This Salon story by Rebecca Traister struck a chord in me, despite my difficulties in finding very close female friends. No matter what your gender, the loss of a good friend is just as traumatic as a break-up, and often more so; our lack of social protocols for ending friendships often means there is no closure, only an uncomfortable drifting apart. Other readers were similarly affected by her exploration of friendships, although many were disgruntled by the focus on women. But friendships between men have been the focus of fiction and philosophy since the ancient Greeks--shouldn't women get their turn?
I got a phone call last week from an old friend. I've known her since sixth grade, but after I left Texas we have grown further and further apart. She had a long term boyfriend I didn't approve of (not good enough for her); she's been busy teaching and pursuing a master's since college, while I've been consumed by law school. She still hangs out with some of our more troubled grade school friends and I get occasional updates, but we have so little in common now. It would be more emotional effort to end the relationship than to continue it, though, so we both keep a tenuous sort of contact.
My best male friend from college I hardly hear from anymore. His girlfriend doesn't really approve of us hanging out (we used to date), but I'm not sure if that's a reason or an excuse. He's always been a little flaky, but nowadays I wonder if it's worth the repeated emails and broken appointments. Sometimes I kick myself for being hurt; apparently my friends who said our entire friendship was about his attraction to me were right. I still believe in the ability of men and women to be "just friends," but this has been a blow.
(If you have trouble reading the links, google "salon cookie.")