FRIENDS Characteristics and complexities of friendships across genders
Sex Segregation Neighborhood kids play together At school kids are categorized by age and then by sex Children are separated into team sports Boys and girls rarely play sports together Traditions within school set up sexual dichotomies that affect choices later on –Romaine (1999)
Age 7 Boys form extended friendship networks with other boys –Boys learn to follow rules and get along with groups of people Girls tend to cluster in exclusive same-sex dyads (Rawlins, 2000) –Girls acquire social skills of communicating feelings and being nurturing
Female Same-Sex Friendships Female friends self disclose more Generally more intimate than male friendships Function on multiple levels Talking vs. doing
Fern Johnson (1992) suggests that female-female friendship has been an underresearched area because of stereotypes that women and too competitive, catty, and jealous to have meaningful relationships
For the Vast Majority of Women Women report a higher level of self disclosure in and satisfaction with same sex friendships than men did Catty stereotype not true of most women
95 percent of single women and 87 percent of married women describe their same-sex friendships as some of the happiest, most fulfilling parts of their lives.
Listening Women seek out other women for a listening, sympathetic ear or for empathy regarding what they are going through for feeling Men listen to “fix it” Rapport talk-Report talk
Male Same Sex Friends Task-oriented discussions Activity oriented: Doing vs. talking More numerous but less intimate same- sex friendships
Male Friendships Inman (1996) found that men characterize their relationships as steeped in “continuity, perceived compatibility,” and based on “self- revelation and self-discovery, having fun together, intermingled lives, and assumed significance.”
Men may base their friendships on unspoken assumptions rather than actual conversations about their relationships
Men’s Relationships Characterized by less giving and receiving of supportive communication Less empathic understanding Less talk that deepens friends’ self awareness
Men and Disclosure Some men equate disclosure with vulnerability Vulnerability equates to powerlessness for some men
If You Believe... Many communication scholars do believe genuine intimacy must be achieved and sustained primarily through communication--the sharing of ideas, secrets, fears and emotions--then you will most likely view women’s friendships as epitomizing intimacy and men’s friendships as important and satisfying, but superficial
An alternate path? However, another way to look at it might conclude there is an “alternate path” to intimacy--one that includes experiencing, not just talking. This means that intimacy may emerge or reveal itself in different ways
Cross-Sex Friends Despite differences, men and women both “DO a lot” & “TALK a lot” Traveling in “herds”/ “urban tribes”
Factors that impede cross-sex friendships Sexual undercurrents Societal pressure Different expectations
Sexual Undercurrents More men than women view friendships with the opposite sex as precursors to romantic encounters Sometimes women’s suspicion of men’s sexual motives make them distrustful of men’s overtures of friendships
Societal Pressure Society creates static “Romantic involvement between a woman and a man is much more celebrated than cross-sex friendship in american culture” Rawlins (2001) You must be fooling around –Michael and me “Oh yeah, their relationship is purely platonic” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)
Interpersonal Communication Patterns Enhancing factors or not? Heterosexual cross- sex friends as romantic advisors Particularly true for males There are different degrees of effectiveness
Between Men Jocular Sparring –A guy will se one of his buddies and greet him by saying, “Man, you look terrible today; where’d you get that shirt, off somebody who died? And you hair, geez--put a hat on that.” –“At least I’m not wearing a shirt with flowers on it!” This can be translated as “I like you; you are my buddy.”
And Between Women Don’t try jocular sparring –Picture a woman greeting a female friend by saying, “Hey you look like death warmed over today--What happened? That outfit looks like it’s been through the wringer and your hair look like the cat’s been chewing on it.” How would the female react? How would you react?
Obviously intrafriendship teasing or jocular sparring just doesn’t seem to work the same way with women as it does with men Picture what would happen if a man greeted his female friend by saying, “Not getting enough sleep lately? Your eyes look as though you’ve been on a four-day drunk. And that outfit--did you get dressed in the dark?”
More often than not The women would not take the teasing lightly She may act like she is tossing off the comments, but in fact the teasing is probably causing her discomfort because it introduces an element of uncertainty in the relationship.
Yes, women have a sense of humor! After a friendship has been established When women understand her friend’s communication style better Even so, they tend not to prefer this kind of teasing as a form of indicating closeness or affection
Is it even possible to be “just friends”? How YOU doin?
Keys to effective communication in cross-sex friendships Define expectations of relationship Put limitations on the extent of romantic advice Place limitations on the extent of your romantic involvement CHANDLER: “I think our friendship is effectively ruined” MONICA: “Eh, we weren’t that close anyway”