Girls who have mostly male friends are usually (stereotypically) divided into one of two groups: the girl who is so boyish she simply bonds with men better, or the girl labeled a “pick-me” because “Guys are just less drama!” *Audience groans.*
Female to Female Insecurity
With obvious reasons for a “tomboy” woman preferring to hang with guys aside, feminine women who are drawn to mostly male friendship groups tend to confuse women who aren’t, and understandably so – how could any feminine woman thrive from purely male friendships? Men and women are completely different. How does a young woman only make male friends?
“Maybe you’re so insufferable to women so only men can bring themselves to hang out with you because they think they can shoot their shot,” I hear someone call from the back, and I mean, sure, maybe. There’s a bit of automatic dismissal towards this type of woman, and they often can be hostile towards other women, but the truth is, I have no ill will toward women – I’ve just always found them more intimidating.
The earlier stages of my life seem to justify this a little. My brain’s conscious urgency to compete with other women was bred naturally at age five when my mother (young and naïve) made a reckless decision to put me in a public beauty pageant, leaving me to be surrounded by pretty girls and to have my confidence shattered when I lost and was left humiliated by the competition, purely for the sake of other people’s entertainment.
Furthermore, my mother, who I had an unhealthy clinginess to throughout my developmental years, had split with my father and moved away before I turned six. So the way I view women has been doomed from the get-go. Not only were girls in my childhood deemed competition the moment I set eyes with them, but I had also naturally developed bonding and trust issues with them. Of course, it’s no excuse, but I found myself falling out with them easily and having faith in them rarely (in hindsight, it probably made me a bit more standoffish with them).
Girls in my childhood were the competition, and I developed bonding and trust issues with them.
I also blamed women for being the root of my teenage eating disorder. Female family members were picky about their weight and protective over mine. If they weren’t shaming themselves, they were nit-picking me. And men? Well, men generally didn’t do this. Men didn’t care for diet culture, men weren’t sensitive, men weren’t ever competition. From my mid-teens, boys were just…simpler. I found them easy to befriend – it seemed like a win-win with no losses. Who wouldn’t want male friends?
Spoiler: not my greatest move.
Hormones and Heartbreak
So, this is where I become brutally honest with myself, and with lovely Evie readers *pinches your cheeks adoringly* because you deserve to read articles that are honest with you, even if that’s at the expense of outing and embarrassing myself a bit (don’t say I never did anything for you).
I hear many of you ask, “So how do you balance the potential of developing feelings and inevitable friend-zoning?” And here’s the truth: I don’t. In fact, I spent my mid-late teens being humiliatingly awful at it.
It’s a common line that a woman’s “male friend” is rarely ever her friend and would probably try and sleep with her given the opportunity – and while I’d feel self-absorbed and narcissistic backing this statement up, for a lot of the cases, this is fairly accurate. It was something that became a more prominent issue for me the older I got.
There’s a lingering feeling of dread when you slowly realize someone you think of as “almost family” or, wait for it, “a brother” is falling for you. Again, it sounds cruel, and men can’t help their feelings either, but when it’s never your intention, it leaves you feeling guilty and terrible, and it’s a feeling you rarely get befriending women.
Male/female friendships can get complicated, especially if you’re close and spend a lot of time together. The chances of at least one of you falling aren’t by any means low and can be even worse if one of you (or even both of you) are in a separate relationship. If you aren’t, then it’s bound to happen eventually.
Are Adult Male/Female Friendships Sustainable?
For years, people have been asking if men and women can be just friends. When Harry Met Sally, one of the most loved and famous romcoms of the 20th century, pretty much founded their film on this exact question, eventually concluding it with a solid no.
There’s a feeling of dread when you realize someone you think of as “a brother” is falling for you.
The question is addressed within the first 10 minutes of the film and answered at the end. Of course, the characters spend more time together than most people do with their opposite-sex friends. So if we’re addressing male/female friendships in a far less proximate regard (such as a workplace buddy or a friend you usually see in group settings), then the tale is a little different, but if your straight male friend suddenly becomes your “bestie,” then you’re opening a can of worms.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore my male friends, but I am indisputably less close with a lot of them than I once was, which is completely natural. The older you get, the less sustainable and more uncomfortable a lot of these super-close male/female dynamics become. Why? Well, because eventually one of the two gets into a relationship and sometimes the other doesn’t. This leaves a feeling of being replaced, which is expected and completely natural. If a man has a girlfriend, his closest ally shouldn’t really be someone who leaves his girlfriend feeling insecure or second best.
Women Need Women
When my mother moved away, I spent a lot of my early development years with my father and was often disappointed with older women. It was always the same story: I grew up with au pairs. They’d stay with me, act as a mother/older sister figure in my life, and by the time I finally felt bonded with them, they’d leave – and then the same cycle would begin again. Women never seemed long-term for me, but I’d always had men in my life for comfort. I saw men as stability – never to use as lovers, but to always act as friends.
Unfortunately, the older you get, and the more men you bond with, you soon realize men aren’t “less drama,” they aren’t “more stable,” and they have the capabilities to be just as nasty and gossipy as women, if not more.
Women never seemed long-term for me, so I saw men as stability.
Men are great. I’d never write an article slating them. But straight men aren’t sustainable “besties,” and honestly, your male bestie most likely acts as your placeholder boyfriend who you like enough to keep as company, but not enough to date. He’s the guy who you will pretend to be happy for when he inevitably gets a girlfriend… but then be left feeling at a loss when he slowly distances himself from you.
In other words, once your bluebirds flee the nest, you’ll be wishing you had bonded with chicks a bit better.
Potential relationship fumbles aside, men just aren’t women. That doesn’t mean they can’t be just as fantastic, but to keep them as close friends is a completely different and potentially hazardous dynamic. Of course, I’m not advising you to rule out male friendships, but be aware of the concerns that can arise when keeping too many a little too close.
I don’t want to be a hypocrite, so I’ll clarify that I still have many male friends, but I have plenty of female friends now too. There’s a much better balance than there once was, but I still wish I had bonded with women a bit more. You can’t open up about feelings with men in the way you can with women, something essential to all women. Men just aren’t as nurturing, and well, they aren’t built to be. The sisterhood exists to be long-lasting and for women to embrace – so use it!
Oh, as a final reason, how many straight males can you get a manicure with, really?
Readers make our world go round. Make your voice heard in the official Evie reader survey.