Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

September 7, 2009

On the Friendship Between Men and Women

I absolutely adore this post, Julian! However, speaking experientially, I am not sure that I can agree entirely with your conclusions here. I too, experience great friendships in grad school with married men, but I found these relationships are entirely limited to a professional level. The real friendships I have had is with their wives. I find a cordiality exists between men and women our age, but I am not sure that 'friendship' in the highest Aristotelian sense can exist between men and women beyond a certain age.

When I was young -- and by young I mean in my tweens/junior high, I felt like definitely guys and girls could be friends. I had tons of guy friends, as well as girl friends, and as far as I was concerned, there was no 'sexual tension' that people would always talk about. It struck me as so weird that the 'girlfriends' of my guy friends would actually get jealous, because, gosh, really, we were just friends.

But then, as you get older, you start to learn about guys. And the 'guys' turn into men (or so they should). And things change. I have a theory that no guy wants to be just friends with a girl. He's always interested in something else. He may really want to woo her and win her love. He may, like Harry asserts, just want to sleep with her. But one party or another, I think, always ends up wanting something else. And if she lets him, he might even pretend to be 'friends' just so he can keep the opportunity open. I experienced this first hand with my now fiance. He kept saying he wanted to be 'just friends,' and I was falling deeper and deeper in love with him. He always acted like a man trying to court a woman, but always remained in the 'just friends' category. I tried to be satisfied, really, I did. But I loved him so much, I knew that when he starting dating someone else, I'd be the one heart broken -- so I was prepared to cut it off entirely. Luckily, he decided he really loved me too -- and the ending for us is happily ever after...

But at that time, there was 'another guy' was 'just a friend.' His motives must have been more, because the moment I starting dating my fiance, he stopped all communication. And really, would it have been appropriate to continue the friendship with one party feeling that way? And here's another question (I can give my opinion after I get yours!) -- Can you stay friends with an ex? What about when you start dating someone else? At what point does friendship with the other sex just become inappropriate??

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