I mentioned the other day my lack of one on one time with other guys. It feels peculiar to note, because it’s such a stark departure compared with most of my childhood. As a boy I hung out with other boys. I didn’t have a problem with girls, didn’t buy into notions of cooties or Girl Germs, but also didn’t spend a whole heap of time with those of the double x. I had friends who were girls, but that rarely transpired in shared interests. Aside from Care Bears, of course. Something about the fusion of huggability and laser beams (albeit of friendship instead of flesh melting efficiency) made me perk up enough to chat avidly. My other interests were centred around violence. Transformers and dinosaurs, Ninja Turtles, video games and superheroes. Fellow boys shared my passions so I shared my time with them.
Whether doling out punishment in side-scrolling platform games or using our imaginations to craft adventure style narratives with toys, I loved hanging out with friends and letting that enthusiasm run wild. Loud and animated, I tried to maximise time with others. Yes, I could play by myself, but that didn’t mean I always wanted to play by myself. I’d find any excuse to sleep over at a friend’s place or be somewhere that wasn’t home. My friend group swelled, but remained dude dominated.
High school changed that. Wider friend circles meant more time was spent around girls. Puberty hit and we all felt it. As friends coupled up, a larger female influence came into my life. Most of my solo time was with other guys, but group hang outs became a more regular occurrence. The conversations widened beyond our default topics and the dynamics shifted. I became embroiled in the drama department and spent the next few years confusing friendship for affection. I got a crush on most any girl who’d speak to me and acted out on none of them. Concurrently, assuming that they wouldn’t be interested helped my socialising leap and bound into legitimate friendships.
As the years passed and I welcomed more female influence into my life, it changed the way I socialised. I learned to communicate my feelings more honestly and got intellectually engaged by the channels that allowed for such openness. The friendships I began to value were those that encourage heart to heart connections. Hanging out with women began to feel natural. I still loved playing video games with friends, but communicating became my central mode of socialising. It just so happens that women are socialised to communicate effectively from a young age, so this fit like a glove. I got into relationships and saw other women not for their potential in mating, but as actual mates.
I skipped the country and arrived in Toronto. I began to date avidly as a way of getting out and about in the city. I became accustomed to the male/female dynamic and soon enough I looked around to realise all of my good friends were women. Even if I wasn’t trying to date them I just enjoyed their company. I loved sharing feelings, hearing a view that was often different from my own. I swam in circles that were often female dominated and as such, I mostly met women. I met other guys, but primarily ended up hanging out in group situations. We’d chat at parties and gatherings. Double dating became a thing. Was there another layer to this? As non-monogamy came into my life, was I still subconsciously putting out my feelers for dates? Was there an edge of sexual interest inherent to my friendships? Is that why I was prioritising ladies over guys?
Whatever it was, it was only recently that I became conscious of not only this imbalance, but what I was missing out on. The number of amazing men I have around me is staggering. Guys who communicate with emotional intimacy. Guys who aren’t afraid to reveal vulnerabilities and consider my own. There are shared interests galore and a real chance for positive male influences in my life. There is nothing lacking in my female friendships whatsoever, but I’d be doing my own development a disservice by not honing my male friendships. They’re quality people who offer examples of masculinity beyond the mainstream tropes I so often witness. It’s about accessing a variety of views, to widen my perspective.
To become a View-Master, so to speak.