Saturday, July 30, 2011

Can men and women be friends? Let's discuss.

I watched When Harry me Sally for the first time last night.  I know, how could I possibly have just watched When Harry Met Sally for the first time last night?!  Where have I been?!  I know.  I'd seen parts of it but I'd never seen the whole thing and last night I thought, "Hey. What the hell.  I have absolutely nothing to do on a Friday night so why don't I watch a movie from the late 80's that everyone has seen except me?"  Why indeed.

And just so you don't think I'm completely pathetic, I did also make some delicious "clean eating" chicken curry with homemade spelt bread and yogurt dip.

I'm not entirely sure why that makes me less pathetic, but it was delicious so I win.

Although my house still smells like curry, a full day after, so I guess I lose a bit as well.


One of the questions, or the question the movie brings up or, I guess, brought up 22 years ago when everyone else saw it, is: can men and women be friends?  Like, really friends.  Without the sex and stuff.  And when I say friends, I mean close friends who hang out all the time.  Not just friends you chat with at the office and hang out with every once in a while in a group setting.  Just to be clear.

Now, I've always been a strong proponent of the "Hells yeah, they can!" stance because I have and have had a lot of male friends.  I've always said that, while I get along well with women, a lot of things women do annoy me and I'm not very girly so, when given the choice, I would always hang out with the guys. For example, at a party where, in the kitchen the women would be talking about weddings and babies and other crap that I have absolutely no interest in, I would go hang out in the other room with the guys and drink and watch football and stuff.

And I needed my guy friends because who else would I "keep it real with" when the other girls played games and were petty and catty and superficial and delicate and walked around with their ass cheeks hanging out of their shorts and then complained when a guy hit on them.

And to the "misconception" that in any girl/guy friendship there is always one, or possibly both of them who want to have sex and that sexual tension is always just hanging there and getting in the way of things or, alternatively, they actually do have sex and either completely fuck up the relationship or pretend it never happened - but, really, no matter how hard you try you can't pretend that never happened -  I would always scoff and shake my head because I had plenty of friendships with guys where there wasn't any sex or sexual thoughts at all on any side.  And how did I know?  Because I told the guys whom I thought were interested in me that I wasn't interested in them that way or, at least, I hinted very broadly, so if I wasn't having any sexual feelings, that clearly would have shut down any sexual feelings on their end right?

It's just recently come to my attention that I may have been slightly naive.  After really giving this some thought I realized that the beliefs that I noted above are no longer the beliefs that I have now and I'm not really sure when I missed that bus but it seems to have left a long time ago.  In reality:

  1. I have a lot more friends now who are girls than friends who are guys.  And it seems that I've managed to pick some really awesome women to be close friends with.  And they don't play games and aren't petty or catty or superficial or delicate and they don't walk around with their ass cheeks hanging out of their shorts. Well, most of them don't anyways.
  2. When I'm at a party now, and this is truly a rare occurrence, I tend to hang with the ladies.  Why?  Mostly because I don't drink much anymore, but also because most men there are married and are hanging out with their wives and, if they're not married, they're on the prowl which is awkward or they're drunk/high with the other single drunk/high men and behaving like jackasses.  I'm not entirely sure how I didn't see this before.
  3. I actually like listening to my women friends talk about their weddings, and now, babies/children/teenagers.  Because they're my friends and, because they are important to me, their lives interest me.  This is apparently news.
  4. Men are absolutely NOT less petty, catty, superficial or delicate than women.  Absolutely. Not.
  5. And, finally, and most importantly, when I went down my list of "close guy friends" I realized that for almost all of them at least one of the following criteria applied:
    • I have had sexual feelings towards them.
    • They have had sexual feelings towards me(no matter how much I denied it because I just wanted someone to hang out with and do what I say - yes, really)
    • We actually did have sex and:
      • We are no longer friends
      • We are not as good friends as we were before
      • We pretended it didn't happen(see above)
So, what does that say?  Can women and men be friends? Like, real, true friends, without any sex or sexual tension.
I honestly don't know that answer.  And that makes me kind of sad.  Because I really thought that I knew this one.
And I want to be the kind of person that can do this.  The kind of person who can have close guy friends and not have any feelings other than friendship.  And be secure in the fact that they have only friendship feelings also.  But I can't read minds.  So, just because I'm not feeling anything that doesn't necessarily mean they're not and vice versa.  It seems inevitable that one of us will eventually get hurt.
And, while my Mom is all about me having a friend with benefits(true story)I've been down that road before.  It seems like a good idea in theory and in Ashton Kutcher movies but when you actually try it out and think it's really fun and going really well and maybe this could possibly develop into something more but then you find out from a co-worker that he's started dating someone else and it's "pretty serious"?  That really fucking sucks.  Or so I've heard.
So, now's your chance to weigh in.  For those of you who actually still read this despite the fact that I regularly go through severe posting droughts.  
I would love to hear any thoughts.


Belle said...

I think the sexual tension is always there. It looks like you went through that experience yourself. I don't think it is possible for people to be friends with benefits. Someone is going to get hurt.

Teacher Lady said...

I know it is possible for men and women to truly be friends. I also know that this sort of completely platonic friendship is a rarity. It is a rarity to have a lot in common but neither one of you being attracted to the other.
Even though I've been considered "one of the guys", I've only ever had 3 male friends of this type. In one case, we meet when mutual friends tried to set us up. We quickly realized that we had a lot in common but were not interested in each other romantically. In the case of the other two, it is more like a sibling relationship.

notquiteawake said...

Belle - So far, with my experience, I think you're right. And, believe me, friends with benefits will never happen again. Not a good idea.

Teacher - Thanks for the comment. These days it's rarity to find close friends, male or female I guess right? I think it's great that you're able to have close guy friends. You give me hope!

Anonymous said...

Some of my best friends were guys. I say "were" because as soon as they got married or hooked up in a more permanent way, I was politely, but firmly, pushed to arm's length, and often it was explained to be not his choice. Guys and girls can be great friends until they can't, I guess. Now I have guys who are friends because their wives are friends.

Hutch said...

The older I get the less I think this is possible. I have one really good guy friend, but we're only close because he has a gf. Wait, this makes sense. When he was single everything he did came off as a creeper trying to get with me. As long as he has a gf I don't have to worry about that!

notquiteawake said...

Monica and Hutch: Your comments make a lot of sense and really speak to my experiences so far. I really find it much harder to be friends with guys the older I get. Maybe because the older we get the more people are willing to settle and friends suddenly have "more than friends" feelings. I also would really want to be the girl who was able to be comfortable with her husband/boyfriend having really close friends who are girls but, now that I really think about it, I'm not sure that I would be. This definitely warrants more thought.

Plus, it also helps you figure things out when you find out one of your close guy friendships has been totally based on lies. That always makes it easy to decide on which direction to take. But that's for another post. :)

The Unsure Blogger said...

I like to think that I have good 'guy friends', but deep down, I know that either I, or they have had not so 'friendly' feelings...
I don't know if I can attribute that to being attractive (totally not trying to be vain here...)or if it's just the opposite sex thing...
Thinking about it, the only men I can say I'm truly 'friends' with, and don't have any worries about, are so NOT attractive it's not even do they think of me in a more than 'friendly' way? Not sure...
It's just human nature I think.
If you're straight, we are programmed to want the opposite sex. If we are friends, it means we have stuff in common...and if we have stuff in common, that means there is likely an attraction there...and then all hell breaks loose if you're not careful.
If you find the answer, please let me know... ;)