When Did Manhood Become So Lonely?
Manhood, loneliness, rituals, and fostering deeper connection
Note - I’m writing today as a man. I do not know what it’s like being a woman, but I’m guessing many of the struggles I’ve experienced around connecting with other men as an adult will apply to women as well. Adapt the exercises and messages in this post as needed to fit your unique situation.
Also, I’ll be back with the next chapter of my book next week.
Growing up I never struggled to make guy friends.
In school, I was always surrounded by other guys that naturally became my friends.
In sports, I automatically absorbed 20+ friends on a team and in a locker room.
Yet when college ended, something changed.
I entered a world that no longer made making friends with other men an easy part of day-to-day life…
And made developing DEEP connections and relationships with other men damn near impossible.
So this funny thing happened where despite living in the age of “connection” with cell phones and social media, I felt more lonely than ever before…
What I’ve found and experienced is that as men move through life, they become so focused on juggling the chaos of their career, wife, family, kids, and health that they sacrifice creating deep, meaningful connections with other men.
I’m not talking about surface-level friendship that never gets into any substance.
I’m talking about your ride-or-die homies that know you to your deepest core.
But developing this type of deep, meaningful connection with other men is a chore and something I’ve had to work at.
I’m by no means naturally good at it and I’m still working hard at it today.
As the old saying goes - what gets measured gets managed and what gets managed gets improved.
And the connections and relationships you have with other men in your life are no different.
Today, I’d like to share 2 things with you…
The first is an exercise I did recently to identify who in my life is a core, a friend, an acquaintance, or a radar. Personally, it was quite eye-opening and showed me where I have holes to fill.
The second is a ritual and system to stay on top of the different relationships and connections in your life so you don’t drop the ball or get burnt out.
Core, Friends, Acquaintances, Radar
Get out a piece of paper and draw 3 circles like below:
Now label the first circle “core”, the second circle “friends”, the third circle “acquaintances” and the outside layer “radar”.
When you’re done, it should look like this:
Great, now the real work begins - take the people in your life and place them into the appropriate circle.
Core people are your ride-or-die homies. The people in your life that know you to your deepest core. Your greatest fears, insecurities, hopes, dreams, and desires. These are people that at the drop of a hat will be there for you no matter what. If it’s 2:30 AM and you’re in deep shit, these are the people you’d call and they’d be there no questions asked.
Friends are the next layer and represent people in your life that you know well but aren’t fully open with. You see each other relatively often, maybe workout together, grab drinks, laugh, play, and have fun, but there isn’t a connection beyond surface-level stuff.
Acquaintances are people in your life that you know by name or face, but that’s it. You’ve hung out maybe once or twice at a social gathering via a mutual friend, but never moved past “what do you do for work?”
Radar are people in your life that you’ve met in passing. You were grabbing coffee with a friend, they saw someone they know and introduced you real quick, but then everyone moved on with the rest of their day.
After you fill in your circles, I want you to take note of your innermost circle, the core circle, and answer the following questions:
How many people are in that circle?
How many MEN are in that circle?
How many of those MEN are within a 30-minute drive of your current home?
If you’re anything like me, your core circle will have your wife, immediate family, and a few men from your past that live hours away from you, but be relatively devoid of men in your immediate vicinity…
A phrase I heard recently really hit home for me which is that men have a tendency to build and burn.
So, while you built up certain areas of your life (i.e. career, wife, family, etc) you burned down others (i.e. health or deep connection with other men).
And now you feel more lonely than ever despite living in a hyper “connected” world.
If that’s you, I recommend placing “filling your core with men in your immediate vicinity” as a top priority moving forward.
The 6-60-6 Ritual
The simple cure to loneliness is ritual - rituals that bring us together with people we love.
A ritual is an action or set of actions done regularly.
I’ve found that at this stage in my life if I’m not incredibly intentional about developing and fostering deep connections with other men, it simply won’t happen.
I am no longer in a season of life where myself and a group of other guys are forced to be around each other all the time working through difficult things together (school and sports).
That’s the reason for the 6-60-6 ritual.
It helps me stay on top of the different relationships and connections in my life without the dropping ball or getting burned out.
Here’s how it works:
Create 3 columns
At the top of column 1 write 6 days
At the top of column 2 write 60 days
At the top of column 3 write 6 months
Fill in the names of the people in your life accordingly
Who are the people in your life that you need to connect with at least every 6 days? For me, this includes my wife, immediate family, and any men that I want in my core.
Who are the people in your life that you need to connect with at least every 60 days? This can be friends, important relationships at work, extended family, etc.
Who are the people in your life that you need to connect with at least every 6 months? This may be old childhood friends that live halfway across the country but you want to keep a tab on how they are doing.
Once you have the names written out, you can input it all into a spreadsheet or a tool like Notion.
Then once per week you can look at your lists, and take action to contact anyone that needs it.
If this seems like work, it’s because it is.
Deep relationships as an adult don’t just happen.
They have to be thoughtfully and intentionally created.
But I’ll take that over being lonely any day of the week.
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Add to that all the stigma and negative chatter around being a “man” today, and it gets even more difficult.
Because I am not the writer and it takes no effort from me, I would say you need to take this one step further and detail how you actually build your core and your 6M. This article resonates with me, as well as likely most 25-35 year old men who aren’t meeting others through couples/kids. I think it is particularly a large problem for men who want to do something other than spend the weekend at the bar. Finding a drinking buddy is easy. Finding someone to hit the gym with and cook some steaks with is not quite as easy. So the real question for me is how do you take the next step here and actually execute on building out your columns? Where do you find men to add to your core? How do you turn acquaintances into close friends? This is the biggest challenge
Not sure how Ryan Lowe got changed to Jason Henry...but I’ll need to fix that