Desire

With a clarity that is striking in light of the dominant beliefs about boys' friendships, the boys who reported not having closest same-sex friendships (10-30% depending on the year) consistently expressed a strong yearning for such friendships. For example, Albert told the interviewer, "I would like a friend that if I got anything to say to him or like any problems or anything I'll tell him and he'll tell me his problems." In contrast to what the research literature suggests (Belle, 1989; Buhrmester & Furman, 1987), Albert's wish for a close friend was not based on a desire for friends with whom to "do things," but instead, to discuss personal problems. After describing the betrayals of friends who will "talk behind your back" Victor similarly stated, "Basically I hate it, I hate it, cause you now I wouldn't mind talking to somebody my age that I can relate to 'em on a different basis." Boys, like Albert and Victor, expressed yearning for friends who "would really be there" and with whom they could share their "true feelings."

Significantly, these stories of desire for friendships that involve high levels of self-disclosure were not stories revealed exclusively by acutely sensitive boys who were socially isolated in the school context. They were stories heard from popular boys who were members of athletic teams as well as those involved in theater arts. These stories were heard from straight "A" students and students who were struggling academically. The language of yearning for intimacy with other males was used by laid back, macho, "hip hop" boys wearing low riding pants, a Walkman around their necks, baseball caps drawn low over their brows, and untied sneakers. Boys, who have been portrayed in popular culture as more interested in shooting each other than in sharing their thoughts and feelings, spoke to us about wanting male friendships with whom they could "share their secrets," "tell everything," and "get inside."

III. Distrust

In striking contrast to the themes of intimacy and desire, one of the most pervasive themes we heard among all of the adolescents in our studies was a distrust of peers. Adolescents often spoke of a world in which peers will "try to take over you and take you for everything you've got and step on you." For example, in response to a question about his male peers in general, Anthony responded, "I don't trust [them], I trust me, myself, and I. That's the way I am. I trust nobody." Although he reported having a best friend during all 4 years of the study, a friend in whom he voiced being able to confide in and to whom he felt close to, his overall perception of his peers in general involved much mistrust. Richard too, spoke about distrusting his male peers, saying, "Can't trust anybody nowadays. They are trying to scam you, or scheme, or talk about you." Richard admitted that although he had never directly experienced these types of betrayals from his male peers, he "know[s] what most of [them] are like."

Interestingly, during the early high school years, themes of distrust of peers seemed almost cliché, something that the adolescents perpetuated among themselves but did not really believe. However, by the junior and senior years in high school, most of the adolescents discussed actual experiences of betrayal and thus of feeling like they could no longer trust their friends. For example, although Joseph, a Dominican student, reported having a best friend when he was in the ninth and tenth grades, by his junior year of high school the situation had changed.

Interviewer: Do you have a close or best friend?

Joseph: No, I don't trust nobody.

Interviewer: You don't trust nobody? How come?

Joseph: Can't trust nobody these days.

Interviewer: Have you had bad experiences with people?

Joseph: Yeah, especially this year

Like Joseph, many of the boys and girls indicated, particularly during late adolescence, struggling to trust their friends and maintain close friendships.

Notably, when girls spoke about distrusting their peers, they often referred only to other girls generally believing that boys, in contrast, could be trusted. For example, when asked to compare her male friends with her female friends, Monique replied, "Well in a way I think I'm closer to guy friends than girls 'cause girls stab you in your back and you can't really talk to them that much because they spread rumors around about you." Anna similarly stated, "I prefer hanging out with guys because I think they won't talk about you . . . I only tell my best [female] friend like secrets and stuff but with boys it's like a friendship. Like we all go in groups to the movies and we hang out." Elizabeth also responded, "To me I feel more comfortable with the guys than the girls because the girls are like always talking about other girls. This girl did this, this girl did that. . . . The girls might talk about one certain girl that they can't stand or something and I might know her."

The striking aspect of girls' stories of trusting boys was that in the same breath that girls spoke about trusting boys more than girls, their closest friends were almost always girls. Similar to the theme of distrust of peers in the early years of the studies, distrusting other girls had a cliché quality to it ("girls are catty") since the girls' beliefs about not trusting other girls did not appear to influence who they chose as best friends.

Contradiction was also evident in adolescents' stories of close friendships. Distrusting one's peers, even distrusting "everybody," was discussed at the same time that adolescents discussed the ways they felt close to, passionate about, and loyal toward their best same-sex friends. The juxtaposition of vigorous statements of "trusting no one" alongside statements of love and affection for one's best friend suggested a type of "relational resilience" in which adolescents maintained close relationships with their peers despite a context characterized by distrust. This resilience is evident each year of the interviews but seems especially prevalent in latter years. As the feelings of distrust of peers intensified over time, the feelings of closeness also seemed to intensify. This pattern of improvement in perceptions of one's closest friend over time is confirmed in our quantitative data (Way & Greene, in press). The context of distrust of one's peers may make adolescents more selective regarding who they consider a best friend; thus also possibly enhancing adolescents' sense of closeness with those friends who can be trusted.

Baseball For Boys

Baseball For Boys

Since World War II, there has been a tremendous change in the makeup and direction of kid baseball, as it is called. Adults, showing an unprecedented interest in the activity, have initiated and developed programs in thousands of towns across the United States programs that providebr wholesome recreation for millions of youngsters and are often a source of pride and joy to the community in which they exist.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment