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The Art of Cultivating Strong Male Friendships - FAD Magazine

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The Art of Cultivating Strong Male Friendships

The nature of adult male relationships is well and truly experiencing a renaissance period, especially in Australia, the certifiable home of ‘bloke’ culture. With growing discourse surrounding the importance of healthy, empowered masculinity, many modern men are opening themselves up to the potential that their male friendships have to be a source of support, community, and love that can’t be emulated by partners, family members, coworkers, or any of the other members of their social circle.

In truth, there is a dynamic that can exist between mates that has the power to provide adult men with all the support and resources that they need to become empowered in their masculinity and thus, feel infinitely more comfortable in their own skin, as well as in their wider relationships. 

But how exactly are Aussie blokes moving from casual camaraderie to making and maintaining genuinely meaningful connections with one another? We’ll be exploring just the answer to this question below. 

Expressing gratitude through sentiments

There are an abundance of gifts for men in Australia that are aligned with the happy-go-lucky nature of blokey relationships, ranging from stereotypical gifts like beer paraphernalia or outdoor BBQ gear, to any other kinds of novelty gifts. Whilst these jokey, blokey presents tend to make up the bulk of the gifts given in adult male friendships, they can still be highly effective when it comes to expressing your gratitude and laying the foundations for a friendship where providing one another with both material and emotional sentiments is commonplace.

Men may not be as spoilt in their romantic relationships as they focus more on spoiling their partners, which is precisely why gift-giving can be a highly joyous element in modern male friendships. And gifts don’t necessarily need to be light-hearted or jokey forever. As friendships deepen with the act of thoughtful gift-giving, modern men may find that expressing gratitude to their best mates will result in those friends becoming akin to a found family of sorts. Opening yourself up to these potentially powerful relationships can naturally, positively impact the quality of life for men of today.

It’s also worth noting here that Dr. Gary Chapman’s ‘5 love languages’ are just as relevant for platonic relationships as they are for romantic ones. Simply put, expressing your gratitude in ways you know will be more meaningful for your mates can make a world of difference with regards to building your own strong platonic relationships as a modern man.

Normalising the act of ‘checking in’

The importance of ‘checking in’ has been a hot topic over recent years, particularly due to the impacts that COVID-19 lockdowns were known to hold on mental health. The pandemic provided many young people with a uniting force and a sense of solidarity. The knowledge that everyone had plenty on their plate made it innately easier to talk about the heavy things without really having to worry about conversations getting too deep or heavy. Instead, many of us found ourselves leaning into the heavy stuff together, which stripped it of its power.

Yes, men can still keep their conversations light whenever they may feel like doing so, but there’s less and less pressure on both sides of the conversation to do so. Men who want to confide in their mates have an awareness that their mates will want to be there for them, and so no longer consider the act of sharing their feelings to be equivalent to burdening the people they love with their own personal problems. 

Modern men are no longer content with ignoring when their friends are distressed and are practising empathy in the face of personal strife now more than ever before. Similarly, the onus is being removed off of men to reach out when they need external support, with more men taking the initiative to ‘check in’ with friends and loved ones that they feel could be experiencing periods of duress. 

Challenging toxic traits or misplaced feelings

Whilst bloke culture is generally accompanied by a hyper-focus on masculinity and a ‘boys will be boys’ attitude, there is much to be said about the impact that the construct of the ‘bloke’ has held on cultivating adult male relationships up to this point in time. For instance, the casual tone of the culture has broken communication barriers down between men, allowing them to talk about a range of topics and issues, like love and relationships, family, work, and even loss, death, or grief. 

Men can depend on each other to tell it like it is, with a growing number of modern men shedding arbitrary viewpoints delivered with blokey language for more empathetic and politically correct opinions. This shift could potentially be accredited to the growing voice of modern feminism, calling for men to reassess the value that overtly toxic masculinity truly holds for them. Regardless of what prompted the evolution, there’s no denying that preconceived notions or internalised behaviours that dictate men can’t express themselves without ridicule are being tossed out the door, and men are helping one another to achieve just that. 

These transformative trends continue to make themselves known across the globe, with men from all cultures shedding fragile masculine behaviours like misogyny and homophobia and are slowly but surely embracing a forward-thinking approach.

Adopting healthy pursuits together

Another superb way that modern men can cultivate strong relationships is simply by sharing hobbies or interests with the men in their lives. There are a variety of male bonding activities for modern men to choose from today, some of which can be everyday occurrences like going to the gym together, or even niche interests like surfing, biking, fishing, or hiking.

Gym buddies are a fairly common kind of friend for many modern men to have in the present day, where the importance of wellness and personal care are becoming widely known. That being said, virtually any activity can be a ‘male bonding activity’, so long as you and your friend are both enjoying those plans. Even a Dungeons & Dragons session once a week can be the perfect opportunity for men to regularly invest in their platonic relationships, as well as providing them with an environment where they can air their grievances or be open emotionally if ever they want to do so.

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Finally, alongside all of the meaningful actions we’ve outlined above, modern men are also making an effort to simply show up for one another. Having people in your corner can greatly boost your human experience, especially when the people in your corner know even just a little bit about the challenges that come with being yourself. 

For modern men, having meaningful relationships with individuals who understand the unique challenges and experiences that await them over the course of their adult lives, can ensure that you never feel alone in what is unequivocally a deeply individualistic world. Our meaningful friendships make us the vibrant people that we are, and there’s no reason why any of us should feel at all limited in our ability to connect with one another. It is, after all, what human beings have been known to do best.

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