Male Friendships Are Essential In My Life — Here’s How I Make It Work

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I’m one of those girls who’s always gotten along better with men than women. I mean, that’s what I used to think.

In high school, I found other girls my age really hard to get along with. I didn’t like the fact that they could be my best friend to my face and then bitch about me behind my back.

I found myself becoming friends with more boys because with them, everything felt more straightforward. If they didn’t like you, they’d tell you or they’d make it apparent. And even if they did bitch about you, you could confront them about it and they’d usually acknowledge it, explain it or even apologise.

When I look at the female friendships I have now in my adult life, they definitely reflect these traits. We have honest conversations with each other, we’re not afraid of confrontation and we don’t shy away from awkward or vulnerable moments together. These women have taken me a while to find in my life, but I cherish them very dearly.

That being said, I’ve always had a few male best friends and people always question me about it. So, I thought it worth discussing the topic of male friendships here.

Can You Ever Just Be Friends With a Guy?

I have an optimistic view on hetero male and female friendships. If I like someone and I want to be around them, they’re my friend. I approach all friendships like this, with any gender, but my friendships with men are often the ones in question.

I can’t even count the amount of times people have said to me: “straight men can’t be friends with women” and sometimes, that’s true, but it doesn’t deserve the bad wrap it gets.

I’ve definitely experienced massive friendship heartbreaks with men. This one guy, who I considered to be a best friend of mine for seven years, who’d seen me through some tough times and always been there for me, tried to have sex with me when we were on a holiday together. When I said no, he barely spoke to me for the rest of the trip. I told him how gross his behaviour was, and we haven’t really been friends since.

When I told other friends about this situation, a few of them rolled their eyes and said something like “duh”, “I told you so” or “I’m not surprised”, and it really disappointed me that people instantly assume that all straight male friends are destined to behave this way at some point.

Yes, that was an unfortunate situation and deserved to be called out. But it’s completely unrealistic to assume that a really close friendship and sexual attraction don’t cross over from time to time. That in itself shouldn’t be seen as a negative trait, it’s how they handle the situation that matters.

This friend, who tried to sleep with me in Thailand, didn’t handle it in an appropriate way. It made me feel as though our friendship wasn’t as special and deep to him as it was me, and that his intentions hadn’t been honest. It was also hugely disrespectful. But it also taught me a lot about myself, which was a really positive thing.

I’ve actually had a few moments with male friends when our friendship has crossed into sexual tension, lust, attraction or genuine romantic feelings. At times, it’s been one-sided and other times, it’s been reciprocated and acted upon. Let’s be real: some of the best love stories start with friendship. The relationship I’m in now actually started with a strong friendship.

When something like sex or feelings come in between a friendship, it can go one of two ways. You either discuss it openly, get through it together and come out even closer than before, or things get too complicated and your relationship has to change, which usually means seeing less of each other.

This has happened to me with a few male friends, and honestly, it’s either made our friendship stronger in the long run, or it’s made us both realise that we’re better off on our own paths.

Then, there are those times you just have to kiss someone to know whether or you’re into them like that. Because friendship is love and it’s easy to confuse love for a person with romantic love sometimes.

The short answer: yes you can “just be friends” with a guy. Sometimes, you need to kiss or have that moment of sexual tension to know you just want to be friends. Other times, you don’t. Both is fine.

For me, some of those friendships haven’t lasted, but some have. The ones that have, are some of my absolute closest friends today. Even still, I’ve noticed that as I get older, it’s becoming more difficult to maintain close friendships with some men, especially now that I’m in a relationship. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that some of my best friends and people that know me best, are men.

Why Are Male Friends So Necessary?

Five of my closest and best friends right now are men. In my life at this moment, I’d say I have eight really close friends. Over half are men.

My male best friends have really showed up for me this year. They’re such a valuable asset to my life. They check on me in ways that other friends and family don’t. They call instead of text. They ask different questions. They have a totally unique perspective and experience of the world than me, and I find that super valuable. They always bring something new to the conversation, something I hadn’t thought of before. For me, my experience with male best friends have been some of the strongest friendships of my life so far.

One of my favourite photos with one of my closest friends.

Sometimes, a male perspective or energy is just what you need. I think it probably changes depending on who you are, how you were brought up and what your individual needs are. We’re often really hard on dudes, and we don’t expect them to give us good advice to be able to get deep and emotional with us when we need it, because of these dumb gender stereotypes that society has decided apply to men and women.

Every gender is different, and that’s beautiful. We all have different qualities, strengths, weaknesses and points of view that make us unique. In my opinion, the more different perspectives and life experiences, the better.

How Can You Maintain Male Friendships While in a Relationship?

I think the key is to always be open. If you’re able to have open dialogue about complicated or confusing feelings as they happen, you’re more likely to understand them and work through them, rather than leave them to fester silently and create problematic tension for everyone involved.

I’ve learnt that I need male friendships in my life. I make sure that everyone knows where they stand and that I’m communicating with my friends and my partner, so no one ever feels in the dark about anything. It takes work sometimes, but all good relationships do, right?

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