Loneliness, Black Men and Friendships: Part V
Last week, we touched on the single brothers but today we are shifting our focus to brothers in relationships. Whenever I am in relationships, whoever I am with becomes my best friend. And if I’m not mistaken, I am sure many other brothers understand that feeling via experience. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Can we keep it real though?
Now if you have a woman that can enjoy watching sports (and you know how bad it can get during the playoffs), cook up a good meal, and can easily navigate between beauty queen and tomboy, isn’t it hard to not consider her your best friend?
My theory is that men are much more prone to consider their girlfriends their best friends than vice versa. I feel this way for a couple of reasons. For one, I think that a woman is better capable at balancing their friend life and their relationship life. Moreover, many men have become enamored with the idea of a “ride or die” chick such that when their girlfriend exhibits traits of loyalty, they get really excited whereas a woman not so much. So what this means is that when a woman wants to go shopping and the guy says he’ll pass, the woman will leave without thinking anything at all. On the other hand, I think if a man wants to watch a basketball game with his girl and she passes, I think men take that more personally than a woman would.
But can there be negative ramifications of having your woman as your best friend? I think so. For starters, I have found it difficult to make time to hang out or talk with my friends. To be clear, it is not a matter of being on lock down. It’s just that I wouldn’t choose to be with someone unless we had massive fun enjoying each other’s company. Having said that, I found myself having conversations like this;
My guy friend: B, what’s good man? What do you have up for tonight?
Me: Nothing much man, just chillin’ with my girl.
My guy friend: Well, if you don’t have anything up, we are going to roll out to the SuperSpade Lounge.
Me: I think I am going to pass today, maybe next week though.
If any man can say that they have been in a long term relationship and have not had a conversation like that, they are lying. However, the point I am trying to drive home is that conversations like that are not bad in and of them selves. But for me, and I think other men as well, the more rain checks you take, the more it becomes clear to the fellas that if it is the weekend, you are going to be with your girl.
But let’s take it a step further, have you ever had tentative plans to go out with the guys and then cancelled because of a) you didn’t want to leave your girl lonely at home or b) you knew that your girl would give you the look that says, “All you do is hang out with your friends?”
Everything in life requires balance and the fact that I see so many relationships fall into the “either you are with me or your friends” is something that must be stopped. Are you guilty of making your significant other choose between you and their friends? Before you automatically rule yourself out, let it marinate it a little bit.
As I stated earlier, whenever I am in a relationship, the woman I am with becomes my best friend. This has its perks but one of the major downsides is trying to express how I feel by prefacing it as a best friend or a boyfriend. One of the biggest issues I have is that I have a tendency to mince my words when I know I want to share something as a best friend but I know that it has the potential to cause confusion on the boyfriend front.
And I have said on numerous occasions, “Listen, you are my best friend and while our relationship is fine, please interpret what I am about to say with your best friend hat on.” More often than not, confusion reigned supreme due to the fact that I was expecting my girl to understand issues only another man would understand.
What’s also troubling is that with the current lack of substantive male to male friendships, it thereby limits the outlets we have to discuss problems with our relationships with the woman we are with. And for most of us we can talk to our female friends but that will only take you so far, knowing that a) your girl probably won’t approve of you confiding in another woman and/or b) the female friend you are talking to will not see the issues from a guy’s perspective.
This creates two potential dilemmas. On the one hand, you and your woman will get frustrated because while the attempt to communicate is a step in the right direction, she might feel inadequate by feeling that she can’t be there for you the way you need. On the other hand, you will feel like an unsuccessful teacher trying to breakdown how you feel in ways that she can understand. And situations like this highlight the need for positive and substantive male to male friendships because often times, you won’t be able to completely understand how you feel until you use your male friend as a sounding board. After which, you can talk to your girl and chances are that if you go this route, the potential for miscommunication will decrease dramatically.
Keep it real?
But what happens in reality is that whenever your boy asks how your relationship is going, you say “Straight,” only because we are so paranoid about saving face. So don’t wait until you must talk to your guy friends. When your boy asks how your relationship is going, just say, “Man, my girl is trippin’” or “Man, I’m trippin’.” If your friend is worth his salt, the conversation should flow smoothly after that. In Proverbs 17:17, it states: A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Are your male friends born for adversity or just born to play basketball and hang out?
And I am not making an either/or proposition such that your boys or your girlfriend has to be your best friend. But while we consider making our girlfriends our best friends, let’s be clear that we have positive and substantive male friendships we can utilize as outlets and sounding boards.
It’s time to man up fellas.