Tuesday, July 26, 2005

And You Say He's Just A Friend

Ever noticed how some topics of conversation seem to come up no matter where you are or what you're doing? Lately for me, that topic has been male/female friendships and whether they are truly possible. Now before I get into the varying opinions that I've heard and my opinion on the issue I want to define what I mean by friends. I'm talking about a man and a woman being purely and honestly just friends. In the classic 1989 movie "When Harry Met Sally" Harry and Sally engaged in a spirited debate over this very topic. Harry concluded that at some point in time one or both of them - if even for a nanosecond- will have the thought of sex with the other in their mind and thus negate the "true" friendship, unlike 2 friends of the same gender.
It is under the "Harry Met Sally" parameters that I got to thinking about male/female friendships. For the most part, every guy I ask about it, says that men and women can't just be friends. They contend that if given the opportunity more than likely the man would "hit" if he could. On the other hand, many women I ask this question to say of course men and women can just be friends. "I have several guy friends and there's absolutely nothing going on there," is what these women will go on to say. In hearing these two very disparate points of view I have come to the conclusion that most men want to bang their unsuspecting female friends.
But I think that there is a happy medium somewhere in the middle, right? Let's be really honest. Most men and women (if both parties are relatively attractive) who haven't been friends since childhood are probably friends because the dating thing fell through. I say this because it’s not common for adult men and women to meet each other in a setting that’s conducive to an assumption of friendship right off the bat. If a man asks for a woman’s phone number, email address, or whatever, no matter what excuse he’s giving for wanting the information (networking, new in town, friends in common, blah blah blah), he’s looking at her as a possible dating option. Just like most women won’t really give their contact information to a man just because he seems like a cool new friend to have. Deep down, we’re thinking he might have potential. Chris Rock said it best. “I hate a bitch that says let’s be friends. I wanna be the friend that’s fucking you in the ass, bitch. That’s the friend I want to be.” If we are really honest with ourselves, that’s how most male/female friendships start. So this situation already fails the “true” friendship test. The initial association was based on the possibility of dating, it just didn’t work out.
Now let’s say that by chance you have a friend of the opposite sex that you met in elementary school, junior high, high school, or college. This person has been your friend forever and there has never even been a wayward glance in the other’s direction. In these cases it is very probable that one or both parties have heard comments like these more than a little bit. “Why don’t you just get together with __________ (fill in name of friend of opposite sex.) Or, “Are you sure there’s nothing going on between the two of you?” And of course my personal favorite, “You two would make such a cute couple.” After hearing these comments about fitty-leven times someone is going to start to think, “hmmm, well maybe they see something I don’t.” The thought of getting physical or starting a relationship will enter into thoughts just by the power of suggestion. Once this happens, the line has been crossed over and “true” friendship is null and void once again.
In spite of all of this, I still do believe that in rare instances men and women who are heterosexual and perfectly attractive people can truly just be friends, without either party having ever thought of sex or a relationship. I know it can exist because I have one “true” male friend. Unlike all of my other male friends who I have either dated, messed around with, schemed on, deflected advances from, or just know deep down inside would take the draws if offered, KPB and I have maintained a true friendship for almost 7 years now. KPB is a funny, successful, charismatic, stylish, educated, adorable, great guy that I wouldn’t touch or date if my life depended on it. That would be like dating my brother. I know he feels the exact same way about me because I sincerely believe that if he had had any choice in the matter, he really wouldn’t have even been my friend. It all goes back to my freshman year of college. I was the weird girl who needed to get her hair done, put on some decent clothes, and stop carrying around her old raggedy teddy bear (who I still cling to). KPB was basically a social climbing classmate who sincerely believed (and still does) that image is everything. Needless to say I was bad for his image. However, we had one thing in common....a certain football player who he hung out with all the time and who I obsessed over all the time. Basically Jock Boy was the tie that bound us. If KPB was gonna be friends with him, then I was part of the package, like it or not. After a while we sort of grew on each other. I’d start coming around his room even if Mr. Football wasn’t there. I’d sit there for hours as he tried to do homework and talk to him and his roommate about everything and nothing. Ignoring me wasn’t gonna get rid of me, so eventually the only option left was to entertain me. He found me to be embarrassing, goofy, and completely unladylike, yet loveable in my own unique way. He’d never want me for a girlfriend or even to mess with. I wasn’t high profile enough. And I never even thought about him as a potential anything cause I only had eyes for the Jock, who didn’t even know it. We’ve been friends ever since. We’ve both grown and matured and through it all I’m still not his type and he’s so not mine.
It’s under these rare circumstances that you can find something truly rewarding. Truly being friends with someone of the opposite sex has a quality that same sex friendships just don’t have. You get a different perspective on relationship issues. You have someone who can pretend to be your significant other when sketchy people are harassing you in the club. You have someone who can tell you what your ex really meant when they said, “I need space,” even though you should already know. So I think it can happen. Men and women can have “true’ friendship. When you find one of these friendships, hold on to it, cause they are one in a million.

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