Can Men and Women be Friends?

That night he came over and we were watching our shows. The topic featured on the show that night was platonic friendships. He turned to me and asked if I believe platonic friendships between men and women can exist. My instant reaction was, “of course!” In hindsight – based on my personal experience I felt like he needed to be more specific because all the platonic friendships I had turned into relationships (but that’s neither here nor there). He told me that he disagreed and that he believes it to be virtually impossible. He went on to say,” I’m not interested in furthering a relationship with a woman who has a whole bunch of guy friends. That doesn’t work for me. Is that you?” I was quiet for a few seconds before I told him that I currently had no heterosexual male friends that I share a close relationship with. Conversation ended. Three weeks later, I was scrolling through Instagram and noticed that he had posted an Instastory. Obviously, I clicked on it. It was a screenshot of a conversation between him and a woman from his direct messages. He had added a caption that said, “Bestfriend.” I started to feel myself getting angry, so I put my phone down.

I wasn’t angry because he had a conversation with a woman, nor was I angry because having male friends was something I wanted to do – I was pissed because he wasn’t playing fair. The rule that he had established for our relationship, seemed to be a rule that didn’t apply to him. Naturally, I approached him about the issue. He told me that it was “different” and that their relationship is “unique.” I pressed him further. He shared that because he is aware of his genuine and platonic intentions with her, it just simply wasn’t the same. Moreover, he went on to say that often times men have intentions with women that are not clear and pure. The anger in my body began to bubble and build as I tried my best to hold a neutral facial expression. The more he talked, I realized that the real problem wasn’t whether he believed men and woman could be friends, it was that he struggled with trusting the intentions of others. I posed the question, “Whether you know your personal intentions or not, should I trust the intentions of this woman just because you said so?” He shook his head with no response.

I sat and thought about it for a few hours that night. I then realized that the trouble in platonic relationships is clear intentions and trust. Men and woman can certainly be platonic friends, but there is struggle in its acceptance because people assume the intent of both the man and woman. Without words, the guy I was dating expressed that he does not trust the intentions of other men. As a man himself – does that not imply that he may not even trust his own intentions sometimes? My personal opinion is that platonic friendships between the opposite sex require boundaries and transparency. Without those two ingredients, sure your friendship is bound to fail. However, done correctly I truly believe that those friendships can be sustained. Speaking from personal experience, every boyfriend I’ve ever had was just my friend years before we decided to be in a relationship. It wasn’t until we began crossing boundaries of time and space that our relationship grew to another level.

What do you guys think – can men and women really be friends?

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