Friendship is one of the types of close interpersonal relationships in which the need for love, belonging, and importance is realized. For each person, friendship is also a vital, moral value across all genders. In the public consciousness, it appears as some ideal relationship, characterized by a high level of trust and affection. It is necessary to review the socio-psychological research of friendship as a type of interpersonal and gender relations. The scientific interest in friendship is manifested in philosophy, sociology, cultural studies and ethnography, and social psychology. Philosophical concepts appeal to friendship as a cultural phenomenon. Boys from an early age more actively than girls come into contact with other children, start playing games together and interacting (Walker, 1994). The sense of belonging to a peer group and communication with them for men of all ages is much more critical than for women (Wright, 1982). Friendship is considered as the moral value that governs relationships, and it is often related to gender intricacies.
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Both articles “Men’s Friendship, Women’s Friendship” and “Men, Women and Friendship” aim to study the communication patterns difference among genders. The differences between the sexes in the level of sociability are not so much quantitative, but qualitative. Although “scuffling” and “power games” bring the boys immense emotional satisfaction, they usually have a competitive spirit; therefore, it is often that the game turns into a fight (Gillespie, Lever, Frederick, & Royce, 2014). The content of joint activities and their success in it mean for boys more than the presence of individual sympathy for other participants in the game.
The boy chooses an interesting game in which he can prove himself; thus, he comes into contact with partners that he doesn’t particularly like (Wright, 1982). Male communication in nature is more objective and methodological than expressive. Girls’ connection looks more passive, but friendlier and more selective. Judging by the data of psychological studies, the boys first come into contact with each other, and only then, during the game or business interaction, do they develop a positive attitude (Wright, 1982). Girls, on the contrary, come into contact mainly with those who they like. The content of joint activities for them is relatively secondary.
The first view on gender communication is related to the style of interpersonal relationships. It depends not only on the characteristics of the education of boys and girls, the sex of the individual but also on the specific situation of communication, peculiarities of the partner, the content of communications. Men are easier and more willing than women to open up to unfamiliar. However, in communicating with friends, the degree of self-disclosure depends not so much on the sex, but on the content, and the subject matter (Walker, 1994). However, the style of communication is closely connected with the need to maintain the normative image of masculinity or femininity adopted by culture (Wood & Fixmer-Oraiz, 2018). The male form of communication, aimed primarily at keeping the social status, obliges a person to conceal his weaknesses to emphasize achievements and aspirations. Women’s style, on the contrary, is traditionally aimed at reducing social distance and establishing psychological intimacy with others. This regulatory setting forces men to hide such features and problems that look “feminine” (for example, shyness), which drastically reduces the degree of their possible self-disclosure.
Another view on gender communication claims that boys begin to understand that in life they have to be a winner in everything. As boys grow, these young men begin to be praised for victories and scolded for defeat by their inner psychology (Wright, 1982). Soon, peers start to appear as rivals, a threat to success, and young males cease to be just friends. That is why they are so reluctant to turn to anyone with questions or for help. Men would instead make mistakes than ask for help because men prefer to be independent (Walker, 1994). Males allow themselves to consult only with a specialist in a particular area, and if they do not find one, they solve their problems (Walker, 1994). Unrestrained independence, the inherent desire to defeat rivals, the desire to solve all the issues on their own often keep men from close male friendships.
In my experience, as women go through life changes, they also move away from some friendships, no matter how strong they were. Male friendship usually last longer than female friendship due to the fact that men do not change as often as women (Gillespie et al., 2014). When a woman has a family and children, the burden of responsibility does not allow her to spend more time with her friends. Moreover, if he given friend does not have a family, she will not fully understand how busy the woman is.
In conclusion, society has always valued friendship; therefore, it is difficult to make a concise definition of it. However, gender in relationship to friendship is an intricate issue. First of all, friendship is a certain social institution that performs gender and social functions that are studied by sciences, such as sociology, history, and anthropology. Second, it is the real personal relationship that take shape in everyday life, which social psychology analyzes regarding its influence on sexes. Third, there are gender-dependent feelings and experiences, in the study of which the key role belongs to the psychology of emotions and the psychology of personality. Fourth, friendship is an important moral value, the study of which is engaged in ethics.
Gillespie, B. J., Lever, J., Frederick, D., & Royce, T. (2014). Close adult friendships, gender, and the life cycle. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 32(6), 709-736.
Walker, K. (1994). Men, women, and friendship: What they say, what they do. Gender and Society, 8(2), 246-265.
Wood, J. T., & Fixmer-Oraiz, N. (2018). Gendered lives: Communication, gender, and culture (13th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Wright, P. H. (1982). Men’s friendships, women’s friendships and the alleged inferiority of the latter. Sex Roles, 8(1), 1-20.