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How to Make More Friends as a Man—One Big Tip

A couple nights ago, my friend James passed me a piece by a sociology professor:

Of all people in America, adult, white, heterosexual men have the fewest friends. (Click to tweet this.)

Moreover, the friendships they have, if they’re with other men, provide less emotional support and involve lower levels of self-disclosure and trust than other types of friendships.

When men get together, they’re more likely to do stuff than have a conversation.

Apparently, I was on to something when I wrote this post a couple weeks ago.

We are busy. Everyone is. We wish we had more time with our friends, if we have any good ones.

Men need more real friends. (Click to tweet this.)

A little over a year ago, when I realized I did not have as many good friends or as many good conversations as I would like, I suspected I was not alone in this. So I decided to make something happen.

I started The Roundtable.

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The Roundtable is a monthly conversation in a pub, bringing together thoughtful guys for good conversation.

The Roundtable has four rules, which keep us on target:

  1. No small talk.
  2. Don’t be a jerk.
  3. Keep it personal.
  4. Tip well.

Once a month, we show up right after work, buy a great beer (here), tip well, and then grab a seat.

I ask what’s on the agenda, and people share questions or topics, like:

  • What do you regret?
  • Where do you want to be in 10-years?
  • Why don’t we have more and better friends?
  • What effect has your father had on you?
  • What is technology doing to us?
  • How do you stay in love?

Guys I’ve invited have in turn invited others they know. Our regulars include James (my best friend in third grade), John (who I met at church), Kyle (a friend of John’s from work), Derek (in whose neighborhood I used to live), and Brian (the father of my daughter’s best friend). Last time, a new friend I met on a flight started coming. Others have floated in for a conversation or two.

We come from a variety of places—New York, Utah, Nebraska, Sheboygan.

We range in age from 23 to 48.

We hold a variety of worldviews—TBD, Christian (of various stripes), lapsed Unitarian, and “reluctant atheist.”

It’s only a couple hours each month, but last time we ended by all agreeing how much we look forward to it.

I think a lot of men would.

When James passed me the article mentioned above, he wrote, “Heard this on public radio the morning after The Roundtable. I think it highlights the importance of Mr. Jeske’s efforts in organizing this. Thanks, Adam.”

My pleasure. My friends’ gratitude for The Roundtable and that article have pushed me to go public with The Roundtable. It’s too good to not share.

First, if you’re in Madison, come to The Roundtable next month. We’ll split into a couple of tables. Let me know if you’re interested.

But more importantly, I want you to try to replicate The Roundtable. I’m looking for a few guinea pigs.

I’m looking for guys who can pull others together, lead The Roundtable in their neighborhood with their friends, and keep on track with The Rules.

If you want more time for better conversation with good friends, let’s try to replicate The Roundtable—post a comment below, tweet this, hit me up on Facebook, or email me. I’ll answer questions, explain more, and help out in anyway I can.

You should try it.

Your friends will thank you.

Nota bene: While in college, my friend James Wawrzyn started the Rathskellar Roundtable, for discussion of current events. I’m indebted to him for the general idea of The Roundtable (though I’ve redirected it a bit), as well as for teaching me how to tie a bow tie.

Warning: The Roundtable is not for everybody. Some guys aren’t willing or able to step into the depth. But I think a lot of guys wish they could have such conversations with such friends. 

  • Andy Moore

    I’m in. I’ve facebooked you. Here are some of my questions:

    – Did you start with a personal invitation to join you?

    – How has it grown since then; through other introductions, other ways of advertising it?

    – How do you strike the balance between constant openness to new people, and allowing men to go deep in longer-term friendships?

    • acjeske

      Andy, yes personal, hand-to-hand invitations.

      It’s grown a little but slowly and organically. Last time was our biggest ever–seven guys.

      We are open to it slowly growing, but I find that lots of guys are able to jump in pretty deeply, pretty quickly when they know The Rules.

  • Chris Vanderzee

    This is beautiful. I’m messaging some friends right now and we’ll see what we can started in Grand Rapids, MI. Thanks, Adam!

    • acjeske

      You’re welcome, Chris! Keep me posted on how it goes!

  • Pierre Queripel

    Yes, I want to try it! But “don’t be a jerk”. That might be a bit of a stretch!

    • acjeske

      Pierre, I have full confidence in you. Or if not you, Rouen. ; )

  • Matt Runion

    Adam, this is gold. Simple and needed. I may try this in Minneapolis. I have an issue with the first rule (No small talk.). Does that make me a shallow avoider or just someone who’s good at the art and rhythm of conversation? Please advise. :)

    • acjeske

      Matt, go for it! You probably are the latter. But others aren’t, so you need to set the bar high, to ensure you get to the important stuff.

  • http://launchdaybreak.org Brit Windel

    Man cant you meet in Kenosha :-)
    I might have to try and come up and see what you guys are doing. This is pretty cool stuff and I couldn’t agree more!

  • Matt Runion

    “Probably the latter”. Exactly. I hope on most days.
    Thanks. I completely support the fast track and focus on the important stuff. That stuff admittedly gets sidelined by “bullies” like football, traffic, and weather. Merry Christmas, Adam. You are a blessing to me.

  • CircleReader

    Used to have similar “Beer Night” with friends in Chicago (http://www.beernight.org/), and would definitely want to join you!

    • Adam Jeske

      Good stuff, thanks!

  • Willie Krischke

    Adam, I am very interested in starting something like this. Hit me up. willie.krischke@intervarsity.org

    • Adam Jeske

      Sure thing, Willie!

  • Sherri

    Why in a pub? Why not a coffee shop? What about those who want to come but maybe don’t need to Be around the alcohol?