Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
The other day I heard a program about how hard it is for adult men to make and keep friends after the age of 30. The assertion was that it is easier for women to make and keep friends because they are more likely to make time to get together for no other reason than to spend time together. This benefits them in allowing them a place to vent, to find support, and to escape the stresses of work and family life.
Men, on the other hand, don’t get together just to see one another. They need an activity as an excuse to get together. Whether that is playing music (my personal go-to activity for most of my adult years), playing or watching sports, hunting, fishing, hiking, kayaking, working out, or having a beer; men don’t just drop in at a friend’s house for no reason other than to visit.
Or, at least, that is what the author of the book on cultivating adult friendships claimed.
It struck m as odd because, while part of it seemed true, I’ve been blessed with some very dear friends for much of my adult life. Granted, the limits of those friendships have been tested over the years. My best friend for most of my 20s – a man I lost contact with when I moved to Austin for work – passed away shortly after I moved home at age 40, and before we could rekindle our friendship. My two best friends from high school are scattered across the country and we don’t really do a good job of keeping in touch, though we do make a show of trying.
I left behind one of the dearest men I’ve ever known when I left Austin for Denver, and though we quickly and easily rekindled our friendship when I returned to Austin briefly before coming back home to Kentucky, we’ve had a tough time staying in contact. He doesn’t really do social media, and neither of us like talking on the phone, so most of our contact has been through text messages over the last couple years. I noticed when I went to message him happy birthday a few weeks back, though, that I hadn’t messaged him since his birthday a year before. We’ve both promised to make more of an effort, but whether we will I can’t say.
Another dear friend – and fellow musician – now lives in Chile where he teaches English classes. We’ve stayed in contact a bit better, because he does use social media even if it’s sporadic. We message each other every month or so, and have recently taken to recording voice messages to send through the messenger app, something that helps him stay connected to spoken English outside the classroom setting and is a real blessing to me every time I get to hear his voice.
Our friendship was very close, and I miss him probably more than any other friend I’ve lost contact with through moves, but it’s a real blessing to speak even if it’s just over the internet.
Despite all this, I’ve never really had a problem making friends, so I’ve not had the problems that other men – or at least the author of the book about adult friendships – seem to have. That said, the pandemic and social isolation have taken a real toll on me. I am a social being, and I miss visiting and hanging out with friends both new and old. I’ll be looking forward to the end of all this.
Who knows, maybe I’ll even board a plane for Chile at some point on the other side of this, for no other reason than to share a beer with a friend. Maybe we can play some music too. You know, just as an excuse to hang.
Jeremy D Wells can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org