Monday, August 23, 2010

Which came first: the friendship or the relationship?

You know those age-old questions that usually spark great debate?  Like "Which came first: the chicken or the egg?" or "If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there, does it make noise?":  questions that inspire pretty convincing arguments from both sides of the spectrum and really get peoples' argumentative juices flowing.  There is one such question in the realm of dating that we have not yet addressed but has recently played a major role, not in my life personally, but in some lives around me.  I thought I was pretty confident in my answer based on my own experience, but am starting to doubt myself or wonder if possibly my own situation is some rare anamoly.

Okay, Singletons, I'm just going to throw it out there.  None of my usual witty banter or beating around the proverbial bush.  Can men and women be just friends?  Is there always going to be one within the friendship that really either deep down or outwardly has feelings for the other one that go way beyond buddy-status?  Think back over your own history here and really assess this for me.  Because I'm at a loss.

Personally, I have always believed that men and women can be just friends.  Even if one or both of them had feelings of a romantic nature at some point, I feel that if it's real, it can withstand that little strip of rockiness and move to another level, but still maintain the friendship.  Essentially, if you really love someone, you want them to be happy at the root of your feelings for them, or at least you should.  If that person isn't happy in a romantic sense with you, you should accept that and still appreciate them for the friend that they were before and during your time of adoration.  Say I'm naive all you want, but that's the way I see it.  I know it's hard, believe me (personal experience speaking through here loud and clear), but I like to think that I'm a living example that friendship between men and women is possible.  I've spent most of my life getting along much better with the boys than I have with the girls, so being okay with just being friends comes with the territory and has been forced upon me more than once.  But, I know that I may be a minority.
Recently, I've watched some things unfold that started with a base ingredient of male/female friendship and ended in a recipe for disaster.  Although the problem has to do the oh-so-willingness to just chalk it up to the inability to control oneself in the midst of such naughtiness, let's take it to another level.  If men and women can possibly muster up the maturity to be friends without any kind of dating mumbo-jumbo messing things up, is it feasible to continue that friendship or even to start a new one once one or both are married?  I know that this question ultimately should generate a discussion on trust, but is it just as naive to blindly trust as it is to distrust? 

I recently heard a local Atlanta radio celebrity discussing this topic on-air when he knew his wife was out of town and could not listen. (And she'll know now if she reads my blog, but that's probably a stretch.)  He shared that his wife had recently rekindled an old friendship, and they were spending an exorbitant amount of time together, much like they had crushes on each other.  You know how you are when there's a new person around, you can't seem to get enough of them.  He told his wife that he was uncomfortable with the level of their friendship, and she immediately balked at the statement, assuming that he didn't trust her and thought that she would cheat on him.  I see her point.  But, reversely, his point was that he could trust his wife, but not her friend.  He loves his wife and because of that thinks she's the greatest thing since the invention of air-conditioning.  Therefore, it makes sense to him that all men are just waiting for the right second to pounce.  At one point, he ended up alone with the male friend and addressed the topic.  The friend reassured the husband that nothing had ever or would ever happen, but the husband continued to have doubts.

Is a friendship worth jeopardizing your relationship for?  Would you leave someone because they were uncomfortable with a friendship you had with a member of the opposite sex?  I don't know what my answers are to these questions, but I do know that they make me nervous. 


  1. My husband has a lot of female friends, and I had to come to terms with that when we first started dating. It's all a matter of trust, and if the situation were reversed, I would want him to trust me to hang out with my male friends as just friends. We're human, so of course we're going to have insecure moments of "what if...", but as long as the lines of communication are open and both partners are honest, it shouldn't be a problem in a relationship. Or maybe I'm just being naive... :-)

  2. my bestfriend's girlfriend and I are not in good terms for a little over 9 months now. She admitted to me that she's jealous with our closeness. Although I tried reassuring her that there's nothing to be jealous about and that I should not pose a threat to their relationship, she still regarded me as "the other girl". I couldn't do much about the situation so I just let her doubt and think whatever she wanted to.

