Learning to Connect With My Male Friends

I was 20 years old when I came to know that my parents were separating.

Two and a half years later, I have no strong feelings against them and they both have loving relationships. But, immediately after their split, I was a mess.

I cried in my car. I cried in my bed. I cried at the grocery store picking up cold meat.

Despite my very public exposure to the crisis, I tried my best to retain an outsider when I knew the people around me. I did not tell my close male friend and former college roommate, Tim, about my parents’ separation for weeks. Instead, I put restrictions about the latest sports news as if nothing had happened.

I have always considered my sensitivity one of my greatest weaknesses.

In my high school Outside Vancouver, British Columbia, boys with sharp jokes, often about other boys, were the most popular. I was someone who was at the periphery of the social circle, wanted to be a part of the group, but was desperate not to attract attention that would make me a subject of ridicule.

I started counseling for anxiety and depression in the 11th grade. My therapy sessions were directly after school, so she regularly walked from her home with her two male friends.

Instead of stating that I was seeking help, I came up with excuses – a doctor or dentist appointment – to explain why I could not join them. Eventually, I got into the habit of saying that I had “made an appointment”.

Years later, when I learned of my parents’ separation, I struggled to confide in my roommate.

Why was this so? Why, even after counseling, was I still so afraid of other men my age?

Although research has shown that Maintaining friendship by age Leads to a healthy life, men often struggle To have personal conversations and to keep friends.

In a 2020 study of over 46,000 participants from 237 countries and regions, led by researchers from the United Kingdom, Youth living in “individualist” societiesCultures, which place more value on self-determination rather than collective-minded people such as the United States or United Kingdom, were more likely to report loneliness than older people or women.

In 2015, the Director of Psychiatry Programs at the University of British Columbia, Drs. John Ogrodnikzuk launches an online program Headsuguyes Which helps men manage depression. To understand why men have trouble receiving mental health support, the organization developed an online Survey Identifying stressors that can contribute to depression.

Even before the Kovid-19 epidemic, loneliness was consistently ranked at the top of its survey for stress on men. Dr. According to Agrodnikzuk, the epidemic only leads to a feeling of isolation for men.

Why can it be? Men should be lonely than women – both in Normal time And during the epidemic? After speaking with experts in the field of psychology, he reiterated that this may have to do with the hesitation of being sensitive, which can come at the expense of intimacy in relationships.

Capturing my emotions contributed to the demise of my first (and only) romantic relationship. After entering university, I was self-conscious about having a party, because I never attended parties in high school. I was also nervous about living on my own and I was insecure about studying creative writing, a field that seemed impractical compared to the science and math degrees that most of my friends were pursuing.

Instead of telling my ex-girlfriend about those concerns, I constantly tried to help her cope until she broke up.

Nobe Way, a professor of developmental psychology at New York University, believes boys are conditioned to view emotional weakness as weakness. As they grow up, boys are told that men should suppress their emotions. “It’s a tragedy,” Dr. They said in a phone interview.

In 2005, when Drs. As she was struggling with her crumbling marriage, she decided to pretend that everything was right in front of her 5-year-old son, Rafael.

One day after work, when he greeted Rafael with an ear-to-ear grin, he asked, “Mummy, why would you smile when you’re feeling sad?” His question led to Dr. They killed because it demonstrated Rafael’s recognition of both his actual, internal state and his performance, external performance.

Dr. They said, “The boys get emotionally surprised and reconnect in the first decade.”

Unfortunately, Drs. According to Way, when boys are socialized to become men, they learn to avoid disclosing difficult feelings, especially to other men.

In high school, I played basketball with Ben Weisman. We both played in the Varsity team, an arena where I never felt comfortable sharing my concerns for fear of losing my starting spot in the lineup and appeared mentally weak in front of my teammates. I was a year older than Ben and we rarely talked. Years later, I came to know that Ben, like me, was quietly battling depression and social anxiety in high school.

Last year, I saw that he started a GoFundMe and planned to run at least three miles every day in a year to raise money for breast cancer research after his mother was diagnosed in 2019. I met him last summer for the first time since high. Wrote about the school and its race streak, but we did not discuss our shared mental health struggles in adolescence.

In January, Mr. Weizman posted on his Instagram about a frantic episode that ended his running goals and cost him nine days in hospital. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Reading their message, I finally reached out to them to discuss our shared concerns.

“I was afraid of what would happen if I told a friend. Would they like to befriend me now? “He told me in a phone interview a few days after publishing his post.

It wasn’t until he received positive comments and direct messages from strangers Instagram posts He began to feel comfortable discussing his weaknesses with friends – and encouraged other youth to do the same.

“There will always be people in someone’s life who care,” he said. “They might not know. So we have to talk about it. “

Four years after the only romantic relationship in my life ended, I have realized that all relationships require vulnerability to a certain extent.

I remember when I told my roommate about my parents’ separation. One evening, in one breath, I opened up about their parting and my pain. Feeling as if a weight had been lifted from my chest.

As the years passed, believing “real men”, I felt relieved and relieved when he listened and showed sympathy.

It strengthened our relationship. Sharing that intimate detail he played a key role in becoming my closest friend, and why we still talk regularly.

Dr. In my conversation with Way, he stressed that boys – like their sons – have the emotional subtlety to understand how someone is feeling unhappy at an early age.

Those feelings should be nurtured, not by cultural stereotypes and perceptions of masculinity. She says that boys and men have the ability to understand emotions, only waiting for their feelings to be valued.

“It’s not a disappointing story,” Dr. They said.

I agree.


Josh Colledge Victoria is a writer based in British Columbia. He is a senior writer at the University of Victoria who has studied creative writing.


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