Male loneliness is considered rampant today. Why? Because men are taught from a young age to be tough, decisive, strong, and manly. From generation to generation, this has been the case.
In fact, you can browse through men’s magazines and see how men’s products are positioned and displayed. Strong, ripped men; successful men; men being productive or building things; the messaging is clear–these campaigns show just what it takes to be considered a man.
What these ads don’t show, however, is that these messages are causing more harm than good to men. In fact, a study has said one out of three men anywhere in the world is lonely. And a lot of this has something to do with the male or masculine blueprint that they feel like they have to follow.
What many of us don’t know is that these men also have issues and yet, they are afraid of calling out or asking for help because–after all–men are expected to take it all and just toughen up. The problem with this, however, is that the more men become lonely, the higher the depression and even suicide rates are.
So how do we address male loneliness? First, let’s find out why they’re lonely and why it’s hard for them to speak up and seek help:
1. They are afraid of appearing weak. Men are expected to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and just go on with their lives. No complaints and no whining. They are expected to take life by the chin. Otherwise, they will be perceived as weak. They may be even ridiculed for voicing out their feelings or even seeking help.
2. They were taught to not talk about their feelings. It is deeply ingrained in many cultures, even in the Philippines, that real men don’t talk about their feelings. They are afraid of being judged when they tell another person about their feelings. They are also afraid of being ridiculed and not taking seriously. Even those men who have depression may withdraw inside themselves and let their loneliness fester without seeking help or at least an outlet.
3. They actually don’t want to be weak and vulnerable. Men don’t usually go around telling other people about their feelings, much more their loneliness. Even with their closest friends, they don’t divulge this. They may even have many friends, but none that they can go to if they want to confide to someone or talk about their day.
4. They have to be hypermasculine. They have to be masculine, strong, and tough. No crying, no feeling. They have to take everything life throws at them in stride and emerge successful and productive. Doing otherwise would make them feel less than a man. It’s like they’re incomplete if they’re not getting gains or are not achieving in life.
As a result of these things, many men who are lonely or depressed just end up choosing to isolate themselves, withdrawing inward, or even turning to drugs and alcohol or other unhealthy behavior in order to cope.
One of the best ways to approach this problem is for men to understand that male loneliness is part of the human condition. Meanwhile, the ideals surrounding manliness are archaic and unhealthy. Furthermore, turning to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate is a definite no-no.
Do you know anyone who has turned to drugs, alcohol, and other behavioral issues due to male loneliness? Are these activities leading them to problematic behavior and addiction? Talk to us at Bridges of Hope: 09175098826.