Crossing The Line
##John Pike PIKE1
Crossing the Line
“Men’s friendships with men are characterized by doing things ... for women’s friendships, talk for the sake of talk is more central than activates” (Fritz 2). We have always heard that men’s friendships are based on activities and that women’s friendships are based on talking, but what happens when these two stereotypes intertwine in a cross-gendered friendship. What happens when a man and a woman are just friends and not lovers? What do they do? Do they do activities that men would prefer or do they sit down and gossip like the women would love to do. We will throw out all the stereotypes about the inter-gender relationships and centralize on the cross-gender relationship. To understand the theme of a cross-gender relationship you have to realize the biggest problem of these relationships, love. “Many heterosexual love relationships begin as platonic friendships” (Stewart 1). Relating to that is Lips saying, “ In fact, the pairing of women and men into such intimate relationships is taken so
much for granted that people see it difficult to conceive of female-male relationships that do not fit this pattern” (324). The key to a healthy relationship, whether it be cross-gender or not, is communication. How the friends communicate to each other, how intimate the friends will communicate with each other, and what kind of conflicts that the different communications styles will produce, are important areas of communication in cross-gender friendships.
How will the cross-gender friends communicate with each other, since each has a very different communication style? “The communication style refers to ‘the way one verbally and paraverbally interacts to signal how literal meaning should be taken, interpreted, filtered, or understood’” (Stewart 3). Women are usually considered to be more open and much more attentive then men. While men, tend to be more dominant and dramatic then woman. So how does the dominant, dramatic man interact with the open, attentive woman? The key to the communications styles may not be to understand the other gender is communicating but not to misunderstand what they are trying to communicate. The man will try being very dominant in the conversation (controlling the conversation) and dramatizing the information (overemphasizing the important information, while underemphasizing the bad). The woman will be overly attentive and very relaxed during the conversation allowing the man to be in control, in all creating control of the conversation on her own. The problem does not come from the communication itself, but from what the people themselves may take from it. A man may feel what he is doing is helpful while the woman may view it as controlling and vice versa. The only
way you can create good communication in a cross-gender friendship is to understand the difference in each other’s communication styles.
How intimate will the communication be between the man and woman? It seems to be that men and women self-disclose about the same in cross-gender communication. The ironic thing is that men self-disclose more with a woman then with a man, while a woman will self disclose less with a man then with a woman. “When sex differences in intimacy are found, females’ friendships are constantly rated as more intimate than males’ friendships” (Roy 1). Men seem to self-disclose in a way that shows off their strengths, while a woman will self-disclose about their weaknesses (Stewart). So this attempt to communicate with a cross-gender partner once again leaves a man in a superior, dominant position and the man in the conversation will dominate the woman. This creates a problem in the relationship when one partner becomes more superior in the relationship than the other person does. So the cross-gender friends will need to become equals in communication while allowing each other to stay within their own comfortable communication style.
The conflict that can be caused by the different communication styles of a man and a woman may be the most overwhelming problem with cross-gender relationships. Men and woman will take the conflict differently. Stewart says, “Women tend to blame themselves for rational failures and credit others for rational successes (and) men are more likely to ignore the
problem” (2). So what will happen if a problem arises in