On The Intimacy of Friendship
Updated: Apr 3, 2020
by: I.S. Jones
To keep it a buck, my exhaustion with men reached a fever pitch about two days ago. I say this because I was so engulfed with rage with how exhausted I felt constantly being failed by men. And yet, I allow this behavior. This article isn’t about my continuous confusion over men’s seeming careless and selfish behavior aimed at women, but about friendship and the critical role it plays over the course of our lives.
A large portion of the lady friends I have made in New York have been because of the men I know. I’m pretty confident there isn’t a running statistic about women who have more male than female friends, but a lot of women I know (myself included) really struggle to form tight, real feminine friendships. Especially ones that are not founded on the premise of a mutual toward a fuckboy.
Now, I’m turning 26 this month, sadly I have far more guy friends than lady friends. Which is not to knock the dudes and all, but humans seek a sense of homogeny, a term used in sociology to explain why it is that communities and relationship form based on a kind of sameness. Friendships with people the same gender as you (or the same gender presentation as you) are always different than the opposite. As you probably know by now, most of the friends we have in our 20’s and later in life are from high school / college / possibly work / through other friends. The older you get, the more difficult it is to make friends and those numbers are far worse for men.
As I got older, and had a few heartbreaks under my belt, I began to value friendships often over romantic relationships in a way that the immature boy-crazy me did not. All of this is to say: no one can look out for you the way your girls can. Full stop.
I’m gonna be a cynic and say it: a dude could cheat on you (and I hope that never happens), but a (good) friendship is one that will uplift you. Of all the relationships we cherish, friendships tend to be at the bottom of the rung. For both societal and even biological reasons, family and romantic relationships are prioritized higher, which, to be honest, can leave us feeling lonely. Children will grow up and leave the house. A spouse will be selfish enough to die on you. It’s critical for one’s emotional and spiritual health to be more attentive to the other relationships in your life. Whether it’s through divorces, cancer, child loss, and generally life being as brutal as possible, friendships are one of those relationships you have more space to explore parts of yourself that a romantic relationship doesn’t allow you the room.
In the same past two days that I mentioned above, I got to hang out with two of my girlfriends and a lot of our conversation was about nipple piercings, tattoos, and girl shit. Shit men would probably not be interested in, and it was refreshing. I have a few theories as to why some of us ladies struggle to make friends:
We really have it in our heads other girls either wouldn’t like us / we have nothing in common / women are too difficult to befriend in a way that guys just aren’t
-In the words of Tupac “Fuck all that”. I think, whether we want admit it or not, this is a form of internalized misogyny, which is not your fault at all. At all. I promise you. Everyone, unfortunately is either a victim or agent of this malicious system, however it is important for you to be critical of your own actions. To this end, you have to see others the way you see yourself. Would you be your friend? If so, why? Would do you bring to the table as a friend? How does another woman become a more enriched person by befriending you? Sometimes it may be the women you are hoping to befriend and the chemistry just isn’t there. I have this one friend, for some reason, I’m weird about hanging out with her because I fear fucking up the friendship, yet she came out to one of my shows then we got dinner after, so it was alright.
2. We see each other as competition
-Now, I could be alone on this, but I definitely notice that I compare myself to other girls. Example “Is her ass fatter than mine?” “Are her breasts nicer than mine?” “Is she pretty than me?” “Does [insert someone who’s opinion about my body doesn’t matter] think she’s pretty than me?” When I start befriending other girls, I start thinking about what I have over them and that’s really crazy, bro. Even if ol’ girl’s ass is fatter, she has nicer breasts, and stage prop dude wants her over you, it does not matter. It does not matter because you still flyy (yes, with two ‘y’s) in your own right.
3. You and her want the same person
-I haven’t had an experience in which I was / had a romantic rival, but in my experience, niggas ruin a lot potential sisterhood. There are a handful of girls I could have been super close with if a nigga didn’t ruin the chance of a relationship by doing dumb shit. Damn.
4. You’re a socially awkward turtle
-I get called ‘awkward’ a lot. A lot. To the point where I’m like “I mean, square up motherfucker! Why do you feel the need to constantly throw that shit in my face?” I have a lot of social anxiety. I toggle between not leaving my apartment for days on end, then being upset with myself for squandering my greatness, then being anxious for not living up to my greatness then ignoring texts and called and being curled up in bed while I am out of toilet paper and paper plates. I’ve seen it work where someone just puts up a facebook status: “Hey. Free today. Who’s tryna hang out?” Or you can walk up to people are start talking: “Hi, my name is Itiola. Yeah, it’s Nigerian. I really like pizza, liquor, Grey’s Anatomy, natural hair, and this really cute shade of nail polish you’re wearing. Y’all wanna get pizza and talk about SZA?”
I want to have close female friendships well into my old age to share myself with other humans before I leave this planet. In order to have what you want out of this life, you have to be willing to work on it. Remember that a healthy friendship is a mutual exchange, and someone you have to work on yourself in order to achieve the friendships