Can Men Write About Female Friendships?

The other day a friend sent me a link to an article on Empowher.com called “Do You Have Some Bad Friends? Fire Them!” When I clicked on the link I didn’t expect to see anything new, just the usual rundown of why certain friendships turn toxic and why doing a friendship cleanse can be the best thing for your emotional health.

Before I could dive into the text, I was struck by the story’s byline. It was written by a man. Not a psychologist or therapist or relationship expert. Just a guy.

To be fair, this author seems like a wonderful person who, according to his bio, was the caregiver to his wife during four bouts with breast cancer. He is the founder of an organization called The Patient/Partner Project and the author of a book called “Cancer for Two.” So it’s not like he’s some Joe Schmo off the street.

But still, my first thought when I saw his name was, “What could this guy know from BFF breakups?”

A lot of what Dave Balch writes is spot-on. Like, “the bottom line is that relationships with some friends are more stressful than they are beneficial.” And “we sometimes end romantic relationships when they no longer work; why is it so hard to end friendships when they no longer work?”

But then I came to this line, regarding the decision to dump a friend: “It only hurts for a little while.”

Here is what I have learned while writing this blog and hearing from women who have broken up with friends: It hurts for a long while.

This reaction to severed friendships is the most striking difference between men and women. Men have a really hard time wrapping their heads around how difficult it can be when two friends “separate.” To guys, it’s good riddance. While women are agonizing over what went wrong, and just how horribly guilty we feel (even when we know we did the right thing), men are wondering why we even broke up with said friend if we’re just going to weep over it all the time.

I’m not one to say that men shouldn’t write about women’s issues. One of the great friendship books I read last year, The Girls From Ames, was written by a man. But one of the great parts about that book was that author Jeffrey Zaslow addressed his vantage point as a female friendship “outsider” from the get-go. He was honest about the fact that, as a man, he couldn’t presume to truly understand female friendship without immersing himself in the research and the women he studied.

The author of this article clearly didn’t do anything wrong, and the advice he gives is pretty solid. But as I read the piece, with the caveat that it was from a man’s perspective in the back of my head, I couldn’t help but smile when he wrote: “It only hurts for a little while.” I’m still holding a grudge about the friend breakup from fourth grade. I know. Mature.

Ah, men. They just don’t get us.

Do you take issue when men write stories about female relationships?

7 Comments

Filed under The Gender Gap, The Search

7 responses to “Can Men Write About Female Friendships?

  1. LizC

    Hey I still hold a tiny grudge/feel hurt over a friend break up in 6th grade. There wasn’t a huge fight, my best friend since first grade just faded away. The lack of a fight probably should’ve been a clue considering that in our 6 year bffship we had some spectacular fights. But what really happened is probably more hurtful because ultimately I wasn’t popular enough to be in her clique (and it was always baffling to me how she could somehow be more popular than me. We had the same friends growing up because we went to a small school. We were both in band and yet somehow she got to be more popular than me by the time we hit middle school. Childhood clique dynamics still confuse me. I was popular but not popular enough to be friends with her anymore).

    Actually, as a result of that I’ve never said, or been comfortable labeling, anyone as my bff. If someone who had been my best friend since we were 6 years old, whom I had done everything with, whose phone number I actually still have memorized (when I can’t even remember my own phone number these days) could just drop me without even a word then for me the title of bff didn’t hold much value.

  2. Why not? They write about tons of subjects they have absolutely no idea about so why not female friendships? I wouldn’t take issue, I’d just consider the source and be done with it.

  3. Random question Rachel—How do I add the share icons to my blog ( it’s the same theme as yours) I’m not able to find that widget on the dashboard– or wherever that capability is…please let me know =) and have a great hopefully snow free weekend!

    Sneha

  4. Lorie Lee

    I Wouldn’t Get Offended When Mens Want To Address Issues About Womens, As Long As The Man Is Sensitive Toward The Needs Of Women. I Would Hope That He’s Not Speaking About Women Only To Vent And To Show His “Frustration”. I Will Never Understand Any One Who Will Called Themselves A Relationship Expert Yet They Are On Their Third Or Fourth Spouse, What’s Wrong With There Ugly Picture?
    And How Can Any Man Tell Another Woman How To Think, Or What Too Think As If Women Are Brainless Or Clueless. A Man Wrote A Book That Encouraged Women To “ACT LIKE A LADY AND THINK LIKE A MAN”. But He’s On A Third Wife Ain’t Thats Called A Hyprocrite U Can’t Stay In A Marriage, Yet He’s The Voice To Others, Too What [FAILURE]. If U Practice What U Preach Then I’ll Listen, If U Have Incite And Knowledge Then I’ll Listen. If What U Do Is Not About Money And Trying To Get “RICH” Then I’ll Listen. I Will Always Listen To A Man If He Comes Correct [Only]. I Will Always Respect Mens But Mens Need To Learn To Pratice Rightousness And Stop Justifing There Actions When They Do WRONG.

  5. I don’t think the author of the post was talking about just female relationships but male relationships as well, although the picture of the high school girl and the fact that it’s on a female site does through it off.

    :0]

    Anyway, I think that there are more differences within the sexes than between them to actually say that all female relationships are this and all male relationships are that. For example, my fiance is the more emotional of the two of us – he’s still hurt by a friendship that ended in middle school! However, I’m the complete opposite and more inline with the Empowher author. Great blog, by the way. Very interesting!

  6. Katy

    Generally, I agree with with but I have two exceptions. When I was in high school I read a book (“Girl” by Blake Nelson) written by a man that was the best depiction of real feelings and situations that a teenage girl faces…of course that was fiction but I was still impressed with how much he seemed to know about what goes in the mind of a teenage girl.

    Also, my husband is still bothered by a friend breakup for several years ago. He doesn’t know why the friend stopped talking to him.

  7. This is so abutlsoely precious! Gorgeous light and even more gorgeous girlies! Thanks Jas! BEAUTIFUL!!! xoxo

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