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Can Men and Women Be Friends?

December 12, 2013

23980Man I love menfolk.

It’s not that I don’t love women (female empowerment forever!), but I also just really (really) enjoy men, and as a result of spending the last few weekends in the company of more of the opposite sex than usual, I’m reminded how unbalanced my current social circle is, and just how delicate it will be to balance it out in the future. Is it possible for men and women to really be friends?

I work hard to keep the friends I have, spending easily 20 hours a week on internet/phone communication and another ten or so in person with the ones who live close. Friendships are a priority in my life and while I’ve gone in and out of periods where many of my in-person friends are male, the majority of long-term and close friends have always been women. Girls and I just get along. And men… men are complicated.

Okay, so more like opposite attraction relationships are complicated. Sure, we can choose to assume things are platonic and spend quality time together, but sooner or later that penis thing always gets involved. Who wants to spend their time worrying about the nature of a friendship? Does he like me too much? Do I like him like that? Will doing this make him think that I like him? Have I crossed the line? Ugh. Complicated.

But there have to be times when male-female friendships don’t always end in drama, right? Some of my favorite moments have been Y chromosome heavy; three of my closest friends on a study abroad semester were men and in college I played on a Frisbee team where it was just me and the boys. I even work at an engineering company where I am the only girl on my entire floor. Surely it’s feasible to extend these short term friendships to more permanent arrangements.

mHtKMd7J98kimCxy6tffSwAAnd what about relatives? This weekend I was the only girl in my group of seven twenty-something cousins, spending our nights drinking beer and playing board games. For Thanksgiving we hosted 28 people, most of whom were the sons and daughters of my parent’s friends that I’ve grown up with, boys I’ve known since infancy. Even living with Snow last year was made even more awesome because I got to know her hubby.

Are these the men I can surround myself with and not worry about complicating? The kind I can call and stay connected to without feeling like I’m hitting on them, the kind I can just enjoy without consequence? Can we have adventures and share ideas, talk about sports and hike outside, and then hug each other goodbye like I do my girl friends? Can we stay close friends long term? I want to say yes, because it sucks to think that random body parts influence our lifestyle, but… well… sort of?

One of my guy friends from college came to stay with me for Sundance last year and we had a blast, neither of us allowing our relationship to cross over, but I still felt the drama, still felt the slightest edge where I’d double check my outfit before coming out of my room. At Thanksgiving I flirted my ass off with the younger brothers I’d grown up with, now suddenly men and taller than me. Even this weekend I felt myself drawn to one of my adopted cousins; we aren’t related by blood so a little flattery is okay, right? How tight is too tight to hug your cousin? Lines definitely get blurred, extenuating circumstances or not.

If we're talking about two people who try to be friends but... CAN'T this is the best movie ever. I also want to be and be with both of these two perfect souls.

If we’re talking about two people who try to be friends but… CAN’T this is the best movie ever. I also want to be and be with both of these two perfect souls.

It doesn’t help my case for wanting male friends that both of the ‘relationships’ I’ve had have grown out of platonic friendships. Things happen whether or not we plan for them, and a large part of me knows that asking for male friends is asking for trouble. Guy friends are best kept situational; opposite attraction friendships complicate too easily when we share intimate details.

Friendships don’t work without sharing ourselves, but relationships start by sharing them as well. I don’t want to hurt or be hurt; so spending as little time with men as possible makes life less complicated.

But is less complicated really how I want to spend my life?

Maybe the moral of this post is that part of the reason I like spending time with men is BECAUSE the flirting is there, not in spite of it. I know, of course, that all the things I like about men can also be found in many women, that guys don’t own the monopoly on action, adventure, knowledge and easy silence.

But I also know that even with the most awesome of girl friends I’d still be lacking that little something extra, that fun tension that may or may not mean a little something more. And I guess to me that risk of collapse is worth it, because we all need a little excitement in our lives. Especially when we’re young. A little playful teasing is good for the soul, whether the two of you plan to take it further or not.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. snowwhore permalink*
    December 12, 2013 11:32 am

    I think the jury is still out about normal guy/ girl friendships. However, I will say that there are exceptions, and you even mentioned one here. Your friendship with my husband. Its totally fine and there will never be weird tension because he’s your friend’s husband. And the same goes for friends of your boyfriend/ spouse. I have a great relationship with a lot of my husbands friends and there is never any stress because the attraction/tension is not there at all.

    • December 13, 2013 2:42 pm

      BUT. there is also an arms length you have to keep it at. Spending too much time always leads to drama and if you became real, true friends with your friend’s husbands things would be weird. even if you all knew nothing would ever come of it.

      To be honest when your hubby was thinking about coming to stay with my parents i had to take a second to think – wait will this be weird? I took a deep breath and said, no it will be awesome. but if you were a lesbian and your wife was coming to stay – i wouldn’t have even needed to take that pause to think.

      blerg. i just want everyone to be friends all the time

  2. December 13, 2013 10:10 pm

    Nope, not really possible, at least for 98% of those relationships.

    Also, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Brown Sugar, but after reading this post last night I dreamed about the two actors. In the opening scene the guy proposed to the girl, but she ran away, sat down on the train tracks crying, and was run over by a train.

    Am I close?

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