Take a second, think deeply, and ask yourself: how many times have you been completely honest when answering the question “How are you?” The truth is, our regular responses to this question tend to be reflex answers, not sincere ones. So think again; if you’re doing this, chances are, your guys are probably doing it too. 

With the world (and Nigeria in particular) constantly moving mad, we need to check on each other beyond social media bants. Here are five ways to intentionally check up on the men in your life. 

Hit them up with something they’re interested in: As we said before, “how are you?” has casted. One of the best ways to truly gauge how your friend is feeling is by having general, everyday conversations with them. You know what he likes, right? DM him memes that get him going, ask his thoughts about something he’s passionate about, send him Twitter beef; basically, try to make the conversation as normal as possible. From the flow of your conversation, you might be able to tell if something is up, which allows you to ask about his well being without it feeling like an ambush. 

Create time to see them in person:

So many times we’ve sent texts and the receiver either exaggerated or downplayed our feelings because, well, they can’t see us. While your friend might text you back that he’s “good,” it would be harder to lie to you in person. Call him up and tell him you’re bringing food over (almost always works), ask to borrow his gamepad, offer to buy him drinks, just make sure you’re able to hang out with him. During your time together, you might just pick up on something a text wouldn’t have shown you.

Don’t be afraid to open up first: It is safe to assume that we are all going through it at the moment. One way or the other, life is showing us pepper. Another surefire way to get your friend to open up is by opening up yourself. It’s hard to be vulnerable with someone who looks like they have their shit together. So let your friend know you’re struggling too, no matter how small you think that struggle is. However, it’s important not to do too much that you forget why you’re there in the first place. Your friend could see you in a new light and feel compelled to share. 

Listen. You don’t always have to offer a solution: So he has opened up to you, what next? It’s human nature to immediately start offering advice, but remember, sometimes all people need is someone to listen to them. Giving him what you assume to be a solution might just make matters worse (unless you’re sure as hell that your plan is solid). The best thing to do is listen, tell him you understand (even if you don’t, yet), and reassure him that he has your support. Don’t be extra or over the top. To feel heard and understood helps validate someone’s experiences and feelings, so the best way to react might be not to offer advice or opinions unless specifically asked. 

Give them space, but remind them you’re there: If there’s one thing men hate, is the feeling of suffocation. You can’t force someone to open up to you; they may be working on it in their own way. Also, sometimes men just don’t want to talk about their mental health. The important thing is that you stick around and maintain an open channel so they’ll find you when they’re ready to talk. 

We know it’s hard to do all of these things while dealing with your personal shit. But the truth is if we don’t look out for our mandem, who will? 


Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.