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Is it easier to make and retain friends as a woman?

(32 Posts)
Gorgeoussunset Tue 27-Dec-16 03:23:41

Was reading about this earlier. We have it seems better developed friendship networks than men, many of whom are apparently increasingly isolated especially when relationship ends. Certainly is some evidence this may be true looking around me. Am happy with my own circle but always open to adding to it. Thoughts?

OdinsLoveChild Tue 27-Dec-16 03:52:24

No not from my experience. Women are very judgmental and criticise too easily. It's extremely difficult to join an existing friendship group or make an individual friendship as a new person no matter how much people actually say they're always happy to have a new friend.

Men in my experience tend to bond over things like beer, hobbies and sports. They find it easier to join in with likeminded others as they just join in a common themed conversation and they can build on it from there. For example my DH will go down the pub 2 or 3 times, chat with those he meets sometimes having very long conversations with people he hasn't spoken to much before. Within weeks 'Gary' and DH are off mountain biking or walking in the Lake District.

I can guarantee if I did the same sort of thing, chatted with the odd woman I have seen a few times it's highly unlikely she would ask me to join her group of friends probably because 'Janet' isn't as friendly as 'Pamela' so it's not her place to invite new friends to join them.

It's more difficult for women to make genuine friends because women are often suspicious of other women's motives in striking up a friendship. It happens over a very long time for women and friendships are broken too easily with women too.

This is just my experience and obviously it varies but it seems to be overwhelmingly like this for most people around me.

Ldnmum2015 Tue 27-Dec-16 04:20:11

I agree with odinslovechild on this one, I find I incredibly hard to make friends with other women, especially as a single parent, when i do get invited out, I feel I am seen as a threat, and as my financial situation is different along so i am not up on fashion etc and with limited time available to go out, I have had some very isolating years.

OatcakesandCheese Tue 27-Dec-16 04:54:13

I (am a mum and) also don't find this. I had a really close and good sized long standing female friendship circle and various female and male individual friends outside of the circle, pre DC.
Ten years later the friendship group see each other a few times a year at big set piece meets which we have to organise months in advance. I am barely in contact with the various non group friends, lost contact with most. We all still live within maybe 1 hr of each other so it's not the distance.

My DH has a regular meet up with a friend or other several times a week when his work permits and it's no biggie for him to put together a night out or daytime weekend thing with his friends. It fucks me off when I compare our experiences.

But I work FT and when I have spare time I am needed by DC or I want to spend time with them. I haven't particularly filled the gap with work friends either as we are all rushed at work and have DC at home so we don't socialise outside work.

I don't specifically prioritise time and effort for my friends in the way my DH does, and I can't be arsed going out late, so the bottom line is I don't have time for my friends or want to give up the precious little free time I have with my kids for them. It seems my female friends are mostly in the same boat. It feels wrong because it's so gendered but it's definitely how things are for now.

RebootYourEngine Tue 27-Dec-16 05:28:49

I agree with those above. I find it hard to make friends. I find that a lot of people will say hello and talk for five minutes if they see you but not a lot of people in my experience are willing to go any further such as a coffee or something.

I feel like i dont fit in anywhere though. My existing friends are at different points in their life. Single amd wanting to go drinking, in a serious relationship and looking at marriage and babies whereas i am a working single mum to a 12 yr old ds who doesnt have the time or money to go out drinking.

I have joined groups and tjey have lead to nowhere. I feel like i am the one who always has to do the asking.

UserOne Tue 27-Dec-16 05:31:42

I have not found this to be true. Thought it was the other way round.

BoomBoomsCousin Tue 27-Dec-16 05:40:43

I don't think it's easier, in many ways I think it's often harder for women to make friends in the first place, especially after they have children. They are more likely to have their freedom curtailed by caring responsibilities.

But watching my partners, and now my friends husbands, over the years, I think women are more likely to do the legwork required to maintain friendships. So I'm not surprised they tend, on average, to have better friendship networks than men.

MummyMuppet2x2 Tue 27-Dec-16 05:42:01

I also agree with Odinslovechild. It's so sad, and ridiculous, that many of us experience this. I hope my kids experience better friendships in adulthood.

QuodPeriitPeriit Tue 27-Dec-16 06:19:04

My experience is that the OP is right - DH doesn't really have any friends beyond couples who are "our" friends, and I initiated all those friendships. He has no interest in making friends or going on "boys' nights" either.

Whereas despite always thinking of myself as something of an introvert (large gatherings where I know few people are my worst nightmare), I have no problem making and keeping friends - other mum's from school or sports teams, people at the dog park, Mother's group friends from when 16yo DS1 was a baby etc. My friendship groups genuinely welcome and embrace new people.

So in my experience it's true, but DH works long hours at a stressful, emotionally draining job where he is interacting with people all day, and I am a SAHP - maybe it's more to do with that than sex?

Ifailed Tue 27-Dec-16 06:29:26

maybe it's more to do with that than sex?

Agreed. I think that personality and opportunity are more important. We see many children and young adults forming new friendships at school and college, its an environment that encourages it. We also see some children who fail to do so, for many reasons; but not because of their sex, in my experience.

Interestingangelfish Tue 27-Dec-16 06:42:59

Essentially, I think it's almost impossible to generalise as we are all individuals, not defined by our gender.

However, I would add that in my experience the women I know tend to be much more emotionally straightforward and uncomplicated than the men. I assume this is because society conditions girls from the get-go to be more emotional/expressive of their emotions. Which presumably helps to develop greater emotional intelligence. Which is likely to lead to stronger friendships.

