Friendship Differences by Gender

This slowly absorb­ing art­icle on the dif­fer­ences between male and female friend­ships seems to have been com­piled with an obser­v­ant eye… but then I am the same sex as the author.

Research­ers say women’s friend­ships are face to face: They talk, cry togeth­er, share secrets. Men’s friend­ships are side by side: We play golf. We go to foot­ball games. […]

Stud­ies show that in their late 20s and 30s, women have a harder time stay­ing in touch with old friends. Those are the years when they’re busy start­ing careers and rais­ing chil­dren, so they don’t have time to gath­er for reunions. Money is tight­er, too. But around age 40, women start recon­nect­ing. Before the 1990s, research­ers assumed this was because they had more time for friend­ship in their 40s, as their chil­dren became self-suf­fi­cient. But now research­ers con­sider this middle-aged focus on friend­ship to be a life stage; as women plan the next chapter of their lives, they turn to friends for guid­ance and empathy.

Men, mean­while, tend to build friend­ships until about age 30, but there’s often a fal­loff after that. Among the reas­ons: Their friend­ships are more apt to be hurt by geo­graph­ic­al moves and dif­fer­ences in career tra­ject­or­ies. Recent stud­ies, how­ever, are now find­ing that men in their late 40s are turn­ing to what Dr. Grief calls “rus­ted” friends—longtime pals they knew when they were young­er. The Inter­net is mak­ing it easi­er for them to make con­tact with one anoth­er.

That’s not to say men don’t have these intim­ate, shar­ing rela­tion­ships:

But again, it’s a mis­take to judge men’s inter­ac­tions by assum­ing we need to be like women. Research shows that men often open up about emo­tion­al issues to wives, moth­ers, sis­ters and pla­ton­ic female friends. That’s partly because they assume male friends will be of little help. It may also be due to fears of seem­ing effem­in­ate or gay. But it’s also an indic­a­tion that men com­part­ment­al­ize their needs; they’d rather turn to male friends to moment­ar­ily escape from their prob­lems. The new buzzword is “bromance.”

via @vaughanbell

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