Friends with Boys

Even before I saw When Harry Met Sally I’d been intrigued by the question of “Can men and women be friends?”

I distinctly remember hoping and praying in high school that I’d have boy friends and no actual boyfriends because I didn’t want the drama. I wanted boy friends more than girl friends too, and it took me years to appreciate the female friendships in my life. That’s a blog post for another time.

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For example, men don’t take pictures of their feet. This is a female phenomenon. I can’t get behind this. Why would I want to show off one of my not-so-great features? Women, what is this about??

But ever since I’ve had male friends I’ve been getting the side-eye from strangers and acquaintances, and even close friends. Come on, men and women can’t ever REALLY be friends.

One of my best friends in my teens was a boy. And I still remember the looks from church people when we’d sit together, and I remember the one time we wore the same clothes to church (I was wearing a skirt, version, but otherwise…) and freaking out that people would think it was some kind of sign. I remember having to defend every time we arrived anywhere together and having to cheer lead all his romantic relationships because otherwise I’d look jealous.

I remember having one of my married male friends pick me up at work to get lunch together and the knowing glance I got from the receptionist.

Going out to dinner with a man is a problem, having dinner at his house is a problem. Driving is a problem, movies are a problem…

Romance potential is literally everywhere.

I keep asking myself the question “Can men and women be friends” and I keep hearing – from women and men – that this is not possible. Even men I am actually friends with tell me this. There’s this underlying feeling that the opposite sex is too enticing once you reach a certain level of intimacy. That sex is the inevitable obstacle to co-ed friendships. That men and women will naturally fall in love when they get to know each other really well. Thanks Harry and Sally.

No matter how much adamant agreement there is on this topic, I just can’t believe that God would create men and women to have relationships between the sexes that are only passing acquaintances, familial, or romantic. I can’t buy that I’m only allowed casual friendships with men. I can’t buy that God intended me to keep all men at a distance of several feet unless we’re planning on marrying.

I’m a single woman and  I need men in my life. I need the influence of men, the conversation of men, the viewpoint of men. I need these as much as I need the influence of women, the conversation of women, the viewpoint of women. I’m aware that as a single woman it’s far too easy in this life to simply lose touch, lose connection with a large quantity of the people in the world strictly because they are male.

I need to be careful in my relationships with women as much as I need to be careful in my relationships with men. And this is what we forget. Sure, perhaps you’re guarding against different things with men than with women, but any relationship ought to be entered into with carefulness, watchfulness, and openness.

Can men and women be friends. I have to believe yes. Are there overwhelming obstacles to making a friendship between a man and a woman work? Experience and others tell me definitely, 100%, yes. Naturally, any true friendship faces some pretty tough obstacles. It’s the nature and essence of relationship.

Is it still worth it? Is it worth valuing friendship with men as more than a gateway to romance? I believe 100% yes.

Have more movies damaged this theory than assisted? Yeah. Just. All the movies. I mean Just Friends. It’s in the title! How could that go wrong? Anyway, that’s a rant for another time. Until then, as always, I’ll remind myself that movies are a work of fiction, and relationships are real and really hard work. Woman to woman, man to man, and woman to man. It’s difficult because at the end of the day it turns out, we’re all people.

Look at that. Perhaps we have more in common than we think?

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