“No, no, no, I never said that… Yes, that’s right, they can’t be friends. Unless both of them are involved with other people, then they can… This is an amendment to the earlier rule. If the two people are in relationships, the pressure of possible involvement is lifted… That doesn’t work either, because what happens then is, the person you’re involved with can’t understand why you need to be friends with the person you’re just friends with. Like it means something is missing from the relationship and why do you have to go outside to get it? And when you say “No, no, no it’s not true, nothing is missing from the relationship,” the person you’re involved with then accuses you of being secretly attracted to the person you’re just friends with, which you probably are. I mean, come on, who the hell are we kidding, let’s face it. Which brings us back to the earlier rule before the amendment, which is men and women can’t be friends.”
-Harry Burns, When Harry Met Sally
Yesterday I had coffee with a girlfriend. I haven’t seen her in a while as she’s been busy in a new relationship as have I. During our catchings up, she voiced her frustration about her boyfriends ex-girlfriend’s continued contact with him. Apparently, they dated a year, it didn’t work out, so they remain “friends.” I listened on as she explained their relationship and could tell this “friendship” really bothered her and I know why. The truth is – Men and women can’t be friends – and I told her so. I understand that some of you may read this and say, “What? That’s totally wrong, yes we can. One of my best friends is a man/woman!” Though are they truly our friends? Would we call them if we were upset….keeping in mind that it wouldn’t be a call for an ego boost or attention….but a call for comfort outside of our own ego. I happen to be of the mindset that it simply isn’t possible. I’m with Harry on this one.
I didn’t always think this way. For years I would say that I got along better with men then women so had more of them as friends. But who was I kidding? There was not a single one of them that I could have truly called my friend. Either I had a secret crush on them or they on me. When my emotional world came a tumbling down, it wasn’t a man I called. It was my girlfriends that rallied around me like some great elephant tribe and dusted me off. I wouldn’t call a man to do that. It’s not to say that these illusive relationships don’t exist, in fact I know of a few – but the men are gay and the women straight. I myself happen to have a close friend who is a man – and he is as gay as the day is long. How many heterosexual man/woman friendships do you really know of – where there has never been some underlying sexual desire or heart string attachment crush?
Then there is the ol’, “We used to date, but now we are just friends” scenario, which likely consists of one half of the couple not being happy while the other is smitten, a break up occurs and out of guilt, one offers a friendship and out of desperation, one accepts…..hoping for another opportunity to rekindle the romance at a future date. I understand the argument that if it were mutual and both parties wanted an end to the relationship but not the “friendship” that sprouted during the romance, there can very well be a true friendship. However, where is it written that if I sleep with you and feel love for you that I have to continue to be your friend after the break-up? I researched this very question and found it nowhere in the books…. My ex-boyfriend is literally “friends” with all the women he has had relationships with (except yours truly) – and there are many. They are sort of put in this category after the break-up of “Will call in case of emergency ego boost or loneliness.” When I politely declined his invitation for a “friendship” after our break-up he was genuinely surprised. I mean, who says no to a friendship?
One of my personal favorites is the inner-office “friendships” of the opposite sexes. Interestingly enough, my other “ex,” that would be husband, is now in a relationship with an inner-office, much younger, “friend” who happened to end up in his bed at a conference in Vegas. Within my own company I am privy to some interesting “friendships” of my co-workers. Years ago, my father gave me some simple advise, “Don’t shit where you eat.” I have most certainly always taken this to heart. As it turns out, it was some of the only advise I actually followed…much to his dismay….
By the end of our coffee, my girlfriend admitted that she herself has never truly been friends with a man and that is why this “friendship” her boyfriend has with his ex really bothers her. I don’t blame her either. I feel fortunate that in my own new romantic relationship I haven’t had to deal with this as I have in the past. Before we were finished she had decided to talk to him and to express her apprehension to continue dating a man who needed to maintain a friendship with a woman who didn’t want to break up with him in the first place…..such a fuzzy line it all is…. “Which brings us back to the earlier rule before the amendment, which is men and women can’t be friends.”