This is a guest post by a friend who currently wishes to remain anonymous. Not everything in this post is reflective of my own personal views but I do believe there is something both provocative & interesting contained within it.
Friendship is a peculiar type of relationship. It has no formalization of status, no hard and fast beginning or conclusion. Even more strangely, a search through your memory for the segue from acquaintanceship for a specific friend will draw an amnesia-like blank. Yet even as it seems so elusive, it’s the strongest, most critical type of connection humans can forge with one another.
Can men and women be friends? No, but not for the reason that immediately comes to mind. Latent sexual desire is not the fork in the gears of an intersex friendship. It may be the scapegoat, but what is really at play is a woman’s incapacity to be friends with anyone, including another woman.
I will argue that fully half the population has no conception of friendship. It does not exist for them in the same way that childbirth does not exist for men. Instead, they are observing and approximating what men do, going through motions and playing along. Before vehemently coming out in favor or against this conclusion, consider the following.
Men are worthless. Not rhetorically worthless or metaphorically worthless. Actually worthless. You could toss 95% of the world’s men into a meat grinder to make hotdogs and the birthrate and overall quality of life of everyone would be unaffected. A single rich man can father and support hundreds of children in a single generation. Reducing the number of women, however, drops the birthrate and the desire and ability to care for children by that much.
Though the realization is not a conscious one, men understand it on some level, and their life is a continuous battle to avoid irrelevance. A man cannot create life, and due to his fast recycle time in the part he does play in creating life, another man could easily step in and take his place. This so defines man’s existence that the inability to ejaculate when the woman desires it has been medicalized, a subtle hint to his innate worthlessness. To keep his genetic destiny from disappearing because a better man could spare fifteen minutes and the equivalent of his salary, men struggle to assert their worth.
Monogamous marriage benefits the common man over both women and wealthy men. If Bill Gates were allowed to take as many wives as he could support, thousands of poorer men would be left out in the cold. Certainly not all women would accept a generous stipend and fatherly non-interference over the alternative, but that is not required for the numbers to work against the common man. Men agree to take only one wife so that everyone can at least have the one.
Men are the architects of civilization, the government leaders and founders, the discoverers, the inventors, the explorers. Not because they are better at these things or more suited to do them or even because they’re bullies. They do these things because if they don’t, they are worthless. Their life is a constant struggle to prove they are more valuable alive than put through a meat grinder. When women do undertake these endeavors, they often have above average level of testosterone, the chemical which seems to engender this sensation of worthlessness.
Men have always fought the wars, built the buildings, and hunted the game. These are activities which can only be done with a uniquely intimate cooperation. To this day, managing a war or construction project is an extraordinary problem not only in implementation but in trust. Men tens of thousands of years ago accomplished these tasks with no oversight and minimal communication. It was a remarkable feat, perhaps facilitated by a new form of intimate connection, friendship.
There is no need to define friendship in terms of what it is when we can define what it does through group selection. It is simply a type of human relationship which, when experienced by members of a tribe, allowed that tribe to outdo its foes. A tribe with friendship will always defeat a non-friendship tribe in a raid. A friendship tribe will return with more food from a hunt, will always build a shelter faster in a downpour. This was all that was required for us to become descendants of those with the capacity for friendship.
Women did forage for food, which actually provided most of the tribe’s sustenance. Foraging, however, does not benefit from cooperation in the same way as a three-day hunt. These men had to sacrifice for each other, even give up their lives for each other in raids, and to understand each others’ signals and intentions. This was equally true in war and construction. Women had no comparable activity for which cooperation of this degree was necessary. This, however, doesn’t explain the mystery of why women don’t possess even a vestigial sense of friendship. That is, unless the ability to sacrifice for one another actually handicaps their pursuit of genetically high quality children.
It does. Women primarily competed to get the best man, and men competed to get the best woman. However, the cheapness of sperm meant men had no motivation to ration it, whereas eggs, if successfully fertilized, mean at minimum a yearlong investment. This is what forces men into the role of putting on displays while women sit back and choose. While women stepped over each other to get the best man, men’s displays further improved, in the form of civilization, something that can’t be created alone.
You can witness this to this day when you go to the bar. A woman will sabotage her “friend” if that friend is hit on by a man she’s interested in. Even if she’s not interested, she’ll almost instinctually sabotage her. The wingman practice only exists because these women are only friends so long as a man does not come between them. Men must be such good friends because women are natural enemies, no matter how long they’ve known each other or how great a display of friendship they advertise.
And it is women doing all the advertising. “We are such good friends! Jenny is my best friend in the whole world!“ Men never speak of friendship, and they especially do not rank who their best friend is. For men, the concept is so fucking visceral, so tangible, that blathering on about who is and who isn’t a friend would be like talking about the ground they walk on. “Isn’t the ground great? This is the best ground!” It’s either ground or it isn’t. If you’re walking on it, it’s fulfilling its purpose, and its purpose is entirely encapsulated by the term “ground.” The only motivation to make noise about such an entity would be for exhibition. It does not exist for you, and you are trying your best to approximate something you see others partake in so naturally.
When pressed to define it, women display an almost infantile conception of friendship. A woman’s friends are the people she talks to often, who make her feel good, who she has things in common with. In other words, frequently-seen acquaintances. A five-year-old would list similar criteria. When women do challenge the friendship of two men, their questions betray their conception. “If you’re such good friends, what’s his favorite color/middle name?” Knowing details about someone has as much to do with friendship as the brand of a bottle of water has to do with whether it’ll keep you from dehydrating.
Women may claim their best friend and mate are one in the same. A woman does tend to absorb her mate entirely, going as far as integrating his preference in sports teams into her own identity, but this is an unrelated type of connection. Joining with someone so closely that your goals and future blend together is a truly deep connection, and one women are certainly capable of, but it is at the expense of friendship, not as a shining example. Women who follow the absorption pattern of pair bonding almost always require complete compliance from their friends. Anyone who questions her relationship with her mate is cut loose without hesitation. It is almost as if women have the capacity for exactly one relationship. If her mate emotionally drifts away 20%, she’ll reach out to someone to fill the gap. Once he returns, the new fill-in is placed in cold storage.
If what women call friendship is in fact acquaintanceship, surely an experiment can be designed to reveal this. How one understands exclusively online friendship is an excellent litmus. Talking to someone online allows intimacy, commonality, superficial shared adversity, and frequency of communication. It does not, however, allow friendship. An online acquaintance never has the chance to give you their last sip of water on a long hike or risk life and limb to save your child from a lion. If you have no conception of actual friendship, the objection you’re now having is, “Someone can’t lie forever. Eventually you do get to know them and what kind of person they are.”
This misses the point entirely. The issue is not what kind of person they are; it is that entire facets of their personality, both positive and negative, cannot express themselves without a real life connection. Online friendship may allow more commonality, honesty, and understanding than real life, but these are extremely low on the Maslow hierarchy of friendship. An artificial intelligence could supply these while being completely unconscious and lacking all integrity and character. Who knows, your online friends may in fact give up a finger so you can keep your hand, but without the opportunity for this to happen, it is irrelevant. This defining facet of friendship is completely shielded by lack of real life interaction. For this reason, men will overwhelmingly say that friendship cannot exist online, and women will say it can.