Monday, March 05, 2012

Men have more friends than women do

A commenter is hesitant to accept Agnostic's assertion that men tend to have more friends but shallower friendships than women do (for simplicity's sake--Agnostic actually takes issue with this characterization in the relevant post, but the male quantitative advantage stands either way):
My own anecdotal experience is that women tend to have far more friends than men do, and that that many of these are close friendships. Agnostic does not offer any data to contradict that perception.
Skimming through facebook profiles, I get the sense that there is greater variation in the number of friends men have than there is in the number of friends women have. Variation tends to be more of a male characteristic, so this comes as little surprise. There are guys I play sports with who are high-energy, dominant alpha-types who have 2,000 facebook friends. That's way beyond the number of people they have actual personal relationships with, but they're approaching something like local fame in the number of people who are glad to be associated with them, and I'd wager that they tend to accept friendship requests more often than they request them. On the flip side, there are several guys I know from work who have fewer than 100 friends. Women seem more likely to fall in between.

The GSS doesn't offer much for us to play with here, but in 1986 it did query respondents on the number of close friends (excluding spouses and family members) they have. The mean is nine for men and six for women, while the median is five for men and four for women. In line with the unscientific facebook survey described above, the standard deviation for men is 12.7 for men and 9.1 for women. That is, men are more likely to have both no close friends and over ten close friends than women are.

GSS variables used: SEX, FRINUM

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do women really have friends?

Or just allied maidens?

Sure, they have social circles.

Friendship goes back to the idealized version imagined by Aristotle. Women do not have this. Their primary sphere of influence if in their household.

Nietzsche says that the woman has learnd to be tyrant, and learned to be slave, but has not learned to be a friend.

This is a common theme in the Greek and Roman ethos.

Think "Band of Brothers", or Brothers in Arms. Think of giving your life for your friend on a battlefield.

Just because their relationships are emotionally close does not mean that they fit the ideal of true friendship.

People are emotionally open with their therapists, and their parents, this does not make them friends.

Jacob Ian Stalk said...

I agree with the anonymous commenter above. Women seem to pretend to be friends with each other (and men) but get into their heads and you realise they despise each other unless there is personal advantage in not doing so. This is particularly so when the sisterhood is on call, say when a man 'needs' to be criticised, shamed or ridiculed. Even those women who claim to have lots of male friends seem to be surrounding themselves with male gravitas and rationality as a way of shoring up a fragile and perpetually lonesome being.

MR said...

Yes, to Aristotle, true friendship was the pinnacle of virtue, and the most perfect relationship for a man to attain.

This is in contrast with Asia, where this ethos does not predominate - where honor is more bound with family and duty rather than chivalrous gallantry.

With Men, friendship is measured in honor.

With women, it is often measured in sensibility, far less demanding in terms of virtue.

Women's friendships are often based on commiseration. Talking about their problems. It is quite egotistical. They seldom discuss matters of substance or things outside themselves, entertainment, and style. They have no qualms about maintaining relationships that are Gossip.

Women are primarily in competition for the honorable enough and desirable enough men. Yet, will dishonor themselves for such.

What examples of history do we have of small groups of women banding together to accomplish common goals?

A women's virtue is in her charm, grace and chastity, not her stalwartness.

We like our women fickle, this weakness is the most endearing part of their charming allure.

What would women be without "the woman's prerogative?"

;) - we still love you


Also, look at the way that good male friends take friendly jibes at one another. It shows they are comfortable, and helping the other stay more grounded.

With women, they actually serve to inflate each other's egos, rather than ground them in reality.

It's like court. Knights and Maidens.

It's like the old joke, "Can a man be friends with a women platonically?"

Answer: "Why would you want to be?"

Or, the other time-trusted quote: Real friends help you move.

Matthew Robson said...

Biologically, this can be explained by evolution.

