Gender bias
October 28, 2004 9:07 AM   Subscribe

Do you have significantly more friends of one gender than the other?

I was talking to a (female) coworker yesterday and she said that not only does she not have any close female friends, she doesn't really have any female friends, period, and doesn't feel like she can have them. I have another female friend who has very few female friends in comparison to the number of male friends she has. Is that common? What about for guys?
posted by kenko to Society & Culture (32 answers total)
I'm a guy, and my friends are almost exactly evenly split. That might be because almost everyone I know is in a fairly committed relationship or married, but I think I had the same gender split even before people started getting married. IIRC, of course.

...however, one of my closest friends is a single female, and she has frequently expressed the opinion that she doesn't have enough female friends ("all my friends are guys!"). Which I find odd, because it seems to me that she has as many female friends as male friends. Maybe she counts differently.
posted by aramaic at 9:16 AM on October 28, 2004

yes. i can't really think of more than a handful of female friends I've had that haven't been girlfriends who I would see on a regular basis.

but that's because I'm sexist.
posted by fishfucker at 9:32 AM on October 28, 2004

posted by FreezBoy at 9:33 AM on October 28, 2004

(many female acquantices though. what i mean by friend is someone I would call up and say "hey, let's go get schnookered at the bar", not someone that i'd see when I got to the bar.)

(yes. my life revolves around intoxication. simple pleasures.)

posted by fishfucker at 9:34 AM on October 28, 2004

I, a guy, have historically had many more female friends than male friends, dating back to high school (no pun intended, and it's not really a pun, since I dated or pursued dating with almost none of them). I made a new coterie of friends in college and became a little more balanced, but still favored females. In the post-collegiate, post-marriage (note: my best man was a woman), post-childbirth world, I find I basically only have male friends apart from my spouse, but that's mostly a function of those few male friends from high school relocating to my vicinity. If not for them and my poker buddies (mostly guys), I wouldn't really see anyone apart from the other parents in the neighborhood (who fall pretty evenly half-and-half on the gender lines).

I don't know why I've had fewer male friends. I'm something of a beta male, I suppose, in that I never got juiced about pro sports, &c. I suspect it's related to emotional openness: Women were always more willing to talk about meaningfullish stuff. When talking with guys, it was usually superficial or creative matters, whereas with women it was usually more intimate matters. As someone sexually inclined to be intimate with women, that makes a certain amout of sense, but again, these were almost exclusively platonic friendships.
posted by blueshammer at 9:36 AM on October 28, 2004

I'm a lessbean, and when I first came out in college most of my friends were also the lady-lovin' ladies. To this day, my best friends are ex-girlfriends. Since I've left collegetown, though, most of my day-to-day friends are now straight guys, usually married. Most of my good friends are people I know from high school, from family, or from college. I find gender doesn't matter so much anymore - we all basically just sit around and moan about how much we hate our jobs or whatever.
(Off-topic rant - I think living in the suburbs is a giant recipe for isolation; people go to work, drive straight into their garages when they get home, and don't come out again until it's time to go back to work. No wonder so many people watch so much TV - the people on the WB are their #1 community.)
posted by pomegranate at 9:56 AM on October 28, 2004

I'm very much like blueshammer: mostly female friends, and for the same reasons.
posted by weston at 9:58 AM on October 28, 2004

I'm female, and while I do have a few female friends, most of my friends are male. My closest (other than my husband) and most long-term friend is male.
posted by biscotti at 10:00 AM on October 28, 2004

I'm a male, and as far as numbers go I have about an equal number of male and female friends. My best friend (other than my wife) is male.
posted by tommasz at 10:05 AM on October 28, 2004

I'm female and the vast majority of my friends are male. Most of the females I know tend to be just way too obsessed with stuff I could care less about, and I always get the feeling of being looked down on by them. The males I know tend to think more like me...
posted by dagnyscott at 10:29 AM on October 28, 2004

As an adolescent, I (female) had many more male friends than female ones. At the time, women seemed too catty and superficial, and men were so much easier to deal with. To be perfectly honest, I probably also enjoyed all the male attention.

