Why Guys Feel Lonely:
Investigating the Epidemic of Male Loneliness


Why do So Many American Men Feel Lonely?

I’m not saying anything you don’t know- so forgive me for starting my blog with something so obvious:  America is an individualistic society.  


While that statement may be obvious, we tend not to talk about how we all drink the “American Dream” Kool-Aid at a young age… and never look back (or at least not most of us).


The whole concept of “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” isn’t all bad.  However, lots of research has shown that individualistic societies report higher rates of loneliness than more collectivist societies.   


Places like Portugal and Turkey are examples of a more collectivist society.  They put greater emphasis on community- which means there is a premium on having strong family and friends.  


In individualistic societies, like the US, the priority typically isn’t your family or friends…. especially if you are a man.

1. Why Guys Feel Lonely:
Male Stereotypes

In Western societies, men are praised when they are goal-oriented and high-achievers. They are learn at a young age to put on a brave face, be independent and tough.  


This mentality doesn’t leave room for acknowledging vulnerability or weakness.  


By the time a boy reaches adulthood, it’s a common feeling for men to feel like they would rather do anything than reach out to a friend and let them know they are in emotional pain.  

2. The Myth of the American Dream

Within our prized notion of the “American Dream” is an unstated but unmistakable emphasis on independence, autonomy, and self-sufficiency.   


Men get the message that their worth and identity are tied to what they do… not who they are

This mentality doesn’t leave room for acknowledging vulnerability or weakness.

With all of these things come longer work hours and less time with your friends and family.   


3. Why Guys Feel Lonely:

Boys learn at a very young age that they need to do-it-themselves.  


Researchers found that this mindset begins as young as four-years-old.  Research by Judy Chu (When Boys Become Boys) and Niobe Way (Deep Secrets) detail the process of how young American boys are taught to abandon their close friendships in order to try to meet the cultural expectations puts on them.  


They quickly learn to replace their vulnerability and connection for emotional toughness.

4. Why Guys Feel Lonely:
Lack of Emotional Vocabulary

Boys aren’t taught much emotional vocabulary beyond anger.  Often men just try to shut down all other feelings.   


Why is this a problem?  

Hopefully it is obvious, but likely, it isn’t… especially if you are a guy!  


Let’s pretend you broke your leg and went to your doctor.  The doctor would ask you what was wrong.  You would explain what happened to cause the accident, the location of the pain, etc., etc., etc.   


But what if you didn’t have the words to describe the pain?  What would you do?  


This is the issue with not having an emotional vocabulary.  If all you really know is angry and shut down, you can’t communicate effectively.  

5. Guys are taught to supress their emotions

Our culture has done an excellent job of teaching all of us to suppress our emotions.

It is normal for American men to think that it is perfectly natural to be emotionally isolated. If you think something is “normal” how can you get help?

Are you emotionally isolated?

Here are some questions for you:  

  • Do you get together with your friends regularly?
  • Do you share your hopes and dreams with your good friends?
  • Are you open to your friends about your concerns and fears?

These may seem like nice-to-haves… but they aren’t.  

Without solid connections in your life, your mental health declines.  

Without honest and open friendships/relationships, it is not a matter of if your mental health declines but when.   

Here are 7 reasons why you should try doing something different:

  1. Mental and physical illness can result from isolation and loneliness.
  2. Loneliness is linked to feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and low self-esteem.
  3. Depression can lead to feeling hopeless, helpless and angry about your situation. 
  4. When you are lonely, you are more likely to do exactly the opposite of what would be helpful:  To go out and meet new people.  
  5. When you are lonely, you are more likely to experience social anxiety and find it challenging to engage in social interactions or even everyday activities with other people.
  6. Lonely people’s brains produce a higher level of cortisol (a stress hormone).   High levels of this stress hormone impact thoughts/moods/behavior.
  7. Men are more likely to resort to alcohol, drugs, gaming, gambeling and other addictive behaviors to deal with loneliness

Sadly, men are more likely than women to live with loneliness rather than seek professional help.


There are tools that can be learned…  

There are small steps that can make a big difference…


In other words,  loneliness is not a necessary part of your life!


For many men it takes a great deal of courage to step out of society’s shackle’s and seek some assistance.


If this is you, I hope you consider reaching out to a trusted family member, a caring confidant or a mental health professional.  What you are experiencing isn’t a “you” problem; it is a larger societal problem that is impacting you. 

Are you ready to give therapy a go?  

Free free to contact me directly if you have questions or to schedule a brief call to see if I might be able to support you as you journey forward.


Looking for mental health services in Indy?

As a marriage and family therapist, I also offer: 

Let's Talk! Schedule a Free 15-Minute Phone Consultation
%d bloggers like this: