Men: How To Make Meaningful Guy Friends (+ Action Steps)

One of the cornerstones of the human experience is friendships. 

Friendship has a significant impact on our mental health and happiness. If you are lacking friendship, it can feel like a deep soul-hunger. 

In this article, I will be sharing tips on finding and strengthening male friendships in your life. 

Why Is Male Friendship Important?

Men gain a lot of support through friendship from other men, and it creates a unique space for a man to be vulnerable in a way he might find hard around family members or women. A man’s community of male friends is also a good indication of mental health and happiness.

three guy friends hanging out in a coffee shop laughing.

Men gain so much through male friendship.

And they put their life at risk when they are isolated. 

A study by Judith Shulevitz on The Lethality of Loneliness said,

“Emotional isolation is ranked as high a risk factor for mortality as smoking. A partial list of the physical diseases thought to be caused or exacerbated by loneliness would include Alzheimer’s, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and even cancer—tumors can metastasize faster in lonely people.” – Judith Shulevitz

Another study found that a lack of friends increased the risk for depression, suicide, dropping out of school, and substance abuse.

There is also something unique that happens when men have a space with just other men. 

On a subconscious level, men are always trying to impress women. There is a subtle competition for attention, but they can put their guard down when men are around other men.

I have been a part of a wide range of men’s groups over the last decade and have seen how powerful male friendship can be. I have seen men go through an amazing transformation just by the depth and presence of other male friends. 

Male Friendship is in Decline

Male friendship is essential, but it’s also in decline. 

A survey by The Survey Center on America Life found that 5x the number of men today feel they have no close friends compared to 1990. There has been a dramatic decrease in friendship in men.

Statistics of the decline of male friendships in the United States from 2019-2021

Women are also experiencing this decline in friendship, but it’s been even more devastating for men. 

A significant factor in this epidemic of loneliness has been social media, people moving for work, and the American family being separated. Our culture has been getting more isolated online, making people feel lonely. 

The need for friendship hasn’t declined, just how much people are connecting has, and this has left a big gap.

The good news is that if you are looking for more male friends, many other men are looking for the same thing. Every week, I have men reaching out to me on the HeroRise Instagram, commenting about looking for brotherhood.

In the rest of this article, I will be sharing ways you can start building your network of Male friends.

7 Ways To Make More Guy Friends:

Over the last 2 decades, I have been involved in men’s groups, volunteer organizations, and retreats. I have worked with men and seen what has helped them build a community around them. Here is a list of ways you can make more guy friends. 

1. Join a men’s group or organization

The fastest way to surround yourself with high-quality men is to join a Men’s Group. The type of person drawn to a group seeking self-development, authenticity, and positive action. If those qualities you want to surround yourself with, consider joining a men’s group. 

There are a lot of organizations out there, so ask your local network if there is one meeting in person in your area. 

Another great network is the ManKind Project. It’s a Nonprofit organization that started in 1985 and has local chapters worldwide. They have online calls as well as in-person meetups and retreats. If you are new to Men’s work, I highly suggest this group. 

2. Volunteer

Another great way to meet people is through volunteer work. Lots of community building happens during volunteering.

There were a few pivotal moments in my life when I felt lonely and depressed and joined a volunteer group, and that led me to friendships that have changed my life and were crucial moments in my self-development. 

Places you can volunteer at:

  • Local Library
  • Local food bank/soup kitchen
  • Check with local community centers or unitarian organization
  • Animal Shelters and adoption centers

A quick google search for your area + volunteer will give you lots of options. 

3. Be more vulnerable

Another key to making more friends is being vulnerable. 

If you are always playing the tough guy, or have your cards close to your chest, then people won’t feel you are open to friendship, and they will get the impression that you’re a lone wolf.

Try opening up to the people around you. This will help others trust you and open up to you in return. This will help you connect to the men around you and form new friendships. 

4. Sports Leagues

The older I get, the more conscious I am of my time and physical health. It’s a lot easier for me to set aside time to socialize if I am also exercising. This is why group sports is an amazing place to meet others. 

Also, when you are on a team together, it creates an instant bond. 

You can look into your local volleyball, basketball, soccer, or baseball league near you. I’ve done ultimate Frisby, which is one of my favorite group sports. 

5. Join a Book Club

Book clubs are a great place to meet people and start engaging conversations. There are a host of book clubs at your local library and community centers. 

I have also seen a few men’s groups start as book clubs of a few acquaintances. Over time the group grew into a solid community. 

book about shadow work opened up with pages showing.

Check out this list of Best Books on Masculinity

If you are interested in an online book club, I sometimes host a book club via the HeroRise community. Join the email list below to get on my newsletter, and I will let you know of the next one. 

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6. Increase your Masculine Confidence

You probably already have men you run into in your daily life, but you might not feel like you can reach out. Often, this comes from a lack of confidence or feelings of not being worthy of friendship. 

If you are serious about building community with other men, you might have to face what would hold you back from having male friendships.

I often talk to men that want brotherhood, yet when I press to know more, they talk about how they never follow through with reaching out to other men. Underneath that is a fear of rejection or that the man isn’t worthy of friendship. 

Try to take a moment today and ponder this question. If some part of you is afraid of connecting with other men, try to unravel this shadow aspect.

Start by journaling about your experience of having and building male friendships. 

You can also reach out to other men in your community to talk about it. Being vulnerable about this process will help you connect with others.

Read More: Increase your Masculine Energy

7. Get off social media

The last thing on this list is about getting off of social media.

Sorry to break it to you, but Instagram isn’t real, and social media is all smoke and mirrors. 

