Are female friendships closer and more personal than male friendships?
One contradiction exists in popular gender stereotypes of friendship, one that most probably don’t realize. Female friendships are thought to be less sincere, less stable, and more superficial than male friendships. Women are seen as being in nearly constant competition with each other and disloyal to women they call friends.
At the same time, friendships between women are believed to be more revealing, intimate, and personal than those between men. But how can something be both superficial and deep, intimate and insincere? Are female friendships “better” overall for these reasons, or inferior for the same reasons?
Despite what many may think, friendships between men and women haven’t been found to be very different. Men and women engage in friendships for similar reasons and claim to achieve similar goals with friendships. The differences between the two types of friendships are superficial and usually a matter of appearance and style.
Although friendships between the genders are essentially the same, certain qualities typically characterize each form of friendship. That is, male friendships tend to include the following:
- Team membership — men see their friendships as physically doing things together and requiring some personal sacrifice for the betterment of the friendship.
- Jokes, insults, and verbal and physical aggression
- “Locker room talk” — curse words, dirty stories, teasing, and more verbal aggression
- A group of friends; three or more close friends not simply two
Female friendships, in contrast, are usually characterized by many of the following:
- One-on-one communication; female friendships more typically include just two close friends
- Openness and verbal expression of emotions, personal thoughts, and opinions
- A sense of attachment; female friends are more likely to perceive their friendships as personal and intense
Female friendships are thought to be closer because women share their deepest feelings and engage in extended one-on-one communication more often. But male friendships are seen as more stable because men view their friendship as a team and thus work together to keep the relationship afloat.
It’s likely that whether you believe male friendships or female friendships are of a higher quality depends on your expectations and values in an interpersonal relationship.
How are your same gender friendships? How do you think gender affects friendships in general?