Men’s Groups: what suits you?

January

21

0 comments

They have been around for years, with many online groups blossoming as we become more and more isolated in our digital worlds. We are naturally communicative animals and we need each other like plants need water – to grow, heal, learn and figure things out, laugh, love and evolve.

I am a world traveller, so building community, making friends and feeling a part of something has been a recurring challenge at each new location. Over the years, I have tried several types of groups, with varying degrees of success. And even that changes with time and experience so, to be successful, a men’s group has to be clear about its strengths and the types of men it appeals to. We are all different, so what suits one may not suit another. Yet it is the differences that are often the most interesting parts to explore and where we have the greatest opportunity to grow – if that’s what we want.

The men’s groups I have experienced represent different points on man’s evolutionary curve. Without naming names, let’s take an irreverent look at just some of the types of groups I have explored – and left behind!

Cro-Magnon

Muscled up in black t-shirts, with short cropped hair and just the right amount of designer stubble, these jovial men are never happier that when standing arm in arm round a fire pit on a bleak, snow-covered mountainside, skinning grizzly bears with their teeth and dreaming of being Jason Statham. Typically, this is a North American culture where men are manly men and women are in the kitchen. They talk of being ‘warriors’ and the like, lament the ‘feminization’ of men in modern society and challenge themselves and each other to do crazy physical stuff like diving into ice-cold water, and then saying how invigorating it was as their toes drop off from frostbite. Anything military is good and gas-guzzling trucks are a must in this club.


Marriage cancellers

These guys don’t so much join the group as latch onto it. Group meetings provide a safe haven, a place to escape from their relationships with girlfriends and wives, where routines and established boundaries keep them ‘safe’ from real intimacy. So, the group is a great place to feel accepted and perpetuate relational dysfunction with guys who are less likely to argue with them and may even sympathize with any predicament they have walked themselves into—before going home to sleep on the couch. Facilitators can have a tough time in such groups, with much effort going into distractions and activities to keep the mind occupied, rather than addressing personal predicaments in any helpful or constructive way.


Sat nav, sat nam

Typically younger – 20-to-30-year-olds – these are sensitive souls who are caught up in the unrelenting pressure of building a life while keeping up with the latest technology and constantly feeding their social media world. They are busy, busy, busy and they like you to know that. They are also acutely aware of self-image, which in itself can be mildly challenging – with awkward ‘cool’ haircuts and other strange decorative elements that make you wonder. You might find one of them attending the online meeting displaying pseudo environmental responsibility by checking in from his EV on his cellphone after a yoga class. Or you might find him distracting everyone in the meeting by incessantly jiggling his phone as he looks for a quiet corner or a better signal in the café, for him and his skinny latte. And everyone smiles through gritted teeth as they meditate on trying to deal with the trauma of what gender pronouns to display on their Whatsapp. Important stuff.

I guess you could say that those descriptions say more about my dysfunction than they do about the guys in the groups, but they are merely generalizations to raise a smile. Nothing more. And that’s one thing I look for in a men’s group – a sense of humour.

So, what else am I looking for in a men’s group now? The fact is, I’ve been around the block, had lots of interesting experiences in life and still find that I have few friends – due to constant travelling – in the way that friendships develop when one stays in one place for a long time. I sometimes think that I am closer now to old school friends, than I am to people I have met in the past five years or so. The bottom line for me is to build friendships with people I can relate to and have what, for me, are meaningful discussions.

At my time in life, it’s also about giving back. I don’t claim to be a wealth of wisdom and knowledge, but I am sometimes surprised to find that things I offer in the group have some value or spark a revelation for someone. They may seem obvious to me but, of course, you never know what someone else’s experience is.


Drop in for a chat

The Whysmen Virtual Pub is a good place for me. It harks back to a time when pubs used to be the hub of the local community, where people met and shared their experiences in life. There was even a time when a lounge bar was actually a lounge, with comfortable chairs you could sink into and meet your neighbours for a quiet chat. I think it’s a primal need we all have, and it’s a far cry from modern establishments with distracting flat-screen TVs on mute, conversation-killing music and always-on connectivity to somewhere else.

I like the international aspect of the Whysmen Virtual Pubs as well. Every culture has traditionally had a meeting place for its communities. In England, it was pubs; in France, cafés; in Afghanistan, tea rooms; to name just three. Digital connection and the way society has developed have killed a lot of that, and we are all the poorer for it.

The international aspect of the Whysmen Virtual Pubs is a real bonus. Every culture has traditionally had a meeting place for its communities.

Click to Post


Worldwide connections

All men are welcome to join the Whysmen Virtual Pub - including those attending other men's groups who may be looking for a different experience. In the short time I have been with the Whysmen Virtual Pub, I have met, online, interesting men from around the globe. For instance, I met a young man in Kenya, living in a small community, whose sensitivity and maturity in thinking about his developing relationship with his girlfriend – and his contribution to his community as a whole – would put many of us to shame. I met a young married man who was in India and I learned about his culture and how his concerns were framed by family structure and the local society. And I regularly meet with men who are now firm friends in Europe, Australia and North America, for interesting discussions on a wide range of topics.

I believe that humans are capable of so much more than we are led to believe and socialized into accepting. Education has largely been subverted to develop ‘worker bees’ designed to serve an existing economic structure, rather than to expand minds and enrich our society. The diversity and latent wealth of human experience is something I want to embrace through real connection with fellow human beings. The Whysmen Virtual Pub is a good use of the amazing technology we now have at our disposal, making our regular (albeit virtual) worldwide meetings and events possible. Hopefully, we will also have a future where physical meet-ups are still possible.

Well, that’s my story. What would you like to get from and contribute to a men’s group? What suits you? Let us know in the comments below.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
>