–Making friends is hard. Making intimate friendships among men is much harder… and as we age, it is something we want more of. As we age, men generally have fewer and fewer close male friendships, even as we crave it more. While it’s taboo to say out loud — it tends too near being femme for toxic masculinity — guys want the exact same emotional closeness, support and also familiarity with masculine friendships that women have with their friends. Ironically, we do not have this problem once we’re younger; making friends, even close friends, comes more naturally to us when we are kids. However, as we age, we tend to get that ability drilled from us.As friends drift away or lifestyles change as we age, we are left with a growing psychological emptiness. It is one of the perversities of getting older for men our need for emotional intimacy does not change but the sockets we have for that intimacy shrink. Because we fear the consequences of being vulnerable and open to other people, we tend to rely on our intimate partners for psychological needs. Intimacy becomes a thing shared between fans, not involving friends and so closeness between men takes on romantic overtones. Even if the societal condemnation — the implicit”no homo” — is taken out, audiences still tend to translate close friendships between men1 as being intimate.Obviously: people worry that in attempting to make friends, they will be seen as attempting to make a move instead. And thus the skill — and chances to exercise it wither away.And so we wind up in crowds; dozens or even hundreds of relations on social media but no one to prop us up when tragedy strikes.So how do guys relearn how to discover and foster closer, more psychological friendships with other guys?Making friends as kids is almost shockingly simple; we often just fall into it without even thinking. We tend to locate people who enjoy similar things to people we do and boom, job’s done.As adults… it is harder. We do not have as many chances to meet people for the sole purpose of earning friends as we do in school and college. Similarly, it’s tough to find people who are in the exact same basic place we are in existence; even in our jobs, there will be a mish-mash of people just starting out and those who are well recognized and building families. As anyone who’s tried to have a conversation with people 10 years apart in age can tell you: sometimes it can feel as though you’re both talking different languages. Part of what helps foster friendships are such shared similarities and experiences, after all. “Remember you said that the next time you need me to describe how Facebook is not Google, gramps.”More often than not, we are good at making acquaintances, instead of friends — these weak ties and casual relations where we could not really call it”friendship” but can have a conversation on occasion. And that is good, because that is where you start. Making those casual relations is the way you get to know more people. In the end, much as with relationship, you can not always select who you will and will not get along with with 100% precision. You may believe that your coworker is funny and you like similar things, but you and he can simply not click on the deeper issues. Other times, you will meet someone almost randomly and the both of you may get along like a house on fire. You are broadening your social circle, which provides you the chance to meet more people. And while those folks might be casual acquaintances to begin, you might discover that you (and they) change over time as you get to know one another.Locate Pretexts For BondingPart 0f what makes it hard for guys to build closer friendships with other guys is the fact that male friendships are generally focused around tasks, as opposed to on friendship for its own sake. The focus is on the action as opposed to linking; in some cases, linking and self-disclosure is actively disdained except for this explanation. This pretext — the notion that you are coming together to do things as opposed to chat and discuss — helps to diffuse the fear of being too romantic or feminine. You are getting together to drink beers, not discuss gossip and intimacies just like a few chicks! The implicit heteronormativity of playing Madden ’16 with your bro or the violence of Mortal Kombat or Call of Duty makes it okay for a few dudes to hang out together; it is the pretext they could point to, lest they be viewed as relationship.There is no small part why so many sources of surrogate brotherhood will come from the context of being a part of an in-group — particularly one focused around a suitably”manly” pursuit. Fraternities, by way of instance, provide that social pretext which enables their members to let their guard down and foster intimacy. Members of bike clubs will be fine with opening up to their own brothers, since it comes from the context of unquestionable masculinity that allows them feel safer to start up without being misunderstood. Their masculinity and sexuality can not be contested due to these unquestionably masculine-coded actions they share!As much as we might wish to have the ability to find individuals that people can connect with just for the sake of fostering that bond, it is often easier to convert a weak tie to a