Starting a Men’s Group
By Host Andy Horning
March 28, 2017
One evening after work, my buddy Chris and I started talking about how hard it can be to connect with other men on a deeper level. We both had enjoyed the normal good times that guys have at sporting events, on weekend trips into the mountains, or even at parties. But those experiences left us lacking and wanting something more. We wondered what it would be like if a bunch of guys came together on a regular basis to talk about their personal lives. We wouldn’t do anything but sit around and talk – no drinking or any of the normal jocularity associated with how men sometimes interact with one another. On the other hand, we also weren’t interested in the stereotypical men’s groups at the time which consisted of drumming and what’s sometimes referred to as “father wounds.”
So, we each invited three other men to be a part of the group and held our first meeting in April of 2001, nearly 16 years ago. During the first few years, two of the guys dropped out. But, since then, it’s been the 6 of us.
We don’t have many rules, but we do have a strong desire to use the group to get more out of our lives, to live more fully. We have challenged ourselves and one another to be better men. We also support one another and bear witness to things that happen for each of us. At first, we were a bit serious in our endeavor but we’ve relaxed a bit, laugh a little more, and let it all hang out in a good way knowing that we get to be ALL of who we are with one another.
Our relationships with our significant others are often part of the dialogue. We each bring challenges and successes in our most intimate of relationships into the group and use the collective wisdom to help us navigate difficult circumstances. Through divorces and breakups, marriages and births, we have supported one another by asking, challenging, calling out and witnessing.
Over time, I’ve gotten better at using the time to get more of what I want for me. I’ll share details or struggles more honestly. I’ll ask for feedback more courageously. I’ll speak or react to someone in the group with more boldness but also with more kindness and support. Having the chance to step away from my life and into this sacred space we have created with one another, allows me to call time out to my life and regroup to where I really want to be going and who I really want to be. I’m grateful for our desire to continue meeting for all these years. Of course there were times I didn’t want to go, or when I had to miss due to work commitments. There were times when I didn’t want to talk about my life or hear more about someone else’s life. But something about the fundamental action of showing up has changed me for the better. Even if I didn’t talk during a men’s group, I would still be nourished and inspired by the vulnerability and strength of the men around me. I don’t think there’s anything more inspiring than when people are present to all that is happening in their lives, the good and the bad, and at the same time hold strong to a vision for how they want to be in the world.
For those interested in starting a men’s group, there are several books available. I suggest having more one on one conversations with men you know. From there, find the people that want or enjoy those kinds of conversations and propose to get everyone together. It might go great or it might go south but those initial gatherings aren’t groups, yet. Those first hangouts are an attempt to bring a group of men together to see if it seems like a good group that could do this a few more times. Here are resources for more information about starting a men’s group, or finding one in your area: