Can Men and Women ever be “Just Friends”?
The truth about cross-gender friendships.
Posted May 18, 2012
I enjoy having female friends, period. I liked it in elementary school, middle school and high school and I like it now, daggone it. (I think it’s sad that we live in a world where we pair off as couples and leave opposite sex friendships behind).
For the most part, these friendships have continued through my adult life. I went to college at a school with an 8:1 female to male ratio. In graduate school, I was one of just a few guys in the education department and in massage school it was the same. When I got married, my best man was a best woman and we've been friends for over eighteen years.
I enjoy having female friends, period. And despite my fluctuating relationship status I have no need to jump the platonic bridge with any of my friend girls anytime soon. Why?
For one, some are spoken for and no matter how broken their relationships are.... I’ve seen enough episodes of Jerry Springer to know that I don’t want to answer my door in the middle of the night and see a shirtless husband there holding a fire extinguisher. Despite what goes on around me, I honor ideals like loyalty and commitment.
Occasionally, I don’t feel any attraction - often it’s mutual. Sometimes, I value the person so much I would rather keep her as a friend then risk losing her as a lover. I have a motto that grew out of my relationship history: Friends are forever and girlfriends are a flash in the pan.
As one of the few keepers of the male-female friendship fire I wish I could honestly say that I feel like
I’ve pinned down my ability to fly in under the radar to three attributes. One, I live a life of reverence (I’m kind to people and believe in giving unconditionally). Two, I follow my heart at all costs. Three, when I’m present with people, I’m really present. (I guess you could say these are qualities more associated with females than males, although they should really be considered human qualities).
Ultimately, in a world where superficial personalities with unkind and mixed intentions rule, my “presence” often gets confused with attraction.
As a result, I’ve had to have the “Just Friends Talk” more times than I care to admit. So many times, in fact, that Yale University now considers me an exclusive expert on the subject.* (*Note to Reader: This data was confirmed by my imaginary personal assistant).
As an advocate for the male-female friendship I decided it was high time to write about it. (The real
The following is a list for my brothers out there to help you navigate what can easily be considered the coral reef of friendship waters:
Trust Your Intuition
If your intuition is pickin’ up the flavor for the fever of the Pringles, then chances are it’s time to have the talk (even if the bridge hasn’t shown up on your radar yet). Don’t wait until she’s sitting across from you in a dark room and says “I know I’m a lesbian, but for you and my parents and all, I could quit.”
The early bird gets the worm, but in the end, the worms will get the bird.
Catch and release.
It’s just like fishing. Catch and release it soon and your friendship will have a much better chance of survival. Catch it and put it on a stringer where it has to float around for months in the hot sun and the chances for resuscitation are slim to nil.
Be honest and straight.
Don’t pad your story with false hope like “I’m just not ready for a relationship.” It’ll only give her more hope - hope that one day you’ll fall into the “When Harry Met Sally” movie script and change your mind about being friends.
She’ll most likely deny it. It hurts to be rejected after all. Let it go. Walk away. If your friendship is strong enough it’ll survive.