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To see that there is a disparity between male friendships and female friendships, you do not have to look far. Society has placed strong guidelines on how each of these types of friendships can be conducted. Intimacy in a friendship is OK for females but not OK for males – despite studies indicating that males desire the same level of intimacy in their friendships as their female counterparts have in theirs.

It is peculiar, I’ve noticed, that the ‘enforcers’ of many of these strict guidelines the regulate how ‘close’ men are allowed to get in their friendships largely originate with women. As they enjoy intimacy within their friendships, they look on with skepticism when the same level of intimacy occurs with male friendships.

My best friends girlfriend and her best friend make for two prime examples of this. Those two have accused my best friend and I of multiple different things – they even went as far as saying that my best friend was cheating on his girlfriend with me.

Regardless, developing a closeness within a male friendship requires the ability to defy and resist the strict standards placed on males from society. A close friendship doesn’t come easy in our world and therefore sometimes requires a conscious effort to maintain. My best friend and I will reassert our devotion to each other from time to time when various circumstances seem to get in the way of our friendship.

But – how do males get to that ‘closeness’ in the first place? It certainly doesn’t just happen. As Courtney E. Martin illustrates in her column Men and Friendship: Letting the Guard Down First generally speaking one of the people within  the friendship needs to ‘break the ice’ and shatter the emotional barrier that men have been taught to erect.

Thirty-three-year-old poet, actor, and memoirist Carlos Andrés Gómez described how a mentor of his told him that people will only be vulnerable with you if you model it first, and that men so often get stuck in shallow relationship because they are perpetually waiting for the other guy to let his guard down. “So I created an ‘I love you because list,’ with 25 reasons that I loved my best friend and gave it to him,”

The closeness between my best friend and I didn’t begin with a list such as described. The ‘vulnerability’ took place on the morning of January 12, 2016 while sitting at McDonalds and it was done by him. This was when him and I were having a relatively heated discussion in regards to the disastrous relationship he had just entered into (and would lose his job because of in two days). He was being rather adamant that everyone in the social circle (that since has fallen apart) needs to get along. “Everyone needs to love everyone… everyone love everyone … I love you.” This was the first time anyone outside of family had spoken those three words to me.

In that moment our friendship transformed … again. There had already been a deep appreciation for one another due primarily to the stay in the hospital I had nearly a month earlier. A barrier had been torn down – one that needed to be taken apart. We’ve certainly been having a rough ride but in that moment we created a devotion to one another.

Taking a prompt from Carlos Andres Gomez, yesterday I decided to write out a list of 25 things that I love about my best friend. I’m currently deliberating as to how I’m going to post that list on this blog – but I found that creating the list was a great way to find a new appreciation of my best friend. It’s an exercise that I’ll have to repeat from time to time in the future.

We will fight to maintain what we have in this friendship – and we’re not going to let other things – like societies preconceptions of what a male friendship should look like – get in the way.