Monday, June 26, 2017

Gender and Friendship: Does It Make a Difference?

With one of my best friends, Carl, when he visited us several years ago.
Although I have some close female friends, I have always felt comfortable with male friends.  They generally come with less drama, they seem to have a unique understanding and compassion regarding my health issues, and I seem to have an easier time communicating with them.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I grew up with six brothers.  My only sister is 14 years (and change) older than me, so, while we did spend time together over the years, I spent more time with the guys.

Some of my best friends are guys, and it has raised a few eyebrows among family and other friends.  Especially when I went to visit Carl on my own a couple of time over the years.  People just didn't seem to understand that I could be friends with a guy without any romance cropping up.  They were baffled that Jim would allow me to go visit Carl on my own.  

I've talked about one of my male friends already in past blog posts, but this one centers on Carl.  I met him online shortly before a major medical procedure.  My doctor ordered a nephrostomy in March 2006, out of the blue.  I didn't have any symptoms of trouble, but he didn't like the looks of the test results.  He was adamant that I have the procedure.  Well, I freaked out.  It put moving plans on hold.  I visited the ostomy clinic (awesome people!) for dressing changes and flushes, but Jim, my mother, and a neighbor also went to the clinic to learn how to do it, too, since the nephrostomy was not in a convenient location for me to reach.  I was super-nervous of getting an infection and drove Jim nuts with my paranoia.  Sure, everything needed to be sterile, but I went overboard.  I was a nervous wreck.  It ticked me off, to be honest.  Other doctors didn't think I needed the procedure, but this doctor did.  The ostomy nurses talked to the doctor for me, I tried to talk with him, but there was no budging him.  The nephrostomy would stay put as long as I needed it.  Turns out he was right because I haven't had any major kidney issues since.  

But it was a frustrating ordeal.  Carl's friendship was a huge reason I stayed relatively sane through it all.  He contacted me daily, let me vent, stayed calm, and made me laugh.  I'm convinced he was sent by my guardian angel to help me.  I just know when a person has been sent to me.  They usually come into my life out of the blue and I feel a special connection with them.  They're always guys.  Always.

My take on the situation is, as long as I feel comfortable with Carl, and Jim is comfortable with me being friends with him, that's all that matters. Friendships provide valuable benefits, and having a variety of friends is a plus.  In other cultures, opposite sex friendships are common and accepted. I wish more people in the US felt the same way.

Do you have best friends of the opposite sex?  If so, do other people in your life understand?  If you don't have opposite sex besties, what are your thoughts on the topic? Are you averse to it?  Do you just not think about gender when seeking out friends?  Let me know,  thanks!

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