The importance of supportive same-gender friendships has been confirmed for a wide range of benefits. They develop and dissolve based on certain perceptions. Statements such as: “Women do not support each other or cannot work together without questioning each other” are common. These beliefs have also been protected by women themselves promoting that they are more comfortable being surrounded by their male counterparts.
Even though males do not necessarily deal with interpersonal problems with each other frequently compared to women, they too have normalised certain tendencies. Men have standardised limiting their emotions and rather be less close with each other. Men who would show emotions or demand check-ups and approval may be judged as being unfit for friendship.
Men and women think about their friendship in culturally specified ways that agree with some of those stereotypes. Both genders have even programmed themselves to pinpoint confirmation that supports the pre-existing assumptions and ignore anything that might contradict it. The societal stereotype is used to create a certain truth that women are incapable of true friendship or men will always behave in a certain way towards each other.
Problematic social interactions and distortions in friendships may have adverse effects and wipe out the positive associations between network quality and well-being. Its limitations are noticeable. Instead of mentoring each other, the goal is directed to rather be in a negative competition with each other. The younger generation is also watching and modelling every move.
Women should support and mentor other women. They should start changing how they tell the stories of other women. Speaking positively about each other will destroy the negative label. Men should promote a culture of listening to other men’s emotional experiences without judging. They should learn to get together in large groups to address issues specific to them just as women.
Possible gender differences in peer relationships are very complex but it is crucial to evaluate the current socialisation processes and make them more beneficial. It is important to note that exaggerating the benefits of gender differences and downplaying the similarities might be a contributing factor to why some friendships end. Society should encourage thoughts and activities that stimulate cooperation across the same gender. Once it starts valuing same-gender friendship, it is preparing for extraordinary accomplishments because peers that have similar structures and characteristics understand each other better. This type of friendship should implant loyalty and trust.
* Saara Meke Amakali is an industrial psychology and sociology graduate. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org