Every summer for 25 years, Mark Vasu has gotten together for a weekend getaway with old friends from Duke University. The 15 men, who graduated in 1984, gather in the same cabin in Highlands, N.C.
“It’s a judgment-free, action-packed, adventure-based weekend,” says Mr. Vasu. “We go hiking, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, fly-fishing.”
What they don’t do is sit around as a group, the way women do, sharing their deepest feelings.
Male friendships like these are absolutely typical, but don’t assume they’re inferior to female friendships. “If we use a women’s paradigm for friendship, we’re making a mistake,” says Geoffrey Greif, a professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Social Work, who has studied how 386 men made, kept and nurtured friendships. Men might not be physically or emotionally expressive, he says, but we derive great support from our friendships.
Researchers say women’s friendships are face to face: They talk, cry together, share secrets. Men’s friendships are side by side: We play golf. We go to football games.
For several years, I’ve reported on the friendships women share, first for this column and then for “The Girls From Ames,” a book about the 40-year friendship of 11 women from Ames, Iowa. And though I envy women’s easy intimacy, I also know it wouldn’t work for me and my friends.