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Dealing with the loneliness epidemic in young men: Where and how to make friends

Loneliness is an epidemic affecting many people and their mental health, but research has found that young men are often the ones particularly feeling lonely.

As with many of the negative attributes to toxic masculinity, most men might not feel comfortable admitting they are lonely, but they needn’t feel alone. According to recent research, eight million men feel lonely at least once a week but one in ten will never admit to it.

It seems to be a taboo that no-one feels comfortable talking about. But how do you even broach the subject of wanting to make friends, without wanting the ground to swallow you up? Feeling like you’ve got no mates or no-one to chat to can cause low confidence, potentially escalating into a mental health issue.

Rather than suffering in silence, Matt Wigginton, Challenge Ambassador at wellbeing charity Ben, has compiled eight top tips on where, and how, guys can widen their social circle and make lasting friendship – from fitness apps to finding kooky new hobbies.

Be a ‘yes’ man

Know of a party going on? Perhaps you’ve been invited to a school reunion on Facebook? Go for it. You may feel out of your comfort zone, but it adds excitement to your life and gives you opportunities to meet people that sitting at home won’t.

Let’s get clubbing

Follow and explore your interests to find a new hobby. MeetUp is a great starting point for finding cool, local clubs.

Adrenaline junkie? Try kitesurfing. Fancy yourself as a photovideo explorer? There’s a club for that too. Looking to get fit? CrossFit Local’s a popular choice. Challenge yourself to learn a new skill or do what you enjoy – like drinking beer or eating chocolate.

Recent research found that found eight in ten people are self-proclaimed creatures of habit and this could be the reason why we’re often stuck in a rut. Expanding on those interests could be one way of breaking out of the routine and making new friends in the process, too.

Join the social revolution

Apps can not only help you stay on track with your goals but also help you find like-minded individuals.

Into your fitness? Why not download Strava – a run and cycling tracking social network where you can meet like-minded fitness fans. Reaching out may result in a regular exercise buddy (and extra motivation too!).

Take on a challenge

Unleash your competitive streak and meet people in the process – take a leap of faith by registering via a charity, like Bring It On 4 Ben.

Who knows? You could soon be swimming the Serpentine or cycling Coast to Coast for a worthy cause supporting others in need.

Paws up

Animals make great companions if you’re feeling lonely, but they also offer the opportunity to meet more people.

Find a dog walk meet-up group near you. Don’t own a pet? Why not sign up for BorrowMyDoggy or walk a dog for charity? And it could boost your love life, too. Research has even shown that 35% of women and 26% of men are more attracted to someone with a pet – win-win.

Get out there

Immersing yourself in your favourite band’s music at a gig, or listening to a fascinating talk, can both be enjoyed alone and introduce you
to people with similar tastes. EventBrite and Nearify are valuable sources of inspiration for events in your area.

Get networking

Networking needn’t be ‘talking shop’ but an opportunity to meet people passionate about the business they’re in.

Find networking events in your region, or reach out to someone who inspires you on Twitter or LinkedIn for a coffee.

Need a volunteer?

If you fancy something a little less extreme than a challenge event, there are so many great charities seeking volunteers.

It’s a chance to meet inspirational people and embed yourself in the local community. Do-it.org lists local opportunities across a range of sectors.

Ben is an independent charity and dedicated partner to the automotive industry, providing support for life for automotive people and their family dependents.

Ben provides a free, confidential helpline and support service, working with individuals to help them navigate through the toughest of challenges, empowering them to make positive, lasting change and help to boost their confidence.

Written by QWEERIST editor

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