Life Soulful Relationship

Negotiating the Self: Platonic Male Friendships

I recently came across an interesting article sent to me by my sister, and often partner-in-self-development, via group chat. The article is loosely based on an ancient, Japanese tale (link here) and in it, the author describes the process of negotiating a relationship with her then-fiancé. Ultimately, what the author found was that over time, she dwindled away due to habitual implying the illogicality of her own needs and demands. She was gaslighted. The effect was that she became less of herself, and miserable for it.

The Japanese tale that the article loosely references is called the “The Crane Wife.” In it, a crane continues to actively deceive the man she loves into thinking she is actually a woman. The crane knows that if the man finds out she is actually a creature, he will never love her. And so every night, she plucks her feathers. Although tired, painful and isolating, she continues to pick at herself to gain his love and acceptance.

“Every morning, the crane-wife is exhausted, but she is a woman again. To keep becoming a woman is so much self-erasing work. She never sleeps. She plucks out all her feathers, one by one.”

– CJ Hauser

This story reminds me of how we, as women, navigate our wants and needs in relationships with men. Whether romantic, or platonic, we over-think whether our behavior is acceptable or appropriate. And that’s because we are socialized to second-guess ourselves with the men who are meaningful to us both to keep them in our lives and to receive their affection.

This got me thinking – how do we, as women, negotiate ourselves when in friendships with men? Without the incentive of achieving a long-time male partner, do we continue to experience the type of self-erasure that is described in “The Crane Wife”? And how do the unique experiences among those of us in the diaspora shape these friendships?

In order to thematically evaluate this topic, we would like to pose a direct question to our readers.

How do you navigate platonic male friendships with men?

Follow-up: What do men appreciate while in meaningful friendships with women? How does this perception shape your actions and behaviors, if at all?

We’d like to hear your thoughts! Comment below.

Meron A
Author: Meron A

1 comment on “Negotiating the Self: Platonic Male Friendships

  1. Franklyn Ikpa

    I’ll guess that the follow up was to get men’s answers.

    I make sure that I create a healthy environment for my platonic female relationships by first of all, opening up on various levels without considering their criticism, if any. That way, they’ll automatically relax and be comfortable to understand that I accept them wholely. I also listen and ask questions with specifics. I create time for face to face meetings too because that helps me figure things out about them better. I learned that in trying to explore such friendships, an open mind is key because there’s certainly high level erasure that women go through that men never get to do


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