Several years ago, there was a tweet that went viral which said that of Jesus’ many miracles, perhaps his greatest, was having 12 close friends in his 30s.
As people say, it’s funny, because it’s true.
When my guest today came face-to-face with the anemic state of his own friendships, he set out to try to do the miraculous himself, and make friends in middle-age. His name is Billy Baker and he’s a journalist and the author of We Need to Hang Out: A Memoir of Making Friends. Billy and I begin our conversation with the problem of male loneliness in the modern age, and how it befell him in his own life. We then discuss how men and women do friendships differently, the way men do theirs shoulder to shoulder, what this means for what male friendships need to be built around, and why they require what he calls “velvet hooks.” Billy shares how he started his 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. Billy then describes what did: a kind of casual fraternity for middle-aged men he started, and how it was inspired by something called the “men’s shed” movement in Australia and its philosophy that men need “somewhere to go, something to do, and someone to talk to.” We end our conversation with Billy’s takeaways for making friends in adulthood, including the need for embracing intentionality and social risk.
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- Why are men so susceptible to loneliness?
- What are the health consequences of loneliness?
- Face to face versus shoulder to shoulder
- What are “velvet hooks”?
- Why re-kindling past friendships didn’t fully scratch the friendship itch
- Why the Men’s Shed Movement inspired Billy to make some actual friends
- How COVID managed to strengthen friendships
- The pressure of trying to be friends with both halves of a couple
- What’s the actionable takeaway here for guys?
Resources/Articles/People Mentioned in Podcast
- The Hidden Tragedy of Male Loneliness
- Finding Connection in a Lonely World
- The Best Way to Make and Keep Friendships in Adulthood
- Understanding the Wonderful, Frustrating Dynamic of Friendship
- Understanding Male Friendships
- Making and Keeping Friendships
- The History and Nature of Male Friendships
- Bosom Buddies: A Photo History of Male Affection
- Building Your Band of Brothers
- “The Biggest Threat Facing Middle-Aged Men” — Billy’s original article that went viral
- The Joys and Difficulties of Making Friendships in Adulthood
- Men’s Shed Association
Connect With Billy
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