Historically, I have had a limited number of male friends. There have been a few casual relationships but, in the sense of close friends, very few have been male. In fact, I can say that I have not had one male close friend over the past 50 years!
The reason is probably that I have little to add to a typical male conversation and so developing a close male friendship is unlikely.
A sexually oriented conversation holds no interest because it either borders on fantasy or is derogatory to some person. In addition, I believe that sexual intimacy is a private matter and not open for discussion.
A sports oriented conversation usually revolves around soccer, football, baseball and/or hockey. I have never been attracted to team sports so there is an obvious communication barrier there. I would quite happily chat about running, ice skating and/or gymnastics but, to date, those topics rarely get off the ground in male company.
If I try to introduce a topic that involves some degree of thinking, it often goes nowhere and, if I try and discuss feelings, all I get are blank looks followed by a diversionary point of supposed interest from the last hockey game.
In total contrast, many women I have known are quite happy discussing their feelings about an issue, and seem to encourage thought provoking topics. Even their sports interests are often closely aligned to mine. The end result is that over the past many years, I have had more female friends than male, and the close, meaningful relationships have all been female ………. until recently.
I now have a male friend who came as a bit of a surprise, not only because I could chat to him about virtually anything, but because he readily expressed his feelings. Over the course of time, it was obvious that we were getting closer and, while I was very pleased about that, it really did come as a bit of a surprise. I could see that he could become a friend.
I will hug pretty much anybody but, when it comes to a male, I wait until I sense that it would be received in the spirit intended. I now have a friend who not only graciously accepts hugs, but even invites them! He could actually become a close friend.
Another thing I noticed was a mutual pleasure in each other’s company. I found him very comfortable to be around and the reverse was quite obviously true. He also presented a circumstance which I find very unusual, and have only experienced it a few times. To be in somebody’s company, and have no conversation in progress and yet feel totally at ease! We are often together, each within our own thoughts, and clearly neither of us are uncomfortable in the prevailing silence. He really could become a close friend.
It was also very clear that I could talk to him about anything and have total confidence that he would respect my privacy and not tell anybody of our talks. He really could be a dear friend.
What more would I like from a friend? Support in difficult or threatening times would be nice. Not too long ago, I was in a situation where I felt uneasy about the manner of a man that I had annoyed by criticizing his lack of control over his dog. I was clearly not going to be on my own if the situation deteriorated. Not only was my new friend totally with me, but his build is such that he could intimidate without effort and if things ever degenerated to the point of physical contact, I would not want to be the person facing my new friend.
At last it would seem that I have found the perfect male friend. At last it would appear that I have a male friend who I can really love in the context of friendship. But how can I express love for another male without incurring a complex conversation to avoid misunderstandings? How can I tell another male that I love him without jeopardizing the whole relationship?
Women seem to be far more receptive to a show of affection from their gender colleagues while men tend to act with suspicion or with outright rejection in similar circumstances.
I really felt that it needed to be said, and decided to wait for that “right moment”. One evening we were together and clearly very comfortable in each other’s presence. I leaned over towards him and said “I love you” and kissed the top of his head. His reaction was perfect. He rolled over onto his back and invited a tummy rub.
“Love you Ray buddy. You’re the best!”