solid one through shared activities. Finding groups through MeetUp or joining social organizations such as sports leagues, clubs or church organizations are ways of finding people who enjoy the very same things you do and are open to being social. Those commonalities promote that feeling of”we are the same”, while the context of this action helps people feel safe enough to let their guard down enough to bond and share.You may also set your own classes to help foster those bonds and develop these friendships. You become known, comfortable and familiar, an established part of the individual’s life and vice-versa. This is referred to as propinquity; the more time you spend with someone, the more likely you should keep spending some time with them.That is no small part of why it is so much easier to make friends when you are younger; being in college together means you are going to be seeing the very same folks over and over again. They become part of your everyday life, so the outgrowth of your friendship feels effortless and natural. If you think back over your various relationships — both romantic and platonic — you will discover how frequently propinquity has been a factor in them.So in case you would like to get closer with people, you need to spend more time together. However, as we age, it is not always as straightforward as calling your friend and asking if they wish to hang out. That is why it’s far better to have regular, scheduled actions together. Attempting to only freestyle your get-togethers once the mood strikes may feel more natural but it can actually work against you. Due to the vagaries of life, you might have a great deal of contact early on but find it peters out with time. Those long stretches between seeing one another can negate the impact of the brief-but-intense minutes of hanging out together. 1 thing becomes another and before you realize it, you have not seen each other in months, weeks or even years.Regularly scheduled activities, on the other hand, are easier to maintain. When, say, you get a weekly poker night or a monthly get together in a restaurant, it is a lot simpler to make it fit in your schedule. You’ve got advance notice, so you are ready to market it while you make other programs, make arrangements so you’re free that night or {} certain you will be able to be there. And in the event you can not make it one time, then you will know for sure once you’re going to see them again rather than waiting for a time once the fates align for both of you.Small, regular get-togethers are better for building a close, emotional friendship since it keeps things paced and stable, instead of short bursts of intense connection followed by extended periods of disconnect that bleed the psychological momentum.Make The First MoveOne of the mistakes that people make when they are trying to construct a friendship is anticipating perfect reciprocity.Confused? Do not worry; it happens more frequently than you would expect.See, one of the things which frustrates us when we are trying to develop and maintain friendships, especially ones we want would be more intimate, is the notion that it is going to be perfectly equivalent. Occasionally we will hit that moment once we realize that we are the ones doing the majority of the work — we are the one making the programs the majority of the time, we are the ones making the calls for our friends to get together, etc.. And once we do realize itcan often feel like our soul has just gotten a surprising kick in the balls.Suddenly, everything we took for granted is currently up in the atmosphere. Are they our friends? Are they just hanging out with us from a sense of obligation? In a perfect world, everybody involved will be putting in equivalent levels of work in maintaining a friendship. 1 thing that rarely gets brought up when it comes to friendships is that there will be a dominant partner — the person who’s more”accountable” than others. They are generally the planner and instigator and the one who does a lot of the job to get everybody together.This does not automatically indicate that the friendship is unequal or one person cares more than the other; it is simply part of the dynamic of their friendship. We get used to the rhythm as well as the functions and so we do not stop to consider it.Other times, it is less of a case of not caring or not placing the job in and more of easy bitterness and being unsure. All of us tend to assume we are the only people who do not know what they are doing. While the rest of the world has its shit together, we are sitting there, making it up as we go and praying to whatever gods may be listening that no one ever calls us on it. The thing is: everyone tends to feel like that too. Just as you’re stressing what your friend is considering how many times you ask to hang out, they frequently are thinking the exact same way about you. They tend to have the very same anxieties about how other folks feel about them, telling them the exact stories of how they are likely annoying people and do not need to bother them unless they are 100% sure it is ok.As a result: you have two people who have accidentally started playing Friendship Chicken. Now rather than simply taking the initiative, they are waiting for another person