/u/bolstrom96 on /r/relationships writes…
“… I [21M] feel like I don’t have any guy friends/bro’s to really connect with. This is something I think every guy needs. I’m not sure if anybody can relate, but I feel extremely under stimulated socially. And lonely. I can’t tell if it’s too late for me to build a strong bond with a few friends. I would kill to have someone that would be my gym buddy, play some lax or basketball, video games, hang out in the city, party, be productive whatever. Someone to talk to.
I had a gf for a few years. She had a lot of female friends and it seemed great how they all connected. After we broke up it made me realize I need a stronger social foundation before I get another gf.
I do technically have two male friends. I enjoy both of their company however the first one is always busy with his gf, bails on me a lot, and honestly isn’t interested in the things I want to do. The other one is great, but lives in another country and isn’t coming back. We also rarely talk.
So I don’t know what to do. I can be a bit introverted. But also talkative. I’ve gone to bars a few times but didn’t have much luck making any friends. I’ve been looking for lacrosse leagues but they are either for men 30+ or are professional. I just feel like I’m striking out.
I would say I’m very likable. I’m nice and quiet. Attractive. Athletic. I love good music and videos games. Traveling. Joe Rogan. Reading. Honestly anything.
I just need someone to bro it out with. It makes me so jealous seeing a group of friends hanging out. I always feel like the odd one out.”
Have you ever gone swimming at a sandy beach? If you ever sit and pay attention to the waves crashing endlessly onto the shore, you’ll realize very quickly that there is pattern and routine to the wildness that is the ocean. It isn’t like the one water molecule determines where the wave comes from. Instead, each molecule is a part of the overall ocean. Waves can be a reaction to that sail boat quarter a mile away cutting the ocean in half.
You are living in one of the most vulnerable times of your life. Early twenties are times when you are finally actualizing all the values that you’ve soaked up in your teenage years. This is the part of your life where you get to put into reality some of ideas of who you thought you have been. And it is also one of those times in life where you can feel the most isolated because of how much you are growing and changing all the time. It sounds like you have some incredibly firm and attractive qualities about you that should feel magnetic to you. And you’re struggling to see why you aren’t finding meaningful connections with other men.
Like waves in water, you might need to think more about what your own intentions are in engaging in these connections with other men. If you are going to these bars and rec clubs with explicit intention of making new friends, then maybe you might not be approaching these with the healthiest of mindsets. If you ever go shopping for groceries while hungry, you are going to end up with way too many snacks than you might have purchased otherwise. Sometimes, a complete lack of intent and merely making a warm conversation with someone at a bookstore can lead to a nice connection with another human being.
I would also like to call into question, why men specifically? Your social foundation does not necessarily need to be based on other men. Fostering some incredible connection with other gender can also be really beneficial for your soul as well. For me personally, I’ve always had better time relating to women at their respective emotional depth. So I gradually accepted that I was just much more adept at building platonic friendships with other women than men. If you approach each of your potential connection with genuine curiosity and honesty while setting proper boundaries to ensure it remains a platonic connection, making quality connections should be really easy.
Your question originally reminded me of the 2009 romance/buddy movie I Love You, Man. Paul Rudd plays a man named Peter Klaven who has always been more of a boyfriend-man. In this movie, he strives to make more quality connections with other men and finds it really difficult to forge new friendships as adults.
It might also be meaningful to consider that sometimes we make our most meaningful connections when we least expect to do so. That does not mean that you shouldn’t approach your life’s structure without at least some intent. You’re doing a great job by going to bars and joining a lacrosse league. All of that is helping you get out of your comfort zone. But instead of going to them with an expressed purpose to make new friends, why not relax and approach all of your engagements with the unexpressed purpose of making a connection, however brief? Some of the most interesting conversations I’ve had happened over a beer with people I will never meet again. Choose to celebrate those connections.
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