Several weeks ago, my friend and colleague Linda said to me of men, “They are not our natural companions.”
This was news to me and at first I thought she was joking. (Were you, Linda? Hmmm?) Whether or not it’s true is a subject for another day and one which I am unlikely to discuss on this blog — but if it’s true, and men are not the natural companion of women — who is the natural companion of women?
My friend Kerri and I thrashed out this subject at the time, and as a result of our discussion we could only conclude that women are the natural companions of women.
I would hate for you to start to think I’m a rabid lesbian (not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just that I’m not a lesbian, rabid or otherwise) but I do believe that women meet a need in women that men never can. And, other than sexually, I don’t believe men meet many (if any) needs in women that other women can’t. I’m trying to think of something non-sexual in nature that I can’t get from one of my girl friends, but I’m stuck… Of course, it’s more socially acceptable to live with, sleep with, wake up with a member of the opposite sex, sexual activity notwithstanding, and for most of us old fuddy duddies it bears to keep that in mind.
So it’s a good thing that some men are actually likeable fellows!
Of course, men are different creatures to women and they can make great friends, in relationships and out of them. If you are in a happy relationship and feel that your opposite-sex partner is your natural companion (and you could be right but alternatively you could have simply learned to adapt or to give up something essential in yourself to make it work) then you might think my current single status is greatly influencing this post. And you would be correct to the degree that it allows me objectivity. I’m not enmeshed in a relationship so I can consider the subject from a distance and without emotion or guilt. :-)
Then what is it about women, as opposed to men, that makes them the natural companions of women?
I believe it’s that instinctive understanding and acceptance — the value of which cannot be underestimated — and the support we give each other. Sure, we bitch sometimes — but good friends don’t bitch about each other and I’m talking about close personal relationships here.
I’ve no doubt that some women in relationships with other women will get enmeshed in the whole relationship drama thing just as some men and women do — you know, power play, mind games, holding onto things from the past that have been said or done and which it would be best to just let go, and so on. That’s (some) relationships for ya — and it’s not what I’m talking about here.
As I see it, no matter how much most men try, they don’t understand. Some learn to accept, and can be (but often aren’t) extremely supportive, but they are different and usually just don’t understand. They also in many cases have emotional needs that actually oppose our own (or some have been taught to hide any such needs) and while I am guilty of generalising here, I’m talking from my own experience and that’s what I’ve found. Your mileage may vary. :-)
I’ve always maintained that in a relationship, understanding is desirable but optional — it’s acceptance that counts. True acceptance is solid gold. But women both understand — even when they don’t necessarily agree — and accept.
So it was quite a revelation that Linda’s wise words brought forth. I’m not sure if they were meant glibly or not and only Linda could say, but regardless, she was putting forth the idea for me to consider for myself, which task I have duly accomplished! Although the thought process continues. I’d be interested to hear your own thoughts.
As someone who was once scolded for loving his (male) friends more than his then-girlfriend—something most men I know have been accused of at some point—I gotta say it goes both ways.
Well Chris, I think you are sooooooooo right. I deliberately didn’t open the can of worms of who men’s natural companions are. ;-)
But yeah point taken, it takes two. Too often there’s only one trying, though — be that the male or the female.
Gary Barber says
Are men really the natural companions of men? What if you just don’t get the male friendship thing and find it all little uninteresting. What then. Personally I don’t have any close male “mates” so I guess I’m just a little weird…
Gary, I know a few men who prefer female company to male. I think women can be more accepting of men than other men are. Men don’t have to put on a macho act for women, and don’t have to hide the fact that they have emotions. I know enough men who prefer to escape that kind of pressure for me to know it’s a real issue.
For years I mainly had male friends. Unplanned — it just happened that way. And now I am finding my female friendships particularly precious and they add something to my life that is exactly what I need right now and I’m sure that influenced this post. (That and none of the feelings of betrayal that I might have if I had a partner.)
The differences between males and females can make life interesting and add value to a friendship or relationship, without a doubt.
It’s just that as far as being “natural companions” is concerned, the whole idea really made me think!
Gavin j says
The natural companion to the male is a dog.
Or a 50 inch plasma screen and surround system.
Gavin, you forgot the beer and the football…
Gavin j says
Not being a beer-swilling, noisy-gas-expelling, footy-worshipping, maaaaate, kinda guy allows me to forget those details…
Stéphane Bergeron says
I am one of those men who denerally prefer the company of women although I do have male friends. The guys I’m still close to even if I don’t see them often are those I played music with. Outside of that shared passion, I find other men generally boring… ;) I’m not into sports or cars and I am not competitive at all. I generally just don’t care all that much about what others think of me ;)
Maybe it’s because I was an only child and my family moved 9 times before I even reached the age of 13, but I learned early on to function well on my own and not depend on others so I can get by without much social interaction for longer than most people.
I think I may be a rabid lesbian . . ~
Hi Stéphane, nice to see you here! (Though you make me feel guilty for not visiting that Other Place Which Shall Remain Nameless!)
It must be fantastic to be in the kind of relationship you describe. But I think your situation with Isabelle is the exception rather than the rule?
My ex was my best friend too (probably still is), and it has been brought home to me since living alone (a year now!) just how much compromise of self there is to keep a relationship ticking around — no matter how much the other person “gets” you. You may not feel you’re making sacrifices but when you have the space to do exactly as you choose, you realise how much you were choosing for the other person! It works both ways, of course. In a great relationship there is giving on both sides and that’s why, I think, it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice.
Aren’t relationships are so complicated?! Argh!
Petey: you are no lesbian. You are exactly the sort of male most women don’t “get”. :-P