Are Male Friendships Less Emotional, Action-Driven, Less Intense, and Simple Than Those of Females?

Are boy relationships different from girls? Do boys tend to avoid communicating? Do they tend to avoid communicating a variety of emotions? Are there fundamental differences rooted in physical brain composition and development that cause male behaviour and expression to be different than females? These are questions that have surfaced in my mind observing the students in my classes over 23 years, parenting my sons and chatting with friends and their kids.

As written yesterday, my experiences have led me to believe that there are marked differences between girls and boys. I particularly found these differences more pronounced in kindergarten. Why? At this level, more than any other grade, the emphasis is on inquiry and play-based learning. Large chunks of class time are geared to allowing the children to choose the activity and who they choose to interact with during their periods of discovery.

Here is what I observed from boys:

  • They tended to socialize, favouring activities that engaged them in communicating through active play. This could involve dramatic play, sport, art, creativity, however, the focus is on the activity rather than the chatting through the activity.
  • They tend to be more playful and risk-taking, especially in whole group activities.
  • Boys at the kindergarten are very sensitive and very aware of the nuances of emotion.
  • Boys tend not to communicate their emotions, or complex emotions as much as females.
  • Boys are less interested in ‘selling an idea’ than they are in taking action.
  • Boys tend to be happy, content or angry. When they are angry they explode, usually physically, then it is over. They tend not to brood or use psychological undermining.
  • Many kindergarten boys love reading, writing and the arts. Funny as the grades progress this interest often wanes.
  • Boys seem to favour packs of friends and do not seem to have a need to attach and express the BFF concept.

As mentioned yesterday, all these points could be debated. My six years teaching kindergarten tended to be the biggest influence on my arrival at these generalizations. Are they absolutes? No. Yet, the bottom line is that I do believe males and females do exhibit differences in the way they relate to each other. I also believe that boys are far more emotional than we acknowledge. So often our little males find it difficult to express these inner feelings, giving rise to anger. Consequently, it is imperative that we help our boys get in touch with their inner feelings so that anger is replaced by in-depth sharing of emotion.

Below are some articles to stimulate thought and discussion on the nature of male friendships. They might provoke discussion or offer some support when guiding or coaching boys in your life.

Here is a reading reshare of a story I wrote back in 2007. This story is meant for a grade 3-7 level. It was inspired by watching my two sons, their friends and the male students in my classes. It might open up discussions with the boys in your life as to what it means to be a good friend. It is titled Team C.A.R.E.