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Ladies, take a cue from men on who's really a friend

By Audrey Irvine, CNN
Not all buddies are real friends, Audrey Irvine learns from a fellow she knows.
Not all buddies are real friends, Audrey Irvine learns from a fellow she knows.
  • Audrey Irvine learns from male buddy about how he sees friends
  • He can hang out with his "boys" but doesn't consider them friends
  • Friends are guys who know his family, know his hopes, dreams, baggage
  • Irvine says women want to make everyone into friends, when some are just buddies

Editor's note: Audrey Irvine is a senior assignment manager for CNN. Her experiences in the dating world inspire her "Relationship Rant" column. Check back every week for her take on dating and relationships

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) -- Friends are important to me -- not just girlfriends to sit around talking about Oprah, but also male buddies, who have a unique perspective on a number of things.

Like this chat on friendship:

Him: Yeah, I'm hanging out this weekend, supposed to go to a Final Four party my boy is having.

Me: Oh, that's cool -- hanging with your friend this weekend.

Him: He's not my friend; he's my boy.

Me: Isn't that the same thing?

Him: Not at all -- he's just someone I hang with, but he's not my friend.

I was intrigued and dug a little deeper, asking him to explain the exact difference.

This particular "boy" was someone I had thought was his friend. They spent a number of weekends together, hanging out with a group until all hours numerous nights. I made the natural assumption that they must be close. After all, if I spent that much time with one of my girlfriends, I would inevitably consider her a friend.

He went on to explain that for men, it's simple. You may have a lot of acquaintances -- someone to watch the game with, someone to have a drink with -- and you may or may not invite them to your house.

But that does not equate to friendship. Your friend is that person who listens to your hopes, dreams, fears and baggage. This is that person you may not spend hours hanging out with, but that you call in a pinch. This is a treasured person who knows your family and is invited to your wedding.

For women, I don't think we tend to be this clearcut when it comes to friendship. Too often, women don't make this distinction, and as a result we end up sharing everything with everyone. Therein lies one of the reasons for drama associated with female friendships -- because these acquaintances have been promoted to a status that they don't deserve.

I enjoy going to the gym, for vanity first, health reasons second. I take an hour class where I let an instructor beat me up, and then I leave. Needless to say, you can become close to those who suffer along with you in class. So, you could say I have some gym friends.

In reality, these are not my friends. They don't know me. For one hour, we all are united in blood, sweat and tears. But at the end of the day, in a pinch, would I call one of these "friends" to bail me out? Likely not -- these folks are really acquaintances and don't know me outside of how many pushups and reps I do in class.

Why does this happen so much with women? Is it our consistent need to nurture the smallest nub into something worthwhile? There is nothing wrong with compartmentalizing and characterizing the relationships in our lives. Not every person you have a connection with is your friend.

So, ladies, please take a cue from men and realize that not everyone is your friend. It's really not a bad thing. Friendships are precious and when nurtured can make this joyous and bumpy ride called life even more fulfilling.

Oddly enough, at the end of the conversation with my male friend, I turned to him and said "You know what? I just realized that you're really my boy."

Guess what? He was OK with that too.