A lot of us are lonely and turn to social media to feel “connected.” (I have definitely done this) The problem is those “connections” are superficial and fleeting. It’s like binging on a bunch of candy when what you want is a hearty meal.

You will not find the community you want by scrolling social media. 

If you are lonely, consciously cut down on online time. Being alone in the park and sitting with the sunset will feed your soul on a deeper level. 

Then try and use that free time to go out on adventures. Spending that time volunteering or joining a men’s group will get you closer to your goal of connecting with other quality men.

Strengthen your Male Friendships

Friendship is more than just spending time together, and it’s about how you spend that time.

Meaningful Friendship = Quality of time

I really like this quote by Kahlil Gibran from his book The Prophet:

For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship, let there be laughter and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things, the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.
My favorite part is that friendship isn’t about “killing it” but about living it. 
– Kahlil Gibran

A good friendship is about mutual aid, being there for each other, and building memories.

When building male friendships, you can do a few activities to strengthen the bonds of friendship.

1. Bonding activities

We “bond” together when we share experiences.

I find men especially need an activity to bound around. Many women I know enjoy sharing a space to talk, while many men I know like doing something together. It’s in the small downtime during the activity that men usually bond.

There is that classic cliche of men bonding while building something together… and you know what… it’s so true. 

If your friend is working on a project around the house, try to chip in. Maybe build a shed together or do some crazy landscaping. 

Other bonding experiences can be going camping together or other adventures. 

Bonding Activities:

  • Build something physical together
  • Go backpacking or camping
  • Hunt / fish
  • Homebrew some bear
  • Chess or boardgames
  • Archery
  • Working Out
  • Climbing

2. Listen More

The quality of time you have with your male friends is essential. 

You could fill the day with chatter and empty words, but once you leave, it will feel like a waste of time.

Friendship is about supporting each other and feeling seen by one another. You can create that through deep listening. When you spend time with your friend, try to listen to what they say without interrupting. Invite them with questions that go deeper and let them feel like you are really hearing them. 

3. Be Vulnerable

Ok… I know I talked about this earlier in the article, but it’s that important. 

The other side of Listening is being vulnerable. 

It can feel strange if one friend opens up about their hardships and the other one answers back, “yeah, my life is ok. It’s all good.” A superficial answer like that can be hurtful to a friendship.

When spending time with your male friends, try to be open about your emotional experience. Talk about your mental health, relationships, and struggles at work. This might also open them up and invite your friends to share on a deeper level. 

If you’re new to this, it can be a practice. You’ll get better at it over time. True friends will have patients with your process. 

This quote from Lisa Wade says this well:

To be close friends, men need to be willing to confess their insecurities, be kind to others, have empathy, and sometimes sacrifice their own self-interest. – sociologist Lisa Wade 

4. Growing together

Men are generally more focused on outcomes and “what did I get out of this.” Sometimes that can be bad and overdone… like really… it’s good just to relax, but it can also be a motivating factor in friendship.

Friends that work on themselves together build a deeper bond.

This can look like making a men’s group, discussing books, and sharing in your personal growth. 

This growth could also be more physical, like working on investments or working out together. 

Try to think of activities you can do together that improve your lives. 

5. Consistency and regularity

A key to building a strong community is consistency.

As you go through life, you’ll have maybe a handful of friends who are in it for the long haul. A true testament to their character is how consistent they are throughout that friendship. Jerry Kramer

Consistency is the glue that holds a friendship together, and it can help build trust.

Something special happens when someone in your life knows you so well and sees you through all the ups and downs. 

And as that quote suggested, consistency keeps your friends in your old age. It’s important to set aside time, and friendship can be work in this way… the work of showing up no matter where you are at. 

Here are some things you can do to help build consistency:

  • Share in a meal during the week
  • Work on a hobby or creative project together
  • Plan a trip together

Making guy friends online

I wanted to also share a note about making friends online.

Connecting in person is always the preference, and I feel it’s a lot easier to get deep and vulnerable with someone in real life. But, we don’t always have that luxury.

During the Pandemic lockdown, I was fortunate to have my men’s group online. It took some adjusting, but it helped us keep our consistency over the years. 

There are also instances where I am traveling or living out in a remote area. Having connections online was really helpful. Especially when I was in a small town and didn’t feel like anyone “got me.”

I would suggest joining ManKind Project or The Unshakable Man. They have regular calls and are a great way to build a community of quality men in your life. 

zoom call

I have made connections through those men’s groups that have really helped me during hard moments in my life. Rally grateful for the technology that made that possible.

In Conclusion:

Male friendships are really important. They can help you connect to your masculinity, be a guide during hard times, and help you become a better person.

I am so grateful for the men that have been in my life. They have acted as pillars in an otherwise chaotic world, and their consol has helped support me through hard breakups, death, and hurtful transitions. 

I also remember the time when I didn’t have those friends. 

It took me years of putting myself out there before I got a solid friend group. I made a bunch of friends over a few years, and very few stuck. Now I need to keep those relationships alive by being consistent and building memories together. 

What is most important to remember is that you are not alone.

If you seek more friends, it will take work… but there are others out there looking for the same. 

Reach out to your community, take chances, and try the activities I shared in this article. Over time you will find the community you are looking for. 

If you are exploring your Masculinity and want to learn more, check out these articles:

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Isaac Cotec
Creator of HeroRise, Isaac Cotec has dedicated his life to empowering others through art and creativity. He is a scholar of the subconscious and has studied the power of symbolism to help create enduring change.