Sunday, February 26, 2012

can men and women be just friends?

Sure mixed-sex "platonic" friendships exist theoretically, but in the real world, do they ever really work?

Before we delve into the answers, let's take a few moments to outline what exactly a platonic relationship is. According to the Webster Dictionary, it is "a close relationship between two persons in which sexual desire is nonexistent or has been suppressed or sublimated."

In other words, in the case of mixed sex platonic relationships, its having a best friend of the opposite sex who you hang out with without any sexual interest or involvement.

But what really happens when a girl and boy become friends? do they set the boundary lines from the start? What do they do about their attraction felt towards each other? do they pull back when they sense they get close to crossing the friend/relationship line? or do they feel that sex will not harm their friendship and indulge?

Men and women seek friends of the opposite sex for different reasons. for men, its the emotional aspect and gaining deeper understanding about the female sex from a womans point of view, which helps them cope in their relationships, and women because, truth be told, guys do tend to be less bitchy and emotional than their female friends counterparts, and can just be themselves more.

But my, doesnt the sex always eventually get in the way? we read often almost on a daily basis just how guys and gals start off being friends with the bestest intentions, then after some time, curiosity, vulnerbility, chemistry, a shift in the "just friends" agreement can lead to confused mixed feelings and how fast those that are "just friends" can progress and cross the line past the platonic stage, leading to sex and possibly regret.

I personally do NOT believe that deep down in the depths of our instinctual realms that men and women can be just friends. This was reinforced by my upbringing and my personal experiences and additionally what I have observed around me. Growing up as a 1st generation Australian, (whos parents still had their values back in 1950's Greece) my parents forbade me to have sleep overs with friends that had brothers. When I questioned why, the answer I got from my mother was you cant trust what guys will do. When I entered my marriage, my hubby was possessive and got touchy if I so much talked to my male neighbours, same goes for post-divorce boyfriends. An example when out one day, a friend I have known for years stopped to say hi and I didnt hear the end of it.

Then came my personal experiences. Guy friends that ive known for years, suddenly started hitting on me shortly after I became single. Some I rejected, others I indulged with and the friendship soon fizzled the same time as the sex did, reinforcing it further and I dare not talk about the few friends that were unfortuate enough to fall victim to their partners sleeping with their best friends, people they saw regulary and socialised with and are usually there for you. Sad.

To help me research this topic, I took it even further and started a twitter thread on this very subject. I wasnt expecting a great deal many responses, but ended up was totally overwhelmed with the different and varied answers I got.

This is the question I posed: Can men and women be just friends? have you crossed the line and happen to remain friends? or has sex ruined your friendship?

Most of the guys and a few females I tweeted with said they have had sex with friends and still remained friends. One said his friend was so hot, admits thinking about sex with her but hasnt made the move. He feels he has a good deal going, as he gets to 'hang' with her other friends that are also just as hot. I replied saying could this be a small element of show involved? like look you guys how hot my friend is? he agreed it could and further went on to say it could be a downside when your with someone. A female also said that she out of curiosity and chemistry, did sleep with her friend and they are now as close as ever. One guy said he slept with his friend once and never since and they are closer now even after 30 years past. One female even said shes known guys to dissolve the friendship once they find a partner prompting me to question a guys motives for becoming friends with women in the first place. I replied that guys might use friendship as a way "in", might have other feelings than friendship and eventually will want to attempt to sleep with his friend. I tend to agree with her. Some guys are cluee and know what women want, a guy that they can call a friend, when all along his motives can be quite different.

So there you have it. Some will argue yes, men and women can be friends and some say NO WAY. I am one of the latter. Even if the friendship does happen to survive the sex, will it ever be the same again? Assuming your wanting to keep the original agreement of having a platonic relationship, you risk emotions changing, knowing a side to your friend that you might even regret and the friendship part fizzling, with conversation afterwards going stale, and feeling uncomfortable doing just friend things together like hanging out.

You may as the reader, have other ideas. I would love to hear of your thoughts, please post below, even if we have already chatted about this. Thanks so much everyone for your input at twitter. Much appreciated!!