This is how you can help a male friend open up about his feelings

And what to do when he does

There seems to be real momentum gathering around the subject of helping men to be more comfortable sharing their feelings. But it still feels like there’s a long way to go. Often, men will bottle things up, perhaps with a view to hiding some sort of vulnerability. For a friend, this can be hard to see, but it can be even harder to try and get that struggling man to open up and seek help with a view to addressing the way they feel inside.

With that in mind, The Tab spoke to London-based psychotherapist and CEO of UK Therapy Guide Floss Knight to find out how we can all help our male friends open up about their feelings.

Share your own experiences to help him share his

One way you can help your friend open up is by talking to him about your own more challenging experiences. “The most important unifier in everything is empathy, and sharing your own experiences,” Floss says. “So if you have a problem and somebody else has a similar problem and you’re open about your own problem, it can be really really helpful. It can be very helpful to have a male friend with whom you can be open about everything.”

If someone opens up on a night out, check in the following morning

In some cases, men feel more comfortable being open with their feelings after a couple of drinks. While it’s really important to address your friends’ feelings when sober, this can actually be a really good starting point to opening up the conversation.

“Drink often brings about people actually getting into their emotions,” Floss says, before stressing the importance of “checking in over text the morning after a night when you’ve been out and somebody’s opened up. Those things are very reassuring to people and help you make a deeper connection.”

Once your mate has finally opened up, it’s really important to be reassuring and to make them feel like they aren’t alone. “It’s actually quite normal to feel up or to feel down, particularly after lockdown,” Floss says. “People will have lost time and felt very isolated. Everything has been amplified.”

When you verbalise your thoughts, ‘you are imprinting it on your mind’

The very fact your friend has now felt able to speak about their feelings will help them before you’ve even had a chance to offer advice. Floss described how when you verbalise something, “you are imprinting it on your mind.” That means that when you next have a similar experience, you’ll be reminded of how you made it through last time, and that in turn may help combat repeating destructive behaviours.

‘Spend time with people that isn’t all about changing how you feel’

Depending on the severity of what you friend has said to you, there are different courses of action you could take. You could follow up every now and again to check in, and you could even suggest your friend goes for a consultation to see if therapy might be the best course of action for him.

Floss suggests a simple change you could also make: “Spend time with people that isn’t all about changing how you feel. So, non-drinking events and stuff like that are quite good.”

Equally, encouraging regular exercise or even journalling could really help your mate process his emotions. “One of the things that can happen is you build all this stuff up in your head and it just grows and grows. Journalling is massively helpful,” Floss says. “Writing things down in a journal and trying to understand why you feel the way you do.”

If you’re the friend people turn to when they have difficulties, it’s also important to remember to look after yourself. Make sure you also have someone you can turn to, when you need to speak about how you really feel.

Just checking in is an article series by The Tab running alongside Men’s Health Awareness Month. The series aims to shed light on issues that predominantly affect men.

If you or someone you know has been affected by this story, please speak to someone or contact Samaritans on 116 123 at any time. You can also contact Anxiety UK on 03444 775 774, Mind on 0300 123 3393, and Calm (Campaign against living miserably, for men aged 15 to 35) on 0800 58 58 58.

If there’s a story you think we should be covering, please let us know by emailing [email protected].

Featured Image Credit: Unsplash

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