‘Man up’. It’s something that all men are told to do at one point or another. There’s pressure from friends and family to keep our heads down and get on with it. This is all well and good, but sometimes we just need to talk it out instead. Ironically, this is not something that we find easy to discuss.
Men can struggle to talk to one another about their emotions because they fear it will bring down the mood and let’s face it, we’ve all had that chat down the pub that seems to last forever. However, that doesn’t make it any less important to be a part of it. The idea of looking weak to a friend or a family member is very uncomfortable and if you care about the men in your life, you need to make it easier for them to talk through their problems.
Being supportive doesn’t mean that you have to put an arm around your friend and throw them a ‘you’re going to be ok’ party, it simply means you have to listen. We need to let the men in our lives know that we’re there when they need us to hear them out - without the jokes. There are too many men out there who call themselves good friends but will put a stop to any serious talk with a witty comment or two. If you take a second to think about it, we’ve all wanted to have a serious moment before a friend has stopped us in our tracks - and most likely, vice versa too.
It’s all well and good to have a joke but when it stops people from talking, is it funny? It can be particularly difficult to determine where the line is. Nobody wants to be constantly anticipating a heart-to-heart with a friend, but nobody wants to silence them either. Our advice is to listen for the odd-ones-out: if your friend brings up a line of conversation that is unusual, they clearly have something to say. When these moments happen, it’s good to make sure that they know you can listen and it is important that you are trusted with their emotions.
All of us go through problems; whether they be issues at work, problems with our image, health concerns or relationship issues; and it’s important to remember that our friends are no different. Anybody that allows these kinds of problems to build up, will eventually burst. It might be awkward to talk with a friend about these personal issues, but if you think about certain statistics to do with men's mental health, you’ll know that we need to do more of it. We need to understand that part of being men is being there for our friends and knowing that our friends are there for us in return. The sooner we start listening to each others issues, the sooner we can all get back to having a laugh again.