Gender and friendship: Why are men's best same-sex friendships less intimate and supportive?
Article first published online: 20 MAY 2005
Volume 7, Issue 1, pages 63–78, March 2000
How to Cite
BANK, B. J. and HANSFORD, S. L. (2000), Gender and friendship: Why are men's best same-sex friendships less intimate and supportive?. Personal Relationships, 7: 63–78. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2000.tb00004.x
- Issue published online: 20 MAY 2005
- Article first published online: 20 MAY 2005
Despite efforts to dismiss it, the finding that men's same-sex friendships are less intimate and supportive than women's is robust and widely documented. We tested six possible explanations for this finding: lack of parental models for friendship, emotional restraint, homophobia, masculine self-identity, competitive strivings, and role conflicts. Of these, emotional restraint and homophobia toward gay men provided the most explanatory power for gender effects on both intimacy and support in best friendships. Masculine self-identity mediated the relationship between gender and intimate–but not supportive–friendship; and having a same-sex parent with close friendships mediated the relationship between gender and supportive–but not intimate–friendship. Unexpected findings about the importance of a status orientation toward friendship suggest that researchers should abandon the male-deficit model of friendship in favor of studying the reasons why some men and women seek close same-sex friendships.