To catch you up on the last few weeks, I must report that in the friendship department, things have been going along swimmingly. We’ve done a few dinners and a coffee outing or two, but some of the interactions I’ve had with other students and some of my husband’s friends have led me to consider something rather unpleasant.
Perhaps by focusing on the Friendship Endeavor in the way that I have (searching for female friends almost exclusively), I have missed opportunities for rewarding friendships with men.
In the past, I have found that some of my strongest friendships have been with men; they are generally easy-going, friendly, and often very funny. Unfortunately, a troubling incident based on mistaken understanding by a male friend’s wife led me to be extremely cautious in forming new friendships with men, married or otherwise. I suppose I reasoned that women are the most appropriate and least risky option for friends.
Can Men and Women Be Just Friends?
Friendships between men and women seem to be forever at odds with platonic behavior, at least in the media and pop culture. Consider the fact that entire movies are based solely on this issue: think When Harry Met Sally. In spite of the fact that, historically, men and women can’t be “just friends,” I find that some of the friends I have most consistently identified with have been men.
And yet, what did I do upon embarking on my mission for lasting, rewarding friendships? I left men out of the picture! The fact dawned on me when I realized how many of the girls in my classes at the university had become good friends with the guys; they had taken an effort I had entirely neglected.
The full realization of what I had done truly sank in when we started socializing more with some of my husband’s friends from law school – at least half of whom are women.
“Reverse” Sexism: Guilty or Not Guilty?
What had I been thinking? That only women could become my lifelong friends? That it was only safe or appropriate to be open to friendship with women, men be damned? That it wasn’t even worth my effort to develop friendly acquaintances with men because of the potential for awkwardness? Did I have a subconscious idea that spending time developing friendships with men wasn’t going to help me reach my goal of abounding in rich friendships?
In the first two quarters I have been at school, I have perhaps inadvertently snubbed half of the students in the degree program simply because of their gender! What a shame, to think of all the time I wasted fretting over the next girls’ night when I could have been developing equally satisfying friendship with some of the guys in the program.
So I here vow to be prejudiced no more; to not be averse to conversation, jokes, and friendship with men; to not allow the world of pop culture to dictate my relationships; and to not let the past detract from my future.
I want a life full of friendships, and I don’t care what background or gender my friends have. I am determined to renew the Friendship Endeavor with acts of sociability to men and women alike. Maybe I can make up for lost time – if not, there’s always next quarter!