5 Ways That Men’s Friendships Differ From Women’s

Are men from Mars? There are real differences.

Posted Feb 26, 2015

All too often, we magnify the importance of sex differences.  For example, research on men and women leaders reveal more similarities than differences.  The same thing goes for male and female friendships.  There are at least five important ways that friendships among men differ from friendships among women.

1. Men’s friendships are more “instrumental” and less “emotional.”  Men are less likely than women to share their emotions and feelings (no surprise, huh?).  But men’s friendships are more “transactional”—involving shared activities (e.g., golf or poker buddies), or working together on projects.  One study found that working class men tend to focus on material goods and services (such as fixing each other’s cars, or exchanging tools), while upper and middle class men tend to share leisure activities, such as attending sporting events, travel, or entertainment.

2. Men don’t do very much relationship “maintenance.”  While women tend to meet, call, or text their friends regularly, men don’t feel as much need to stay in touch with their male friends.  It isn’t uncommon for men to touch base with a “close” friend (often after a period of years) and find out that they have gotten a divorce, retired, or had some other major life change, but the friend was clueless.

3. Men’s friendships are less intimate and less supportive.  This is certainly no surprise.  Although men can have close friends, the level of social support among men friend “besties” is nowhere near the same level as among women.  There is some evidence, however, that women’s friendships can be more fragile than men’s.

4. Men are less likely to hold a grudge.  Both men and women friendships can erupt into anger, with emotional outbursts, and men even coming to blows.  While women can hold a grudge for some time, men are more likely to get over strained friendships more quickly.

5. Men are more likely to put down friends and make them the butt of jokes.  Part of the male bonding experience is good-natured humor.  It may be that the more emotional nature of women’s friendships doesn’t lend itself to deprecating humor.

Despite these differences, it is important to remember that similarities between men’s and women’s friendships are far greater than the differences, and, of course, there is huge individual variation.

References

Nardi, Peter M. (Ed.), (1992). Men’s friendships. Sage.

Vigil, Jacob M. (2007). Asymmetries in the friendship preferences and social styles of men and women. Human Nature, 18, 143-161.

Image: Wikimedia

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