In the last one week that I have been back, I have reconnected with most of my friends and posted pictures of our meetings and hangouts on social media. All the time though, it never occurred to me that all my friends in those posts had one thing in common: they were male. It wasn’t until an old friend sent me a message saying: “Always with boys! lol. How boo gon find you when you always looking bood up?” that I realized that indeed, I have mostly male friends!
The idea of my friends being mostly male is not particularly of concern to me.
However, I cannot ignore the fact that it paints a certain picture to outside observers. Some negative. Others positive.
On the positive, the assumption is that a girl who has mostly male friend is in that situation because of one of the following reasons. She tires easily of the competition and pettiness that is involved in many female friendships. She has had several exceptionally bad experiences with female friends that have “soured” her on getting close to other females.
Other factors include she was a tomboy when she was younger and has carried at least some of that trend into her adulthood. Or she’s a lesbian.
On the negative: she’s promiscuous. She is a serious flirt so other women quickly grow tired of her flirtatious nature and avoid her company. She has serious issues with intimacy (of any kind) and she prefers friendships that don’t require closeness. Or she can’t keep confidences – people tell her intimate details and she then relates them to others. This is a betrayal in the world of female friendships and she quickly finds herself ostracized.
There is no denying the cultural skepticism around friendships between men and women in our society. Platonic relationships between straight, unmarried men and women are still subject to some suspicion, particularly beyond childhood.
Consequently, any successful and enduring male-female friendship is a tiny rebellion of sorts. This rebellion is against anachronistic notions of uncontrollable male desire and the female sirens that lure and distract them.
Personally, I have more male friends than females. This is not because I don’t enjoy spending time with my ‘reference group’. I just find that I connect better with males. It really is easier for me to just be casual with men, and eventually become friends, rather than ladies.
Equally important, it feels more natural to me. Most of my female friends have similarly masculine communication styles. I find that the intensity that often comes with female friendships can be rewarding and unique, but also very draining. This includes both the general intimacy level and the immediate, conversational intimacy level.
Moreover, I do have a couple of close, more intense friendships with females. I also have one with a male who tends to act like a girl in his interpersonal relationships. But males mostly fill out my social groups. I count a greater number of them among my closest friends.
There is the notion that males are more reserved. They talk about unimportant things, and basically just sit in the corner with no emotion.
However, not all men are like this, though. The males that I am close with in my life show a little more emotion and depth in conversation. I mean, I do see where the archetypal male friendship, which is built on sports and beer, might preclude the airing of feelings.
But in my experience, friendships with men can be very symbiotic. They listen well. They know how and when to give advice. What’s more, they bring a unique perspective to my grievances.
Of course I have had several challenges in the past determining whether the relationship is non-romantic or romantic. Discussing attraction, which may still be present even when the relationship has been declared non-romantic. Dealing with the issue of relationship equality within a cultural context of gender inequality, e.t.c.
But in all, I doubt there is more stress to a female-male friendship than there is with a female-female relationship.
Bottomline, people don’t end up as friends because of their gender, race, orientation or anything else of the sort. They become friends because they have been there for each other in difficult times and share some common interests. While a male-female platonic relationship might have its challenges, it shouldn’t have to raise any suspicions.
Or should it?