Can men and women ever be ‘just friends’?
Men and women…chalk and cheese…oil and water…PNM and UNC. Of course, I’m exaggerating. Men and women actually go together really well; we balance each other off. Which is why many people prefer to have friends of the opposite sex rather than of the same sex.
“Of all the men friends I have ever had, none of them have ever betrayed me the way my women friends have,” said single mother Trisha. “Around my male friends I can be me without offending anyone, which has always been the case with my female friends.”
Jason*, a married father of one, explained: “Women tend to be much better listeners, and more empathic. It’s been difficult relating to my (otherwise great) male friends on certain levels since getting married and having a child.”
BUT (and this ‘but’ big like Kim Kardashian own) do Venus and Mars see friendship with each other in the same way? I don’t think they do.
Maybe you’ll think that I’m manbashing here, and I acknowledge that you may feel very differently. But let me buss the files anyway. I believe that most men are only friends with women who they are hoping to get into a relationship with. It’s all a matter of wearing you down, ladies.
I was one of those in my adolescence who felt that guys made better chums than girls did. I was a very logical thinker, not very girly, and liked to debate about things like politics, business, philosophy and religion. So although I did have a few close girlfriends, the five peeps I really limed with were guys. Older guys. Sometimes as much as ten years older. But these friendships did not last.
Around the time I left the country for university, one guy and I developed mutual feelings for each other. He declared them, but said that we should wait and see what happened. What happened was that, in my absence, he decided to date someone else: a bird in the hand, I guess.
Another two (let’s call them L and K) also declared serious feelings for me, L before I left for university and K right after I graduated. I didn’t feel the same way about either, so we parted ways. But not before K and I had our very own version of “The Young and the Restless”, with long, almost tearful phone calls, several explanations from me about why we couldn’t be together, and the slightly creepy gift of one white rose, while I was in a relationship with someone else. That left a bit of a bitter taste.
Yet another was using me to get information on my BFF, until I told him point blank that he wasn’t good enough for her, and if she was stupid enough to like him, I would use every resource in my arsenal to fight that down. The last and eldest, thankfully, still sees me as a little sister. We’ve drifted apart in recent years, but no ‘feelings’ ever marred our relationship. Four out of five guys who had ulterior motives in our close, ‘platonic’ friendship. Those are not great odds.
And remember L? That guy who said he liked me just before I went off to UWI? We reconnected after I graduated, and he swore up and down that he was over that, that he just wanted us to be good friends. Come get a cup of coffee with me at Rituals, he wrote over MSN Messenger. We’re now married with a daughter. When I reminded him about what he’d said, he shrugged and told me breezily, “You have to do what you have to do to catch the fish!”
Now I know that there are plenty of men (and women) reading this, who are readying their rotten fruits and vegetables and cauldrons of boiling oil to throw at me. You disagree, and that’s ok.
But ladies, we have to stop believing that men look at life the same way that we do. They don’t. A (straight) man does not spend time with you, buy you gifts on your birthday and Christmas, and remember that you like fried chicken every time he passes a Japs outlet because he thinks of you as his sister (unless he is your brother or father). He is investing to get a return. And I’m not saying that that’s bad. I’m just saying that we women need to get it, and fellas need to stop fronting. What, who am I kidding? This is the reason the movie “Hitch” was made.
I also want you to look at it this way: don’t the best relationships come out of good friendships? I happen to believe that some of the same things that attract you to a life partner are what attract you to your friends of the same or opposite sex. No ladies, you don’t want to actually ‘do’ your gal pal. But if you consider it, you’ll realise that she has the same quirky sense of humour that you’ve been looking for in a boyfriend. And fellas, you want a woman who you can relax with, and not have to be on your guard 24/7. That crew you rolling with since Form 1, ent you could say the same of them?
As for me, I have yet to successfully navigate a long-term friendship with someone of the opposite sex. But then I have the best of both worlds – a trophy husband and a live-in best friend, so I don’t really feel the need for it anymore.
What do you think? Can men and women truly be ‘just friends’?
* Name changed to protect identity.