It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.
“Only once the sexes mixed on equal and familiar terms at school, at work and in the social spaces in between — only once it was normal and even boring to see a member of the opposite sex at the next desk — could platonic friendships become an ordinary part of life.” (“A Man. A Woman. Just Friends?” ; New York Times, 4/7/2012)
This article from Sunday’s New York Times is worth a read. The author, essayist William Deresiewicz, explores the political history of platonic friendship between the sexes, ultimately saying that after the feminist movement of the 1960s, friendship between a man and a woman–one without sexual undertones–became possible, and even the norm.
Deresiewicz goes on to say that, really, most people do engage in totally harmless relationships with those of the opposite sex, and it’s only popular culture that pretends it’s so tough. That’s because it’s not interesting, or sexy, he says. “It doesn’t have a beginning, a middle and an end,” he writes. “Put a man and a woman together in a movie or a novel, and we expect the sparks to fly.” He also contends that as a culture we don’t quite “get” a loving relationship that isn’t familial or romantic. It just doesn’t make sense.
I’ve been skeptical of male-female friendships in my day, too. During my year of friending, I made exactly one guy friend, and we didn’t spend nearly as much time together as I did my female friends. I guess I thought that if I was spending time with a man, I should be with my new husband.
But I’ve made one great man friend as of late. We’re good buddies, and it’s totally platonic. The other day he called to tell me about some girl he is into and explain how his pursuit is going. I gave advice… or tried. (I’ve been out of the game a while.) It was refreshing, and pleasant, and completely nonsexual.
Maybe I’m evolving.
So what do you think, are male-female friendships totally normal? Does pop culture only pretend it can’t exist since it makes for a boring story? Or are we not nearly as evolved as Deresiewicz lets on?