It’s been a topic long debated.
Can men and women remain friends without advancing their relationship? I think in order to tackle this subject we have to look at a few different variables:
1) What is it about our platonic relationships that cause our friendships to falter?
2) How do we overcome our natural differences to co-exist outside of romance?
3) Is it possible to draw the conclusion then that men and women can maintain a healthy relationship without being intimate?
Here’s the situation. A guy and a girl meet through mutual friends at a bar, they enjoy each other’s company and while the guy is starting to view the girl as someone he would like to pursue, the girl has other plans. I mean, she likes him well enough because they really click and he’s a really nice guy, but she’s been actively pursuing a different guy at work and can’t stop thinking about what their future would be like. She even keeps a notepad locked in her desk drawer where she scribbles her first name with his last name and her head is filled with dreams of romantic dinners, sensual evenings, lavish vacations, and a large wedding in Martha’s Vineyard. The two stay friends and even meet up for dinner and drinks on occasion, but as their friendship grows, so does the guy’s need to advance to a more physical relationship. The girl on the other hand loves his company, but just isn’t interested in taking it any further. She has feelings for someone else, and knows if she were to deviate her attention away for even a few days, she could miss her big chance. They remain in the dreaded “friend zone” and while she’s quite content, it’s killing him on the inside.
So, what is it about friendships between men and women that make it so hard to stay platonic? After asking a few close friends, the answer always came back to sexual tension. It many cases it seems that while the guy felt some variation of sexual feelings, those same feelings were not always reciprocated by the girl. In fact, many of the women admitted that they could never view their male friends in any conceivable sexual capacity. Here is where we have the disconnect, but there’s good news- a simple understanding of our needs as human beings could be the answer to bridging the gap between relationship and friendship.
There are two schools of thought about how to handle a situation when you’re physically attracted to a friend who has the potential to be a partner. Either you can ignore your feelings and accept the fact that your friendship is worth more than taking the risk of damage, or you can honestly voice your opinions, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. While the latter option may lead to an awkward position for the both of you, if both parties accept and respect the other’s opinions, the friendship may be able to continue unharmed. Furthermore, there are cases where a friendship has actually gotten stronger after the admittance of attraction and emotions, and with everything out in the open, the friendship can then move forward unscathed.
That being said, I believe it is quite possible for men and women to be firends without benefits as long as both the man and woman acknoledge and understand the role in which each plays in the other’s life. I think it’s best if all of us who pine for our best friends were to openly discuss the possibility of taking it further. In the same respect, please understand that by asking, it is in no way an ultimatum to your friendship. If you are on the other side of the coin and don’t quite feel the same feelings that your friend is now pouring out to you, please, let them down gently and suggest that things don’t have to change between the two of you. These types of things can leave both sides completely vulnerable, and it’s important to respect that.
They say your partner should also be your best friend, but they never said which had to come first. Take a chance. You’ll never know where you stand until speak up!
(Photo courtesy of http://blog.likebright.com/friends-without-benefits-pt-3/)