Sometime during my late 20's, there was a shift, and the majority of my close friends are now female. Locally, most of our circle of friends are (straight) couples, so the male/female ratio is pretty evenly balanced there. However, almost all of the friends I've kept in close touch with long-distance over the years are female.

I used to have a theory about this, but this thread has already thrown my theory out the window. I guess it just depends on what you're looking for, and when.
posted by widdershins at 11:45 AM on October 28, 2004

I'm female and all of my friends are male. The lack of female friends is due to the same reasons dagnyscott cited.
posted by mokujin at 11:51 AM on October 28, 2004

Almost all of my closest friends are men (like me) these days. In the past, it's been the opposite from time to time. When I was younger, I got along with women great and often found men stupid and insensitive.

But I have to admit that sexual tension and/or giving in to it has taken a toll on my female friendships over the years. The female friends I still have are gay, married, or live far away. I don't mean to devalue their friendship, quite the opposite. But if any part of this question was "are you friends with eligible members of the opposite sex" then I have to answer: not much.

Maybe this will change for me over time now that I'm in a very committed relationship myself.
posted by scarabic at 11:56 AM on October 28, 2004

In general, my friends are about evenly split, though the few I'd consider closest (other than my wife) are of my gender (male). I have heard some of my female friends talk about not having close female friends.
posted by transient at 11:57 AM on October 28, 2004

I'm female and the vast majority of my friends are male. Most of the females I know tend to be just way too obsessed with stuff I could care less about, and I always get the feeling of being looked down on by them. The males I know tend to think more like me...

This is true for me also. I have a few female friends from high school/college but being a post-30 woman who is not that interested in the married/career/kids thing [I mean, I care about my friends who do these things but it's not a lifestyle choice I'm making] means that I often wind up with younger male friends who are still goofing off, travelling, messing about with computers and dicking around online. I just can't have another "biological clock" conversation again. I like women in a general sense but I found that a lot of them seemed to be competitive in overt or not-so-overt ways which I found tiring. I know it sounds weird, but their concerns do not seem to be mine. Often me and my SO will hang out with other couples which works well since it's the best of both worlds and more and more of the people I meet are in couples nowadays. It is a bit of a challenge to maintain friendships with straight married male friends because sometimes it gets weird with their spouses [usually once they meet me it's fine, but everyone wonders "who is that girl you email with all the time?" at first] but as more and more of my male friends get married off, I've been managing it.
posted by jessamyn at 12:02 PM on October 28, 2004

I'm a weird one with no current friends (can I hear an "awww"). I live in the 'burbs (actually, it's really rural) and have no real way of making friends (not currently employed). And, as previously mentioned, there's that whole shy/social anxiety thing going on.

- Inherited friends: I've kinda/sorta inherited friends when I married my husband. They are all couples, not a singleton to be seen. I consider them more as acquaintenances than friends. Husband doesn't understand this mind-set.

- Online: I usually have more male friends than female. That's most likely because I like online gaming.

- Work: Mostly female because, when working, I'm an office flunky and we're mostly women.

- School: Mostly female, way too shy to be friends with guys when I was a kid.
posted by deborah at 12:47 PM on October 28, 2004

What gender are imaginary freinds?
posted by jonmc at 1:34 PM on October 28, 2004

(My imaginary friend was H.G. Wells. Swear to god. So, male.)

I have mostly female friends too, though it's a lot more evenly split than it was in my college years. I'm guessing that's partly where I've been hanging out (I was a bartender for a long time, and the outgoing people in that scene were almost all women, and now I hang with writers a lot more, so there are more men, anyway).

