In the early days of this blog, I addressed one of the most obvious friendship questions: Can a man and a woman be best friends?
At the time I was staring down the barrel of a year-long friend quest. Actually, by the time I wrote this post, I was almost through month three and had no new male friends to speak of. I was on the fence regarding the whole When Harry Met Sally debate.
Over a year later, I’m still unclear. It seems a question worth revisiting, at least in the wake of my search. In all my friending, I made one—count ’em! one!—platonic straight male friend. I met him when I joined a social group for young Chicago Jews. He was the leader of my group and lives around the corner from me. So we hung out at our meetings, which were weekly for about two and a half months. These days we see each not more than every couple of months, but I’d certainly consider him my friend. We text every now and then, and have lunch sometimes when he works from home. It’s all very exciting.
There’s absolutely no sexual tension in this relationship. He’s met Matt, he’s only known me as a married woman, and, most importantly, we’re just not each other’s type. Being friends is a no-brainer. And Matt’s certainly not jealous. (As I mentioned in the previous post, Matt’s not the jealous type. So much so that sometimes I have to ask “aren’t you at least a little jealous??” I mean, come on.)
The only other guys I’ve become independently friends with since moving to Chicago were either 1) co-workers or 2) gay. I had a few “work husbands” during my 9-to-5 days, though it’s perhaps worth pointing out that each one switched jobs not long after our office-marriage began. Coincidence, I’m sure.
Despite these friendships, I still don’t think I could have met a straight man this year who could have become the kind of best friend I’m looking for. Daily phone calls or emails, weekly playdates? What I know is that when I hear of a woman whose best friend is a man, I wonder. I’m not saying they’ve all had, you know, relations, I’m just saying that it’s the natural question. And I’m not sure I want a friendship surrounded by that much speculation and grey area.
I guess my new take is that a man and a woman can be just friends, but it’s the rare case. A true deep, meaningful friendship between the sexes is tricky and might be asking for trouble. What you may think is platonic, after all, he might think has the potential to be more.
(Though, to be clear, that’s not the case in my new friendship. That’s for real platonic. Just to clear that up.)
What say you? Man, woman, newly acquainted, just friends. Possible? Or no?
6 responses to “Being Friends With Boys, Revisited”
I’d like to say that men and women can be friends, but I can’t think of any guy friends that I have that don’t fall into one of 3 catergories: they’ve been married/taken as long as I’ve known them, I’ve been taken as long as I’ve known them or they’re dating/married to one of my girlfriends. I can’t see myself making friends with a single guy and not feeling a little weird about it.
But that said, my boyfriend was friends with a lot of single girls when we met (he still is, but none of them are single anymore). Something about him seemed very kid brother-like to these girls, so none of them were ever into him, and vice-versa. But that seems somewhat unusual.
Shouldn’t the “most important” thing about your male/female friendship be that you’re married, not that you’re “not each other’s type?” Just sayin’…(that’s where friendships between the two genders get tricky, I think – you know, when two people are single)
I think it comes down to how you define friendship….. the occasional phone call, lunch, text message is ok. I have many guy friends like this and I’ve always been an advocate that friendships between men and women can exist. I just draw the line when the relationship becomes too close. Daily phone calls, getaways, etc. is definitely too much in my book
I don’t see having a guy as a BFF. My close girlfriends are the ones that I can talk to about things in detail and get advice. We can be in contact a lot some days. If I had this level of contact with a man, I would feel that I was emotionally cheating on my hubby.
I want to say, yes, absolutely, a man and a woman can be BFFs, regardless of relationship status, regardless of their attractiveness to each other, just like two women can – but then I look at my friends. I’ve always worked with, befriended, hung out with, men at least as much as women. So I should have lots of platonic male friends, right? With whom I’ve always been platonic. Not friends who became boyfriends, or boyfriends who became friends. Not gay men who are irrevocably off-limits. Not husbands of good friends who have also become good friends. Not work-husbands who wouldn’t translate to out-of-work life. I should just have regular guy friends with whom I have coffee and dinner and long phone conversations and no desire to jump into bed. Except I … don’t.
I’m not sure I think that’s a bad thing. Friendship is important, but so are romantic relationships, and if you’re single and wouldn’t at least consider dating some of your guy friends, or being friends with some of the people you date, it calls the whole enterprise into question. And why is it necessary for a real friendship to be utterly, purely, permanently platonic? The men I’m closest to, who I’ve been friends with for years independent of work or their spouses and regardless of either of our relationship statuses, are men with whom I was once involved. I don’t think these friendships are any less real because of sexual tensions that were explored and dispelled years ago, and I don’t think these men and I are threats to each others relationships. And while these guys are not always up for shoe-shopping or chocolate-tasting, they know me in a way that no female friend really does.
My only true friends that are men are people I’ve know since high school. As an adult, it’s much harder. In my 20’s when I was mostly single, the guy friends I had either wanted more with me than I wanted with them or vice versa. Once the attraction went away, so did the friendship. I wish I could remember what movie I saw it in but there was a whole scene about this very thing. Maybe When Harry Met Sally?
Anyway, now the only men I know are those that I work with and guys I know in a couple’s environment and I’m not entirley sure my husband would be ok with a new guy friendship. He’s perfectly ok with the guy friends I have now but someone new might bother him a bit.