30-Somethings - Male friends




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chickadee32
04-03-2012, 10:36 PM
Ugh, this is all going to sound really weird I think. My apologies in advance, but I really donít know where else to ask about something like this! And Iím sorry this is so, so long.

Iím 33, and I have very few male friends. Itís been this way most of my life, maybe in part because I didnít know how to have male friends without feeling really awkward in some way Ė which Iím sure came across somehow in my behavior or nervousness or something Ė and I think it was in part because I wasnít a woman to whom most men would be attracted given my appearance (largely the weight, but even apart from that Iím not a pretty woman). I donít know if that makes sense. Essentially, I think men were worried that I might take any friendly overtures the wrong way, when they were DEFINITELY not interested in having me attracted to them. I think I just made men uncomfortable, to be honest, however that came about.

Most of the men Iíd somewhat count as friends at this point in my life are either a) the husbands of my close girlfriends, or b) male colleagues. I work in a field that is probably 70-80% women, and the only men among my direct co-workers are substantially younger than I am, but I do have a few colleagues (a former boss, a few collaborators, my PhD advisor, etc.) with whom Iíd consider myself friendly. They arenít people with whom I would typically make casual plans though, if that makes sense. We see each other at conferences and have fun hanging out in the evenings, and for those who are local we occasionally get together for lunch or for drinks after work or something, but itís usually with a group and none of them are people I would call up on a Saturday and say ďhey, want to go do X this afternoon?Ē Maybe in part because they all have kids (and I do not).

Lately though it seems that men in general are behaving differently toward me than they used to. Itís not sexual attention or flirtationÖ but rather it seems like it might just be a lack of worry that *I* might be attracted to them, and so thereís no harm in speaking with me like Iím just any other person. I donít know if this is all just my perception or what, but thatís really the only way I can make sense of it.

Anyway, hereís the thing. Iíve been thinking lately that Iíd kind of like to have male friends. I am married and very much in love with my husband and not looking for any flirtation or sexual attention from men, I justÖ kind of think it would be nice to have friends that are men. Does that seem bizarre? Maybe itís because Iíve never had male friends, and have always been envious of women who do, but Iíve really enjoyed the experience lately of having some nice men interact with me as though Iím just another normal person.

SoÖ on to my question (I swear, Iím getting there!). I go to my local Starbucks nearly every day, and there is this really nice guy who works there that I often chat casually (briefly) with when Iím in there getting drinks. Iím certain he knows Iím married (I go into the Starbucks with my husband often), and while heís outgoing and friendly toward me he is never weird or flirtatious or inappropriate. Heís justÖ a nice guy. Iím not attracted to him, but I like chatting with him about work, family, etc. Tonight I was in there picking up a drink for my husband, and the Starbucks guy was asking me about what I do for fun. Sadly I had to pause to come up with something I do for fun :lol:, but I responded that I really enjoy working out, and that I run at the gym a lot. He said that he plays a lot of basketball and tennis, and really needs to start running but has always hated itÖ I said I used to feel the same way but now love itÖ he asked what I do to keep it enjoyable, laughed when I said I mouth the words to my music while I run, asked where I go to the gym, etc. Ok, so anyway, my question is this: Would it be totally weird if I asked him if he wanted to go to the gym with me sometime? Would that make me seem like a complete nutcase, or like I was coming on to him?? I wouldnít mean it that way at allÖ just that it would be fun to go the gym with someone else who is also interested in exercise, and, I donít know, just do something casually with someone who isnít one of the people Iíve known half my life. Maybe thatís my problem Ė I donít know how to make friends as an adult, period, unless it starts out with something related to my job and exists primarily in work-related settings. I wouldnít know how to ask another woman to do something for fun either.

Sigh. I sound crazy, I know. Some of it is adjustment I think to men just behaving normally toward me now when they didnít before (or at least that is/was my perception of things), and some of it is just this weirdness of being so settled in adult life that I donít know how to behave when I meet new people that I enjoy talking to Ė especially men, since I have next to no experience in the male friends department Ė and I think a good chunk of it also comes from not having any children (despite a few years of trying) when every single one of my friends does, and their lives understandably revolve around them. Reflecting on it now, actually, I think thatís a BIG piece of it. I canít relate to mommies groups or playdates or choosing a nursery school or the hectic life of kids sports practices, and in fact itís emotionally painful for me to have those conversations with friends given my infertility (though I do have the conversations, and really try hard to keep from giving off the impression of being uncomfortable, as I love my friends and want them to talk about their lives with me). Maybe itís just that I want a friend with whom I can discuss other things, share other interests, and maybe men who donít have kids seem like those kinds of friends. I donít know.