But without doing a census, I'd say the gurls outnumber the boyz 2-1 in my social life these days.
posted by chicobangs at 1:47 PM on October 28, 2004

I'm a female, and all my best friends are female, too. I don't have any close guy friends, but only platonic acquaintances through other friends. I usually only have a close male in my life when I’m dating him. My friendships with guys never last because I find that guys want to be my friend for all the wrong reasons. I'm much more comfortable with women, but it could be because I grew up with sisters. Also, my mother has a really tight group of women friends who get together for lunch, dinner and theater all the time. Most of my girlfriends have the same 'ladies who lunch' kind of mothers, so that's what we see as normal.

So to me this is very common. My girlfriends and I are all mixed, and I have three different sets of girlfriends from different phases of my life: some are engaged, some are single, and some are in serious relationships. But at least once a month, we all get together for ‘ladies night’ at a bar, for dinner, a club, etc. We are all resolved to stay close friends no matter the circumstance, no matter who their significant other is.

Not to diss, but my friends and I are the kind of women who are very wary of other women who have no girlfriends. There are certainly exceptions, but in my experience, the kind of woman who doesn't have any girlfriends is the kind that will either hit on your boyfriend when your back is turned, fuck all your single guy friends, or has spent so much time dependant on different men, that they basically have had no time to forge any strong female/female relationships. Granted, there are exceptions: some women are really shy, some are more into guy things, and some are just not comfortable around women altogether. Please don’t be offended by this, they are only generalizations...

Most of the females I know tend to be just way too obsessed with stuff I could care less about, and I always get the feeling of being looked down on by them.

That sucks. But ladies with only guy friends, I have a few burning questions: Who do you talk to about confidential 'women' things? Who do you talk to when you are going through a bad relationship? Who the hell do you go shopping with!?! How do you get your fashion/make-up advice or style? Who do you learn your feminine wiles from? I'm really curious, because I’d be devastated without my girlfriends. We've learned so much from each other.
posted by naxosaxur at 2:37 PM on October 28, 2004

I'm a male, I have one good male friend who lives in a different state. I suppose I have two or three female friends here at university, including my lady, who doubles as my best friend. This is not counting aquiantences, and couples, and etc., which would widen the numbers, but it's definitely the case that at this point in my life I'm definitely interacting more with females than with males.

I don't "prefer" the company of any specific gender over another, but I do find that I presently have very little in common with most of the males in my age group. A couple of years ago I was reading John Fowles, a male writer who seems decidedly against male-male friendships, which I can remember thinking interesting at the time.

I dunno, I really think its just as simple as this: doing the same things with females is generally more interesting for me than with males.
posted by cohappy at 3:31 PM on October 28, 2004

don't ask me how I can say I don't prefer something yet find it generally more interesting though...
posted by cohappy at 3:35 PM on October 28, 2004

I have more female friends than male friends (I am male).....and it's been that way for the last 6 years or so.....I don't know why, honestly......I notice some guys do keep their distance from me as I open up in conversation and women tend to accept open conversation more (open, as in talking about feelings and all the cliche stuff men are supposed to not talk about - all the cliches are true unless they've had 6 pints of Stella down them). My philosophy is : life is short, let's talk about whatever. What happens to me? I have more women friends than men friends. You tell me!
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:33 PM on October 28, 2004

Oddly enough, all my online friends are female, and my offline friends are male.
posted by FunkyHelix at 4:35 PM on October 28, 2004

I'm female, but I've always tended toward the "nerdy" and "boyish" pursuits in life. I'm introverted, I have many casual friends, but few "real" friends. Of those, most are guys now, and I think this has been the case throughout my life. This may be situational, both because of the activities I chose to involve myself, in, along with the fact that I am very close with my sister, so I wasn't too starved for female companionship.