But, as I said, massive generalisation on my part there, with countless counter-examples.

sansoucitherednosedcariboo Tue 27-Dec-16 07:07:31

What odinslovechild said. I've been living in a new city for four years, a newly divorced, now single mum of 2 light SN dc and I've made no really close women friends. I miss the friends I had to leave behind terribly, even after all this time. I try, I really do, but I'm old enough to know that all true friendships are built slowly, and with people who share common lifestyles.

MargaretCabbage Tue 27-Dec-16 07:19:27

I think you are right OP. I am not great at making friends, but do have a couple of very good friends I see regularly and all of my older female relatives do or did too. None of my male relatives have these kind of friendships. DH has had friends through work and hobbies but they don't tend to bother outside of that.

periwinklepickspoppies Tue 27-Dec-16 07:40:14

No, it's next to impossible.

Madinche1sea Tue 27-Dec-16 07:43:29

I don't know if it's easier for women to make or retain friendships than men, just different. As a Spanish person in London who didn't really have long-term friends here before I got married, I made most of the friends I have now through having babies / primary aged DC. I found it very easy to "bond" with other women in this way. Most friends now are local and the fact there's always someone to go for coffee with etc has been a lifesaver, especially for those of us who didn't return to work. I think women find it easier to ask each other for emotional support. There's no need for any "bravado" and you can just be honest.
DH has many long term-friends in and around London - some from the marines, uni or even back to school. They would never meet up just for a drink though, it always has to be under the guise of an "activity". So he has a group he does boxing with once a week and his rugby lot and various other groups, but how much they actually "talk" (beyond work-related stuff) I don't know. He went car racing with 4 good friends recently, one of whose wife had just had twins - yet he couldn't tell me the names of his friend's babies and said it just hadn't come up in conversation hmm. I think the "alpha" thing with men can be very isolating, but maybe they have a different kind of bond?

cheminotte Tue 27-Dec-16 08:17:21

I have lots of individual friends who I have kept in touch with over the years. Some local, some from when we lived overseas. DP has 2 friends from uni, one we see about once a year, the other he sends texts, phones, Christmas cards to but we haven't actually seen in over 2 years although they live a lot closer than the other friend.
He has no local friends and very few work friends as although we've lived here for 10+ years he works 50 miles away so can't really go out after work and has never joined any sports clubs or similar in our home town. He also has zero interest in football or going to the pub for the sake of it so is not a 'typical' bloke.

Bluntness100 Tue 27-Dec-16 08:22:42

I would agree with interestingangselfish, it's not gender related, it's about the person.

madmother1 Tue 27-Dec-16 08:25:26

My new DB has lots of very long man friendships but it's all due to a sport that they love. I find it fascinating as my exDH has no male friends.

madmother1 Tue 27-Dec-16 08:25:44

Should say DP!!!!

annandale Tue 27-Dec-16 08:27:36

I agree that male friends seem to bond around an activity. My dh doesn't really do activities like that and really only has one friend from university, who he is in touch with every month or so but hasn't laid eyes on for a few years.

I have a lot of separate small groups of friends, it's slightly tricky to stay in touch with them all but they all mean a lot to me - 3 from primary school who I see as a 2 and a 1, 3 from secondary school who are all very scattered and I see mainly on Facebook, 2 individuals from uni, another small cluster from professional training who I probably only see annually, a group of 7 from a sport who I see annually, a group of 3 who all had babies at the same time and I see every couple of months, 1 from antenatal group who I see every couple of months, and a bigger group of mums who still have a mum's beers every six months or so. Seems to add up.

I am not a particularly good friend as you can tell from the fact that I don't see anyone frequently but it suits me to have these slightly more distant relationships but to have a lot of them. DH is a very good friend but also asks a lot of his friendships, and if they don't suit him, he dumps them - hence his remaining one friend. DH is very dependent on me and ds for his human contact which worries me.

ScruffyTheJanitor Tue 27-Dec-16 08:28:58

I don't think its a gender thing. I think its a person thing.
Some people can make and keep friends easily, some people can't, some people don't care and would rather not have any.

BathshebaSnowflakeStone Tue 27-Dec-16 08:30:22

I can't speak for men, my friends are made either through the Tolkien Society, mum friends made at stay and play or school, or the pagan community.

Figure17a Tue 27-Dec-16 08:40:57

I don't think it's a men/women thing, I think it's just that some people make friends more easily than others. Also, what's the definition of a friend? Someone you know and hang our with from time to time, or someone you're genuinely close to?

I'm a member of a sports club and have over 10 years made "friends" with lots of people but there's only one I would consider close enough to confide in or want to go on holiday with . Others (male and female) are declaring never ending love for their new bestie within weeks of meeting them. Neither's wrong, we're all different

TheNaze73 Tue 27-Dec-16 09:12:54

I think in this, the activity thing is the key with men. I'm still good friends with people I've played rugby with over the years & they'll be life long friends. My best friend from school was non sporty & didn't really have that many friends outside of school.

Madinche1sea Tue 27-Dec-16 11:44:03

I think what Naze says is true. In this country there is the pub culture which, I suppose, facilitates men regularly hanging out without the pretext of an activity. In other European countries it tends to be only elderly men who hang in bars regularly, but they play endless backgammon or something!
But if you're not really the "pub regular" type, I think it's harder for men in a way - e.g. DH would never just ring his friends and suggest they meet for lunch (unless it's under the guise of a "business meeting" or wives/ kids coming along). There always has to be an activity involved and some competitive element. Then they all seem to feel the need to "up the ante" and it's usually some big faff to get to the location, book time out of work etc. Personally I would find it exhausting and quite annoying, but they seem happy enough.

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