    Although my bestfriend is goodlooking, funny and smart, I decided not to go beyond our friendship and take it to another level. and although he admitted that he liked me, we both decided to stay friends because that's what were perfectly good at: BEING JUST FRIENDS. :)

    btw, your blog made it to my blog roll. ^^,

  3. Hey thanks! I'll add you too! I totally get what you're saying. I think sometimes it goes back to that thought that your boyfriend/girlfriend is so wonderful, how could their best friend NOT want them? So, you start to doubt the sincerity. My thing is if we've been around each other this long and nothing has happened to progress to another level, then it's probably not ever going to happen. We'll see. This may become more of a reality than I want it to, considering that my best friend is a guy, too.

  4. Let's put it this way - is every (heterosexual) male attracted to every woman? Is every (heterosexual) woman attracted to every man? I think pretty much anyone who has ever dated/been around the opposite sex at all/etc would say very clearly, no. I mean, if nothing else, haven't we all been on dates with perfectly nice people that we just weren't attracted to? So why, then, would people assume that every opposite sex friendship involves secret attraction? (Of course, this "men and women can't just be friends" trope is so pervasive in society, that there might be a societal proscription against men and women being friends, even if they aren't attracted to each other - but aside from societal norms, I don't see any reason why men and women can't be friends.)

  5. Great point, Anonymous. I agree with you...I think society has taught us all that there can be no such thing as a pure friendship between a man and a woman without some type of sexually-charged undertones. So, when we see a male/female friendship, we instantly doubt that that friendship hasn't ventured over the line at least once or twice. A good friend mentioned this morning that she feels that men and women can be friends and withstand external romantic relationships as long as there has been no romantic activities between them. So, basically, as long as they have never been friends with benefits.

  6. I am going to go against the grain with what everyone else said. I don't believe it's healthy to be close friends with a member of the opposite sex once you are married. Yes, having trust in a spouse is a definitely key in the marriage. I just think having a close friend of the opposite sex when you are married is a recipe for potential disaster. I'm married and though my husband trusts me with his whole heart and being, I have personally made the choice not to go to lunch alone with male co-workers. People get ideas running through their head and I don't think a married person should even be in the situation where people (as in people who see you out in public) can get the wrong idea.

    Also, I don't think it's right in a moral sense...but that is just me! I also heard the radio segment you are talking about (I absolutely love that morning show!) and can totally see why Bert is hurt and I think his wife needs to stop hanging around with that fellow. When married (or in a committed relationship), I think it's emotionally dangerous to be close friends with a member of the opposite sex. Your husband/boyfriend/whatever should be the one you confide in and it can get really dangerous really fast if your confidant is a man.

  7. I do know that I've seen some peoples' relationships become strained due to the ever-present Rumor Mill. When talk starts up, it eventually gets back to the partner and your innocent lunch to decompress each week and vent about office silliness could easily be misinterpreted. And I've been the one on the other side of that coin, too, watching a single female coworker go to lunch with a married coworker once or twice a week and asking around if anybody knew what was going on between them. So, I've fallen into the societal trap of assuming that they surely can't be innocent friends. I think, once you're married, your partner's feelings should be paramount to anything else, as long as they are reasonable. If Bert were my husband and he came to me with these concerns, I'd definitely do whatever was in my power to make him feel better about the situation. I really liked what one of the other radio hosts said in response: "You have to decide which is more important to you: the friendship or your married relationship. It should be the married relationship and if it's not, there are much bigger issues than simply having a friend of the opposite sex."

  8. If you are trying to justify having a best friend as a guy (who you are attracted to), I'm not sure your future significant other will understand unless he is very understanding. Since I met my spouse, I've slowly distanced myself from a guy friend I found very attractive at one time. It just didn't feel right confiding in him like I used to. You can't make someone love you, and when you finally realize that deep down, you can move on...


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