Why Male Friendships Are So Complicated and Difficult

JD-TurkLast Saturday, Melissa and I decided to ride the little ferry(-ish) boat that cruises around Mission Bay, and it reminded me of a funny incident from years ago — an incident that perfectly illustrates the plight of male friendships….

Back when I was in grad school as a microbiologist, I went on a Caribbean cruise with my family. Every night, I’d head down to one of the bars on the ship and hang out with the other 20-somethings on board. And that’s where I met Pete, a microbiology major at Penn State who was graduating in a few months. It turned out that he was considering moving out to San Diego to go into biotech.

Of course, it made sense for us to exchange contacts and keep in touch, right?

And so we did. I emailed Pete a bunch of information on research in San Diego, and he ended up moving out here that summer. Since he didn’t know anyone in town, I started inviting him out with my friends. And that’s when the inevitable question would arise:

“So how do you guys know each other?”

“Oh, we… uh, met on a cruise….”

Do you see the problem now?

When you’re a guy, and you say that you and your buddy met on a cruise, there is absolutely zero chance the explanation is going to come out heterosexual in any way. And that is the ultimate problem* of man-friendships. If you’re a girl, you can be as tight as you want with your BFF, and people will think you’re adorable. If you’re a guy, and you’re even somewhat tight with your BFF, people start to question your sexuality. And as Pete and I demonstrated, even how you met can lead to mock-raised eyebrows.

And that’s why male friendships are so complicated and difficult.**

*Not a legitimate, society-threatening problem, like racism, sexism, or cars with mustaches.

**Nah, not really. But I thought it was a funny story….

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