I’m a woman with lots of male friends. Most my friends, in fact, are beautiful, amazing men I’ve found over the years. They’re people I’ve grown up with, and I’ve seen them grow too. I’ve seen scrappy, aggressive boys grow up into empathetic, kind men, and I’ve seen their heartbreaks, joys, angers, and failures. I’ve seen my boys through the best and worst, just as they’ve seen me through the same.
Which is precisely why writing this feels like I’m letting them down.
But I really, really miss female friendship.
I have my fair share of women I know. A few, I call close friends too. Two of my best friends, nay sisters, are women. However, despite going to an all women’s college, I find myself craving an honest, true bond with another woman. Most women I love live very far away from me, or are too busy, and while technology helps, the need to be with them physically tends to exhaust me to an extent that I find myself unable to sustain even the most effortless of bonds.
I’ve tried being friends with women, I honestly have. The usual idea of ‘men being less drama’ doesn’t quite apply to me, because all the men I know are as, if not more, complex creatures than the women I know. I simply find myself unable to create a comfort level with other women. One reason for this is probably my weight. I’ve been heavy all my life. While I’m still heavy now, I’m not as morbidly obese as I was some time ago. During that phase, being in a group of women left me uncomfortable and angry. The subtle shaming they indulged in ruined whatever confidence I had, and coupled with the fact that I could not relate to a lot of what they spoke of, I found myself gravitating towards men.
While the guys around me occasionally ribbed me about my weight, and passed around funny names once in a while, it wasn’t insidious. They weren’t competing with me. They weren’t trying to pull me down. When I spoke of my fears, the nonconformity to certain ideals I was struggling with, and my questions about sexuality, they never shunned me. They accepted. Some of the things I spoke of made a majority of them cringe, but they never closed me out. I was a weirdo, yes, but I was their weirdo.
I’m grateful for the men in my life. They’ve given me perspective, made me a kinder, better person, and they’ve always been some of the best listeners. When I broached this topic on social media recently, I was met with a deluge of supportive comments from women my age, and a few reassuring words from slightly older ones. They told me of how they found their best girlfriends later in life, and how they hoped I would too.
This did make me think very hard about the fact that women are probably often more misogynistic than men are. The worst part is, they know they’re actively hurting other women. I probably lost out on female friendship in college due to a series of bad emotional investments I made, but what scares me more than a repeat of that failures is the fact that somewhere in me, I’m convinced that I’m unable to sustain a bond of sisterhood. Nothing seems scarier than that, considering that as I’m growing up, I see people consolidating their friendships, instead of creating new ones.
As I write this, I make a promise to myself. I promise to try, and I promise to not move towards a group of men solely because the women look intimidating. I promise to keep my existing relationships alive to the best of my ability, and I promise to try and forgive myself for those that I couldn’t. It’s not much, but it’s hopefully a start.