I miss my men friends. I used to have many of them, and they were as critical to my sanity as were my female friends, while providing a little something indefinably different.
Of course, all those boys-now-men who meant so much to me in high school, college, law school and the early work years are still dear to me. We have the same text-email-Facebook-Christmas card relationship that I have with many of my female friends. Once in a blue moon, we even talk on the phone. Every few years, when one of us is in the other's part of the country, we meet for drinks or dinner. Since we are friends from Before, it's ok that we meet alone.
It's the Before and After that are the difference--before or after marriage and parenthood. I will always have the handful of guys who have meant the world to me for years, but I don't foresee making any new male friends, unless a lovely gay couple moves in next door. I can hardly imagine asking one of the local dads to join me for a drink, or to come over to my house to drink wine and watch a movie with me when my husband is out of town. It just isn't done. What would people say?
It was bad enough Before. Can men and women really be friends? To paraphrase When Harry Met Sally, doesn't the sex part always get in the way?
The answers to those questions are "yes" and "maybe sometimes." Sure, some of those wonderful male-female friendships were complicated at times by unreciprocated feelings. We're human. And we drank a lot and stayed up all night. But my friendships, while occasionally challenged, were no worse for the complications. n some ways, looking at it twenty years distant, they were enriched by it. You haven't really shared your feelings with someone unless you've had to have The Conversation.
I've been a stay-at-home mom for nearly eight years and worked in an all-female company for a short time before that. That means it's been almost ten years since I even had the opportunity to make a male friend of my own--not a friend of my husband's, my friend's husband, or the mailman (the only other man I encounter reliably). While I have a wonderful man who shares my life, a spouse is a friend of a totally different kind. We still share laughs and talk about interesting things, but we also share children, a house in need of repair, financial planning, and a calendar. In other words, responsibilities.
Friends are an escape from and a support system for the day-to-day stuff. Men and women are different--they experience different things and experience things differently. Having friends of the opposite gender is a blessing. I'm blessed to have those that I formed before the age of 30, and regret all of those I'll never now make.