Why Men and Woman CAN be Just Friends
I recently wrote an article about the twenty toxic takeaways from my twenties, with the first item on the list being that I used to think that men and women couldn’t just be friends.
I knew this was a very prevalent belief so I guess that now that I’ve seen the light, I feel a sense of duty to help others see what they’re missing.
But here’s the thing. By and large, it is men who parrot this talking point the most. Women, on the other hand, tend to think the complete opposite.
When you watch When Harry Met Sally, you see the war of ideas play out in the men (not just Harry) who simply don’t believe that a man and woman could just be friends to the point that the men state that they do not have female friends.
Conversely, the women swear that they have tons of male friends, only to be corrected by the men in their life who tell them that they’re dead wrong.
Even when you watch the ending, you’re somewhat confused. Was the movie trying to say that men and women have to be friends first in order for things to morph into romance? Or was it agreeing that men and women can’t just be friends because “the sex ruins it?”
In my own trysts with friends, it seemed to prove that once a certain connection is reached, it is unavoidable for at least one person in the relationship to develop romantic feelings, with the only possible exception being another friend’s romantic interest of the past or present.
But overall, what I’ve seen is that the sex can ruin the friendship, but you’d be remiss if you didn’t ask yourself why you were thinking about sex in the first place.
For the most part, men and woman are raised differently when it comes to sex. Women are the gateway to sex. Men are the consumers. Women are taught as girls that femininity is tied to chastity. Men are taught as boys that their masculinity is down to whether or not they can bed a woman. A woman’s ultimate goal is marriage. A man’s ultimate goal is consistent sex.
But here’s the thing, heterosexual men and women need each other for sex. They are both the gateways and consumers. Both value chastity to an extent and lasciviousness to an extent. Both want consistent sex and both view it in the context of marriage.
So the goals are technically the same but how men and women approach those goals are completely different.
When the sexual liberation began, women were finally freed from the tyranny of forced chastity. They were freed from the shackles of the housewife role thanks to feminism and now they were freed to enjoy sex instead of giving it whenever it was requested by their husbands.
Unfortunately, that did not completely remove the lesson of chastity. Women merely took on a new thought and began to wrestle with their childhood programming of keeping sex away from men versus finally fulfilling their sexual autonomy.
Men became more sensitive and less dogmatic. They agreed that women should be able to enjoy sex however and with whomever. But this thought could not root out their childhood programming that they must get this precious commodity known as the vagina.
So far, what we’ve seen is that men and women really could never be friends because women want sex but withhold it which leads to frustration for everybody because (largely) everybody wants sex. Also, men didn’t view women as people, but as conquests and badges to show to other men (and women) that they are a “real man.”
Things Get More Sinister
A woman, for better or for worse, is viewed primarily as an emotional creature. Therefore, her emotional needs must be met. For men, they were taught that in order to get their emotional needs met, just find a vagina attached to a hot woman. Connection, intimacy, comfort, rest, love and friendship will come as long as you have sex.
But as we all know, if a man is taught to suppress his emotions and deny his emotional needs, he wouldn’t be able to access the ability to connect or be intimate even after securing himself a woman.
His solution does not lie in laying with a woman. He has to unlearn the tendencies to escape vulnerability. Following the armada of men who chase tail isn’t going to help. He must do the one thing he was taught to never do: seek help.
For women, their solution is in defining sex for themselves and not listening to the extremities of complete chastity or of complete lasciviousness. Some people will fall into the extremities and are totally comfortable there.
Most will not want the burka; most will not want to be Cardi B. But from my observation, many women just follow the extremities because they are louder than their personal internal guidance system.
How can men and women be friends in a climate like this? Men aren’t expressing what they emotionally need and women are acting out a role that society expects them to play. Everyone’s being fake but somehow this is the soil for friendship to grow in?
A Bit of Irony
The funny thing is that men expect women to be a lady in the street and a freak in the sheets. If she’s a freak in the streets and a lady in the sheets, men get upset. They have no clue what to do with a woman like this. It’s an anomaly to them! Similarly, women want a vulnerable man but when they see it, they are repulsed!
How could men and women be friends in a context like this?
The reason women tend to believe that they have male friends is because men cannot admit to what they want, and must therefore befriend the woman in order to get what they want. The reason men believe that men and women cannot just be friends is because they (unconsciously) introduce sex into meeting a woman.
I remember when I was a teenager and I had a close friend who was a girl. We knew each other since Kindergarten, did tons of things together and our families were pretty close. But I wasn’t attracted to her. She really was just my friend. It wasn’t until I said to myself, “What if I tried to see if I liked her?”
I invented emotions for her and then got surprised when I felt emotions for her.
That was me consciously introducing sex into my relationship with a girl. Imagine doing this unconsciously. Imagine your brain hijacking your emotions and telling you to feel things for someone you don’t naturally feel things for. You’d swear it would be real feelings.
By the way, women are also capable of inventing emotions for others and ingratiating themselves to get what they want from men, just as men are capable of not knowing what they really want in love and sex, but just surrender to the status quo.
It Gets Even Worse
Remember that women were taught to flaunt their sexuality and to hide their desire for sex. If this isn’t an example of supply and demand, I don’t know what is.
What men want is available, but exclusive. You have to jump through various hoops in order to get the woman, but some men get so twisted by the scant resource of sex that they force themselves on women to get what they want.
I have to interject and say that this isn’t an excuse for sexual assault or abuse. But we see this exact same behavior when it comes to the other scant resource: money. People will rob and kill for it. People will trick you out of it. Even if they get prosecuted and thrown in prison, once they get out, they’re back at it.
How the hell can men and women be friends in a context such as this?
The reality is that sex isn’t scarce and not as exclusive as one may think. But when men get riled up and then are unable to satiate their appetite, the most deprived of them all, the ones who are still of the notion that women are objects, the ones who have not met their emotional needs are going to abuse the women they’re attracted to.
But let me be clear, this is not the woman’s fault. Women aren’t going to jail because they deny a man sex because she enticed him. The man is going to jail and rightly so because he abused the woman.
So What Gives?
I’ll admit, this seems like I’m making the case that men and women really can’t be friends.
The bottom line is, if men and woman aren’t vulnerable, view each other as means to an end, don’t know themselves and what they want in terms of sex, deny their true desires and invent romantic emotions that aren’t actually there, men and women cannot be friends.
Friends don’t do half of these things to one another. In my opinion, they could work on being more vulnerable and stop judging one another on what it means to be a man or woman. Once those things are worked on, you’re in an excellent friendship.
And until all the things I listed between men and women are worked on, friendships and romances with the opposite sex will be short-lived, painful or both.
Ultimately, both men and women are right. Men and women can’t be friends given the current climate of the male-female dynamic. But they can be friends if you remove the variables that block, warp or cheapen friendship.
And as I said earlier, when those variables are addressed, not only will friendships with the opposite sex be possible, but healthy romances will flourish as well.