4 reasons why some women prefer to be friends with men
Updated: Jan 27
After reading research about “guys’ girls” by Dr. Hannah Bradshaw, we learned that the relationship between “guys’ girls” and “girls’ girls” is bidirectional. Women who seek the company of men tend to do so for safety, for refuge, for protection from what they deem as a “hostile environment” among women. But some women who see these “guys’ girls” tend to treat them in a hostile way, and this cycle becomes unproductive .
Before we look at the top 4 reasons women share for why they prefer the companionship of men to women, it is critical that we get on the same page about how we’re using the term “guys’ girl”. Depending on who you ask, the core of the definition is the same, but we think it has certain connotations for some people. Let’s make a distinction that is critical before we move forward.
What is a “guys’ girl”?
The term “guys’ girl” typically refers to a woman who sees herself as one of the guys.
Now for some people, it simply refers to a girl who maybe shares men’s interests, is more of a “non-frills” kind of person, and is typically in male company. For others, it describes a woman who not only is often among male company, but who also actively dislikes female company. It’s like saying you’re a dog person because you just really like dogs and feel like you’re kindred spirits. But then there are also “dog people” who actively hate cats. We’d argue that the degree to which a woman prefers male companionship is rooted in a distaste for women.
If you’re a “girls’ girl”, we hope this countdown helps you understand the other side. If you’re a “guys’ girl”, we hope that you feel seen. But we also hope that if you do hold some hostility or mistrust toward other women, some of these insights may soften those sentiments.
Top 4 reasons women prefer the company of men to women:
4. They have the same interests or vibe.
Research shows that we tend to like people who are like us. And we get along best when there are perceived similarities. If a woman has stereotypical male interests like sneakers, athletics, or cars, for example, she may find herself enjoying the company of those who share that interest. If she’s deeply engaged in these kinds of interests or hobbies, it’s highly likely that she may be among mostly men. We know there are women who are athletes and car enthusiasts, but if you want to engage in certain activities that bring you joy, and those spaces happen to be male-dominated, then you’re likely to be among mostly men.
Now if a woman believes she cannot relate to women for whatever reason, she may seek male companionship. However, what we expect typically determines how we engage.
If over time you’ve told yourself that you don’t have much in common with women and that you can’t relate to them, that idea might determine how you engage with them (less involved in the conversation, less inclined to bring an exploratory approach to the conversation, etc). It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So yes, sharing interests is a common reason “guys’ girls” cite for why they are often among, and perhaps even prefer, the company of men.
3. They believe men are more “logical” and women are “so emotional”.
We are speaking generally, but it seems there is a language, a dance, that women do when they come together. And if a woman feels like she never learned it for whatever reason (she grew up with mostly brothers, she’s been in spaces where she never learned some of the ethos and “codes” and tendencies that are common to women), she may feel like a fish out of water. Or perhaps she’s had an experience where she feels she said or did the wrong thing with a female friend and was penalized for it, without understanding what happened. That woman may crave more directness.
Deborah Tannen, a popular sociolinguist, breaks down a lot of the differences between men and women’s language, and yes, there are differences in the way we communicate from the way we interject, to the kinds of details we share, to how we demonstrate listening. Much of that is because most women center feelings. For example, how will the other girl feel if we do or don’t say something?
Emotional doesn't mean irrational. Dr. Tracy Alloway, a psychologist, talks about misconceptions surrounding women’s brains in her book “Think Like a Girl”. One of these misconceptions is that women are “too emotional” and can’t operate with reason. It’s not that women are clouded by a hyperfocus on feelings, but when women make decisions, they tend to prioritize reducing harm. We are often being vulnerable and open in conversations and discussing others’ lives (not in a negative, gossiping way but in a sociological way) and perhaps some women don’t want to (or cannot) engage in that way.
