Friendship between men and women are just different. Among women, friendship is conducted face to face, they tend to be together and to be lonely if they couldn’t talk to each other through good times and bad times. Male friends do not always face each other; they stand side by side, facing the world. They tend to do together and they don’t talk much.
Men’s friendships are based on shared activities and they do things together in groups. Those men who do things together like painting the house, fishing, mountain climbing, etc. feel close. Women’s friendships are based on shared feelings . They touch each other more, sit close together, focused on a one on one sharing. Those who share their secrets, troubles, relationships, (etc.) feel close.
In the theatrical hit, Defending the Caveman, Rob Becker announces at one point that he has the gender-friendship gap all figured out. Men were the hunters and were required to stand side by side without talking for fear they’d scare off the prey. Women, on the other hand, were the gatherers out there foraging in the jungle for food. They had to talk while they worked, for safety. In this sense, if a woman goes long without hearing the voice of another, she knows she had been eaten by an animal. So, women are genetically allotted some 5000 words/ day while men are allotted only 2000. No wonder, women talk more.
Men and women talk about different things in different ways. Men are less likely to talk about personal subjects with other men than women are with other women. Hence, the average man’s idea of an intimate exchange is the average woman’s idea of a casual conversation.
Men do not criticize friends as much as women do, but neither do they communicate the kind of acceptance women count on from their friends. Men put shared interests highest among the reasons why they bond with a friend while women want friends who share the same values.
Women grew in relationships not out of it, hence, they empathize while men tend to turn away from learning about relationships, to develop in other directions lest they be seen as “womanly.” Men sit further apart, keep friendship light, hold back affection out of the fear of homosexuality. After all, gay men’s friendships are more like women’s in the desire for intimacy and self disclosure.
Men are steered away from “babyish” emotional response early on in childhood while women are not expected to break their emotional connection. Men are anxious about intimacy while women are apprehensive about separation. Women are generally expressive with their friends all across the emotional range while men are more self-protective.
Same-sex friendships became the comfort zones where both sexes look for solace and understanding. Women may look for the kind of intimate relationships with men they have with women, while men still find face to face, over the table dissection of emotions overwhelming. Women tend to be less lonely when they had other women to talk to. Men too are less lonely when they had more interactions with women. When they talk, really talk, they usually do it with a woman.
Women friends have to reach a comfortable level of intimacy to be able to be silent with each other while men have to reach a comfortable level of intimacy to be able to talk with each other.
Every friendship though is as different as the people involved. Not all men are caveman hunters and not all women are cave woman gatherers. Even men tend to view their friendship with women as closer and more intimate than those with other men. Men seldom make close male friends because of their drive to compete and conquer. As men get older though, they become more emotionally expressive with male friends.
What sums this up is that, whether men or women, friendship is about going together, supporting one another, keeping one another’s dream without the element of struggle, no pushing, only lifting, drawing the other guy on, teaching, working in partnership without having to ask for help.
Ref: I Know Just What You Mean (E. Goodman & P. O’Brien)