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Movember works with UBC researcher to help men build better relationships

It’s another example of your Movember dollars at work. The annual moustache-growing fundraiser helps fund critical research in prostate cancer and men’s health, including the Men Building Better Relationships program.

It’s based on a recent study led by Dr. John Oliffe with UBC’s Men’s Health Research program.

“We got interested in the idea of being able to help guys develop relationship skills rather than waiting for a crisis of a break-up or distressed relationship, trying to help them think about the things that they need and would use to have better relationships,” he explained.

“One of the primary things we heard over and over again was this idea of actually setting aside some time to sit down and talk with their partner about the relationship. Not the things that they do together or their common interests but actually talking about a map and a plan for the relationship.”

“Movember has done something that hasn’t been done,” Oliffe added. “And that’s have a conversation about relationships, how they can be better improved and guys would be relationship-ready and schooled going in and during relationships because relationships change, go through lots of transitions.”

Oliffe and his team interviewed 47 men in Canada and Australia over a six-month period last year over Zoom as part of the study. They found many men lack conflict-resolution tools.

“We interviewed a bunch of guys who had just gone through a break-up and the primary thing that they wanted was communication skills,” Oliffe said. “Most guys, when they’re with their buddies they tend to be quite competitive and so many of these guys were looking for skills to be more collaborative in their intimate partner relationships because it wasn’t necessarily something that they were super used to doing.”

“And a lot of guys felt like they weren’t confident to speak up within a relationship and so oftentimes things would mount up and then they’d express them poorly, often with anger. So, we called it self-censoring. There’s a lot of self-censoring going on with guys.”

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According to Movember, men coming out of a distressed relationship are eight times more likely than women who divorce to commit suicide.

“It puts them at risk because they isolate, sometimes there’s mental health issues within a distressed relationship as well, and so the aftermath of the break-up usually amplifies some of those challenges for a lot of guys.”

You can out more about Oliffe’s work by going to the UBC Men’s Health Research program page.

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