Buddy Systems

How My Friends And I Stay In Touch Now That We're All Dads

Fantasy leagues. Goldeneye tournaments. Recipe groups. This is what helps these men stay connected amidst the chaos of parenting.

Originally Published: 
Three adult friends on a mountaintop looking out across the sky

Here’s a worrying statistic: American men who view themselves as having “no close friends” have quintupled over the last 30 years. What’s more, only 15% of men consider themselves as having 10 or more close friends (compared to 40% in 1990). This decline is troubling. Men with friends are fitter, are happier, live longer, make more money, and are less anxious. Let’s face it: They also have more fun.

But friendships can be hard to find and even harder to keep when you become a parent. Your days are packed with so many tasks that checking in with your pals, let alone actually making plans to get together in person, can be difficult. And that’s a shame. But while difficult, it’s certainly not impossible.

We spoke to a variety of men about the ways they maintain their social ties in hopes of encouraging you to do the same. They shared stories of video game tournaments, yearly trips, meme-sharing, and even a dirty comic book that’s been passed on within a friendship throughout the years. Whether their friend group was in the same area or spread all over, the men we spoke to described the importance of maintaining connections, and the happiness these relationships brought them. Here’s what they told us.

1. We Have GoldenEye Tournaments

“Most of my friends and I went to college together, and playing GoldenEye for Nintendo 64 was how we spent many, many hours in the dorms. So now, every month or so, we all meet up at someone’s house to play for a few hours. We keep in touch with each other through texting and stuff, but this is the one monthly ‘event’ we all look forward to. Our kids are into it, too. They think the game looks ridiculous because it’s so old, but they’ll still crowd around and watch how competitive we get. Everyone is still kind of at the same level we were in college. I suck. Some of the guys are pretty good. And then we have a few ringers who usually just ruin everyone. But it’s always fun. And it reminds us of how long we’ve been friends.” - Tony, 42, Ohio

2. We Run A Basketball League

“When we were all younger, we were in a draft league together. Since that time the league came apart and we decided to take it over. When we did that, we all became captains and now we each draft a team each year. It is great because we have a draft party where we draft in person, then we go out and do a draft reveal to anyone that wants to be a part of it that is in the league. After that is done, we have a game each Monday night where most of the captains are managing the book and scoreboard, but two of us (myself and the commissioner of the league) do a weekly podcast where we recap the games and provide awards, rankings, and even a mailbag this year. There is also a group text that goes on all week with trash talking or funny comments from what happened in the games. This gives us a way to be together without it all being focused on drinking and connects us to something that most of us met each other through — basketball.” - David, 35, Illinois

3. We Send Voice Messages

“Not voicemails. Just quick little voice memos that we send back and forth. None of us are great at texting, but we’ve found that when we have a few minutes alone and away from the kids — stuck in traffic, walking the dog, or whatever — we’ll just record a quick message and send it to the group. It’s basically voice mail, but for some reason it seems like less of a hassle. Messages can be anything from a reaction to a game, or thoughts on a new movie. And I’d be lying if I said we never sent messages of epic burps and farts here and there. I’ve known these guys forever, and there’s very little we don’t share.” - Eric, 45, Florida

4. We Go To Cons

“My friends and I all live relatively near each other. But, as dads, it can be hard to nail down times when we’re all free. So we try to plan our calendars around Cons that are coming to the area. We all grew up reading comics, and playing with action figures. And even though some of us have kind of left that behind, we still have a lot of fun meeting up and just spending a few hours walking around and seeing what’s new. All of our kids are pretty young right now, but we’re definitely looking forward to being able to bring them along and get them hooked on all the stuff we loved as kids.” - Alan, 31, New Jersey

5. We Catch Up About Hip Hop

"Music is the thing that keeps me connected to my friends and keeps our relationships fresh. From performing on college campuses in the early days to discussing the greats in Hip Hop, we find time to share a few minutes over the phone to catch up and decompress on a regular basis. My mental health has become more important to me over the years, and maintaining my friendships has been a helpful part of my journey as a father and musician. Like I always say, ‘friendship is like fine art — the value grows over time’. And, as the father of a three-year-old drama queen, I know that the beautiful shock of fatherhood is just one more thing my friends and I have in common.” - Joka, 35, Illinois

