If you’ve ever met me or any of my guy friends and managed to overhear one of our standard conversations over a cup of coffee and some bagels, you’d probably think we didn’t like each other very much.
Normally, when people make fun of one another and call each other less-than-generous nicknames, it probably means they don't like each other. But among my male friends, this is just how we choose to show our affection.
I’ve always thought it was a New York thing. I mean, I grew up watching "Seinfeld," so this was the way I thought friends interacted. Sarcastic banter, light-hearted name-calling, well-timed zingers -- these types of things are the norms whenever my friends and I are sitting around the TV watching a basketball game.
Honestly, I’ve always viewed my friends as the people whom I could mess around with without the risk of offending them. And, likewise, they know they could do the same with me knowing I won’t take it to heart.
Plus, if sh*t ever got real, we all know we’d have each other’s backs, and we're actually very protective of each other.
But when we’re just kicking it, why not have a little fun with each other?
I’m rarely rude to people I don’t know or don't like. I'm only rude to people I do like. It's actually pretty ironic.
Realistically, when we insult each other, we’re actually showing affection -- albeit in a fairly unusual way. But when you truly feel comfortable around someone, you won’t feel the need to feign compassion or walk on eggshells with regard to their feelings.
You know they won’t get offended by your (at times brutal) honesty, and to an extent, they even appreciate it. It’s authentic. It's never malicious.
When you’re constantly worried about offending the people who are supposed to be your “friends,” you’ll never be able to let your guard down.
It’s one thing to put a front on around your office or in the classroom, where you’re expected to act in a certain manner. However, around your friends -- the people you’re supposed to be closest with -- you shouldn’t be concerned with hurting their feelings by saying the wrong thing.
It’s also a different dynamic when I’m out “with the guys.” It’s understood that we all like each other -- otherwise, we wouldn’t be taking the time out of our days to hang around each other. So, when we’re together, we try not to get too mushy with one another.
The male ego is certainly a mysterious thing. Friends are one of the most important tools for keeping that ego in check. By f*cking around with one another and testing each other from time to time, we help keep our friends from becoming too conceited.
If we all sat around and complimented the other on how good he is at FIFA -- or at getting with the ladies -- I doubt we’d want to be around each other for too much longer.
Also, by playing on each other’s faults, it demonstrates that we’re paying attention to each other. We'd never poke fun at certain personal matters that we know will offend our friends. True friends understand there’s a line -- and won’t cross it.
But with the smaller things, whether it’s getting rejected at the bar or getting a little too drunk, I’ve always felt that a little playful joking proves how close you really are.
On the other hand, with someone you might not know very well, these types of things may be awkward to talk about.
You know how close you are to your friends by how comfortable you feel addressing seemingly uncomfortable topics.
By being able to laugh at yourself and your friends, you learn to not take things so seriously, which might be the most valuable thing your guy friends can teach you.
Nobody enjoys being around the person who can’t laugh at him or herself. Friends who mess around with each other encourage playfulness with regard to subjects that may appear the most touchy -- like ourselves, for instance.
Good friends are like brothers. People who grew up with a brother around the house probably spent as much time bickering with him as they did sitting quietly telling him how much they appreciate him.
That being said, when push comes to shove, the idea of appreciation never needs to be questioned -- or even reinforced.