Have you ever wanted to ask a bunch of men a question and get an honest, no-holds-barred answer?
OK, maybe not — but if you have, that’s where the Reddit community r/AskMen comes in.
One woman recently took to the subreddit to ask a piercing question:
““I’m worried about men’s mental health,” user venusemerald2 wrote. “Men, who do you confide in 100%?”
The top answer, and the ensuing discussion below, was absolutely shocking and heartbreaking.
“Who in your life do you open up to 100%? Dad, brother, friend?” the post continued.
u/ElegantMankey’s was one of the first to chime in, and their post seemed to resonate with a huge number of readers.
“No one,” he replied.
“Not even close to 100%,” he added, implying that he has no go-to person in his life that’s able to handle complete honesty and vulnerability.
Sadly, the comment received (as of this writing) over 6,000 upvotes and 350 direct replies, garnering lots and lots of agreement from others.
The thread launched an explosion of discussion, with over 10,000 commenters chiming in.
Ready for the brutal truth of male loneliness in America?
The next top comments (based on upvotes, or how many people liked or agreed with the message), in order:
“99% of the time, no one. I’m my own therapist, so to speak.“
That theme continued on and on down the list, for thousands and thousands of replies.
A few folks chimed in to say that they’re able to share with their wife or partner.
But even most of them admitted they don’t fully open up to that person, withholding some things that are too vulnerable and projecting stoicism instead.
I’d highly encourage you to read through the whole thread and discussion on Reddit here.
A recent piece in CNN explained it best: Loneliness in men is worse than most people even realize.
Author Shannon Carpenter offers up a couple of key drivers of this epidemic.
“Historically, men have made long-term bonds through religious institutions and friendships at work,” he writes. “Our sense of worth derived from what we could provide our families.”
Those institutions, he argues, have largely been eroded in today’s culture.
And worse yet, toxic expectations of masculinity may lead men to avoid deep relationships, especially with other men. They’re viewed as not masculine. We’re taught that a strong man is an island, et cetera, et cetera.
Loneliness is a big deal, for men and everyone else.
So what’s the big whoop if a bunch of dudes on Reddit are lonely and have no one to talk to?
A recent study actually found that people who are lonely or socially isolated are more likely to die early.
And that’s just barely scratching the surface of the issue, with men being almost 4 times as likely to commit suicide as women.
So what can we do?
Together, we can work to break down ideas of toxic masculinity, like the idea that it’s “gay” or “unmanly” to cry, grieve, and be vulnerable with friends and family members.
And as men, we can be more proactive in reaching out to others. Volunteering, asking neighbors and acquaintances out for a coffee or a beer.
It’s not a waste of time if it might help save a life.
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