2. They feel like they can be themselves.
This one is pretty broad because it can mean so many things. The thought here is that “guys’ girls” are saying they feel more relaxed and they don’t have to think, calculate, or perform when they’re with men. Who wants to be in a space where they feel like they have to be “on”, measure their words, or second guess their actions? This reason makes sense because everyone deserves to be among that kind of comfort.
But we’re curious as to what “self” they feel they can show, and whether that discomfort is self-imposed or truly external. Think about this: however you interpret a certain group to be will determines how you engage when you’re with them. If, for example, your premise of womanhood is something out of reach and unattainable, why would you want to be constantly reminded of my inadequacy? But that would be a personal thing, not a matter of other women telling you you don’t measure up.
1. Women are too competitive/catty/untrustworthy/dramatic.
You saw this reason coming, didn't you?
Let’s talk about the competitive accusation. All humans compete. If we didn't, we would never have survived. We compete for resources, and we try our best to take what we can get to keep advancing.
We also compete in the sense that we look to others to determine what's normal and to determine standards for success, and it motivates us to do even better. This is not exclusive to any sex or gender.
These women may be saying that they suspect that other women can't befriend them because they see them as competition. And while there may be those who are jealous and competitive, it's not the default for everyone.
But again, think about how constant suspicions of jealousy or competition determine how you engage and if it becomes another self-fulfilling prophecy. If you’ve trained your radar to detect words or behaviors consistent with what you qualify as competition, are you more likely to register that? Some friendships have certainly turned competitive, but we have to question if an entire friendship history would ever be based on competition.
When it comes to drama, many of us conjure images of The Real Housewives reunions. We picture women glammed up looking regal and magnificent, only to be concealing claws and daggers between their teeth, ready to attack. But as friendship expert Shasta Nelson says, “Drama in any relationship is inevitable.” But yes, unnecessary provocation, instigation, overreaction, and gossip isn’t healthy. We have seen a lot of unnecessary gossip, pot-stirring, and duplicity amongst male friendships to know that these traits are not exclusive to women.
There are mountains of research that point to women's friendships as being more intimate than men’s. Even some men, when questioned, say they prefer the company of women because they feel like they can be their full selves. They feel they can relax from the performing that often comes with having to maintain a certain kind of “masculinity” amongst men. They want to open up about something more meaningful or significant, but they feel restricted by cultural norms and can’t relax into their full selves.
We understand there are women who are reluctant to trust other women, to relax with them, to allow themselves to be seen by them, but there is so much love to be had on the other side. We enjoy our male friendships, but there’s nothing like being loved by another woman.
And you know how we know? Because there are several self-proclaimed “guys’ girls” coming to us for coaching sessions. They want to make friends with other women, they want to be comfortable around them, they want to know how to position themselves to connect with other women. They want to know what they’re doing “wrong”, and they long for the company of women. In these instances, a woman who identifies women as the source of her pain also knows women to be the source of her healing.
There’s nothing like being loved on, supported, seen, welcomed, championed, and held accountable by another woman. And when we say these things, we’re referring to healthy and secure friendships - because we won’t stand for any other kind, okay?
As your new official friendship coach, here’s your homework:
To “guys’ girls”: you can probably offer, without hesitation, 100 reasons for not wanting to be friends with women. But we want to challenge you to think of 3 reasons you could be. What might you be missing out on? You may dismiss these kinds of friendships because of all the negative things you associate with them, but what are the benefits you might also be missing?
To “girls’ girls”: think about your general attitude toward “guys’ girls”. Think about how you react to them, what you say, how you shun or judge them, and then ask yourself if any of that would make her want to explore friendships with women. The next time you hear her say, “Ugh, that’s why I’m friends with guys”, ask her why. And when she gives a reason, ask, “What’s happened in your life to make you think that? Has that been true of everyone you’ve met?” Tell her you haven’t had that experience but that you hear her.
If you're looking to create or deepen your platonic relationships with other women, personal friendship coaching might be for you. Book a session with resident friendship expert Danielle Bayard Jackson or send us a message. Either way, we'll be right here rooting for you on on your ongoing journey toward better female friendships.