When I was younger, I had a few close friends who were guys. Had you asked me then if I believed that men and women could be friends, I wouldn't have hesitated to answer: abso-fucking-lutely! Those were the days when we thrived on complication, after all. It was the time to blur those lines. A time to dive into the unknown. A time to entertain the "what ifs" and the "why nots" as we so fancied.
Throughout the teen years, even extending into our 20s, those blurry-lined friendships were our right of passage. Remember them? They fell into one of these three categories:
1. The Just Friends Friend
I'm sure you had a few of those relationships in your time. You know the ones. You'd spend hours on the phone or hanging out, talking about whatever the hot topics were in your crazy young person world. You may have even messed around once or twice, just to test the waters. You were never a couple, always just friends with a few elements of couplehood thrown in there.
When one of you was in a relationship, things would inevitably change but you were still friends. Boyfriends and girlfriends just had to accept that. Chances are they too had friends of the opposite sex and it would've been considered possessive and controlling to expect anything to change.
2. The It's Complicated Friend
Male/female friendships might have appeared simple at the time but chances are they weren't. They were usually tainted by a one-sided ideal of what the friendship could possibly become. They also often fueling half of the duo's ego, while he or she sensed the feelings of the other and relished in the attention of it all. Or perhaps there was the appeal of: keeping options open, with the notion that at another time, a relationship may be on the cards. I would also guess that some of those friendships were created to fill time. Sad but true.
3. The Socially United Friend
Now, don't get me wrong, there were plenty of friendships that didn't have the above mentioned elements but they were more social unions that occurred within groups. These male/female relationships were not complicated at all. They consisted of fun times in social settings. They didn't extend to late night phone calls nor did they consist of any soul-revealing conversations or one-on-one just friends time together, which is why they remained uncomplicated.
Socially United Friendships Are the Only Ones that Work
The way I see it, when it comes to male/female friendships, simplicity is where it's at. Now that I'm older, and married, I have only one truly close male friendship in my life because I honestly believe that men and women cannot just be friends. Not BFFs, anyway. Of course I have some male friends. They are of the "Socially United," casual kind. We don't call or text each other just to chat. We don't partake in soul-revealing conversations or one-on-one "Just Friends" time together. These men, that I speak of, are my husband's friends or my girlfriends' partners. And these friendships aren't even remotely complicated. We laugh. We have fun together. We hang out in a group. That's it. That's all.
But You Disagree...
Perhaps you are sitting there, rolling your eyes, thinking who is this narrow-minded idiot? Maybe you have a more open approach to relationships and boast a close friendship with someone of the opposite sex (who isn't gay) that totally disputes my point-of-view. If this is the case, I really would love to hear what you have to say. But, before you comment, please have another quick read of the above categories to ensure that your friendship doesn't fall into the first two. Also make sure that your union doesn't have another doomed formula like, you-used-to-be-a-couple-but-now-you-are-friends, for example. Because, unless you have kids together, is there really a need to hang on? I just don't believe that a close friendship, within those circumstances, can be a genuinely platonic and positive experience for everyone involved.
Be Honest With Yourself
If your friendship does happen to slide into one of the first two scenarios (and you are in a long-term relationship) be honest with yourself. What is the basis of your friendship? And is it possible that your time and energy might be better spent within your own intimate relationship?
Life can be complicated enough so when it comes to the topic of male/female friendships, why not choose simplicity. If they've been in your heart or in your pants (or they'd like to be) then they shouldn't be in your life or even on my Facebook for that matter. So go ahead: de-clutter! Purge those uneasily defined friendships from your life and then head over to your Facebook and do a quick, well intentioned, cleanse there too.
Choose simplicity. Unblur those lines. And just love the one you're with.