Men and women do friendship differently. Maybe it's time for that to change.

Why we should end the gender divide in friendships.

Remember that book "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus"? It felt like it was everywhere. And it kind of was.

The book was on The New York Times bestseller list for more than two years. And while it's viewed with a skeptical eye by many experts who say the book reinforces gender stereotypes, the whole idea that men and women are inherently different clearly resonates with many folks.


Image via JohnGrayMarsVenus/YouTube.

While it might feel like gender differences can make us aliens to each other, there are some clear things we all have in common as humans. Like the need for friendship.

Recent studies show that gender differences even influence the way that we form and sustain friendships.

According to a study published in PLoS One, female friendships are more emotionally intimate, and bonding time is more "face-to-face."

Sometimes literally. Photo by Ben Kerckx/Pixabay.

In the study,researchers found that women prefer to foster friendships one-on-one through conversation, which creates a lot of opportunity to get close. All that talking about thoughts, feelings, and other mushy stuff really builds up intimacy.

On the other hand, male friendships tend to be more activity-focused and shoulder-to-shoulder instead of face-to-face.

Wow. Much friendship. So bonding. Very manly. Photo by SplitShire/Pixabay.

The stereotype of men bonding through watching Monday Night Football on the living room couch sippin' a beer is rooted in some truth. When comparing friendship intimacy levels in men and women, a UCLA study found "men were more likely to prefer doing some activity with friends, were more likely to engage in activities with their best friend, and were more likely to talk to their best friend about activities. Women's friendships appeared oriented toward personal sharing of information; men's friendships showed an emphasis on joint activities."

The problem is that the kind of bonding that happens while watching a flatscreen doesn't establish the same kind of intimacy as a one-on-one gab session over a bottle of wine.

The result? Men tend to rely heavily on romantic relationships for that super-close feeling of connection.

GIF via "Community."

There's nothing wrong with having expectations that your romantic partner would fulfill your real, human need for intimacy. The problem is that men tend to get the message from society that they can only have a close emotional relationship with their romantic parters. This makes men prioritize romance in a way that many don't; a 2013 Citibank and LinkedIn survey found that 79% of men would need "a strong, loving marriage" to feel they were "having it all" while 66% of women felt the same.

That ends up putting a whole lot of pressure on romantic relationships to fulfill their need for emotional intimacy. That means that when a breakup happens, men without these strong, intimate friendships tend to feel more alone and isolated.

Since the way women often form their platonic friendships places less pressure on getting their connection needs met from one romantic relationship, the feelings of isolation from a breakup are usually less extreme.

With more Americans than ever staying single for longer periods of time, that means more people are at risk of feeling isolated from their communities — especially after a breakup.

For the first time, there are more single than married adults in the U.S. It's great that people aren't feeling the same pressure to marry as they used to, but the rest of the our societal norms around friendship love and connection need to catch up.

It's time we change how we view male friendships. That means no more "bromance" jokes.

I mean, when you think about it, it's a little weird that we have a different label for close male one-on-one friendships. And notice that the word choice likens their close bond to a romantic one. We don't have a comparable term for female friendships, so why should we for men?

Let's normalize close, one-on-one friendship for men and boys.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of the stereotype that masculinity means holding back your feelings, unless it's with your partner. Great friendships aren't just fun; they're good for your health. We all deserve health and happiness that we can enjoy — together.

GIF via "Glee."

Family

In September of 2019, a proposal to install a rainbow crosswalk in the city of Chilliwack, British Columbia was voted down by the city council. Dissenters argued that such a crosswalk would be seen as a "political statement" and would be "divisive," but according to Yahoo! News, that hasn't stopped people from installing 16 of them on privately owned property.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Facebook / Mikhail Galin

Putting your pet in cargo during a flight isn't always safe. In 2016, the Department of Transportation reported a total of 26 pet deaths and 22 injuries on flights. Because conditions in cargo can be uncomfortable for animals, the Humane Society recommends taking your pet aboard when you fly, or just leaving it at home.

It's not surprising that one Russian man didn't want to put his overweight cat in cargo during an eight-hour flight from Moscow to Vladivostok. What is surprising is the great lengths he took to fly with his four-legged friend.

Russian airline Aeroflot allows pets to fly inside the plane's cabin, as long as the cat weighs under 17.6 pounds and stays in its carrier during the flight. When Mikhail Galin went to check in, he was told he couldn't fly with his four-year old cat, Viktor. Viktor weighed in at 22 pounds and would have to be relegated to cargo.

But Viktor was sick from their earlier flight from Riga, Latvia to Moscow. And besides, Viktor had been allowed to fly inside the cabin during that flight. The airline staff didn't even bother to make Viktor sit on the scales. Galin was unable to persuade staff to bring his fur baby on board.

"To all attempts to explain that the cat won't survive there on an 8-hour flight with the baggage and would haunt her in her nightmares for the rest of her life, she (the Aeroflot staff member) replied that there are rules," Galin wrote in a Facebook post translated from Russian.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash

Last month, the Chicago Public Library system became the largest in the country to eliminate late fees thanks to Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.

While the move, which was implemented October 1, was intended to "remove unfair barriers to basic library access, especially for youth and low-income patrons," it had another positive outcome. Since the removal of overdue fees, along with the elimination of any outstanding charges on people's accounts, libraries across the city saw a surge in the return of overdue books over the last several weeks.

"The amount of books returned has increased by 240 percent…We're very, very happy to have that. … Those books have a value and cost money to buy. We want those assets back. We also want the patron to come back," Library Commissioner Andrea Telli said at a City Council budget hearing, the Chicago-Sun Times reports.

According to a press release from Lightfoot, late fees rarely have the impact they're intended to. "Research from other fine-free systems has indicated that fines do not increase return rates, and further that the cost of collecting and maintaining overdue fees often outweighs the revenue generated by them."

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / YouTube

Actress Kristen Bell and "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon showed off their vocal and comedic chops on Tuesday night when the performed a medley of 17 Disney songs, spanning nine decades, in just five minutes.

The duo started with 1940's "When You Wish Upon a Star" and ended with 2013's "Let it Go" from "Frozen."

Bell will reprise her role as Anna in Disney's upcoming "Frozen 2."

Keep Reading Show less
popular