There have been countless books, situation comedies, songs, and even college courses dedicated to the emotional and psychological differences between men and women. By now, it’s even possible that the similarities between men and women are teetering dangerously on the edge of indicating we’re two completely different species all together. We have completely different outlooks on sex, cars, kids, taking out the garbage, food, clothes, driving, directions, dogs, shoes, money—you name it. But lately, I feel like I have made a sneaky sort of discovery that laughs in the face of Men Are from Mars, Women Are From Venus; male behavior can rub off on women, and it might even improve us. My prime example lies in watching my own thoughts about relationships with friends change. Over the past year, I’ve spent a lot more time around men than I ever have before. I never really had male friends of my own, so when I started dating my current boyfriend, naturally his friends became my acquaintances and/or casual friends, and now I’m around a pack of men on a fairly regular basis. As time passed, I couldn’t help but observe hours worth of communal male behavior and thought patterns play out before me like an educational circus. I watched drunken falling over concrete walls, name-calling, and Rock Band jam sessions. But I also saw communication differences that are prospects I only dream of: short phone conversations, lack of expectation (resulting in no letdown in a friendship), brutal honesty, and best of all, one-minute arguments followed by a friendly relationship that seems to deny that the confrontation ever occurred in the first place.
Let’s be honest—while having girl friends is great, it can be pretty damn tiresome sometimes. Most women do not let feelings go quickly or easily, nor do we forget what we see as social or friendship wrongdoings. If a close friend forgets to call us and wish us a happy birthday until the day after because they were flying to Louisiana and accidentally forgot, we can hold a grudge up to a year. If a man is in the same situation, the guilty party apologizes, a “Hey man, it’s cool. Thanks for the birthday wishes,” is declared, and all is right with the world. It’s a beautiful, simple system, and I envy it completely. To be fair, I have seen a few unspoken male feuds that involve enough closed-door trash-talking to make any woman who revels in drama proud. But even so, most male arguments end in one of two ways: in a physical fight, or peacefully without mention of it again.
As a result of spending significantly more time with men over the past year, some of this mentality has influenced my thinking. I may not let things go as easily as my male counterparts, but I certainly have a much lower tolerance for tense, drawn-out theatrical relationships. If I have a problem with someone, I am much more likely to tell them, and much less likely to care if they hate me for it. I am much less likely to coddle unhappy friends who are miserable for completely ridiculous reasons. While this may sound a little heartless, I have hardly become heartless and cold. I just have developed a much lower tolerance for bullshit.
It’s possible that this change in perspective and no-nonsense attitude I’ve developed is a result of some “real-world” maturity. I’ve also been out of school for a year, and thus have automatically become more adult, whether I choose to acknowledge it with a matching mindset or not. But then again, I’ve watched enough horrible, brain-rotting reality shows featuring successful, “mature” women to realize that drama is just as prevalent with thirty-something women as it is with high school girls, if not more. In that case, I consider it entirely possible that some healthy male outlook has cleared up some of my crazy female drama-clouded vision regarding confrontation and arguments. It doesn’t make sense to talk about how much Anna pisses you off to our six mutual friends, but hug her and act excited when we see each other.
I am a strong believer that women are a little crazy, and men are a little unobservant. But women are also warmer and more emotionally available, while men are more notoriously more logical and level-headed. There are good and bad sides to both sexes. And I’m not ashamed to say a little of male good has influenced me. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt for me to “man-up” in other ways as well. Over time, I could become slightly more aggressive when going after things I want. But this situation begs a yet unanswered question–have my girl friends influenced my boyfriend’s way of thinking? Has he become more emotionally available? Or more dramatic? Maybe it will take more time to tell.
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