As an adult man, sometimes the idea of making friends seems awkward if not impossible. But at the same time, meaningful relationships (and not just with your wife) are tied to virtually endless positive outcomes. Connecting with friends, or engaging in what we might call a “bromance,” is good for the mind, body, and soul.
Men often forget that they also need to feel connected to others, as it is our evolutionary need for survival.
Nowadays, men may not be literally hunting for food, but they do hunt for financial success, which is a modern expression of our old instinct. If we feel more connected with our tribe, we will lead more successful lives.
So here are five ways to help your husband branch out, make friends, and find that modern bromance.
1. Reconnect with old friends.
When’s the last time he spoke to friends from high school or college? Barring a nasty fallout or conflict of interest, it’s never too late to reconnect with old friends. Today there are so many ways to reach out to people; send a message on social media, an email, or a text.
No matter how awkward it might feel, he will automatically have things in common. And it might feel good for him to find out what’s been going on in each other’s lives for the last few years.
What’s the worst that could happen? They say no? Then they’re just right back where they are right now.
Men tend to connect more by doing things together rather than just talking. So calling up an old buddy may be hard because just asking, “Hey, how’s it going?” may not be enough to get the friendship going again. So listen to the things that they have in common now, and suggest an activity.
2. Forge new connections.
Are there people he sees every day that he's never had a meaningful conversation with? It takes some courage, but engaging a co-worker, fellow gym-mate, or child’s friend’s parent in conversation can help determine common interests, and develop a future friendship.
So he should strike up a conversation or ask a question. Be outgoing. You never know where it might lead. Going from zero to sixty in this way might feel uncomfortable, so try not to think about it like that.
Instead he should think, “I can do this. Maybe this person is also looking for new connections and will welcome the opportunity.”
Changing his thoughts about approaching such a situation can change his feelings and lead him to feel less awkward and make a better first impression.
3. Meet others through hobbies.
What hobbies does he have? Are there ways he can engage with this hobby that could involve others? Maybe he could join a sports league or a book club or a volunteer group?
There are many resources to get you connected to like-minded groups. Apps like Meet-up give you updates and info about all sorts of events related to your interests. Whether you go alone or with someone, this can be a great way to make new friends.
Signing up or beginning a new activity can feel overwhelming due to the anticipation of awkwardness. But practicing tolerating these kinds of emotions can help him get over that hump.
4. Reach out and make plans.
When’s the last time he invited someone, or multiple people, to do something? Is he waiting on his friends or acquaintances to take the initiative?
He should be the one to reach out and suggest an activity.
Band up with a work friend and invite some other coworkers to grab drinks after work. Set up a golf game with old high school buddies. If he's found that your his only friend, invite another couple over for dinner. Make it a double date.
Making plans, and trying to involve new friends or potential friends, could lead to establishing more meaningful relationships.
5. Get outside your comfort zone.
Putting yourself out there and trying something completely new is a great way to gain exposure to new people.
Tolerating that initial awkwardness may feel difficult, but it will be worth it.
Ask, “Are there thoughts about new activities that are stopping you from trying them?”
For example, does he think, “Golf seems too difficult,” or, “Everyone who volunteers at that animal shelter already knows each other.”?
Suggest a different approach, “The golf club could be looking for new members. They’ll respect you for trying something new. You're an easy person to talk to; you can handle introducing yourself to new people.”
This could change the emotions he's attached to trying a new activity, and allow him to open up.
So don’t discount the bromance. It might be a missing piece in his life.
Konstantin Lukin, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in Ridgewood and Hoboken, NJ. He has extensive clinical and research experience spanning individuals of all ages, in both inpatient and outpatient settings. He specializes in men’s issues, couple’s counseling, and relationship problems. His therapeutic approach focuses on providing support and practical feedback to help patients effectively address personal challenges. He integrates complementary modalities and techniques to offer a personalized approach tailored to each patient. He has been trained in cognitive-behavioral, dialectical behavior, schema-focused, and emotionally focused therapy, and has also been involved with research projects throughout his career, including two National Institute of Mental Health-funded studies. He is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New Jersey Psychological Association, Northeast Counties Association of Psychologists, New York State Psychological Association, The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy, The New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy, the International OCD Foundation, the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACSB) and a regular contributor to Psychology Today.