The Lower Brain: What Is This ‘Outside World’ Again?

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As a man about to turn 40 who works from home and has lost any sense of social life outside of Twitter (which has its benefits/drawbacks), what do you recommend as far as literally asking friends on “dates?” It’s rough starting over in a fairly conservative town and full dad responsibilities.

Thanks,

Lonely Dude Who Needs Guy Friends, Dammit

social life

Friends drinking wine together. Photo: John Fedele (Getty)

Dear LDWNGFD:

Making friends as an adult can be nuts, can’t it? Really tough stuff. Especially, I’d guess, as a man. It seems to me that a lot of my guy friends either have retained friends they’ve known since at least adolescence, or acquire pals through work, or found couple friends through a wife or girlfriend, but that’s about it. Now, granted, I may have a rather narrow view of this. But it’s not like our society actively encourages men to get to know one another and bond over anything other than sports, so I can see why it’s tough. Meanwhile, as a gal, I often end up in very in-depth conversations with women I meet in line for the restroom.

If I were a guy, I think I’d envy the ease with which some women can make friends. Obviously, it takes time, love, and tenderness to build real trust in a friendship. But as far as finding a casual pal? It’s socially sanctioned for women to become buds easily. Not so for dudes, especially ones in your situation who presumably don’t have a ton of time to take classes in painting or woodworking or meditation or mixed martial arts.

However, there are ways for a work-from-home, busy dad and husband to get to know other folks. Here are just a few.

Do you love movies? Is there a Facebook group for folks in your area who also love movies? If not, can you start one and spread the word? How about a book club? How about a cooking club?

Are you religious in any way, shape or form? Join a faith community that doesn’t freak you out. I’m not saying you need to love it. But you may find some social opportunities with people you enjoy. If you’re agnostic or atheist, you may still want to seek out a Unitarian church, which tends to attract people from a variety of belief and unbelief systems. If it’s just for social engagement, you can probably stand to go a few times before throwing in the towel.

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If you’re in recovery, seek out new meetings in and around your area. It’ll help you stay healthy in your new environment and may introduce you to people you otherwise wouldn’t encounter.

Are you into sports? Does the local gym or community center have a basketball league, a softball or baseball league, a hockey league, or anything like that?

Do you like tabletop gaming? Are there tabletop gaming places near you? Into comics? Where’s the nearest annual comic con? Do they need help organizing and preparing throughout the year?

Check out MeetUp.com and find gatherings for folks of many interests. You don’t seem to be into the conservative side of politics, so try looking up a political group or nonprofit that allies with your values. For example, you probably care about concepts like diversity and exotic creatures like women and children. Lean into that, please.

I really applaud you for actively looking to meet others. I think anybody in a long-term relationship can start to feel exhausted, resentful, scared, or lonely if they’ve not got outside outlets and pals. It’s healthy for both partners, and for your kids, too. I’m a grown-up but I always appreciated that my dad had golf buddies and my mom had friends she’d meet for tea or shopping or trips to see musicals in New York City. My mom also loved live music and she loved to go fishing.

As my dad has gotten older, he’s gotten into poker with a group of buddies from the neighborhood, and that in turn has led to weekend trips and other fun stuff. It’s been cool to see him become even more social in his fifties and sixties. My late grandfather was a busy working father of four, but as the kids got older he got more involved with the Rotary, the local YMCA, and the Catholic Church. He was a liberal guy, very pro-veteran and anti-war, pro-choice and pro-gay marriage by the end of his life. He was an early advocate for priests to get married and for the ordination of women. I’m sure there were fellow vets in the 15th Air Force, 461st Bomb Group, 766 Bomb Squadron who didn’t share his views, and certainly people in their small town who didn’t like that the high school principal wore a peace button during the Vietnam War. But a lot of people respected him and worked with him precisely because he was community-minded and worked hard.

Anyway, I’m excited for you. Congratulations on the opportunity to start some new good friendships! If you even meet one awesome person who becomes your true friend, that’s wonderful. As I’ve gotten older, I have fewer friends, but truer friends. I wish good true friendship for you.


If you have a question and need some advice, email Sara at [email protected]