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Friday, 23 July 2010

Can men and women ever be just good friends?

I am writing this blog post at the request of someone I knew 20 years ago although not very well as it turns out. In answer to the question can men and women ever be just good friends, I have done hours of research but like most of these blog postings, there will be lots about me in here. I certainly think I have had my Vince and Penny moments in my time.

My first male friend was forced on me by my mum. I had to play at his house so that my mum could visit his mum and chat the afternoon away. All I remember is hating him playing with my toys. This may have proved very significant setting a pattern for future relationships with men. Get off my toys!

At primary school, I was placed on top table with three boys. I think I fancied them all at some point. I certainly flashed my boobs at them for a dare. Well actually, I flashed at one boy for a dare and then all the other boys threatened to tell Miss if I didnt's show them too. Contrary to my image, I have had quite a habit of flashing ever since according to my other half. My take is that I do it with exuberance but only on special occasions. I developped some sort of early crush on one of the lads in particular hiding a Valentine's card in his mathematics book. I don't think he reads my blog but yes, Simon that was you.

At secondary school, it became clear to me that I was totally unfanciable. So my male friendships there were real enough and based on playing cards for money. That sort of thing did not seem to appeal to the other girls at all.

At college, I feel I made some good male friendships uncomplicated by me fancying them and I am grateful that some of these continued beyond 1990's Graduation Day. Do I think any of these blokes were harbouring any sexual interest in me? Not really. Perhaps one in a bleak period love-life wise. I also got in a strange relationship in my first year which I tend to blank out as it ended up with the bloke in question threatening me with a knife. Home-sickness is a dangerous thing!
And then in life there will be the undisclosed gays and bisexuals who will use you as a cover story if you are willing to play that particular game.

I do think you can talk yourself into love interests when life is a bit empty that way and with the most unlikely candidates. I also think girlfriends and wives are very suspicious of unattached females. I have experienced both sides of that - one is quite good fun in a way and the other is torture. Whilst I can accept me having friendships with the opposite sex, I am not at all good at allowing that privilege to my husband. Yes I have trust and insecurity issues. I also think that karma may be repaying me for some of my silly games when I was younger.

Sometimes, you miss out on getting to know great women whilst you are busy fancying their fella or they are imagining you are. That's a real shame as fancies are by their nature passing whereas female friendships can be strong and long-lasting. Sometimes, the wife or girlfriend will make huge efforts to be your friend when their bloke likes you as a a friend. Working on the assumption you would not steal a friend's boyfriend or husband perhaps.

I guess the easiest person to be platonic friends with is someone you actively don't fancy at all even remotely. But if you find them repulsive, would you want to be friends with them in the first place? I have known men that I knew were straight but did not find convicing as men and they bored me so we never went beyond polite conversation if that.

So that is some initial thoughts on the topic that I was asked to blog about. I do have more but welcome feedback and comments first.

1 comment:

  1. My story...

    Twenty seven years ago, I worked with a lady: Denise. We were great friends; we travelled to and from work together and we'd often share our lunchtimes too, braving the knowing glances from our other colleagues. It didn't matter to us: We knew we were just friends; we knew nothing was going on.

    I became very fond of her, more fond than I'd ever been of 'just a friend' in the past. Eventually I became infatuated, and out of that grew even stronger feelings, though I never mentioned this to anyone, not even her.

    You see, I'd only been married for a little over two years, and certainly had no thoughts of actively seeking a relationship elsewhere; added to this, Denise was engaged and was getting married quite soon. (incidentally, all her friends saw her husband-to-be for the bad sort that he was; even her parents agreed with us, but she was besotted with him.)

    Our friendship continued for a few more months; I think she noticed that I'd stopped with the blatantly flirty remarks when I joked with her; occasionally I'd say something that would make her do a double take, but I was sure that my feelings weren't reciprocated in any way.

    Then one day, about a fortnight before she left, I'd just paid her a compliment, and another friend of ours, Jenny, said to me "Hey Dave, you never say lovely things like that to me!" My reply, meant to be in a joking manner was: "That's because I'm not hopelessly in love with you Jenny."

    Jenny laughed; I laughed; Denise just went quiet and didn't speak to me for days after. I asked Jenny if she knew what was wrong with her; Jenny just answered "Oh Dave," as though I was being stupid. Eventually I went to Denise and explained that what I'd said was only a joke, and that she shouldn't have taken it seriously. That seemed to do the trick, and we started being friendly again.

    Soon after, she left work to get married and to move to Oxford, where her husband had secured a job. She had a party at a hired restaurant and we all attended. I knew it was unlikely that I'd ever see her again after that.

    By the end of the night, I noticed her saying goodbye to everyone, and giving a lot of the guys from work a goodbye kiss.

    I couldn't face it. I wasn't sure I could handle my emotions, so I made an excuse and left. I turned as I left the restaurant to see her looking at me. She wasn't smiling.

    We had no contact until about 18 months ago. She found me on the friends reunited website and posted a message starting: "I don't know if you remember me.."

    Of course I remembered her. I made contact and we became friends again. I finally told her about how I'd felt at the time, all those years ago. She told me that she'd always known how I felt, and how she'd cried when I'd left her party early.

    She's single now. Divorced from her second husband. (the first marriage lasted six months - she admits we were right about him,) and she still lives in the Oxford area with her two children. We met up for a drink last Christmas. It was awkward at first, but after a while it was just like old times.

    We have occasional contact now, usually by email but sometimes by phone, and she's under instructions to call me whenever she comes home to visit her parents.

    Men and women can have platonic relationships, even when there's fondness involved, but it's difficult, though time helps.