6. We Share Recipes

“I have a group of friends who are all stay-at-home or work-from-home dads, so we do almost all of the cooking. These aren’t guys I’ve known all my life, just sort of friends and friends-of-friends who’ve entered each other’s lives at some point, and decided we have a lot in common. The recipes we share aren’t necessarily because we all love to cook, but more like, ‘Hey guys, here’s a really easy one that’s pretty awesome.’ We’re all dads first, but we’ve definitely become friends as a result of sharing our experiences. And now I can make, like, a dozen different kinds of macaroni and cheese with my eyes closed.” - Chris, 40, Arizona

7. We Take A Yearly Trip

“My friends and I are spread out all over the country. I live out west. A few of the guys live down south. One lives in NYC. As our families have grown, we’ve realized how lucky we are to have each other. Group texts and phone calls to catch up are nice, but I think we all stay very connected knowing that we’ve got this big ‘event’ to look forward to every year. It’s usually a pretty rowdy time, and then we go back to our kids, our families, and our lives. And I know I speak for all of the guys when I say that we look forward to our yearly trips as much as we look forward to coming home afterwards. And then we get to look forward to it all again next year.” - JD, California, 42

8. We Started A Dad Group

“As a dad of three, I’ve gotten the opportunity to coach many kids and many teams. I’m grateful for these opportunities, but they’ve definitely left me with limited time for my own friends. One day, while coaching my son’s soccer team, I asked them, ‘What’s the best way to have a good teammate?’ Of course, they said it was to be a good teammate. I realized that a team of dads would be pretty incredible, so I started MOTA. It stands for ‘Men of the Avenues’, which is where we live. Today, there are around 35 Dads in the group, both longtime locals, and dads who are new to the area. We stay connected by welcoming everyone. In fact, we have two yearly gatherings where we announce our ‘MOTA Man of the Year’, and we’ve actually recently been approved as a non-profit organization so we can start hosting charity ping pong and cornhole tournaments. It’s a lot of work but, in today’s world, we need this connection of fatherly brotherhood more than ever.” - Matt, 51, California

9. We Bond Over Movies

“There are so many drop-the-remote movies that air on television that my long-time friends and I love. They’re the typical ones that many men like: Goodfellas, The Godfather, Shawshank Redemption, Office Space, Old School, The Hangover. Any time one of those movies comes on I text a couple of my friends who I either watched those movies with on opening weekend, or watched a few times together in our man caves, and let them know it’s on. Sometimes we watch a bit of it together and text back and forth and other times we just swap texts that include famous lines in the movie. So many movies that came out in the 90s and 00s were special to us, and I miss those years of hanging out with my closest friends. So we stay connected through that nostalgia whenever possible.” - Yusuf, 37, California

10. We Meme

“Having a kid is a big life change that you don’t really understand until it happens. I had all kinds of opinions about how I thought I’d act as a parent until I actually became one, and I realized keeping in touch with my friends might be difficult. For me it’s pretty simple - whenever one of them comes to mind I shoot them a text or, more often, a funny meme or video. Since we are bombarded with memes on every form of social media, it’s a simple ‘screenshot, forward, repeat’ process. Maybe I’ll call out a particular person that the meme applies to most, and we’ll all have a laugh. It’s an easy way to stay connected and have some fun.” - Brian, 6, Texas

11. We Send A Shared Sketchbook

“Some years ago — almost a decade now, actually — I got this little sketchbook and drew a stupid comic in it. Then I sent it to one of the guys, he did the same thing, and sent it to someone else. Over time, the book has gotten pretty beaten up. It’s been lost in the mail, had stuff spilled on it, and generally survived a good chunk of our friendship. I’m not sure I can accurately describe how excited I get when I see a sketchbook-sized envelope show up in my mailbox. I tear it open like a kid with a Christmas present. And even if it’s just a really simple, throwaway doodle of someone we know, or an adventure we’ve had, it’s the ultimate reminder that in addition to being dads and husbands, we’re all still best friends.” - Justin, 41, Michigan

12. We Use A Shared Scheduling App

“My buddies and I all have kids ranging from 4 to 12, so keeping in touch is something we've worked on for years now. The one thing that has helped us a ton is a tool called Xoyondo. It's a free website that makes it super easy to find times to meet that work for us all. We used to spend days trying to find a time to meet for dinner by sending out days and times in a group message. It was an absolute mess trying to track who was available when. Now we just create a new poll on Xoyondo and share the link. Everyone fills in their availability, and then we find a time that works for everyone and send out an invite. I have absolutely no ties to the site. It’s just been a game changer that every dad and his friends can use.” - Michael, 40, Colorado

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