Having Lots of Female Friends

Via this article on GWB, I learned that something called "Thought Cloud" exists.

Via Thought Cloud, I learned that it's problematic for a man to have too many female friends.

Is this right? When I was a boy, my elementary school did something that was at the time actually illegal: it took our standardized test scores on reading and used them to sort us into levels. We had an "advanced" class, a "medium" class, and a slow class (which wasn't given a name). Now girls mature faster than boys, especially in terms of academic work, so as a consequence I spent my formative years in a class with 26 girls and 4 boys, of whom I was one. Since we were sorted alphabetically, I was perforce surrounded by girls all the time except at recess.

From my perspective this has always meant that I learned early how to like and talk to girls, which has been a tremendous benefit. It turns out (boys, I am talking to you here) that girls are interesting, and have markedly different perspectives on life. If you're curious about big-T Truth, it's good to hear what other people with different perspectives have to say. If you're not interested in big-T Truth, you should rethink your life. As Aristotle rightly suggests, the contemplative life is one of the best ones available for our limited time here on Earth.

I think the author is worried about sexuality, which is a fair point. But learning to live with temptation is practicing the virtue of temperance, which is (as Aquinas will tell you) finally at the heart of every virtue. It's a matter of practice ("A virtue is a permanent habit," Aquinas says in his commentary on the Nicomachean Ethics; and habits are formed by practice).

So of course you should have friends who are girls (or, later, women), if you are a boy or a man; and vice-versa. It is wisdom to do so.


Nicholas Darkwater said...

Aquinas, then, echoes Aristotle in that same regard.

An interesting read on the idea that males & females are fundamentally different creatures can be found in Leonard Sax's "Why Gender Matters".

E Hines said...

Problematic for whom? Ms H just seems ate up with her own insecurities and jealousies. I don't see much of a future for that relationship.

Nor my wife nor I are particularly social, and of the few friends we have, I have more women friends than she has men (and our sets of friends don't overlap at all). There's never been a problem. Oddly, along a political dimension, most of my women friends are emigres from the PRC (one of whom did time, courtesy of her parents' perfidy, in one of Mao's reeducation camps), and the other is from the Republic of China.

I get the benefit of two different sets of perspective: the female and the Chinese approaches to life. If I live long enough, I'll get some benefit from that benefit.

Eric Hines

Cass said...

While I see nothing wrong with having friends of the opposite sex, boundaries are even more important with that type of friendship.

If this guy has women texting him at midnight frantically wondering where he is....

Her radar is spot on.

Grim said...

I have a certain suspicion of the intuitions of anyone who writes about their intimate relationship in great detail on the internet. :)

Cass said...

Me too, but we have only her word for what's going on. So if we accept her account at face value, I don't see her concern as ill founded.

If I were spending time with my husband and he were constantly answering texts from women instead of interacting with me, my spidey sense would be going off like mad. But then I'd react the same way if I were spending time with a female friend and she was immersed in her cell phone - that's just plain rude and disrespectful.

OK, you've tempted me out of my blue funk, Grim :p

RonF said...

That was my High School Junior year Advanced English class - ~20 girls and 4 boys. Very often debate ensued over one topic or another in class. We almost always ended up with the girls on one side and the boys on the other. What we found was that the boys often carried the day because they were more self-confident and aggressive. This was back when those were not seen as sinful traits on the part of boys.

I would come to this class from my advanced Physics class - which was generally 20+ boys and 4 girls.

RonF said...

I am far more social than my wife and also am involved in activities that tend to expose me to more acquaintances than she has. I do very much enjoy the acquaintences and friendships I have with women - but as Cass noted, boundaries are important, and it's also important for a man's wife to SEE that you a) have boundaries and b) are respecting them. The context came up recently when I was discussing what is going on in a group I sing with and I noted that one of the women (a divorcee) seems to like me a little too much. It was obvious to her as well, but she needed to hear me say it.

Cass said...

I think that's why I trust my husband, Ron:

1. He doesn't trust himself too much, and

2. He observes boundaries and expects me to as well.

I'm the more social one in our marriage, and your story is a great illustration of how to handle awkward situations. Your wife is a lucky woman.

Skia said...

As a single guy, I do have one rule for friendships with women in relationships; I have to be friends with the guy too. It saves a whole lot of concern and worries and trust.

Grim said...

I never had that rule myself, even when I was single; I often knew women in those days who sometimes dated complete losers. :) But certainly it's helpful for those cases when it is appropriate to be the man's friend.

Of course there are other cases where there is no man at all.