I'm a 32-year-old straight man, and I've never had a female friend. Is that a red flag?
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Dear Miss Information,
I am a 32-year-old straight man. My girlfriend of seven years and I recently broke up. It was messy. As we were breaking up, we each threw low blows and insults. Who doesn’t during a breakup? One thing she said really stuck with me, and I want some outside opinions.
She told me that it was a giant red flag that I don’t have female friends. At first I fought back, because I do have female friends. She told me they weren’t friends, they were coworkers and neighbors: in other words, acquaintances. She yelled that she “should have known I was incapable of an adult relationship” because of my lack of “meaningful relationships” with women. God, that fight was awful. But I digress.
This was several months ago. The dust has largely settled, even though we don’t speak to each other. This one thing has been bugging me, though. So what if I don’t have close female friends? Is that a red flag? And if so, what do I do about it?
—Not a Frat Boy, But Could Be
Dear Not a Frat Boy,
Think of your close friends like a President’s cabinet of advisors: they’re there for you when shit goes down, so it’s important to choose them carefully. You’d want a wide array of expertise in your cabinet, right? A cool, down-to-earth girl will likely have a perspective that is just a few degrees off from your nearest cool, down-to-earth guy friend. Appointing a girl is guaranteed to shake up your Old Boys’ Club.
Of course, the pitfall of any co-ed relationship is going to be sex. Usually a “friendship” is based on dashed romantic hopes, meaning Person A thought Person B was cute and Person B wasn’t interested, so Person A settled into “friendship.” This dynamic won’t necessarily kill a relationship, but it certainly doesn’t do it any favors. As a general rule, if you’re working under an ulterior motive (sex, money, political ass-kissing), the friendship is going to be stunted. For a better shot at something solid, chat up a girl you are not attracted to, and/or girls who are unavailable. Removing sex from an interaction puts it on a different track, and relieves both parties: when you’re not trying to be coy and charming, you get to cover much more interesting ground.
First and foremost, make a friend because you find her interesting, not because you need to fill a Girl Quota. Look at the women already in your periphery. Your best friend’s wife, your landlady, your cubical mate—is there anyone there who might seem promising? Some relationships will stick better than others, but at the very least you’re making an effort to engage the people around you, and that can’t be a bad thing.
In the end, Not a Frat Boy, your break-up may have been messy, but it seems to have left you open-minded and willing to improve. For that, you deserve a high five: that’s the best-case scenario of any breakup, and a pretty good place to be.