Why is it that very few 30-something women I know have real good guy friends? Not guys who are married to our girlfriends, or our husbands’ buddies who hang out at the house but real friends. Guys who share interests and passions. Who we connect with and enjoy just as much as our very best girlfriends. Guys who we have a relationship with that is independent of our spouses or partners.

Is it just me who is missing this?

When I was in college, I had a bunch of male friends. In fact it was my gang of guy friends with whom I often felt most myself. Whether it was staying up in the pub arguing about politics, hanging out listening to music in the dorm, whispering across a table in the library, or brewing beer, I felt truly at home with my male buddies, accepted in a basic earthier way. While I put on my best face for all but a few of the girls I knew, with the guys it was always a little bit more real. I let down my hair with them. With them I felt I could really live in the moment and not be judged.

I relished being around their differentness. They had a fresh (although sometimes simpler) perspective on the world–a perspective I often found to be just what I needed to get out of my rut. They taught me to love the game of hockey (or football or baseball depending on the season), David Letterman and Martin Scorsese. They taught me to mix drinks and play raquetball. In their ruthless world of jokiness I learned to hold my own, push back, sharpen my ironic wit.

Those guy friends of mine were able to immediately weed out the jerks I was dating and didnt dance around, trying to be polite about it either. And when I didn’t listen to their advice, they were able to hold me and let me cry in a way my girlfriends never quite could.

But now in this phase of my life, all that is changed. I have noticed that the only time I am socializing with manfriends is when I am getting together with couples. The only men in my social life are girlfriends’s husbands. If I am not surrounded by his-and-her pairs then it is because it is ladies night out, an evening with a girlfriend or two. I don’t really have deep independent friendships with men.

Partly this is because I have happily, yes, I have grown into mature female friendships. Friendships based on the shared bonds of mothering, of nurturing or of hitting/breaking through the glass ceiling. These are now the friendships that nurture my soul. I am blessed to be surrounded by a community of wise and interesting women with whom I connect at a deep level. I wouldn’t trade this beautiful female connectedness for all the beer in Wisconsin. But I have to admit, I kinda miss having close friendships with men.

This really hit me the other night when my dear friend Jackie and I ended up kicking back with some neighbors. She and I had planned on just having a glass of wine on her front porch but we had been spontaneously invited into the end of a dinner party just down the road. One by one various spouses peeled off exhausted and we were left sitting up in the backyard with just a couple of the guys. We stayed up late in the night talking about guitars, music and dogs, marriage and raising kids, local politics and why hockey might possibly be the best sport ever. Something old and comfortable from my past bubbled up to the surface and I felt nostalgic for my old male friendships.

And I found myself wondering…why is it that so many of us fall into purely same-sex friendships during these childbearing years? Is it truly because we identify so strongly with the experience of other women? Is it because the possibility of a deep connected relationship with someone of the opposite sex who is not our partner feels somehow disloyal or maybe just a tad strange? Do we avoid these friendships because of a taboo or because we really don’t have much in common anymore?

I found myself wondering…when and why do we let our friendships go? Is it because in the blissful period of our relationships with our partners that we no longer feel a need for that kind of connectedness? Is it simply more convenient and easy to socialize as partners? To segregate by sex?

At this point in my life, I long to have a few good guy friends back. As a single mom with a boy, I need someone to help translate his seemily odd behavior to me. I don’t want to count on men that I am dating to help me through the magical world of boys–to help me find little league teams–and give me advice on teenage boys. In fact as I begin to think about dating I want to keep that part of my life separate from my life as a parent. Perhaps it is because I am starting to consider venturing into the scary world of dating that I long to have the safe haven of platonic friendship as a touchpoint. A pal to hang around with with none of the drama of sex attached. But I dont think it is that alone.

I wonder, am I the only gal in town who finds herself looking for Mr. Good Friend?

One Response to “Looking for Mr. Goodfriend”

  1. Jen Ballantyne Says:

    Yeah – just read it again, love it, so damn true. Also, boy did you get what you asked for. Love your writing by the way (as always).