Gentlemen, it's time to remember our friends with 'Palentines Day'

Richard Jones
The true test of male friendship is age - Getty Creative

I mean some people already call it Palentines but that sounds a bit too much like a strip of hotly contested ground in the Middle East - let's not go there. How about Guylentines? Aren't they the praline chocolates you're Gran likes. Brolentines? Ok right we'll leave the naming to after. But just as women have their own special Galentine's day, yesterday's celebration of female friendship to make up for the soppy coupling up of today's Valentines, is it not time for men to have their own day - whatever we end up calling it?

A 2017 survey for the cross-party Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness by the Royal Voluntary Service, found that an estimated eight million men feel lonely at least once a week, while for nearly three million it is a daily occurrence. Earlier studies have shown the same trend with a 2015 YouGov poll carried out by The Movember Foundation finding 12 percent of men over the age of 18 don't have a close friend they have discussion with about a serious life problem.

And all this loneliness can have a profound affect on both our physical and mental health. The country is currently in the grip of a 'suicide crisis' with men in the UK aged 20 to 49 more likely to die from suicide than any other cause of death.

Right, I'll stop bombarding you with the stats for a moment as it should now be abundantly clear that male loneliness is a 'hidden' epidemic worth giving two hoots about. And while a commemorative day might be rather meaningless, (see Josh Burt's expedient hottake on the need to ban Valentines day for pointers) it's important for men to think about their friendships with other men, because often this is why they have lost these relationships in the first place.

How do you know your male friends won't enjoy a bouquet of roses? Credit: Getty Images Europe/Jack Taylor

The downward spiral can often start in the immediate aftermath of university. For the past two decades or so you have been packed together in close proximity with your peers, from nursery to senior school and finally university, if you have worked hard enough/are lucky enough to get there. No real thought has to go into maintaining these friendships. You want a chat just walk across the hallway or prepare a paper airplane and fire it at your closest mates head.

A study between Aalto University in Finland and the University of Oxford, found that the average age people start losing their friends is 25 at the time graduates start to disperse far and wide across the country. Some get swallowed up by London, others choose to stay in the popular Northern outposts of Manchester, Leeds or Newcastle. They go straight into working 40 hour weeks, with an extra hour at least each day for the commute into the office.

They can destroy themselves by keeping up the late nights at the pub, but eventually it all catches up with them, as they try and recover for the next day of work slumped in front of another episode of Love Island. The flings that defined university have now turned into serious relationships - which can be like keeping up a second job at times. And those not yet coupled up will be kept awake wondering if their shelf life has now passed and whether that means they are destined to swipe through Tinder for all eternity like Sisyphus rolling his giant boulder.

Is this what we have to look forward to? Credit: Squaredpixels/Getty Images Contributor

They try to make friends at work, but the links are tenuous, bound by the tedium of the day to day . By your late thirties the kids have started coming, and so too the guilt if you don't run home immediately to pick up their milk bottle. And those university friendships built on even more tenuous links than your work colleagues ("oh we were randomly assigned the rooms next to each other in first year") are but a distant memory.

So in between all of this when are you going to have time to think about your mates? Let alone meet up with them when everyone is scattered all over the country? There's a whopping eight million of us who will be feeling lonely at some point this week - just think about how you can turn that around with a quick text from an old friend.

So just as there is a day when couples will forget all previous plans and spend weeks organising something that will last barely an evening, all to say 'I love you', it's time for guys to do the same. To moan and billow about their relationship problems over a lukewarm pint of ale. Or maybe organise and plan something in advance. Male friendships are characterised by a tendency to focus on shared activities. A round of golf, or a round of poker or hell why not a joint manicure. Screw gender stereotypes our hands are brittle too. Just know that for that moment in time no one in the friendship group will have to feel lonesome. And that could be a small victory in itself.