What Men and Women Can Learn About Friendship

My mother (who I love and adore) moved to town in January to be closer to our family. It’s been wonderful to be able to call her up to see if she wants to go to dinner on a random Wednesday. So last week, I did just that. Her response? “I have to check my calendar.” 

Wait, what? 

I have lived in Raleigh for 17 years. She has been here for 5 MONTHS….and she most likely has more friends in this town than I do. She has joined gardening clubs and sewing clubs and quilting clubs and is putting herself out there. As she thumbed through her calendar looking for a free night, I started to think to myself, “Am I failing at friendship?”

Are We In A Friendship Recession? 

I’m exaggerating, because I do have deep friendships and very dear friends here. It’s just that life is busy and my introverted self is more comfortable at home on a Friday night in my pajamas than going to meet up with a friend. My husband, on the other hand, is very quick to go play tennis or grab a beer whenever he gets the opportunity. Does that make him a better friend than me? It made me consider how we treat our approach to friendships differently.

This week, we got curious about friendship with author, life coach, and friendship expert, Shari Leid. We explored why women form deeper friendships than men and if we are living in a friendship recession. It was a discussion that made us realize not only how we, as men and women, often define friendship in different ways but also gave us a chance to see what we can learn from each other in terms of being a better friend. 

What Men and Women Can Learn

Men when dealing with crises, tend to lean towards a “fight or flight” response and don’t often turn to friends as a first resort. Women, on the other hand, lean towards “tend and befriend.” (They take care of others, nurture, and reach out to friends to create a wall of protection and guidance for each other.) These generalizations don’t apply to all, but Penn and I feel like we probably tend to fall in line with these gender-typical behaviors when it comes to how we approach friendship. 

Penn is on a zillion group text chains and could go out every night of the week with a different group of friends (if he wanted to.) I have a much smaller circle. Though, we have discovered that we can take some cues from each other. Penn has pulled me out of my comfort zone at times when my instinct is to isolate, and I have coaxed him into being more vulnerable in his conversations with his male friends. With small lessons like these, I think (or hope) we have helped each other to be a better friend to others. 

Tell us why is friendship important to you and what makes you a good friend? Happy Listening! (And excuse me while I get my butt off the couch to make dinner plans with the girls.)