Richard Krzyzanowski may be a pretty typical guy, but he tends to get along better with women than men. And he’s learned a few things over the years.
It seems that so much of masculinity is defined by the absence of femininity or the inverse of it. I think that in defining masculinity in such a way, we sell it short. It seems that in being men, we forget that we were once genderless and that we develop female sex organs before we develop male ones, yet so many of us have forgotten or neglected to embrace those parts of us that are more feminine.
This isn’t about getting friend-zoned by someone that you’d like to date. That situation sucks. This is about being friends with women. Quite literally, it’s about just being “one of the girls” in a similar way as we are just “one of the guys.” This may be a new, unfamiliar, and possibly uncomfortable experience for many straight men and that’s okay.
Despite being a pretty typical straight man, I enjoy many things that society has deemed “girly.” I tend to be more comfortable with most women than I am with most men. Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandmothers, learning how to cook and sew and knit (I still cook, but I don’t sew or knit).
From those experiences, here are five things that I’ve learned from being one of the girls:
1. It is totally okay to cry. It has been my experience that most women are more willing to allow themselves the space to cry than most men. In allowing themselves that space, my female friends learn how to hold that space for others. They don’t judge me when I need to let go of some pent up emotions. Many times, they will sit down and cry with me. Or they will hold me until I’m finished crying. Society has never told them that they need to be strong and stoic and never show any emotion. They tend to understand that that sort of societal pressure is too much for any human to handle.
2. Being a good friend teaches you how to be a good boyfriend. Sometimes it is easier to support our friends than it is our lovers. Having friends who are women has taught me softness and gentleness. In my friendships with men, there have oftentimes been power struggles. It is almost as if one male is always trying to be the “alpha.” Romantic partnerships, and friendships, in general, tend not to work when there is an imbalance of power. My friendships with women have taught me that I can still be a strong and powerful man while being supportive of my friends. In fact, I can be stronger and more powerful while being supportive because my friends will support me in return.
3. Your female friends will talk to their female friends about you. This one is kind of selfish, but that’s okay. When you are supportive of your friends, they will talk about it. They will tell their friends. There have been a number of occasions where I have been meeting a friend of a friend and she has said something to the affect of, “So and so has told me all about you.” If you’re single, this is pretty much the best thing that someone can do to help you find that special someone. Your friend has already “vetted” you. They know that you’re safe. They tell their friends about how you helped them figure out that disagreement that they were having with their boyfriend. Their friends know about how you’re a good listener. Your friend creates an “in” for you to chat up their friends. Go with it.
4. They will teach you how to be better in bed. Sex is a subject that comes up pretty often for me. Many times I discover that my friends and I have some similar kinks. Many times I discover that we have very dis-similar kinks. In either situation, a bit of curiosity can lead you to discovering why something works for some people and not others. In some cases, you can get tips on what feels good and what doesn’t. Your female friends can help you to understand the emotionality that is so connected and intertwined with sex.
I think it is sometimes way easier to have these conversations with people that aren’t sexual partners. There isn’t any pressure or emotion tied to the conversation. You are just two people talking about sex with no intention of ever having sex. I think it allows for a very safe space where two people can speak frankly without fear of judgment.
5. Pedicures. Seriously, fellas, is you’ve never had one, you are missing out. Ask a female friend to go with you. Sit back and enjoy yourself. This is one of those things that we don’t even realize is awesome because we are too busy judging it to be “girly.” Personally, I’m not a huge fan of cutting my toenails. The angle is awkward and there is always that one that I cut a little too close and it bleeds. Furthermore, pedicures usually come with a foot bath and a calf massage. No one is going to force you to get nail polish on your toes. I promise. But if you do want to add some color, they now have nail polish marketed specifically to men. I ordered some in matte black, matte gray, and royal blue. The matte black even has a severed arm on the label! If there is anything more masculine than a severed arm, I don’t know what it is. (Please read that last sentence with a hint of sarcasm.)
There is something very exciting and beautiful in experiencing feminine energy for me, regardless of whether it is my own feminine energy or that of my friends. It puts me in touch with a piece of myself that I often overlook because I am shaped like a man and society tells me that I have to act a certain way because of that. I think that society has been lying to me. I think it feels great to let go of those expectations and do what feels good. And to be perfectly honest, being a little “girly” sometimes feels great.
*I used the term “girly” a couple times in this piece. I’ve put it in quotation marks because I am not a huge fan of the term or what it has come to mean. My usage of it here relies on a definition that is more “things that are commonly associated with femininity” rather than any sort of derogatory or misogynistic definition.
Photo: Flickr/The Write Gardener