Men often think of themselves as lone wolves. Lone wolf being ambitious in the office. Lone wolf on Tinder. Lone wolf playing Fallout 4 alone in a flat, eating lasagne out of the microwave carton. As we get older and life inevitably starts flinging shit at us, we might start to wonder whether there’s a reason most wolves hunt in packs.
While we’re typically sociable beasts during school and university, when the pressures of work start beating down, faces that were once familiar to us can start falling away, making us realise just how alone in the world we truly are.
This month, a YouGov poll carried out by The Movember Foundation found that 12 percent of men over the age of 18 don’t have a close friend they would discuss a serious life problem with. That’s two and a half million men across Britain. Over a quarter of men said they got in touch with their mates less than once a month, and 9 percent said they don’t remember the last time they made contact with their friends.
This can develop into a serious problem in later life. Research by the World Health Organisation has shown that a lack of close friends has a significant impact on men’s health in the long term, leaving us at risk of depression, anxiety and suicide.
Sarah Coghlan, head of Movember UK, tells me: “Many men we’ve spoken to don’t actually realise how shallow their relationships have become until they face a significant challenge, such as bereavement, breakdown of a relationship, fatherhood or loss of employment – and yet that is of course when good friends are needed most.”
So what happens to our friendships as we get older? Here, six men at different stages of their lives discuss their relationships with their friends.