Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Do Male Friends "Breakup"? Elissa Schappell and Jenny Offil on the differences in friendship between men and women

Novelists Elissa Schappell and Jenny Offil have just published "The Friend Who Got Away," an anthology of essays by women about their breakups with female friends. There are some great pieces in it, but as a man I found the intensity of the emotions almost dizzying. Almost all of the relationships involved had a delirious sense of romance from the start--the expectation that this was the friendship that would change them, make them a better person, last forever, etc. The following is an excerpt from a Q & A I did with them (the feature appeared in The Journal News):

Do men have intense friendships (and breakups) too? Could there be a
male version of the book, and if so, what would it be like?

I think men do have intense friendships, but often instead of idealizing them they have a much more laissez faire attitude about maintaining them. A lot of the guys I know have had conflicts with a friend over women or work but they seem to pride themselves on not taking it too personally. An example would be two men I know who years ago had a falling out when one married the other's ex-girlfriend (and true love). A few months later they were playing basketball together, employing a sort of don't ask, don't tell rule about how the betrayal had affected their friendship. With women, the fallout in such a situation would likely last much longer. As for a male version of the book, I'd certainly be interested in doing one, but I think getting most men to delve into that emotional territory wouldn't be easy.
The guys I know who have told me about their friendship breakups almost always ended with a disclaimer along the lines of how it wasn't really such a big deal in the end. --Jenny Offil


I think men have intense friendships too, and they break up just like women do (maybe with men though, someone gets socked in the nose) but it is different. They may be hurt, they may stew, but I don’t believe they obsess over the break up the way women do. Is it in part because they aren’t as intimately invested in each other as women are? Maybe.
I don’t think that they feel that the blow-up, or loss of friendship is necessarily any indicator of character, or their worth—whereas many women do.
I can’t imagine a man hiding under a table in a restaurant or darting across moving traffic to avoid seeing their old friend like, um, someone I know has done.
The male version of the book would be: I Used To Play Poker with That Guy…--Elissa Schappell

Personally, I think the male version of the book would be a book of blank pages.--KF

6 comments:

Case said...

No way, K-foz. I broke up with my friend in AZ and now hes asking around, I'm in FL and I'll probably end up calling him while I'm drunk and asking to get back together.

kfoz said...

I don't know, Case. I wasn't overwhemed by the outpouring of real feeling in your post.

And...where's everyone else on this? Does the near total silence mean something?

Case said...

The less I articulate my "man-feelings" the deeper they run, dawg.

Lisa in TLH said...

Before I even read your comment, Ken, I was thinking that the male version would be a short book, indeed.

Betsy said...

I think Jenny O. is on the money - it's just dealt with so differently. I can think of quite a few examples to illustrate but the one who marries the other's ex rings very true. As a woman I'm not sure I'd ever get over that. I know of a reverse situation - and long after my girlfriend got over it - having known the woman, who was perfectly nice, I still feel weird about it.

David said...

I've 'broken up' with friends--or rather, they've broken up with me--but they've been women. Male friends just wander off, silent as monks, even at their angriest.