to signal that it is OK and make those strategies. And then the telephone never rings and individuals tend to drift apart.To be sure: there are people out there who remain in relationships of all types from psychological momentum and will disappear after the motivating force does. But those relationships have a tendency to fall apart on their own, irrespective of what happens. Individuals who care about their friends will have a tendency to invest in ways apart from simply being the initiator.So, if you would like to keep and develop that friendship, stop worrying about keeping things absolutely equivalent. Worry less about who is investing who cares based on who makes the programs and be The One Who Makes The Aims, particularly initially. But speaking of creating the first move…Be The Friend You Wish One of the sad commentaries of the country of masculinity now is how fearful we are of opening up and requesting intimacy. It is often seen as sign of weakness and men are not permitted to be weak. It’s a”female” trait (nowadays that’s; look through history and you will discover male friendships which were tighter and more intimate than many heterosexual unions ) and men are not permitted to be less than manly for fear of losing their man-card. And god forbid you risk being viewed as flirting with someone instead of just trying to be their buddy. Consequently: we have a tendency to keep those up barriers that keep us apart lest we provide off”the wrong signals”. Even if this means losing out on the {} of relationships we need. Most men have a tendency to look to other people for what is”allowed” or acceptable; by being ready to open up, you are showing them that a higher degree of intimacy is not just okay but welcomed.The key is to go slow. Just like romantic relationships, requesting or offering too much familiarity too quickly is a danger sign; it has been a indication of bad social calibration and emotional intelligence and that is going to drive people off. Instead, you need to build rapport and familiarity with time, with graduated levels of openness and sharing. You’re not likely to tell a stranger your deepest, darkest fears or desires, so why would you do this to somebody you are not always tight with?It is a dance of levels. First, you will need to know to be comfortable with exposure and be prepared to open up only a bit. Simple things like gratitude and telling your friends that you love them, that you like spending time together — if it has been a while — which you miss hanging out together is the beginning. It is a little thing, but it is something lots of men have trouble with. That small gesture — letting your buddies know that you care and they’re important for you — can be enormous. It opens the door to greater intimacies, sharing of service.There’ll be a desire to disqualify the intimacy, to somehow excuse it as no big deal or not to make a lot of it. Resist this. That feeling a part of the social conditioning of not opening up to other guys, something you are actively trying to crack. There is nothing to be ashamed of or to tide off; you are simply being prepared to say what you really feel rather than pretending you’re made from stone or ashamed of your feelings.As you become more comfortable with this level of familiarity with your buddies — and vice versa — then you can open up a bit more. Let them in a little more, share things that you may not share with a stranger but also is not strictly reserved for your closest friends or loved-ones. Be the first to provide support if you believe that your friends need it and to request help if you need it. Offering favors or doing things for them can be great ways of encouraging the friendship. Even little gestures — recalling events that are important to them, sharing links or news stories that they may discover interesting or relevant — can help bridge that gap and invite your friends to open up for you.This is where reciprocation is significant; if your buddies are not returning the exact same degree of intimacy or behaviour, then do not push further. A friendship of one-sided intimacy will not last. Simply keep things at the level until {} more familiar with it until you realize that this might not be that sort of friendship.It can be catchy, emotionally. By mimicking the friendship you need, you are putting yourself out there in a means that may feel uncomfortable at first. But since the relations you have with your buddies grow, the more natural it will feel. Soon you will realize you do not have friends so much as brothers you did not have before.This post was formerly published on Doctornerdlove.com and is republished here with permission from the author. ◊♦◊Have you read the first anthology which was the catalyst for Your Great Men Project? ◊♦◊If you think in the work we’re doing here at The Great Men Project and wish to join our calls on a regular basis, please join us as a Premium Member, now. All Premium Members get to See The Great Men Project with NO ADS. A whole list of advantages is here.–Photo credit: Istockphoto.com

Making friends as kids is almost shockingly Simple

The article Construction A Closer Friendship With Other Guys appeared on The Great Men Project.

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