Our podcast, In Good Company, is centered around our friendship. It’s a time capsule of sorts to share our experiences throughout our childhood and young adult lives. As three women, our friendship is built on deep and emotional conversations. While I love having fun and going out to do things with Laura and Carly, they know my deepest and darkest secrets. They’ve helped me through romantic failures, family issues, personal insecurities, and the list goes on.
Female friendships are often open about highs and lows because we find it easy to talk about everything that is going on in our lives. A fun night for Laura, Carly and I usually involve sitting around sipping wine and catching up on what’s been going on. Now, when we hang out with our guy friends, they often have to be playing a game (whether it be beer die or their pick of video game for the night) or out doing something such as going on a hike or bowling. I never put much thought to this, as we always chalked it up to them being bored and antsy to get out. But, upon further research I found that males often take a different approach to friendship.
In an article on Psychology Today, written by F. Daine Barth L.C.S.W., she states that men “tend to be friends around activities, like exchanging tools, fixing cars… women are more likely to share emotions and talk about feelings” (Barth, 2018). This seems like a fair point, but it’s not all black and white. The article talks further about how when women put so much emphasis on “emotional attunement” as a friendship ideal, it creates many issues when harsh, negative feelings such as guilt and anger come to surface. Men tend to avoid those issues within male friendships. They save those sort of emotions for their female friendships, girlfriends or spouses. As for their reasoning, it could have something to do with being afraid of not being seen as masculine by other men when they show their emotions. This is why they turn to filling their time with things such as playing poker or sports.
But I think it may be possible to have a deep emotional connection within your friendship without those harsh, negative feelings surfacing. Laura, Carly and I have been friends for 16 years without those consequences. We’ve just found a good balance of understanding and respect. While we share details of our day and our emotions we also understand that we cannot let those negative feelings affect our relationship.
In a Wall Street Journal article entitled, “Friendship for Guys (No Tears!)”, by Jeffrey Zaslow, he talks about how he’s had the same friends for over 15 years. He also makes an interesting point about when how and when men and women form and keep friendships. Women tend to lose touch with friends in their early 20’s and 30’s when they are busy building families and careers but once those kiddos are full grown or their careers take off, they have time to reconnect with old friends in their 40’s. Men form friendships until around their 30’s and after find it hard to keep up as geographical distance can make it difficult because their friendships revolve around doing things together. Now, the internet is making it easier to reconnect in their late 40’s and early 50’s.
I think men and women may approach friendship differently, but that’s not to say one is better than the other. Men show support for their buddies in other ways that might not directly emotional. Many men say that just spending time with old friends to get their minds off their troubles helps tremendously. No matter how you choose to spend time with friends, the good ones will always be there.