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.


  1. Coda Hale says:

    December 15th, 2009 at 8:53 am (#)

    I've stopped following your blog because of this misogynistic post.

  2. AugBohr says:

    December 15th, 2009 at 9:03 am (#)

    Figuring Shit Out has a fairly open guest post policy. This was not written or endorsed by any of the bloggers you've come to know and love at FSO, nor did I receive approval before posting it.

  3. Nathan says:

    December 15th, 2009 at 9:25 pm (#)

    This is total and utter crap. The points are completely unsubstantiated, trivially disproven, and overtly offensive. I would be ashamed to call the person who wrote this a friend, let alone to feature it on anything my name was associated with. Honestly, the only thing that speaks well of the author is the fact that he had the good sense to not associate his name with it. Unfortunately the same can't be said for you.

    I would say it's not that women don't understand friendship, it's that the author does not understand women. With an attitude like this, he is unlikely to have a chance to remedy this situation.

  4. B says:

    December 15th, 2009 at 11:53 pm (#)

    It feels like the author just had the internet equivalent of a temper tantrum. Hope it's all out of your system dude.

    Just relax and forget about whoever it was that made you feel this way – there are plenty of other fish in the sea waiting to step on your balls and call you out for the D-bag that you are.

  5. jasonsox says:

    December 16th, 2009 at 12:57 am (#)

    wow- what a bitter bitter little man who wrote this, who has no idea the way the world works.

    This whole post made me a little sad for the author.

  6. Why “Why women don’t understand friendship”? « Bumblebee Labs Blog says:

    December 16th, 2009 at 4:19 pm (#)

    […] few days ago, I allowed a friend of mine to post a guest post titled Why women don’t understand friendship. So far, the reactions to the piece have been universally negative with “bitter”, […]

  7. trond says:

    December 16th, 2009 at 10:26 pm (#)

    I'll pick the low hanging fruit.

    So, you say women can't have friendships, only acquaintances. You don't substantiate the difference well, nor do you provide evidence for this claim.

    You argue women don't have an adequate definition of friendship, without clearly offering your own definition, or providing any evidence suggesting it's anything other that your own arbitrary claim.

    You make some dramatic claims about male and female behaviour (sabotage, dating behavior) that firstly, don't seem at all universal, and secondly, seem particularly misogynistic. Certainly, if I knew for certain who you were, I'd now have a strong motivation for sabotaging your attempts to interact with women I know.

    Overall, you're just ranting. There's nothing here that counts as evidence beyond personal anecdote, and obviously, that doesn't cut it. You make a bunch of categorical claims, never once providing evidence for them. Your last sentence, for example – I can think of 20 men who'd probably disagree.

    Basically, you're just making a lot of this shit up. Sounds like you have a very poor opinion of women, either because you've had no success, or you've had too much success in manipulative ways.

    This reads to me like “I'm special. I have a special relationship with people I like. Women aren't special, so they can't have special relationships, just a pale approximation of them”.

    Hang – I your open guest policy just lost you 80-90% of your blog's credibility.

  8. avoiceformen says:

    February 8th, 2010 at 8:16 am (#)

    Interesting, both the essay and the comments. My thoughts about the essay are critical, about the comments, brutal.

    First, there is some real merit to the overall premise that women lack the same bonding abilities as men, but I don't think they were particularly well articulated by the author. Rather I should say the author could have been more succinct., and I think there were points made that were quite erroneous. e.g. the inference that women are just as capable of being civilizations architects. They aren't. It boils down to a lack of aptitude in hard science overall, and a lack of physical capability.

    Oh, and for the sensitively enlightened, that doesn't infer that women could not form a civilized society, but that they collectively could not compete with men in this area very well.

    Onward though, here were other points not well supported.

    The foraging and sustenance hypothesis is unsupportable. We don't know enough about neolithic society to know which sex provided the most food. Nothing empirical anyway.

    There are a couple of other points I disagree with, but don't feel the need to belabor it. I do think, unlike some of those who commented here, that the writing was pretty good. He strains the reader at times by not better supporting points, but the flow was sustained and his style was pretty engaging at points. I'd say a B- on the writing with the potential of an A+ with practice.

    What I found most amusing was the people who commented here. Despite the fact that he wrote rather dispassionately (too dispassionately to be honest) I see a lot of charges of misogyny and ranting in the comment section. The first responder stops following the blog over it.

    When I read that, my first thought was “What a pansy.”

    Though it could have been better, and probably will with this writer gaining some experience, I didn't detect a trace of rage or hatred. Or at least I didn't till I read through the comments.

    And interestingly, these comments support the authors idea of males being disposable even better than he did in the article. It is pretty much the same in a lot of places. If you identify a negative and generalize it toward women, all rhyme and reason flies out the window., supplanted by phony righteous indignation for offenses simply imagined.

    A university dean can, and has, lost his job because he claimed that women do not have the mathematic aptitude that men do. It did matter in the least that he was 100% correct. He got fired for telling a truth that offended modern sensibilities, or rather a lack of them.

