Sunday, July 25, 2010

Why Can't We Be Friends?

Many months ago I began to write about the subject of being friends with men. The topic intrigued me, as I have many close friends, people who I love and care about, people who know they can count on me for anything and on whom I know I can depend for the same. Most of these friends are women, gay men, or the husbands of women friends.

Over the course of my adult married life I had developed professional friendships with many men, but realize that I never developed close friendships with heterosexual men in spite of the many I know.

Now I am attempting to consider friendship with a former lover and attempting to develop friendship with another man whom I dated, liked, but with whom the romance never ignited. Aside from the obvious discomfort that comes from disentangling and disappointment, one of the greater questions is what these friendships might look like. I know what friendships with women look like and feel like; the same goes with gay men. I am aware of the risks, the boundaries, and the rewards.

But in a non-romantic friendship with a straight man I think I am clueless. Spending time with several new men over the past year has reminded me of both the delights and agonies that happen because of fundamental differences in wiring between the sexes. Raising a son was and continues to be a constant reminder of the joy of male-ness, and male energy.

I was reminded of all this after reading an article in today's NY Times Magazine about the "Platonic" category on Craigslist. Reading it confirmed that I am not the only woman looking to form friendships with the opposite sex which have nothing to do with sex. But putting this into practice is another thing entirely, and I suspect it warrants a "Caution" sign!


  1. It is a sad societal reflection that many people immediately assume men and women cannot be friends and I count myself as one of the fortunate to have MANY male friends. Sadly, I think I have more male friends than female friends which is ironic considering I can't seem to get a date.

    Perhaps it is because those men whom I call close friends became thus when I was in a relationship and therefore off limits. When said relationship ended those sexual wirings had long-since been extinguished and only the affinity remained. Although I have established friendships now as a single, available woman.

    The irony is that I seem to be able to gather many, many men who are interested in being friends but cannot seem to attract any potential dating material. I believe much of the success of establishing these relationships is the open frankness of intimacies; I don't treat my male friends any different than I do my female friends - I am who I am with little discretion in what I talk about. In that regard, no Caution signs need exist because the strength of the friendship is the expansive openness of one's self to another. And the hope they will reciprocate the honor.

  2. Turning a dating relationship into a friendship, especially when one half of the duo did not want the relationship to turn platonic, takes time for healing. Be careful that what you define as friendship is not masking trying to keep the door open. Until both sides feel deeply in their hearts that they want the door kept closed, a genuine platonic friendship basis is hard to build. Distance is often needed for the hurt party to come to the same conclusion as the person ending the relationship.

    That said, I've stayed friends with some men I have dated. Can't say they are my closest male friendships, but I am happy to still have the connection in my life.