Sometimes I wonder if it is possible to have a friendship between a man and a woman. How long could it last and according to what criteria, conditions could it be built? Do we think realistically when it comes to our minds to have such a thing or are we living in a “dream world”?
Opinions are very diverse: many consider it possible; some say it is rare because the needs of men and women are different (apart from the fact that men want women and women want men 😊)
What did people think about this 123 years ago?
Frances Evans wrote about it in The Ladies’ Home Journal, December 1898:
“Do you believe that platonic love is possible between young unmarried men and women?”
“The truth is that there is no such thing between a man and a woman. As soon as the feeling of esteem between people of different sexes is strong enough to be called love, it springs from the heart, not from the brain, and is not interested in the merits of the mind alone, though mental attraction is in many cases the first cause of love…. Now, when a married man is unhappy with his wife, rightly or wrongly, and he meets a young woman who attracts him and has more time to get into his moods than his wife, who is probably busy satisfying the desires of his stomach and keeping his clothes in order, he begins, unconsciously at first, to renew his acquaintance with romantic love as he knew it years ago, when his wife was not an everyday affair for him.
A romantic halo arises around this young woman; she becomes an ideal for him, for he sees her as he saw his wife before they were married, with her best leg. He never thinks, “Would she be more attractive than my wife if she had three noisy children to look after and one or two servants to harry her every day?” -And he doesn’t want to see her in that light either.”
And what are people saying now?
Man (UK): “I think that if both parties are honest about only wanting friendship then it is certainly possible. We are complex animals capable of controlling our instincts. I think that the only reason people question this is because there are some who pretend to only want friendship when they want more. Apart from being dishonest, this simply doesn’t work. Familiarity makes you less sexy, not more.”
Woman (Manila): “It is possible. The greatest male friends I have are those that treat me as their equals and afforded me the kind of respect every human should receive.”
Man (Abu Dhabi): “Sometimes friends between man and woman can happen after the relationship get broken”
Man (Canada):” It’s definitely possible to have friendships between men and women. If two siblings from the opposite gender or say two cousins from the opposite gender can be friends then what is stopping others? There are a few hurdles before this can become mainstream. There are conservative societies where friendship between a man and a woman is frowned upon. I think the most important hurdle is to establish universal equality between men and women. We definitely have come a long way but I think there is still more that needs to be done. Maybe someday we can see men and women more like the same gender (like equals) and hence stop sexualizing women. »
Man (Turkey-Italy): “None of my female-friends are best-friends. And when it comes to talking about other women for an intimate approach, they start nagging….as if they are jealous…so quite annoying from my point of view. »
Woman (Singapore): “It’s our own perception that define all the relationship we have.”
She hit the nail on the head!
It is always about how we define our relationships. To do that, we should ask ourselves the fundamental question: what do I want and what do I not want from the other person. I know men and women who have close friendships with the opposite sex. Most of the time they talked about it very enthusiastically and always emphasised that they benefit a lot from the “completely different” way of looking at things and approaching things. However, they told me that sooner or later they also had to talk about the “boundaries”: does the relationship stay at friendship only or does someone want more?
Some of my friends say that they had to make this point very clear in order not to jeopardise the friendship. I also think that honest, open conversations are essential, otherwise the risk of injury is very high: one wants love, but the other wants “only” friendship.
Closeness, intimacy, open conversations can evoke very intimate, strong feelings and “awaken” sexual attraction. This power is deeply rooted in us, however the mind can decide not to “give in” and say “stop”. This requires self-reflection, good communication and occasionally redefining the relationship.
For some years now, a new form of relationship has been booming. Friendship Plus. More on this in one of my next blogs.