    And as I looked at the bigotry and rage and haughtiness that blazed through the comments to this piece, I was reminded that we are probably getting worse about this instead of better.

  9. kickers says:

    June 28th, 2013 at 8:34 pm (#)

    The average guy is about as good at maths as the average woman which is a level a bit higher than a springer spaniel. When you go to the higher level you will find women and men who have exceptional mathematical ability. There may be more men there but the presence of even one woman pretty much puts the kibosh on a generalisation that men are better than women at maths. What men, what women? If you are talking about on average then a whole load of statements could follow on both sexes for all areas. These are not ‘facts’. There is nothing wrong with exploring the ‘darker side of women’ (sorry, but lol at that phrase, wtf?) the problem is that many men are not very good at doing it. Oops I generalised. My bad.

  10. Anonymous says:

    February 10th, 2010 at 7:31 pm (#)

    There's a great Scientific American article about Pop Evolutionary Psychology, which explains the history of the field, and why it's generally unaccepted among the critical scientific community.

    The author doesn't substantiate any claims – so I'll just say – “what's appears accurate to your experience, isn't necessarily true. accurate is not true. perception turns the world, and it's a big one. good luck.”

  11. Getting out of the Just Friends Zone | J. Mack Johnson's Blog says:

    March 7th, 2010 at 7:10 am (#)

    […] Women Don’t Understand Friendship ( […]

  12. Avinguda Diagonal says:

    March 12th, 2010 at 1:52 pm (#)

    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.

    ha, right, for the four days until the infrastructure stopped working.

    are you really stupid enough to think that a society composed almost exclusively of women could actually keep the electricity on? the heavy trucks rumbling down the highways (or the highways rumbling at all?) the water coursing through the pipes?

    you're not very smart, or, at least, incredibly naive.
    i hope that you are no more than twenty years old. if you are, please get out of the basement more often.

  13. kickers says:

    June 28th, 2013 at 8:50 pm (#)

    I think the implication is that you don’t need most of civilisations advances to survive as a species. Even electricity is only about 120yrs old. As long as you can produce the next generation and keep them alive long enough to repeat the process then you are 100% successful as far as nature is concerned. Everything else is just decoration. Just ask the monkeys!

  14. Friendship Crystal says:

    July 7th, 2010 at 2:24 am (#)

    Whoever the author is I think he don;t really like the idea of men and women having an equal kind of respect in our society. Like men, women values friendship a lot.

  15. Numinos says:

    September 28th, 2010 at 12:05 pm (#)

    I didn’t learn anything about women from this post, but I did learn a lot about this writer.

    1. He doesn’t have any women friends
    2. He doesn’t respect the women in his life
    3. He knows nothing about raising children (“Women had no comparable activity for which cooperation of this degree was necessary” — sic!)
    4. He assumes that men define human nature, i.e. if men have one standard and women do it differently, theirs is inferior (“women display an almost infantile conception of friendship”)
    5. He will not have a happy marriage.

  16. “Pacing the cage of her own clarity” « Many fandoms, one love says:

    January 22nd, 2013 at 6:36 pm (#)

    […] think it’s interesting how one blogger is arguing women are strangers to the bonds of friendship built on well-earned trust – that even in their most tightly-fastened commitments, emotional intimacy lacks belief in the […]

  17. Ethnikos says:

    March 8th, 2013 at 8:44 pm (#)

    I understand that on average, up to this generation, men have tended to do more poorly when their partner dies first, because they are less able to make friendships. Many men in previous generations have relied on their partners to be the social connector and facilitator. This of course is also culture dependent, and may well be changing over time. However, there is a stereotype that men build friendships by doing things in parallel and are less able to and/or have fewer friendships in which they can talk directly about personal topics. The older way of being a man was not to show your vulnerability, which is essential in a friendship.

  18. Disposable says:

    October 26th, 2013 at 4:36 pm (#)

    Lots of butthurt, but nothing to disprove his assertions, either. And though he doesn’t cite references, he’s on the mark; try reading something like Sperm Wars (and the paper behind it) or Sexual Economics.

    Men being stoic and closed off is a relatively new phenomenon too – probably something to do with living in societies with large populations where it’s hard to tell who may be friend or foe.

    I’ve had female friends – and none, no matter how nice, had ever returned a favor. I don’t mean sexually – I mean things like taking a day to help with moving, or assembling furniture, or whatever I did for them. My male friends and I, on the other hand, help each other all the time – it’s not even an issue, just understood.

  19. Gretha says:

    February 23rd, 2015 at 10:26 pm (#)

    The facts you’ve pointed out to prove that female friendship doesn’t exist are not connected with this very topic so far.From my point of view… I can say that unfortunately a female friendship exists but only 5%. Other 95% is a fake female friendship. Because these creatures are gelous of many things that can obtain their friends and they can’t, they gelous when a friend dates with some guy, and they don’t, when a friend managed to get fit, to lose weight for ex., and they did not. When a friend told about some happy moments happened with her the other days, and another friend makes a wry face with a great displeasure on it…..Other 5% of a true friendship are always happy for their friends and support them and never recommend against….

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