This piece was written by a woman and I’m a man, as you’d be aware. I share it here with a link to the original post at the bottom. Like many people, Ive also been intregued by the question whether men and woman can really be just friends. This short piece part explains how this is possible but is made difficult, by men.
So there’s a known thing in the study of human psychology/sociology/what-have-you, where men are known to, on average, rely entirely on their female romantic partner for emotional support. Bonding with other men is done at a more superficial level involving fun group activities and conversations about general subjects but rarely involves actually leaning on other men or being really honest about emotional problems. Men use alcohol to be able to lower their inhibitions enough to expose themselves emotionally to other men, but if you can’t get emotional support unless you’re drunk, you have a problem.
So men need to have a woman in their lives to have anyone they can share their emotional needs and vulnerabilities with. However, since women are not socialized to fear sharing these things, women’s friendships with other women are heavily based on emotional support. If you can’t lean on her when you’re weak, she’s not your friend. To women, what friendship is is someone who listens to all your problems and keeps you company.
So, the disconnect men are suffering from is that they think that only a person who is having sex with you will share their emotions and expect support. That’s what a romantic partner does. But women think that’s what a friend does. So women do it for their romantic partners and their friends and expect a male friend to do it for them the same as a female friend would. This fools the male friend into thinking there must be something romantic there when there is not.
This here is an example of patriarchy hurting everyone. Women have a much healthier approach to emotional support – they don’t die when widowed at nearly the rate that widowers die and they don’t suffer emotionally from divorce nearly as much even though they suffer much more financially, and this is because women don’t put all their emotional needs on one person. Women have a support network of other women. But men are trained to never share their emotions except with their wife or girlfriend, because that isn’t manly. So when she dies or leaves them, they have no one to turn to to help with the grief, causing higher rates of death, depression, alcoholism and general awfulness upon losing a romantic partner.
So men suffer terribly from being trained in this way. But women suffer in that they can’t reach out to male friends for basic friendship. I am not sure any man can comprehend how heartbreaking it is to realize that a guy you thought was your friend was really just trying to get into your pants. Friendship is real. It’s emotional, it’s important to us. We lean on our friends. Knowing that your friend was secretly seething with resentment when you were opening up to him and sharing your problems because he felt like he shouldn’t have to do that kind of emotional work for anyone not having sex with him, and he felt used by you for that reason, is horrible. And the fact that men can’t share emotional needs with other men means that lots of men who can’t get a girlfriend end up turning into horrible misogynistic people who think the world owes them the love of a woman, like it’s a commodity… because no one will die without sex. Masturbation exists. But people will die or suffer deep emotional trauma from having no one they can lean on emotionally. And men who are suffering deep emotional trauma, and have been trained to channel their personal trauma into rage because they can’t share it, become mass shooters, or rapists, or simply horrible misogynists.
The only way to fix this is to teach boys it’s okay to love your friends. It’s okay to share your needs and your problems with your friends. It’s okay to lean on your friends, to hug your friends, to be weak with your friends. Only if this is okay for boys to do with their male friends can this problem be resolved… so men, this one’s on you. Women can’t fix this for you; you don’t listen to us about matters of what it means to be a man. Fix your own shit and teach your brothers and sons and friends that this is okay, or everyone suffers.