Men find it harder to maintain social relationships, but it's crucial for staying healthy in old age.
At a young age, children are taught the importance of making friends and creating long-lasting relationships. With age, social interaction is just as crucial – if not more – as the University of Rochester Medical Center reported that it can curb feelings of loneliness and isolation, lead to lower blood pressure and even reduce the risk of developing certain chronic conditions such as Alzheimer's.
Regardless of gender, maintaining friendships is beneficial to one's health. But a recent New York Times article pointed out that men find it more difficult to make friends than women do, and that could be for a number of reasons.
1. They're unsure about where to start
Marla Paul, author of "The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making, and Keeping Friends When You're Not a Kid Anymore," told the Times that her research found that many men didn't feel there were equal opportunities to make friends.
"They felt that making and keeping friends was a lot harder for men, that close friendships were not part of their culture, she said. "They pointed out that women have all kinds of clubs, that there's more cultural support for friendships among women than there is for men."
However, Facebook is a great way to find old acquaintances and even create new friendships.
2. They rely on their wives for friendship
An Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging conducted by the Centre for Ageing Studies found that friendships actually increase life expectancy by about 22 percent, while family relationships made little to no impact. This is proof that stepping outside of a comfort zone to make new friends makes a difference in overall well-being, rather than relying on the wife to be the only friendship.
3. They're less willing to express their feelings
Men may be less willing to make friendships and maintain them due to emotional reasons, according to what Christopher Beemer, a 75-year-old Brooklyn native shared with the Times after observing his grandchildren during a social interaction.
"Men have a harder time reaching their emotions and are less likely than women to reveal their emotional side," he said. "But when you have a real friendship, it's because you've done just that."
How to make long-lasting friendships
Forming relationships at work is a great opportunity for men to make friends. But that doesn't mean retired men don't have any options. Joining a book group or club that meets on a monthly basis is a great place to get started. After finding a group of people with similar interests, it'll be easier to create strong friendships.
"it's important to expose yourself and be honest about what's going on," Beemer told the Times. "If you reveal yourself in the right way to the right person, it will be just fine. There are risks, you can't force it. ... But more often men will respond in kind."
Men who are willing to open up and sustain relationships over long periods of time can create friendships with the potential to last a lifetime.
Source: Sunrise Senior Living