At my lowest point, I started reaching out for help.

I reached out to people in my extended community (at that point, of all very superficial semi-acquaintances) and asked for support.

I asked people to have meals with me. I asked a couple to help me do some assisted breath work exercises. But most importantly, I joined a weekly men’s group.

For me, joining a weekly men’s group was no small feat.

It took me letting go of my ego enough to just be a normal-ass dude, sitting in a circle with other men, and letting myself be truly seen.

It was this leap of faith… with the implicit premise that maybe getting close to men was going to worth it after all… that ended up saving my life.

I made fast friends with a small handful of the guys in my men’s group, and have since come to experience them as some of my closest brothers.

I have done tremendous healing in my relationship to men (and to myself, and to the concept of community) as a result of being in that weekly container, and the friendships that spawned from it as a result.

Today, I have the deepest sense of community of my entire life. I have friends who show up for me in beautiful ways. If I’m ever struggling in any way, I know that these men have my back completely. Truly, my relationships are the greatest blessing of my entire life.

If you are currently struggling with a lack of community/friendships in your life, I would strongly recommend you do the following.

1. Believe that friendship is worth it

This step can’t be skipped.

If there’s a part of your mind that still isn’t over your dreams of being entirely self-sufficient, and not needing to rely on anyone else, then you will find ways to sabotage your efforts of investing into your friendships.

Remember that humans are a social species. Not only do we thrive in community, but we also become depressed without regular social contact (yes, even for introverts). It’s pretty intelligent software that we have built into us… to become depressed when overly isolated. Our brains know that we are safer and healthier when in regular relationship with others.

Even if you aren’t completely convinced, step into the unknown… try it out… and see what happens. You might be pleasantly surprised.

2. Extend

The world is full of lonely people waiting for others to make the first move. So, make the first move.

Extend your energy to others. Be the friend you wish others were to you.

Ask someone to go for a walk, or a meal, or to an event. Find someone you’re interested in getting to know better, and a thing that you would like to do, and just ask.

“But Jordan… what if they think I’m weird? What if they already have enough friends and think that I’m being annoying by asking? What if I’m a loser and they don’t want to spend time with me? What if I’m too cool for them and I should be waiting to meet cooler friends?”

Whatever. Tell your mind to shut up. Just reach out to them. It’s allowed to be that simple.

3. Join a social container that keeps you accountable to it

When I was at the worst part of my journey in not trusting men/having friends, it would have taken me too much will-power to continue reaching out to people every single week. I simply wouldn’t have done it. I would have extended a couple of times, convinced myself that it wasn’t worth it, and then gone back to my old ways. Because habit-gravity is a real thing.

If you see yourself in this way of thinking/being, then it might benefit you to opt yourself in to a social container that has regular accountability to it. A workout/dance/yoga class. A men’s group. A shared interest group. A twelve-step meeting (if you’re struggling with any addictions/compulsions). Obviously don’t lean on any of these things if they aren’t relevant to you and your situation, but the point is to find a social group that has an element of regular commitment to it.

In other words, chain yourself to a thing that people would notice if you were missing, and have a way to follow up with you about you missing it. Do that, and you’ll then have the baseline of your social connection working for you on auto-pilot.

Progressive Desensitization Versus Flooding

Different people respond to different methods of healing. Depending on your relationship to men, and what has informed your resistance to them, you might respond better to a slow, gentle process (progressive desensitization) or you might respond better to a massive influx of men in your life (flooding).

If you have many significant traumas associated with men, then the slow and steady approach is probably better. Whereas if your resistance to men is just a habit or a phase that you have found yourself in and you’re looking to make quick work of undoing that, then flooding will likely be the better move for you.

Either way, I wish you the best of luck on your journey.

Let me finish with this…

Friendship is worth it. Investing in community is worth it. Regardless of how much money you make, or how well you keep up with the Jones’s… the thing that will determine the quality of your life more than any other single factor, is the strength and quality of your relationships. So whatever hang ups you’re holding on to that have kept you safe in the past, you are allowed to let them go. You are allowed to choose a new way. And you can start today.

Dedicated to your success,

Jordan

Ps. If you enjoyed this article, you will also love checking out:

How I Healed My Relationship With Men

Your Lone Wolf Mentality Is Killing You

How To Make Friends As An Adult

How To Start And Run A Men’s Group Successfully

How To Manage Stress (or How I Weathered My Shit Storm Of A Year)

How To Overcome Depression Naturally

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