Many men prioritize the pursuit of status, power, and autonomy, which can have its advantages in moving them towards financial security and up society’s ladder. But as my guest lays out in his book, Lonely at the Top: The High Cost of Men’s Success, a focus on work over relationships can also come with significant, even tragic costs.

His name is Thomas Joiner and he’s a clinical psychologist, a professor of psychology, and an investigator with the Military Suicide Research Consortium. Thomas and I begin our conversation with his work around suicide, why men commit suicide at a rate 4X higher than women, and how loneliness is a primary factor in what drives men to take their own lives. From there we talk about the problem of male loneliness in general and how it can begin in a man’s thirties and get worse as he advances through middle age. We unpack the difference between subjective and objective loneliness and how you can feel alone in a crowd, as well as be something Thomas calls “alone but oblivious.” We discuss how everyone is “spoiled” by relationships in their youth, and why men struggle more than women to learn to take the initiative in this regard later in life. We end our discussion with why therapy isn’t the right solution for many men who struggle with depression and loneliness, and how equally effective solutions can be found in simply making more of an effort to balance a focus on work and family with socializing and reaching out to others, and particularly, Thomas argues, in reconnecting with your friends from high school and college.

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Show Highlights

Men and suicide — unique risk factors and why men have higher rates of death by suicide How Dr. Joiner defines loneliness What does it mean to be alone but oblivious? The value of social redundancy The biological detriments of being lonely Is the feeling of loneliness rising in America?Social media’s double-edged sword How are young people spoiled when it comes to relationships?Why relationship maintenance is more valuable than new relationships Why you should reconnect with friends from high school and college Is therapy the right solution for men struggling with loneliness?What can men do start investing more in relationships today?How does this work in the age of COVID?

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

Inflammation, Saunas, and the New Science of DepressionThe Evolutionary Origins of DepressionAoM series on male depressionFinding Connection in a Lonely WorldHow exercise can help us find connectionUnderstanding the Wonderful, Frustrating Dynamic of FriendshipUnderstanding Male FriendshipsHow Solitude and Friendship Make You a Better LeaderThe Power of ConversationReclaiming ConversationHow Face-to-Face Contact Makes You Healthier and HappierFighting FOMOBe a Scrooge This Year

Connect With Dr. Joiner

Dr. Joiner’s website

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