The Biggest Threat To Middle-Aged Men: Loneliness
Men and friendship. By middle age, many have too little of it. And it’s a threat to men’s health.
As men grow older, they tend to let their friendships lapse. But there’s still time to do something about it.
…The editor told me there was all sorts of evidence out there about how men, as they age, let their close friendships lapse, and that that fact can cause all sorts of problems and have a terrible impact on their health.
…Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general of the United States, has said many times in recent years that the most prevalent health issue in the country is not cancer or heart disease or obesity. It is isolation.
I TURNED 40 IN MAY. I have a wife and two young boys.
..During the week, much of my waking life revolves around work. Or getting ready for work. Or driving to work. Or driving home from work. Or texting my wife to tell her I’m going to be late getting home from work.
Much of everything else revolves around my kids.
…I rarely see those people anywhere outside those environments, because when everything adds up, I have left almost no time for friends. I have structured myself into being a loser.
“YOU SHOULD USE THIS story suggestion as a call to do something about it.”
That’s Dr. Richard S. Schwartz, a Cambridge psychiatrist, and I had reached out to him because he and his wife, Dr. Jacqueline Olds, literally wrote the book on this topic, The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-First Century.
…“Since my wife and I have written about loneliness and social isolation, we see a fair number of people for whom this is a big problem,” Schwartz continues.
But there’s a catch. “Often they don’t come saying they’re lonely. Most people have the experience you had in your editor’s office: Admitting you’re lonely feels very much like admitting you’re a loser. Psychiatry has worked hard to de-stigmatize things like depression, and to a large part it has been successful. People are comfortable saying they’re depressed. But they’re not comfortable saying they’re lonely, because you’re the kid sitting alone in the cafeteria.”
I’m not that kid. I’m gregarious. I have family around me all the time, or I’m around “friends” at work or elsewhere. I comment on their Facebook posts. They comment on mine.
My wife and I also have other couples we like and see often. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that’s good enough — and for many men it is, at least until their spouse gets the friends in the divorce.
…IN FEBRUARY AT A CONFERENCE in Boston, a researcher from Britain’s University of Oxford presented study results that most guys understand intuitively: Men need an activity together to make and keep a bond. Women can maintain friendships over the phone.
…That’s why Schwartz and others say the best way for men to forge and maintain friendships is through built-in regularity — something that is always on the schedule.
March 15, 2017
Billy Baker from The Boston Globe breaks down the biggest threat to middle-aged men, loneliness. They talk about how middle-aged men lose contact with friends as they grow older and the struggles men have at maintaining relationships over phones and how men keep in contact through activities, not face-to-face interaction.
Baker says the simplest thing to do to maintain happiness during your middle-aged years is just having some friends.
(Link): The Rise of Delayed Marriage and Female Friendship – article from The Atlantic
(Link): Why Lonely People Stay Lonely