Most of my best friends are men. I talk to them about my problems, I cook for them, I help them hook up with girls, I play video games where they pretend they let me win, I have brunch with them and sometimes I even have sleep overs with them. What I like most about my friendships with men is how easy they all are. Somehow, being friends with a man has always worked better for me than being friends with women.
I grew up raised by two older brothers and I was hopelessly in love with them and their friends. I would worship the ground they walked on and thought that whatever music they listened to or whatever games they were playing were the best in the world. I used to beg them to let me hang out when their friends would come visit. Which is probably why I was the only girl in my class who was playing first-person shooter games at the age of 10.
I was very little and clueless compared to them, but somehow they took me in. I would sit quietly and observe them, listen to what they were talking about and watch how they were interacting with each other. I was fascinated. They seemed to have so much fun together and would laugh from things I didn’t really understand. I didn’t know why their jokes were funny, but I laughed because they were laughing. And the more I laughed, the more I understood – with guy friends things don’t have to have an explanation, things just are.
There is a certain easygoing quality to friendships between men. Jerry Seinfeld had a joke that when he was a kid he wouldn’t need any real reason to be friends with someone – “You like cherry soda? I like cherry soda! We’ll be best friends!” While that is true for all kids, girls and boys, things get more complicated for women as we grow older. But things don’t change much for men. If you want to be friends with a guy, the only thing you need is the time to hang out together. The rest just comes naturally.
I love the women friends in my life and the support and kindness I get from them, but it’s very difficult to run away from pain with them. If I am hurt or struggling, we will talk things through, we would debate, analyze, make speculations, pass judgement, assign blame, talk some more, cry, then hug it out. But if I want to not think about my problems and just enjoy myself, I will call my male friends first. Female friends will make you face your problems and work on solving them. Male friends will help you forget about them and power through until you are better.
I have never felt judged by a male friend – it didn’t matter if I failed in a relationship, if I screwed up at work or if I was sad or happy about something ridiculously stupid like some new instagram photo from Rihanna. All these things didn’t really matter as long as I was alright. And if I wasn’t alright, they would simply tell me “you’ll figure it out” and we would get on with shooting the head off disrespecting pedestrians in a game of GTA while smoking the third joint of the day.
There are little to no expectations when you are friends with a man. If you haven’t called in a month and you suddenly decide to pick up the phone you won’t be scrutinised for not calling in such a long time; you would be welcomed. Easy, unapologetic, fun. With men, the absence of attention doesn’t equal the absence of care.
I do not believe in generalizations; I cannot say all male friends are in one way and all female friends are in another way. But there is a time and a place for each of them and I think both can learn from each other. Women can take note of how easygoing and free men treat the relationships in their life and men could learn a lot from how reliable and supportive women can be with the people they care about.
There is a lot of talk of how men and women can’t really be friends, that no friendship is truly platonic if at least one of them wants to have sex with the other. But why should a friendship be legitimate only when there is no sexual tension involved? Friendships, like any other relationship, can take many different forms. There are the people you love, but don’t love you back. There are people who you love without every saying a word to them. There are people who you want to have sex with, but never will because the bond is greater than the tension. There are men who befriend women and women who befriend men and they want to tear each other’s clothes off, but they don’t because friendship is not about sex, it’s about love.
Madalina Preda is an activist and storyteller living in Amsterdam, trying to capture everyday moments that tell the story of us. She writes about social trends, feminism, mental health and love. Her photography looks at the moments between moments, at what happens when we wait.