At a recent fundraising event, I asked an acquaintance about his brother.
“He’s fine,” said the man. “I don’t see him often though. You know he’s got his life and I’ve got mine ”
Then I inquired about his two sisters, and he replied, “They see each other all the time.”
Why do women have more friends than men Р and socially interact with them more than men? I don’t know the science, but I humbly offer three reasons:
The first is that, generally, men are less likely to share feelings and emotions than women. Men are better at confiding facts and opinions than feelings, a remnant of being the solid “king of the castle” and ruling by logic. (Dad may have a soft heart, but it’s mom that has the empathy.)
Secondly, there has been a fear among men that society will judge their sexual orientation. It’s viewed as respectable for two men to be seen on a hunting or fishing trip, but two men sitting together watching a movie, or dining together somewhere besides the local burger joint may elicit some gossip.
But the most important reason stems from Utah culture, which revolves around the family. In New York City or San Francisco or Chicago, it is common for friends and colleagues to stop by the watering hole, tip a few drinks, and share conversation after work. In Utah, men drive straight home to have dinner, attend the Little League game, watch a child’s school performance, etc. Since Utahns marry some three to five years earlier than the national average, friendships evolve around other married couples. Also, many Utah women do not work full-time outside the home while raising children, so they have more time to cultivate friendships with other stay-at-home moms, friendships that will last long after the children have “flown the coop.”
These are personal observations only, but my own situation fairly typical. My wife has a handful of friends with whom she will attend concerts, movies and enjoy a meal at a restaurant. I have no such friendships.
BY DAWN BRANDVOLD-GRAY
While being interviewed regarding an upcoming book, “The Astronaut Wives Club,” Marilyn Lovell (wife of Apollo 13’s Jim Lovell) was asked about the friendships she shared with other NASA wives. She attributes the closeness to her generation, mulling that perhaps today’s women don’t need friends in the same way. She said, “They have colleagues now.”
She may have a point С women in the workplace probably have many of their social needs filled by co-workers. Stay-at-home moms could find it easier and more necessary to their sanity to forge friendships and bonds with other women.
However, I agree with my husband that men and women form and maintain friendships differently. Much of this could be societal. Women could feel like there is “safety in numbers.” But this is only part of the story.
Watching my husband or other men in their friendships and interaction, I see men talking about things Р the latest baseball game, the newest electronic gadget or events. Women tend to talk more about feelings Р worries and concerns. Nothing bonds people like sharing heartache and joy with honesty.
I will venture to say that while men have buddies, women have kindred spirits. These close friendships serve women well throughout life. I’m sure there is a study that could back me up, but I watch older men after the death of their spouse flounder, while it is common to see groups of elderly women find solace and support, embracing life in each other’s company.
Audre Lorde, writer and civil rights activist perfectly summed up why I, and many women, value friendship with other women so highly. She wrote “For women, the need and desire to nurture each other is not pathological but redemptive, and it is within that knowledge that our real power is rediscovered.”