[[Warning: This may be uncomfortably candid and personal. It’s the only way I know how to write, and really, the only reason I would.]]
A topic, or, question, that has repeatedly been popping up (or brought up.. by… myself) is this: “Can men and women really just be friends?”
My friend showed me a video where people are asked this very question (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_lh5fR4DMA), and the overwhelming majority of women say “yes,” while men say “no.” When I asked him how he felt, he admitted, “I think I got close with most of my girl-friends (friends that are girls) because I was attracted to them at first. But now we’re just friends.”
So it’s like that. Men are drawn to girls as girls, not as people. When the idea of “girlfriend” is rejected or dismissed, they settle for friendship. It makes sense, from an evolutionary perspective. Males are hard-wired with this drive to want to reproduce, in order to pass their genes on. Simply stated, they always wanna make babies so they can live on in future generations. So when a man is not in a relationship, attached to someone with whom this prospect seems likely or even just possible, he is, innately, ‘on the prowl.’
But human relationships are complex. It’s not strictly a primitive game of “will you bear my offspring”- there’s so much more to our social realities than that. We want trust, we want intimacy, we want someone to call goodnight, someone to eat breakfast with.
And it’s even more confusing when two people are not on the same page about how much they want all of this.
Different experiences can tamper with this ‘evolutionary drive’ for a companion/ sex partner. My experiences just so happened to leave me completely repelled from the idea of being “with” someone. I want to be alone, in the romantic realm. Further, as someone who is newly learning the ropes of being single, I’m discovering a lot about what it means to be interested in a person, in a platonic way, and how that can be misunderstood; an oxymoron. “I do like you! ..as a friend.” “What?”
“You think relationships are difficult? Try friendships. Try courting someone in order to convince them to join you in some nameless, shapeless Platonic complication — forever. Convince an adult stranger that you are worth a healthy slice of their limited time and energy without the prize of sex or romance.” - Laura Jayne Martin
I used to think that relationships move simply, chronologically, that you shake hands and become friends, then progress into “more.” But maybe my friend was right. Maybe the only reason that guys (or girls, too) start wanting to get to know someone is based on their longing for “more.” I was flabbergasted. I even made graphs.
My single-ness, my “availability,” is cockblocking me from having some potentially great friendships… when that’s all I’m looking for. And this general lack of romantic interest has ended up hurting a lot of people. Okay fine, I have hurt a lot of people. But to be fair, it’s been a learning process, facing the challenge of forming meaningful connections while tiptoeing around the pressures of romance.
I’m not trying to be egotistical. If anything, I’m apologizing for my naïveté. I foolishly thought that if someone was interested in me, they could learn to tone it down and we could be friends. I kept people at bay out of fear of losing them completely. “Leading on.” I asked for a lot, for them to suppress the desire for a relationship while demanding a milder version of it. I’ve heard the phrase “I can’t just be friends with you, at least not right now” several times. For me, the reward of someone’s company as a friend was more than enough. I failed to consider how torturous it would be to taste the company of someone you want while being denied the chance to indulge in it fully. Friendship. What a tease.
But I am in a place where.. it’s not that I don’t want to give myself to anyone, it’s that I have nothing to offer. Nothing more than friendship. And I find it insulting, the phrase “just friends.” Just? Only? Mere friends? Of course I know what it means, colloquially. But “just friends” hints at the idea that relationships are better, more important, than friendships. Which may be the case for many, but for me, my friends, old and new, give me so much more than a boyfriend could right now. And I know I can be a damn good friend to you too.
As much as I understand and am powerless to change how people operate, I think we should make more of an active effort to appreciate people as people. Throw sex and romance out the window. Look at someone, their talents, their quirks, their ambitions, their flaws, and soak in each idiosyncrasy like it was the most unique and precious phenomenon in the world. You’d be surprised how much joy this can bring to both of you.