Affirmative action friendships

Do you or have you had these? Do you approve of the idea?

Whether it’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or whatever. Do you ever look around and realize your life has settled somehow into a status quo that involves being surrounded by people who are all like you in that certain way?

I know we want friendships to happen organically but sometimes you have to plant some new seeds by seeing what your garden already has and is sorely lacking.

Have you sought out a new friend specifically to balance your life or your variety of compatriots?

I haven’t. All my friends have something in common with me (a common language is a sine-qua-non requirement), but also tons of things in which we’re different.

My mother does it, but I wouldn’t call it affirmative action; it was a matter of having a hole in her calendar which needed filling. She specifically looks for those friends to fulfill certain criteria, so in that sense they’re the opposite of what you’re asking about.

No. That’s silly.

No. Maintaining friendships with people outside my “type” (for lack of a better term) never seems to work well. I don’t disassociate myself entirely from substantially different folks, but the relationships are cordial, not close.

If it’s a large income difference there always seems to be stress about what we can do together, without stressing someone’s budget.

If it’s a radical difference of political opinions, someone’s toes always get stepped on and things get uncomfortable.

In the case of racial or ethnic differences I end up stepping a buried land mine eventually, and I long ago decided those friendships aren’t worth the risk.

In the case of gender difference, women supposedly exist who enjoy being outdoors, hunting, blasting around in the woods in 4-wheel-drive vehicles, etc. At least on the internet. I’ve yet to meet one IRL, so those friendships never seem to get started.

As time passes, I’ve come to realize it’s a lot more peaceful to spend my time in the company of old, moderately affluent, conservative white guys. We like the same stuff, we don’t get on each others nerves, and things are peaceful. Occasionally there’s someone who can’t resist labeling this tendency with derogatory words (probably beginning with “R”), but I don’t pay much attention to them.

If my life’s in a rut, I’m much more likely to go out and do new things than to deliberately seek out a specific kind of friend to balance out my circle. Maybe new things will bring me new friends, but it’s never ever a conscious effort to “find a Muslim friend” or anything like that. People do that?

I don’t know. I haven’t done it. But it feels weird to me when my friends gradually become homogenized. It seems equally weird to actively try and reverse the process by any means I can think of. But it isn’t a state that feels healthy to me.

I know people who do. It’s almost like a checklist. They believe they are broadening their cultural outlook, the way some people prefer to live in diverse neighborhoods. While I can see that, wanting to be near a variety of cultural offerings, I think “Gee, my black friend moved away; I’d better look for a new one” is kind of using people. Better to just be open-minded and look for people you enjoy being with instead of casting your friends like a movie.

I often joke with people that I fill their Asian quota, but considering I’m mostly surrounded by white people, nope, I don’t really worry about it. :slight_smile:

I don’t, but I admit I think it would be cool to have a gay male friend, which I don’t. How else can you have a male friend who you know for sure doesn’t want to bang you?

A friend recently told me she read that as you get older you need to cultivate younger friends … so that’s me! I’m 49, so I’m taking all the “younger friend” I can get!

Plus I get to call her the old biddy.

I don’t have so much free time that I can make affirmative action friendships. Really that goes for having many friends in general, there just isn’t the time to be a good friend to more than a few people.

? I have plenty of male friends and I’m positive they don’t want to bang me. They’re all happily married, as am I. Even single I had lots of boy friends, going back to high school. Maybe they did want me, but <shrug> they never acted upon it, if so.

I don’t do that, no.

However, I recently realized that it’s happened to me: three years ago I started hanging out with a large group of gay men (they all socialize together, and once I became friends with one of them and started going to his parties, etc., the rest was inevitable), and about a year ago I realized that some of them don’t really give a shit about me, they just like having a straight girl around sometimes. It stung a little to realize that I’m seen as “the token straight/female person” by a few of them, but oh well. I’ve managed to find one or two true friends in the bunch, and I consider myself quite lucky!

Sort of. I don’t seek out minorities for long term friendships, but if I’m in a group of people where someone seems different (racially or ethnically), I might make a point to talk to them just to make things more interesting. And if they’re female, so much the better. :wink:

I’m positive they do.

Every time I have a male friend who I think is just a friend, something happens eventually. But none of us are married. Well, one was, but not happily and his wife hated me even I never let anything happen with her husband.

I would like to have more straight friends, honestly. As a gay man whose friends are all other gay men, I find it difficult to maintain a good friendship with most straight guys. Not since college have I had any, and I don’t really know why.

I do go out of my way to maintain friendships will all different sorts of people though. I’ve got friends of different races, political beliefs, religions, etc. I find it interesting, and I like it.

I typically do not like to be friends with people who are overtly racist.

I have a pretty diverse group of friends. Some of my friends are conservative Christians, others are very liberal atheists. One of my closest friends is a different race and is gay. I’ve got affluent doctor friends from work, but also know blue collar folk from the blue collar town I grew up in.
It’s fun having different kinds of people in your life, and I do recommend it.
However, I can’t say that I have actively sought out a certain kind of person to be friends with. It just happens, because generally I’m pretty easygoing about getting along with people of different views.

My circle of friends is expanding. My son’s group of friends is extremely diverse and I am becoming friends with his friends’ parents. I didn’t seek out non-white, non-Christian friends on purpose, but I am very glad we are all friends now.

Of course, it’s racist to try to have a token black or Hispanic or Asian friend just for the sake of having one. But while the idea is somewhat silly, it does pose an interesting point.

About 15 years ago, I had a good friend who happened to be black (I’m white). He had a very “establishment” profession, suit and all, but in his casual persona, he was very “black identity.” He wore African tribal dress a lot of the time. He also had a baseball cap that said “MALCOLM X” on it; I asked him when I first saw it who Malcolm the Tenth was–perhaps a medieval Scottish king?–and was he a distant ancestor.

We got along just fine but there was always a sense that we lived in different worlds, and came from different camps. Our discussions of the Rodney King riots, for example, while civil, came from what were obviously radically divergent perspectives.

Like it or not, different ethnic groups in the US come from different cultures (subcultures, if you like) and their perspectives are going to differ from one another. This doesn’t inhibit cross-cultural friendships, but it cools them down a little.