Ahh, the bromance. Isn’t it beautiful when two men love each other? In a completely non-sexual way in the case of a bromance. To get find your bromance, you’ll need to do some male bonding first.
Male bonding is important and necessary to make good friends. Everyone needs at least one good friend in their life. Why do you need friends? How can you promote male bonding so you can make better friends? That’s what we’re here to find out.
A caveman skill?
You might wonder why I’ve listed it under caveman skills instead of gentleman’s guides. It’s simple really. It’s something that should be obvious and was obvious for our ancestors. Male bonding is a necessity for men and it should be treated as such.
Sadly our modern culture and society has shifted focus away from the importance of male friendships. So where in previous times male bonding would be a given; now it has turned into more of a skill for some people. While some people are better at it than others, it luckily is something you can learn. So let’s see why and how you should put some effort into your friends.
Many traditional cultures had some kind of coming of age ritual. This was gendered most of the time. This shows that our ancestors put much more emphasis on becoming a man. It also made you part of their group, which included male bonds.
Why you need male friends
Everyone knows they need friends. How many friends and how often you want to see them depends on the person. But that you need SOME human contact is pretty obvious.
But there are actually some good reasons why you as a man need some MALE friends specifically. Here are the three biggest:
First off, you’ll have fun with male friends. Men in general have a different type of humor than women. While you can certainly have fun with women, it’s just different with men.
Men’s fun tends to be more practical and aggressive. Where men might have fun just ripping into each other without feelings getting hurt (too much), women will never have fun like that. If they do, it might end up in a real fight where men usually just open another beer.
2. It helps you be more masculine
That is if your friends are masculine. Just being friends with women isn’t going to make you any more masculine. From the outside it might look like men are being needlessly hurtful towards each other sometimes. This serves a purpose though. Like you can’t sharpen a knife with jelly, it’s hard to develop your masculinity without other masculine forces around you.
3. Mental health
That sounds serious, and it is. There are mental benefits to having good male friends. They can provide support during difficult times, and be there to share the good times with. They can boost your self-confidence, and sense of belonging.
Loneliness is something that is certainly negative for your mental health.
4. Physical health
There might even be some benefits for physical health. Probably not as directly as the other two points but it’ll still help.
Having male friends can help through several mechanisms.
- The first way having a bromance can benefit your physical health is as a result of your mental health. Your mind and body are connected. As your mental health increases, so will your physical health. Of course there are mental and physical conditions that are not simply solved by being a happier person. A good mindset does help however.
- If you’re mentally feeling better, you’re more likely to be active, take care of yourself, eat healthier, etc. These are all things that help your physical health.
- When you have some good friends, you’re more likely to do things with them. Many men like physical activities as a bonding activity. Playing sports, going to the gym, hunting, hiking, etc. are all great male bonding activities that are helping your physical health.
Studies have shown that people with more social connection have lower risks of many health problems. Some of these include; depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). It’s also been shown that people with bigger social networks live longer.
Why is it difficult to bond with men for some people?
OK, you get it. Having male friends is good for you on many levels. But why are you or someone you know having so many issues with making connections with people? As I see it, there are a few reasons for this.
1. Wrong people
The most obvious reason why people fail to connect is that they have the wrong people around them. People with which they have nothing in common and don’t like to do the same things. This makes it difficult to connect and bond.
While this can be a valid cause, you have to be careful with this. Maybe you don’t have anything in common because you never put in the effort to find out. You might assume you have nothing in common with someone and therefore not even try. In the case you really can’t find anyone you can connect with, it’s much more likely to be one of the next causes.
2. Socially awkward
The next common reason for having trouble connecting with people is being socially awkward. Many people can be a little weird, it’s usually not a big problem. But being completely socially incapable is hard to overcome. If you’ve noticed this might be you, don’t worry, you can improve. It takes a conscious effort however. You’ve gotten this far being socially awkward, it’s probably not going to change by itself now.
Technology is one of the possible causes for social awkwardness. You learn most of your social skills from interacting with other human beings. Technology provides a buffer for human interaction. Having that buffer through the period of your life where you develop a lot of social skills (and friendships), can be damaging. Making up for this lack of development is very difficult. Meeting people in real life is important.
Our society doesn’t place any value on male friendships. There is no awareness that it’s good for men to have male friends. Masculinity in general is completely disregarded as useful by most mainstream media and entertainment.
This makes men believe that it’s not worthwhile to put effort into male bonding or even that it’s “bad”.
Society is also less accepting of the activities that promote male bonding. Male spaces are less and less “male”.