The Mama Grizzly who protects her young has to be devoted to her young over all else in life. It is her all-consuming role in the world. Her young are likely her only chance at reproduction, and her defending them and having young in future seasons gives her collective offspring the best chance to pass on her genes.

She will deceive her males in order to protect and nurture her young.

She has few potential young, so she has to be INSANE about protecting the young she has.


The Male Grizzlies can afford to be more opportunistic, knowing there are other fish in the genetic sea.

Yea, males protect their young when they're there, but, not at the cost of making more with other females, and keeping other men at bay, and hunting.

Men can compartmentalize their womanizing better than women can compartmentalize their reproduction....so different behavior patterns evolve. These are different risk-tolerances that shape their natural instincts.

Instincts shape normative behavior, which shape natural ethics.

Men are about justice, hierarchy, based on strength. This mirrors the alpha who creates order in the population.

Women are more about pure loyalty to their young, and this can create very crazy situations with their mates.

So, back to the friend thing...

In nature...

Males often hunt in groups, and women do co-nurture with other women.

In the jungle the women can all mate with the strong.

In our world, the women can't, and it is unnatural for them.

They lead an unnatural existence. Hence their false and fickle nature.

The natural form of friendship for women is co-nurturing with other women, but, this has mostly faded out from society.

Even so, mom-friends raising their kids together just aren't taking the kinds of risks, and bestowing the kinds of trust that bread-winners are doing when they compete with other men for resources.

It all comes down to trust - a differential in the degrees of trust between male and female friendships.

The sheer violent and acquisitive power of men demands hierarchy.

Women don't benefit genetically from violence. It is too risky for them.

To put their life at risk puts at risk both their ready womb and body as protector to their living young.

To a man with no young, violence is how he reproduces, gains access above other males.

So, since men are prone to acquisitiveness, they have the nature of forming "Joint Stock Companies"

And Trusts.

And, you can damn bet me that guys who have formed a "Trust", or a Monopoly together, or who are in the Mafia, or a Fraternal organization are closer friends than any women on earth. And they get more out of their friendships - growth, actualization.


That's what friendship means to guys. Like in the context of a cartel, know who your friends are.

Male groups are oriented towards power acquisition, require more trust, and consequently, virtue, and loyalty.

Anonymous said...

Just because their relationships are emotionally close does not mean that they fit the ideal of true friendship.



Right.

You know, just because the feminists toss the word "misogynistic" around like confetti does not mean that there are no people it actually fits.

It would be nice if the right could reject feminism without descending into full-blown contempt for women qua women. And a lot of the comments on this and associated sites, not just the one comment cited, suggest that this is a real problem.

Anonymous said...

To a man with no young, violence is how he reproduces, gains access above other males.


Some of you guys have spent waaaaay too much time watching nature documentaries on TV and mistaking the lessons you glean from them as being applicable to humanity. You need to get off the couch and spend a bit more time around other people.

silly girl said...

Not only do men have more friends, they have better friends; real friends.

On the extreme end, look at men in battle and risking and losing their lives for one another. More moderately men network to help friends get jobs.

Women are much shallower on average and at the extremes. Not too many female martyrs.

My husband has over 500 contacts on linked in. And he has helped plenty of them network and get good jobs. None of my female friends are nearly as social and they are at least in the top 10% if not the top 5%, so my friends aren't dysfunctional proles.

Anonymous said...

Whatever, men have stronger friendships my arsehole! They will fuck over there bestfriend and try to fuck there girlfriends, faster then you can say "where'd John and Katrina go?". Or openly flirt with her in front of him.

A woman, unless she wants to be outcasted from other women do not do this. Flirting or even too much eye-contact with with your bestfriends boyfriend is grounds to be outcasted.

She will be outcasted by other women and made to hangout with guys and become their human bicycle under the guise of being "one of the boys because women are jelous of her" (aka "I get my validation from men cos' I have daddy issues" )

At least we dont put on some act to fit in with a bunch of boofheads who will screw you over in a blink of an eye.