I just like hanging out with guys better, because it's easier for me to be friendly and friends with a random guy, than with a random girl. The common ground is easier to find. I don't have any idea why this is, but I know when I do make a connection with another female, it's usually for life. I need least one solid girl friendship in my life, but I really don't need or want more beyond that.
posted by nelleish at 6:53 PM on October 28, 2004

I'm with Jessamyn, dagnyscott, mokujin and nelleish. Hey, maybe we should hang out.

and naxosaxur, if you'll also try not to be offended, your questions pretty much describe why. That and the fact that women who do concern themselves with such things, as you point out, hate, fear or distrust me anyway.

Who do you talk to about confidential 'women' things?
My mother, my doctor, or my friends. Or, if it's that confidential, why would I talk to my friends about it anyway?
Who do you talk to when you are going through a bad relationship?
Again, my friends. There's not a huge gender difference between broken hearts, really.
Who the hell do you go shopping with!?!
I hate shopping.
How do you get your fashion/make-up advice or style?
I've never been one to look to others for my own sense of style, but my drag queen friends do help with my hair sometimes.
Who do you learn your feminine wiles from?
I'd best not try to answer this one. Suffice it to say I learned just about all I wanted to about such things before leaving high school.

I do have some girlfriends that I am very close to, but we've never, ever talked about makeup.
posted by obloquy at 8:40 PM on October 28, 2004

naxosaxur, if you'll also try not to be offended, your questions pretty much describe why.

Ditto. I do find myself in the very unplanned position of sharing a new flat with 5 other females and one male; it's a bit chafing to be honest. I'm constantly thinking to myself "Would it kill you to pick up a screwdriver and help me assemble the new furniture?" I then realise that they'd be more hindrence than help, but'd think putting together IKEA furniture was akin to rocket science. But I digress...burning questions answered slightly tongue in cheek:

Who do you talk to about confidential 'women' things? What the hell are 'Women' things? We'll just say all my male friends are now very well versed on the female reproductive system and know the precise measurements of any hookups/boyfriends I've had.

Who do you talk to when you are going through a bad relationship? See obloquy's response

Who the hell do you go shopping with!?! No one. If I have to go shopping, it's like a Navy Seal operation: go in, get the job done, and get the fuck out of there. Bloodshed is optional.

How do you get your fashion/make-up advice or style? I was in ballet for 17 years and my mother was/is a hairstylist/skin care specialist. I know more about makeup and hair than the bastard love child of Vidal Sasson and Tammy Faye Baker.

Who do you learn your feminine wiles from? What the hell are feminine wiles? How to seduce a guy? Easy. "Hello. Want to fuck?" Salutations optional.
posted by romakimmy at 4:19 AM on October 29, 2004

Listen: I keep a very open mind about you ladies who don't dwell in the similar realm of cultivation, so I’ll ask that you do that same. There's no need for condescension or factiousness.
posted by naxosaxur at 8:25 AM on October 29, 2004

naxosaxur- I was going to be offended by your generalizations of "girls with no girlfriends" (seeing as nothing you said in any way decribes me. I'm not a bitch, thank you), but then I realized that I have my own prejudices against "girls with no guy friends," and they likely describe you just as well as yours describe me (i.e., not very well).

It isn't really fair of me to judge you just because you need different things in your circle of relationships than I do. I think it's incredibly unfortunate you don't have any close male friends, that you only interact closely with men while dating them (which is not the same as friendship), and that you probably won't end up married to a best friend. But you wouldn't agree with me on that, any more than I agree with you that I should need a group of female friends to support me or that I lack "cultivation"

Everyone is wired differently. I love my close female friends very dearly, and like you I would be devasted not to have them. Yet I do love my guy friends just as much, and I would miss the balance and sense they bring to my life. All those questions you asked, I have them answered perfectly satisfactorily in the way that suits me, as do you. There is nothing wrong with the way either of us wants or needs to live her life.