Moving in a space that’s completely masculine vs. one that is not is a big difference. While it’s not necessarily bad to have spaces that aren’t completely male, having none is certainly not a good thing.
Having no completely male spaces means that there is no opportunity to connect in a way that comes natural to many men. Therefore it prevents men from turning acquaintances into friends. The circumstances just don’t support it.
Looking for some help creating a male space? Check out the man caves section on this site.
5. Communication styles
Men and women have different communications styles. Think of the classic: “it’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.”
Men say what they say and read much less into the covert communication. Men also tend to behave differently if they are around other men. This difference in behavior might be seen as part of “toxic masculinity” etc. but actually some of these behaviors serve a purpose.
By those typical male behaviors, men are testing each other, seeing what they’re worth. Think about what it must have been like in a typical hunter gatherer society. Would you want to go hunt a dangerous animal with a man that crumbles under any pressure? Who runs away from the first signs of conflict or struggle? No, such a person could get you killed under some circumstances.
That’s why men have to bond in a certain way. The behaviors during bonding activities, communicate something completely different to men than to women. This isn’t conscious for the most part but knowing this, you should see the importance of men being able to be men if only for the sake of making good friends.
6. Being a ****
Insert your favorite derogatory term. Some people are just not nice people. Nobody wants to be around them. Remember the saying: If you look around and all you see is A-holes, YOU might be the A-hole.
If nobody wants to hang out with you, there is a tiny possibility all those other people suck. There is a much larger probability that YOU are the person that sucks. Nobody wants to hang out with you because you act and treat them in a way that makes them want to get away from you.
What are some traits people don’t want to be around? Here are a few:
- Always putting people down
- Only talking about yourself
- Taking credit for things you didn’t do
- Being too self deprecating
Realizing you might exhibit one or more of these traits isn’t easy. If you want to make some good friends, it’s worth it to work on reducing them.
How to bond?
What can you do to create bonds with other males?
Male bonding activities
Men bond most easily through doing things together. Some activities work better than others. What are some good male bonding activities?
There are a ton of them. Many of them are “traditionally masculine”. Sports, hunting, working on a DIY project, etc. There are too many to list so it’s easier to list some characteristics that make for good bonding activities.
- Working together
- Overcoming obstacles
An activity that consists of just one of those will work but, the combination of those characteristics is best. Team sports are great since you’re both working together as a team and trying to overcome the other team. Physical activity seems to work better than completely inactive activities.
Many men just have a beer with their mates. While this is good fun, it doesn’t create the strongest connections without any other activity. If you have a beer after you finished playing a football match (or something else), great. In that case it’ll only make bonding easier.
Some examples of male bonding activities;
- Team sports
- DIY projects
- Making music
Why do these activities work?
There is a reason why activities with these characteristics work. It mainly comes back to the differences in communication I’ve talked about above. Men want to test each other before they can become good friends.
The testing is necessary to see what someone can do and if he can be trusted in certain situations. That’s exactly why male bonding activities with the three characteristics listed above work. While having fun, you’re testing yourself but also the other person. Once you see you can trust someone physically and mentally, you’ve opened the way for stronger bonds.
While you might think that the reasons for why these activities work are outdated, that’s not the case. Sure, hunting together is much less essential for survival than it was in hunter gatherer times but, our biology doesn’t change that fast.
There are also things like trust and hierarchy that are figured out during these activities.
At least in the beginning there is a transactional element to friendships. While not absolutely necessary for bonding, it certainly helps a lot. Who wants to be friends with someone when that has absolutely no value to his life? Once a strong bond has been formed, it might be a little different and you’re willing to accept more from/for someone.
When you display that you can mean something for the other person and the other person for you, you can become friends. The value can be anything. From just fun to mutual benefit in other ways.
Male bonding activities have a way of showing what kind of benefit you can provide each other. This might sound cold and calculating but, most of this is unconscious. It’s a survival mechanism. Having bad friends can get you killed. Good friends can help you out massively in life.
Once a friendship has developed it becomes less transactional. Or at least it should be.
Where to find people to bond with?
Now you know how to bond, where do you find people to bond with? First off, you probably already know some people. Maybe old friends or people that are just acquaintances.
Find some activity that’s good for bonding and you like. Do you know anyone that might be interested in doing that as well? Invite them.
Alternatively you can find an activity and find a group of people that also like doing this. For almost every activity there will be some kind of club or group of people that comes together for this purpose. See if you can join them.
Interested in more masculine ideas? Check out one of these posts: