This is a topic that has been coming up a lot lately in my life- platonic opposite sex (for the purpose of this post only, please assume any man or woman being referenced is straight) relationships. I had never really had to consider the issue until recently. When you’re single, who cares whether your friends are male or female? And when the Alaskan boy and I first started dating he told me he was just going to have to get used to my having so many guy friends. At the time, I had no idea that I had many guy friends or that it could be an issue. I just accepted his statement at face value- this was something he was getting used to, so I should just be mindful of that. And then I just moved on, forgot about it basically. Somewhere in my life I got ahold of the mentality that it was more important that I “not let a man hold me back” than check in with him on issues that may make him uncomfortable. So when I moved into a two bedroom apartment with a male roommate, I kept him informed of the situation but did not ask for his opinion or consult him before the decision is made. As a friend of mine is now dealing with being the person not consulted on a similar issue, I now realize what an inconsiderate move that was.
Since I had gotten myself under the impression that this being uncomfortable with platonic opposite-sex relationships was his problem, not mine, I never thought to deal with it. Recently though, this topic has come up frequently as issues for other friends or as an open discussion at work so I find myself trying to figure out how I feel about all of it. Until the last few weeks I’ve always argued that men and women can absolutely be friends but now I’m wondering are my friendships with guys appropriate? Does my being in a committed relationship affect the appropriateness of my friendships?
Most of the women I have discussed this with agree on the issue being addressed on a case-by-case basis. Some friendships truly can be platonic but it’s not a good idea to think of it as a blanket rule. After all, guys are hound dogs and all that. But the opinions I’ve gotten from men fall more under skeptical. They were more distrusting of male-female relationships and the idea that this type of friendship could truly go nowhere. And even if it did, one party would at least be displeased with that.
It’s hard to just go on the opinions of a few selected people who I already have much in common with, so I consulted the ever trusty World Wide Web for more information. The two articles I ended up reading both agreed, while true opposite-sex friendships are not impossible they are both rare and unlikely. The article that best broke it down for me is that men typically think that friendships with a woman will eventually progress to something romantic and women often think nothing of it at all and even are disappointed when a man tries to make a friendship something it’s not. If you want to check these out, they were on Psychology Today and Salon. So is a friendship with a man just leading him on?
I still have no idea what my opinion is. I guess Harry might be right after all.