7 Ways Men Can Support Each Other Through Tough Times

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men helping one another support

Most of the men in my men's group (myself included) shared a feeling of discomfort when seeing another man cry. Truth be told, I would rather walk around naked in public than cry in front of another man.

And when you look at the suicide stats among men and couple them with how men deal with emotions like grief, sorrow, and anxiety, one might draw an even scarier conclusion.

Is it possible that men would rather DIE than cry?

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I’m not talking about those instances when a few tears manage to escape from his powerful grasp at his retirement party or his daughter’s wedding. I’m referring to those moments when it feels like his whole world has been ripped from him and he wants to just drop to the floor and let everything go… but he can’t, because he’s a man.

He believes:

  • Real men are in control.
  • Real men are self-sufficient and don’t ask for help.
  • Real men don’t let the competition see them sweat.
  • Real men don’t cry.

While many men will argue that these outdated mantras don’t exist in their belief systems, it’s been my experience with myself and the men I’ve worked with that thousands of years of conditioning doesn’t just disappear from the subconscious mind just because the conscious mind wants it to.

Often, when I’m coaching a man around his grief and he feels the tears surfacing, he will either warn me in advance that he’s getting emotional or he’ll apologize after, thereby confirming his belief that crying is something he shouldn’t be doing.

The feelings of helplessness during times of grief combined with the subconscious belief that he must figure it out on his own leads to even more isolation.

Often, he will see himself as one man against the world and his only options are fight or flight.

His “fight” may include aggression and violence, a new unhealthy love relationship, or unsafe casual sex, just to name a few. His “flight” response usually shows up as addictions or in worse cases, suicide.

The fact that male suicide outpaces women by about a 4:1 ratio and that men are more likely to abuse illicit drugs and engage in addictive behavior points to a need for men to learn healthier ways to process emotions. I believe this has to begin with more men supporting each other.

We must let go of the notion that all men are our competition and shift our competitive nature into a team effort of raising each other up.

The state of relationships among men has reached a tipping point in our western culture. Our antiquated beliefs around competition, self-sufficiency, and sexuality have brought us to this time where we’re dropping like flies and becoming addicted at epidemic levels. It’s time to let go of the self-defeating attitude and start supporting each other.

Men need men.

When I hear a client tell me his wife or girlfriend is his best friend a red flag goes up. The dynamics between a man and a woman in a healthy relationship does not fulfill the needs of a complete man. This can only be done with the support of other men.

Here are 7 ways you can become a better friend to the men in your life:

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1. Improve your intuition. 

Start paying attention to the non-verbal communication of other men. If you see a friend doing more things alone this is a sign he may be trying to deal with some stuff on his own. If your gut is telling you something’s off but you can’t put your finger on it, trust that something is off.

2. Acknowledge his pain. 

Let him know that you’re aware that he’s going through some stuff and leave it at that. A response from him isn’t necessary.

3. Drop your shield first. 

If you’ve had a relatable experience, sometimes sharing yours along with the emotions you felt can open a door for him. You may want to share something that prompts your own tears. This may give him the implied consent he needs to shed his own.

4. Hold space. 

Let him know he can trust you. Keep his stuff confidential.

5. Just listen.

Sometimes just being quiet with some simple gestures is better than any words. Sitting quietly with another man is powerful and seldom practiced.

6. Don’t be Mr. Fix-it. 

The last thing a man needs while he’s processing his grief is another man giving him advice. This only serves to make him feel less of a man. Keep your dialogue to questions and reflections.

7. Be a man of service. 

This doesn’t mean making him feel more helpless by asking him what you can do for him. Pay attention and look for opportunities to help out with some minor tasks. If you see his grass getting a little high, mow his lawn while he’s away. Anything you can do without blowing your own horn or making him feel any more helpless is a good idea.

Understanding our role as men in 2018 can be challenging. The stone-faced warriors who protected the tribe are no longer needed. Connecting with other conscious men and sharing fears, tears, and ideas can be the starting point of reclaiming a man’s identity.

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Greg Boudle is a transformational coach for the recovering man. His articles have appeared on The Good Men Project, Psych Central, and other sites. He's also a published author and professional speaker. Find out more about Greg at or check him out on Facebook.