OK, Iíll stop rambling now. I would love your thoughts, even if your comment is that Iím nuts! Thanks for just letting me talk here. I need a therapist I think to help me make some sense of all of this, lol.


nationalparker
04-03-2012, 11:38 PM
My main thought is how would you feel if your husband invited a woman to do something with him that he enjoyed without out?

chickadee32
04-04-2012, 12:49 AM
A completely valid question. I'm not totally sure of my answer, I think in part because I have a hard time imagining it happening, and because it would probably depend on the situation.

My husband focuses 99% of his energy in life on two things: his job and me. With the exception of other couples that we consider "our" friends and I make plans for us to do things with, he has few friends that he makes any effort to spend time with. He says that he'd like to have more friends, but he seldom makes any effort in that area. It is a struggle to get him to stop wearing himself out with work so that he has time and energy for other things.

He has had female friends, or maybe just acquaintances, that he has met through work. One was a woman who worked at a remote office that he used to visit for 2 weeks at a time about twice per year, and she was really great to him and would take him out to dinner often, have him over to her house for the evening, etc. when he was there and away from the comforts of home for 2 weeks. I met her on a few occasions when she was visiting here and once when I traveled with her and my husband while they were on a business trip (to Hawaii, how could I not go? lol), and I am confident there was nothing inappropriate about their relationship. We still get holiday cards from her every year even though he's no longer in that job.

A few years ago he reconnected with a female friend of his from high school, and for a while they got together for dinner and drinks both with and without me a number of times before losing touch again. I didn't think anything of it at all.

A few months ago he told me that his ex-girlfriend from high school (really, a woman he had a hard time getting over when he was younger) contacted him through facebook, and he said he thought he'd like to see her the next time she was in town. Maybe it's knowing the way he has spoken about her in the past, or the way he speaks about her now, but I didn't even hesitate to say "ok, no problem."

All of these women are/were unmarried, unattached, no kids, etc. I just know my husband, and never worried that these women might pose some threat to our relationship.

I don't know how relevant it is, but it's not that I'd ask someone else to go to the gym with me instead of asking my husband. I ask him to go all the time, and he acquiesces maybe once every two or three months. He's just not interested, and though I wish he were for the sake of his health, I understand that it's not his thing even though it has become one of mine.

And of course, I'd talk to my husband about it before asking this guy about going to the gym. If he balked, or seemed uncomfortable with it, I wouldn't do it.


Shereel
04-04-2012, 01:02 AM
It sounds more like you're projecting your insecurities onto men. Rather than men not wanting to be your friend because they are worried you are coming onto them, it sounds like it is you who is worried they will think you want them and it probably reflects in your behvaiour towards them. You want male friends, which is normal and healthy, but you're so consumed with whether they understand that it's platonic that you are awkward and difficult to become friends with. My advice is to stop worrying what they may or may not think because sometimes men will think you want them even if you never gave half a hint in that direction, and sometimes men will never realize when you DO want more than a friendship. Just be your friendly self and let friendships happen naturally.

As for asking the guy to go to the gym, maybe it's a little untraditional but if your husband trusts you and this guy knows you're married, what's the worse that could happen? You could always invite the guy to a game of tennis with your husband and ask him to bring his girlfriend/buddy etc.

chickadee32
04-04-2012, 01:20 AM
It sounds more like you're projecting your insecurities onto men. Rather than men not wanting to be your friend because they are worried you are coming onto them, it sounds like it is you who is worried they will think you want them and it probably reflects in your behvaiour towards them. You want male friends, which is normal and healthy, but you're so consumed with whether they understand that it's platonic that you are awkward and difficult to become friends with.

This is highly plausible, and the last part that I bolded very, very likely. Thank you for that perspective; I need to hear it. I don't think I'm awkward interacting with men when it comes to people I meet through work, it's just every other situation that I don't know how to handle. :lol:

I actually thought about the tennis, about asking him if he'd be willing to teach me to play sometime... but that seemed even weirder, lol. My husband would never go, but maybe I could get someone else to go with me if it ever came up naturally somehow. Everyone I know who plays tennis though plays REALLY well, and I don't play at all! Anyhow... thank you very much for the suggestions, I really appreciate them. :)


Going back to the previous question... I have talked to my husband about doing things with other men that he's not interested in doing with me, and have done so recently. I took an introductory indoor rock climbing course with a female co-worker recently, but she just moved out of state... and I mentioned to my husband that a guy at work (who I hardly know, but I know he rock climbs and so I had mentioned to him that my co-worker and I were taking a course) had offered to go climbing with me anytime I was interested in going. My husband has never met the guy, but was totally fine with that idea. I need to make time to do that actually, I just haven't wanted to give up one of my regular gym days to go, and that place gets so crowded... But that's probably a way better, more natural place to start than asking some guy at Starbucks something that would essentially sound like "Would you like to be my friend?" :lol: