Saturday, April 5, 2008

The varieties of male friendship

Friendship is an intricate subject, especially the male version of it. Being male may bias me somewhat, but from experience and observation I’ve come to believe men have a distinct approach to this fundamental social behavior. Women tend to have a covey of general-purpose friends—like-minded, like-gendered people who share intimate details of their lives with each other. Men are more likely to have a stable of friends, each of whom fills a particular role. Each friend is like an article of clothing suitable for certain occasions: Going to lift weights? Put on gym shorts and call Josh. Seeing a foreign film? Make it Jason.

A short, but not nearly exhaustive list of a typical man’s friends might include: a workout buddy, a tennis buddy, a golf buddy, a bar buddy, poker buddies, etc. A great tennis partner might make a poor wingman, and vice versa. Some of a man’s friends may be from the office, and his relationship with these work friends may or may not end at 5 o’clock (or 6, 7, 8, what have you.) A man segments his life, unlike a woman, who enjoys the continuity and potential for deeper emotional investment inherent in spending time with the same people for many activities.

It’s difficult (and a bit callous) to think of people as mere objects. But given people’s individual strengths and weaknesses, interests and idiosyncrasies, it shouldn’t be hard to accept that someone would consciously select the company he keeps for any given activity. It is possible, however, for distinct friendship groups to meet and merge, as new common interests are discovered. A trivia team is a likely way for friends of various sources to come together, as it offers something to the sports fiend friend, the intellectual friend, the drinking friend, etc.

Notice that a “deep conversation friend” was not included in the list of likely male companions. Men generally find it difficult to open up to other men (out of fear of appearing un-masculine), and frequently have female friends for just this purpose. Often these female friends are more casual acquaintances (a colleague at work, for example), and therefore not available on a regular basis for conversation. As a result of the dearth of friendship depth, men suffer disproportionately when a meaningful romantic relationship is terminated. Having put all his eggs into one basket by confiding his most personal feelings in just one person, a man goes into panic mode when he finds this emotional bond gone. Suddenly his feelings have no outlet, other than the often-unappealing prospect of paying a professional to listen. Brimming with inexpressible feelings, a man will typically seek solace in the masculine outlet of his choice (sport, sex, drink, etc.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.