The expectation on men to meet up for a pint may prevent them opening up about their feelings, an expert has said.
Dr Earim Chaudry, medical director of Manual, warns males who “bond” in the pub have less meaningful conversations than women who chat over coffee.
Missing out on “supportive” conversations may be driving loneliness in men, he adds.
Statistics suggest women tend to be more isolated, however, males may be “more reluctant to report undesirable feelings”.
“Going for a coffee is not want men are considered to do,” Dr Chaudry told Yahoo UK.
“Men go for a pint, to the pub. The quality of the interactions may not be the same as females experience.
“Men tend to be competitive, especially when alcohol is involved. They may not be as supportive as women in those scenarios.
“Discussions centre around sport or what’s on TV. Issues at work or home aren’t discussed.”
Those who do open up may be disappointed by their friends’ reaction.
“Men don’t have a safe space to voice their concerns,” Dr Chaudry said.
“It’s very, very challenging for men to open up in front of men. They may be mocked and told to ‘man up’.”
The situation may be changing, however, with more men discussing their mental health.
Prince William joined forces with the Football Association earlier this year to encourage fans of the sport to talk about their struggles.
While intentions are undoubtably good, Dr Chaudry warns this may be sending mixed messages.
“There is a trend for men to not behave like they’ve traditionally been told, that you don’t have to be Action Man or a 007 character,” he said.
“This can be a confusing message for men.
“They’re told to be the dominant, powerful strength in the two genders but also the emerging feeling to soften some of those traits.”
How to help someone battling loneliness
Loneliness is a serious issue that has been linked to everything from depression, heart disease and even an early death.
Opening up about the problem is the first step in overcoming it.
“Talking about it will help de-stigmatise the situation,” Dr Chaundry previously told Yahoo UK.
“By addressing the problem, we can allow a wider discussion to take place and eventually help men identify actions they can do every day to defeat feelings of isolation.”
Once the problem has been identified, it may be worth assessing whether the friends you have are supportive.
“It could be invaluable to take a moment to reflect on whether the relationships you have provide the ability to talk about what interests you and other things going on in your life,” Dr Diana Gall from Doctor4U told Yahoo UK.
Next, put yourself “out there” by taking part in social events.
“Try joining a club, attending an event, participating in a team sport or signing up to a club; all great steps in bringing yourself closer to others,” Dr Chaundry said.
When it comes to helping those we suspect are struggling, even small gestures can go a long way.
“Make small talk, offer a cup of tea to someone on your street, make conversation while waiting for the bus,” Dr Kalpa Kharicha, head of innovation policy and research at the Campaign to End Loneliness, said.
“It shows openness. Listening and talking can be very meaningful,” she previously told Yahoo UK.
While many of us are glued to our phones, Dr Kharicha stresses the importance of meeting up in the flesh.
“It should never replace human contact,” she said. “We’re social beings.
“You don’t want to spend so much time on your gadget that you forget how to communicate in the real world.”
Dr Kharicha adds, however, phones can play a part in bringing people together.
“The internet can be a way of staying in touch and you can share interests in online communities,” she said.
“It can be an ‘extra’ but shouldn’t replace human interaction.”
If you are struggling, the Samaritans are available 24/7 on 116 123.