Year-End Review: On Friendship With Women
Time for me to do some verbal genuflecting on things I’ve learned about myself and/or life in the 2013. For long time readers who may be scratching their heads and thinking they missed past year-end reviews like this, don’t worry, you didn’t.
This is something I thought to do through a combination of it being the time of year when everyone is recapping something from the past 12 months and a lot on my mind lately. You know how it is in the last week of December: Even if we shut of all media to avoid reading any year-end lists, our own internal clocks have a way of waking us up and next thing we know, we’re up thinking, “Well damn, another year has come and gone.” I do this all the time and now I’m deciding to share some of what’s in my head with you all.
In my circle, it’s fair to say, I have more women who I would call friends, than men. That is not to say, I’m closer with them. The men I acknowledge as friends are men I have known for years. Whereas I can think of only one woman who I’m as close to today as I was freshman year, the men in my inner circle are guys who I can say I first met walking through Drew Hall, Howard University’s freshman male-only dormitory. Most of the women I would call friends are more recent fixtures, mostly people I acquired throughout my time in New York City.
The nature of my friendships between the two groups (men and women) have their differences and rightfully so. If there’s one thing I have learned about being friends with women, it’s that they’re not men. That kind of realization is probably why so many men are opposed to being in platonic relationships with women: If we’re going to be arguing with a woman, at least let it be with a woman who can offer up some make-up sex. I certainly get it, Lord knows the apologies I’ve had to make to women I am not having sex with sometimes even had me frustrated.
This year, one of my friend’s didn’t talk to me for two weeks because I flaked on plans we made for her to help me decorate my apartment. Another one of my friend’s gives me crap over most things that aren’t necessarily wrong, but with which she doesn’t necessarily agree. Then there are women who have been upset with me because I didn’t check on them when they were down, the way I said (or didn’t say) bye to them before I finished the conversation, and a couple of other things that no man in my life has ever given me crap about, but the women I call friends have called me out on.
And yet, the women I can say are my close friends have made me a better man.
There are very tangible examples I have of this. For instance: I’d like to start sending people more cards for birthdays and holidays. That’s something my woman friends, and only my woman friends have done for me. Hosting people? No one hosts better than a woman, at least the women I know. I mean, I have a blast when I’m with my boys, but my boys aren’t baking things. They’re not telling me to sit down while they fix me a drink. Well, actually one of my boys does this, but he lives with his woman and when he used to live by himself it was all “Get your own drink.” Even when it comes to advice, most of my boys usually are straightforward with me. Their advice is to man up and handle my business. It’s the women who are usually telling me to be thoughtful. This is not to say the men I know don’t have empathy, but they’re on my side 100%. The women are on my side too, they just tell me to consider the opponent.
Most of this year has been spent out of a relationship, and even though it looks like that might change soon, make no mistake about it, the women I call my friends have been the best kind of teachers for my next run. I would never apply all their advice or insider knowledge of their gender, because some of it is only what they would do if they were in my woman’s shoes, and my woman is not them. What I will say is, because I’ve allowed them to know me better, they have been better equipped to call out a particular bad habit of mine in a way my guy friend’s won’t or, frankly don’t get exposed to since the nature of the friendships are different.
But as different as they are, the reasons I have come around to accepting women in my life as friends (and just friends) is because for all the reasons I love my boys, I love my girls. They are loyal and call me out as they may for something I did wrong, they do it because they care about me being better. Sometimes, like my boys, they are wrong. But most times, they’re right because like I said, they know me well, which doesn’t always have to mean biblically.
This may not be a fair accusation to make, but I believe most people choose not to engage in a friendship with a person of the opposite sex because they’re emotionally lazy. To love someone who is not a lover can be trying at times, and it can make other people uncomfortable. I will try to make sure that isn’t the case with me. The next woman who is in my life will have to understand there are other women in my life, and rather than stop hanging out with them or end friendships with them, I will defend my right to keep them where they are. I only need one woman in a romantic relationship, but my life will never be confined to that one relationship. I have friends, women and men, and they’re on my team. The best a woman can hope to be is captain of the team, but never will I cut the team for her sake. The people in my life, women and men, are a part of my whole life.
Yeah, there was a time when I thought being friends with a woman was not possible or there were better ways to do it, but now I realize that was more my problem than the women who I call friends. I don’t even bother getting into the whole debate about can women and men just be friends anymore. To me, that’s amateur hour. The bottom line is, you can be friends with a person of the opposite sex and if you can’t, that’s your fault, not nature’s or science’s. You either meet someone you care about, trust, and are willing to bend over backwards for and you keep them in your life, or you don’t meet anyone like that and you continue to live a life that is half full. I’m choosing the former, and in doing so, the men and women in my life are coming with me as I continue to live.