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>Can Men and Women Be Friends?

31 Jan

>We are often told that it is impossible for a man and a woman to be friends. Like in When Harry Met Sally for instance. But why do people think this? Because either individual will feel something more than friendship. Is this really true? Can a man and woman not simply be friends, enjoy each other’s company and support one another emotionally when needed? When people with common interests are found, we should be pleased at the prospect of being able to share our passions. But in a world where people settle for less, are we looking for a spark even where there is none? It seems that we do. Friendship is like a wingless bird. But what purpose does a bird serve if not to fly?

Women can be bad at reading signals, finding suitable boyfriends and it may explain why we desire the unattainable ones; gays, celebrities, superiors at work, husbands, etc. It makes them fascinating because they can never be ours and we can never know them as intimately as we would like. We are curious about these creatures; what secrets do they hide, what are their eccentricities and so on.

In a sense, a friend is unattainable. After all, despite the fact that you are close and discuss the most intimate aspects of your life, there is a distance between you. Yes, there can be sexual tension. But while watching soap operas together? While chatting about the uneventful Sunday you spent vacuuming your apartment? Friends will listen to us whether we say something newsworthy or not. It’s part of the deal. But a friendship that is rooted in humour and chit-chat is far removed from a romantic attachment. How do you even transition from cooking tips to bedroom trips? With strangers, the rules are clear. You ask each other out, go on a date and if all goes well, you get a kiss goodbye. Easy-peasy.

But it’s a different story all together when you’re attracted to a friend. How do you know if someone is romantically interested in you or just needs someone to talk to? He laughs at your jokes, touches you, keeps in touch. But all friends do that. It makes perfect sense that we fall for our friends. We get along famously, have the greatest laughs and make each other happy. So isn’t it a very small step then for admiration to turn into attraction? Yes. And yet, it doesn’t make it any easier to start a romantic relationship. If the relationship is not a success, you may your friend forever and be sorry. But if you never even take a gamble, you will be the sorrier.

So how do we know if it’s worth the risk? We don’t. We can only hope. So, considering our friendships seduce us with a comfort that cannot be easily matched by a stranger, it is no wonder we wish to date our friends. We are at ease around them, know their character and have been acquainted with their darkest secrets. We feel safe. And that is a feeling worth preserving. So we go on the prowl. But our friend might have hidden qualities you did not know he possessed. He could be a horrible lover, a terrible grouch in the morning or, worst of all, possessive. So perhaps it is not so safe to date a friend after all. Because you can never know someone perfectly. Now we have determined that many friends are attracted to each other, is it possible to feel only regard and no passion? Yes.

Even for attractive people. Even if someone makes you laugh, treats you with kindness and would never forsake you it is quite possible neither of you wishes to cross the boundaries of friendship. But does it happen often? Probably not. And then there’s friends with benefits. Where do they fit in? More often than not, you lust for them but love does not enter the equation. So what is that then? A human’s need to get physical to someone they like. Primal, sporatic and lost between friendship and romantic attachment. Relationships are never white or black. Usually, they have several shades of grey and that makes them so complicated.