Friday, May 31, 2013

The Gender Issue

Before I proceed with this post, I want to start by saying that there are some truly wonderful women in my life.  Some I've known for many years, some are fairly new to me and some I've reconnected with after a long time.  I hope you all know who you are and how much you mean to me.  You ladies are exceptional...that's the key word here as I feel you are the exceptions.

I've had many friendships over the years, but I'm not very good at them.  I hate phones so I won't be calling you.  I live out in the boonies so getting together can be difficult.  I'm child-free while most of the women my age have kids which adds to the difficulty with scheduling, but also greatly changes the dynamic of the relationship.

Email made life a little easier as I could then keep in touch electronically, but I still had to find the ever elusive 'time' to write the email.  Facebook improved things greatly.  Now simply by reading my newsfeed I can keep informed of what's happening in people's lives and by adding to my own profile, they can see what's happening in my life.  A comment or 'like' here and there and we all feel like friends.

But all of that is just background for what this post is really about...gender differences in friendships.  For most of my life, my primary friend group has consisted of women.  Some have been (and continue to be) amazing friends, others have hurt me so badly that they have left me emotionally scarred.

The first one was in elementary school.  We used to see each other every day and suddenly she was 'busy'.  It took me a while to get the hint and she never talked to me again.  I saw her shun another girl the same way a few years later so at least I know I wasn't special.  As an adult I was particularly hurt by four different women in the span of 2 years.  Same situation....just suddenly left me hanging without warning or explanation. 

I understand that there are different types of friendships and that they come and go, but I really cared about these women and would have put them all in the category of 'besties'.  And when I asked what had happened in the hopes of making amends for whatever transgression I had committed, three of the four completely ignored me and the other sent me a vicious response that pretty much told me I should have known what she was thinking and that I wasn't worthy of her friendship.

All in all I boil each of these 'break ups' down to stereotypical female traits.  Women can be absolute bitches with the gossiping, back-stabbing, passive-aggressive behaviour.  They'll act like everything is peachy between you and then tell someone else that you're a bitch.  They hold grudges and can be vindictive.  I say 'they', but I know that I carry these traits inside me as well.  I try to suppress them because I hate them so much, but every once in a while they poke through.  On those occasions I try to acknowledge them, beat them back and make amends.

This is the reason that more often over the years I have turned to men for friendship rather than women.  That has its own set of issues, but I much prefer stereotypical male traits over stereotypical female traits.  That Y chromosome makes a really big difference.  Men tend to be more laid back, they don't gossip and don't hold grudges.  If you piss a guy off he tells you immediately and to your face.  You work it out and you move on.  Next day he probably couldn't tell you what he was mad about - it's over and forgotten.  It's just easier to be friends with men.

I generally don't even consider women for new friendships anymore (although some have gratefully still found their way into my life).  I have a hard time trusting women given my past experiences.  Even with my best female friendships there is a little niggling at the back of my mind wondering when and how they're going to break my heart.

My definition of a friend is someone I care about and who cares about me.  When I let myself care it happens quickly and intensely, sometimes without me even realizing that I've let you in.  If you care about someone you should be able to tell them when you're upset and why.  They can't read your mind and if they don't know what they did, then how can they fix it?  If it can't be fixed, the very least you can do is let them know that the friendship is ending and why.  To disappear and leave someone wondering what happened is just mean.

I surmise that some of my lost friendships relate to my views and how vocal I can be about them.  It's called passion and it's a trait that I quite like about myself so it isn't something I'm willing to change.  If that's the reason we can't be friends then I'm better off without you.  On the other hand, if you can disagree with my views and still be friends then you are exactly what I'm looking for.

Having said all that, I feel the need to add that men looking for anything other than platonic friendship need not apply. 

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