We Need to Hang Out…..

I was listening to one of the latest podcasts from “The Art of Manliness” website, one of the sites I link to which covers frugality and purchasing decisions as part of its writing.

The podcast was titled “One Man’s Impossible Quest — To Make Friends in Adulthood.” It covers a new book out by the author Billy Baker titled We Need to Hang Out: A Memoir of Making Friends. The author covered how he found himself in his 40s with few if any male friends that weren’t the spouses of his wife’s friends. Over the 20+ years of adulthood, he gradually drifted away and lost contact with friends, and failed to make new ones.

Billy then covers how he started a project “which experimented with different ways to recover and create connections, by rekindling his old friendships, but why that ultimately didn’t scratch the friendship itch for him.” He discusses the “men’s shed” movement in Australia and its philosophy that men need “somewhere to go, something to do, and someone to talk to.”

The podcast really struck me, and I’ve been experiencing these feelings of loneliness for some time, well before Covid came and crashed into everyone. A close friend of mine that I had been active with for 15+ adult years (since moving to New Jersey) moved away eight years ago due to work, and I was surprised how much if affected me. I started realizing how few real friends I had.

So I’ve started my own experiment, trying to reach out and contact folks from the past, while also looking at what I can do to increase the number for new friends once Covid clears up.

Step 1: Take a look at my existing friends, and my relationship with them:

  • Still in contact with my best friend from High School. Talk with him every three months, on average
  • One local friend. Talk with him monthly right now, due to Covid (he has health issues which preclude contact)
  • One long distance friend (the one I spoke of above, who left 8 years ago). Contact maybe every six months.
  • Three activity groups/clubs with “acquaintances” rather than friends (Engineering Professional Society, Woodworking, Backpacking)

Step 2: Determine steps with existing friends

  • Plan on contacting friends more frequently (monthly or more)
  • Once Covid is over, look to see if I can create closer friendships with some of the members in the activity groups/clubs

Step 3: Try to revitalize old friendships

  • Try and reach out to old friends back in School (High School, College)
  • Try and reach out to old friends when we were in Germany and the early 90s
  • Once contacted, keep in regular rotation that I communicate with them

Results so far:

  • Step 2: Definitely bumped up the frequency of these. Contacting them this last week and will reach out every 2 weeks. Still trying to work on plan for activity groups, once Covid ends
  • Step 3: Some success. Was able to contact one person from High School and two from Germany, and had short conversation with each (actually had phone call with one of the Germany friends). Also created list of folks to contact and move forward with

Interesting experiment. It brings both good feelings (getting back in contact) and sad feelings (having missed out on so much of a friends life).

I’ll let you guys know how its going as the months move forward.

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Mr. 39 months

2 thoughts on “We Need to Hang Out…..”

  1. Most of my friends are via hobbies and volunteering and my consulting work. I play tennis with one guy three times a week and ocassionally many others especially through team tennis. All that continued unabated through covid. I have one fishing buddy I see regularly and we fish together sometimes but also send each other photos of our latest catches. Consulting put me in contact with dozens of people, some of whom I’m pretty close to after years of affilitation. Church also is an avenue for several friendships. We have off road buddies in several states we get together to ride with. We run in a jogging group three times a week so those guys and gals are good friends that we also see socially. There is a totally different group of pickleball players we recreate with. I serve on a college board and a charity foundation board and all of the board members of both are friends. I am still connected to my university engineering department and get together a couple of times a year with other alums and to mentor students. And of course my wife is my best friend. We run, fish, hike, off road, tennis, pickle ball and travel together. We also keep in touch with our grown kids. Next week we’ll go on a 16 hour one way drive to camp with our son and then a few more hours to camp with a daughter and her husband. If we are lucky we’ll stop by for brunch with our other daughter on the way. Our neighborhood is a lot of long time residents and we are friends with several of them and talk daily with neighbors as they pass by our house on walks or when we catch them working outside. We cook extra and take a plate over to our next door neighbor frequently and she rewards us in return with cake, brownies and cookies. I didn’t realize how many friends we had until I started listing them! But you can always use more and I think being intentional about it has to help. It will be interesting to see how that works for you.

    1. Thanks, I think the issue was that my wife and I aren’t that sociable, and don’t know our neighbors very well. It looks like you’ve got a wide variety of interests and friends. I’ve also heard that Pickleball is a “force of nature” amongst retirees (more than golf). Glad to see you are in such good shape.

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