Just please don't assume I want to sleep with all my male friends or that that's all they want from you.
posted by nelleish at 8:57 AM on October 29, 2004

Thanks, nelleish, for your more level-headed response. And I will also agree to not dismiss women with no close male friends as vapid, false and territorial if I can hope to not be assumed to be a needy, man-stealing whore. I should, and do, know better. Of course, this is a thread that is meant to collect anecdotal evidence for & against an assumption, so generalizations are bound to crop up.
posted by obloquy at 1:40 PM on October 29, 2004

Look, I'll give an example of why I don't have many female friends, and it has nothing to do with guy-stealing. I just graduated from college. When there, one of my few female friends, who is generally popular and well-liked by just about everybody, decided to throw a party one weekend, but very few females (particularly from our shared social group) showed up because they all had to clean their apartments. Honest to God, knowing these people, that wasn't an excuse, 95% of 20-year-old college girls had the burning desire to spend their Friday nights CLEANING THEIR APARTMENTS. I had a roommate like this, at an on-campus apartment. She was upset that Lisa and I didn't spend nearly as much as her cleaning. She also never attended any of the classes she was supposedly taking, which gave her considerably more time to worry about things like how clean our kitchen floor was, I guess.

That and the previously mentioned not-quite-overt competition which just gets to be too much. I've been around way too many back-stabbing females spending their days in Machiavellian power struggles, except without any real... reward....

And the only question I found relevant (since the answer to anything with shopping, fashion, etc. would be "not that interested"):

Who do you talk to when you are going through a bad relationship?

When I was going through a horrible breakup, my main sources of support were a male online friend and a male friend who lived next door to me, who was extremely honorable in standing up for me against some of the meaner things my ex said and did... and gained the ire of a number of people by doing so, but never once complained.
posted by dagnyscott at 4:47 PM on October 29, 2004

All my friends are male. I had female friends as a teenager though.
posted by wackybrit at 5:21 PM on October 30, 2004

a late chiming in to this thread with some answers for naxosaxur:

Who do you talk to about confidential 'women' things?

My sister, my Mom, my boyfriend or AskMetafilter. I don't really have any list of things that I won't talk to men about [the poor guys] so I'll talk to any of my friends, male or female. Though, to be honest, maybe I'm not sure what you're getting at here.

Who do you talk to when you are going through a bad relationship?

Same as above. I find that getting relationship advice from men and women can be helpful in dealing with bad relationships if I'm trying to understand what my male partner might be going through or why he's doing what he's doing.

Who the hell do you go shopping with!?!

I shop like romakimmy, usually at the church rummage sale. That said, my sister will dress me for the occasional wedding but if she didn't, I'd just dress myself and suffer the consequences.

How do you get your fashion/make-up advice or style?

Those who know me will not be surprised that I do not get this advice from anyone. I only wear make-up on Halloween.

Who do you learn your feminine wiles from?

See above. It's clear that we have different approaches to the whole boy/girl thing and in my life those distinctions, while not invisible, are less important. As a result, the concept of feminine wiles is a bit antithetical to most of my life, but I've seen them on TV and I think I could fake them, should the need arise.

I don't mean to be terribly facetious but it's clear that the whole idea of "what sort of woman would have only male friends?" is different in my conception than in yours. In my world, I hang out with a lot of tomboy/butch women who are definitely not the type who would backstab you or try to sleep with your boyfriend. Many of us have boyfriends or girlfriends and just have a different gender identity that isn't so boy/girl. I have [what I call] "girly girl" friends, and a girly sister and I enjoy their company immensely but it's always like hanging out on a different planet when I'm with them, we just don't care about the same things, and don't do the same things. Speaking for my girly friends only, they seem to have have definite ideas of what women are like, much moreso than I do. By their definitions I'm always found wanting so there are always attempts by them to help me out, dress me better, take me shopping, whatever. With them, I've always felt like a bad version of some idealized woman, not a good version of me, who happens to be female, which is how I feel to me.
posted by jessamyn at 7:22 AM on November 2, 2004

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