Truly Platonic Relationships: Are They Possible?
Can men and women ever be just friends?
The other day the New York Times published a story about the history of male/female friendships. The article pondered why, despite the fact that intimate non-sexual relationships are prevalent in our society, pop culture rarely depicts members of the opposite sex as just friends. The author wrote:
"We have trouble, in our culture, with any love that isn’t based on sex or blood. We understand romantic relationships, and we understand family, and that’s about all we seem to understand.
"We have trouble with mentorship, the asymmetric love of master and apprentice, professor and student, guide and guided; we have trouble with comradeship, the bond that comes from shared, intense work; and we have trouble with friendship, at least of the intimate kind. When we imagine those relationships, we seem to have to sexualize them."
This made me think of all of my male "friends." Since I was a little girl, I've always had as many boy friends as I did girl friends. And my relationships were just as intimate: sharing hopes, dreams, fears; seeking and doling out advice; and lines rarely, if ever, were crossed. Only once did one of my platonic friendships turn into something more and when it didn't quite work out, we remained friends and still are today. That's of course not always the case. Sex can indeed ruin a friendship as expectations run high when entering into the realm of sexual intimacy with a friend.
[ALSO READ: Is Monogamy Realistic?]
I have lots of theories as to what makes a platonic friendship between a man and woman work. First, someone in the relationship must always put on the brakes; s/he sets the tone on what lines will and won't get crossed. Second, the duo must value the friendship more than whatever attraction is felt between them. And finally, there must be something that keeps each party in separate corners - a significant other, age, history, et cetera.
Note, attraction is a factor. I mean it's inevitable, in order to be friends with someone, you're attracted to the person's spirit, intellect, something. But aren't we all complex enough to have layered relationships? It doesn't always come down to our base instincts, when all we want to do is jump someone we connect with's bones. I don't know what I'd do without my guys and even though more than half of them probably would try to sleep with me if I'd let them, I think they all value my homegirl logic. What do you think? Can men and women be just friends?