This post is part of the February Synchroblog “Cross Gender Friendships”. See the full list of participants at the bottom of this post.
I write about cross-gender friendship with some regularity, but I don’t often write about why I have a male best friend.
Here’s the deal – I have a male best friend because that’s just how it worked out. We drove together to a couple of gigs, found out that we’re basically the same person, and decided that we wanted to be best friends. I wish it was more dramatic than that, but honestly, that’s how close friendship often works. You find someone who “clicks” and you become friends with them. I think most of the time when we enter friendship with some kind of motive, we will be disappointed.
But now that I have a cross-gender friend, what does that mean? What do I gain from this relationship?
- A better sense of self. Because I know that our relationship is often under scrutiny, this friendship has forced me to be more honest. And the person from whom it has required the most honesty is me. Because I want to honor my husband, as well as Rich and Misty, I have to be honest about how I am feeling. While I do not love the suspicious underpinnings for much of this self-reflection, I do appreciate that it is an outcome of this friendship.
- A better marriage. I know that the narrative is that cross-gender friendships destroy marriages, or at least have the capacity to do so. I in no way want to deny that friendships can evolve into something that is unhealthy for a marriage. But I have found that as I have developed relationships apart from my marriage, my marriage thrives. This takes work and commitment to honesty, but I think it’s well worth the effort.
- A better appreciation for my single friends. In the Church, we do a really, really poor job caring for (or about) singles. I have friends who write about this far better than I possibly could, but my friendship with Rich reminds me that if friendship is important to me as a married person, it matters just as much to my single friends. When we magnanimously allow cross-gender friendships before marriage, but then ban them after marriage, we steal a friend away from someone who may want to be a part of the new relationship. This friendship makes me want to reach out and be more inclusive of those who are single.
- A better perspective on gender issues. Being married and having sons helps me have a better understanding of how men view the world. But friends shape our worldview in a unique manner, and having a close friend of the opposite gender can allow me to get feedback on ways that I present ideas that a female friend might not be able to notice or that my husband might overlook because he’s married to me. My approach to gender issues is more nuanced because of my friendship with a man.
As much as I appreciate all of those things, what I really get with my friendship with Rich is a close friend. Someone to get a coffee with when we have a break from teaching lessons at the same time. Someone who will go with me to Mountain Stage. Someone who will eat a bowl of guacamole with extra cilantro with me.
These things don’t have anything to do with our genders. It just took us being open to friendship in the first place.
Don’t forget about the upcoming Sacred Friendship Gathering on April 26 & 27! You can still register for only $85 through the end of this month. You’ll get to hear me speak along with a lot of other fantastic speakers. I’d love to see you there!
Chris Jefferies – Best of both
Jeremy Myers – Are Cross-Gender Friendships Possible
Lynne Tait – Little Boxes
Dan Brennan – Cross-Gender Friendship: Jesus and the Post-Romantic Age
Glenn Hager – Sluts and Horndogs
Jennifer Ellen – A Different Kind of Valentine
Liz Dyer – Cross-Gender Friendships and the Church
Jonalyn Fincher – Why I Don’t Give out Sex like Gold Star Stickers
Maria Kettleson Anderson - Myth and Reality: Cross-Gender Friendships
Bram Cools - Nothing More Natural Than Cross-Gender Friendships?
Marta Layton – True Friendship: Two Bodies, One Soul
Kathy Escobar – The Road To Equality Is Paved With Friendship