Making Friends as a Male Expat: It’s Good for Your Health

by | Feb 17, 2022 | Global | 1 comment

Hey, guys, listen up because I’ve got a serious health warning for you:  Don’t lose that friend. Lose that friend? I thought you were going to tell me to quit smoking, or shun that extra piece of pie and get some exercise.

Sure, it’s well documented that smoking, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle

Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, in a recent interview with J. Stephen Morrison, head of the Global Health Program for The Center for Strategic & International Studies, said “. . . they would ask, ‘What’s the most common illness that you see? Is it diabetes? Is it heart disease? Is it cancer? I would tell them,  ‘It’s none of those. The most common illness I see in America is isolation, and isolation stems from a lack of meaning. ‘”
Happier together Kevia Tan
Happier together by Kevia Tan

This warning from America’s top doctor should be taken to heart by single male expats and those considering a move overseas. It’s important that you do because moving to a foreign country with a different culture and different customs presents a unique set of obstacles to maintaining a social network.

From my experience, however, moving to a foreign locale provides a great opportunity to find like-minded souls and build new social connections.

When I first moved to the charming Mexican city of San Miguel de Allende, I almost immediately found myself a part of a diverse group of expats, native Mexicans, and other foreigners. My entry into this collection of remarkable people, however, was through two gringos who were also writers.

Sharing a point of view Joel Bengs
Sharing a point of view by Joel Bengs

Each of us had just arrived in San Miguel; we didn’t know anyone and we didn’t speak Spanish. Hell, I didn’t even know where to buy a can opener. We were strangers in a strange land, but we shared a love for words and writing. We supported each other with our efforts to express ourselves on paper and in figuring out how to thrive as rookie expats.

We formed a bond, which led to a larger group of people to learn from and enjoy – which, according to Dr. Murthy, helped promote good health for all of us!

But you don’t have to be a writer to meet like-minded people as a new citizen in a foreign country.  Join a cycling club or a book club. A chess club. You could volunteer in the community and meet nurturing people that way. Or, you could just hang out at your favorite bar!

Hopefully, you’ll also meet native people in your new city. What better way to discover the secrets and shortcuts to getting around that only a citizen knows.

The trick, though, is to keep in touch with your friends after you’ve made them. That’s where the healthy part comes in and that’s where men tend to have a harder time than women.

It takes effort guys!  Your physical and mental health depends on it.

“If you want to go fast,” says an African proverb, “go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

I would be very interested in hearing your knowledge, thoughts, and comments about the importance of men maintaining a strong social network.