10 October 2011

"Just Friends" part 1

I have always been a firm believer in "just friends." What do that mean? It means that I strongly believe platonic friendship is possible between members of the opposite sex.  

For those of you squeamish with that label, I use "opposite sex" because gender is a term used to describe words. Like how a ship is a "she". That's gender. "Opposite sex" describes humans in terms of male and female.

Now, some people (*coughcoughGraycoughcough*) will tell you that all "friendship" between men and women is biological; that there is always some form of sexual tension between those friends. They point to examples of a woman's best friend proposing, or similarly "heartwarming" or "disturbing" examples of when one member of a platonic friendship wants more than mere friendship.

I think that some of these stereotypes are largely due to the romantic comedy genre. Think about it. How many rom-coms start with the premise that Woman X's best friend is a man, and that either the woman or the man is very interested in the other. Or a chance meeting between two people turns them into friends, and eventually, lovers. This premise coming from popular culture is pretty disturbing if you ask me. After all, if it is correct, I am either interested in all of my adoptive brothers at some sub-concious level, or they're interested in me. And I'm firmly in denial of that. You may call me Cleopatra, but I don't think that's an accurate characterization with this issue.

See, I think it is possible to have purely platonic relationships with my guy friends. Maybe it's because the little girl inside me still believes that guys have cooties and any romantic relationship with them will transfer those cooties on to me. I mean, holding hands with someone? Ewwwwww. That's disgusting.

But I don't think that's it at all. When we narrow the potential for friendship between gents and gals to merely sexual attraction, we narrow the possibility of beauty in the world.I'm going to go to a fictional example here. Yes, yes, I know I get far too caught up in my imaginary worlds. But they're so good for snarky examples on my blog. 


In the Lord of the Rings, there's an awful lot of romance. It's true. Faramir loves Eowyn loves Aragorn loves Arwen, and all the jazz, doncha know. Sam loves food, Pip loves Entwash.. It's all over the place. But one of my favorite relationships in the entire series is the friendship between Merry and Eowyn. The way they both go out to fight in Pelinor Fields after the king tells both of them they cannot. Mmm. Good stuff. 

But if we accept the thesis that there is no such thing as "just friends," suddenly, we see Eowyn paying attention to Merry because of some suppressed desire of hers stemming from the fact that she was orphaned as a child. And Merry pays attention to her because, as a Hobbit, he feels incapable of truly being manly unless he can associate himself with a pretty awesome sword-lady from Rohan.

And friends? That's just disgusting. No, seriously. How much more can you ruin a friendship than going all Fruedian on someone and telling them that "he's really into you" in one of those all-knowing tones of voice.

I cannot even begin to number the times one of my girlfriends, or my mother, or another well-meaning woman in my life has confidingly told me that whatever one of my friendboys I have been spending time with is secretly interested in me and just doesn't have the courage to say so.

Alright, they have a point. Homeschooled guys are notorious for not taking definite stands on the issue of women. And romance. And romancing women. 

But that is still entirely beside the point. You can ruin a friendship that way. I'll tell you, after I explain something to my male readers.

It is a certain fact that somewhere, in her deepest heart, your gal friends have thought "what if" about you. She has, hypothetically, wondered if the two of you would "work out." She's probably had a good laugh about the results. This doesn't mean that she's deeply attracted to you, or secretly in love with you, or an outrageous flirt. It doesn't even mean she's ready for a relationship with anyone. She probably doesn't even want to admit it to herself that she's asked.

But the fact remains. At one point, she's had the small, quiet thought. "What if he liked me. What if he does like me? And what if I liked him?" It doesn't force her soul into a raging conflict. If anything, it probably embarrasses her slightly that she's even thought about it. So, please, don't ask her about it. You'll only embarrass her more. 

But the thing is, when someone outside of her deepest heart tells her "he's so in to you," more seeds are sown. Suddenly, instead of just pushing aside the small question, we start focusing on it. Every action is viewed through an entirely different lens than before. It's no longer "just friends"; it's "just friends, if you know what I mean **winkwink**." 

And that ruins a friendship. Outside pressure from outside the relationship to do anything - dump the friend, spend more time with the friend, observe the friend closely to see if he's actually interested in you - always changes the dynamic into a different beast. 

"Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity." 1 Timothy 5:2

If there's no such thing as just friends, then friends, we really are in a whole heap of trouble.

I'd like to leave you with a thought about "doing your Christian duty" and pointing out potential trouble spots. Unless you are 100% certain that your galfriend is getting herself into trouble by becoming friends with a guy who clearly wants more:

"Don't talk to it, Merry. Don't encourage it."


  1. LOVE this post! I was cheering all the way through it, because I totally agree! Thanks for an awesome analysis of a controversial topic.

  2. I agree. (Not that I actually have any male friends, 'cuz, y'know. Cooties. And all the boys I know are obnoxious.) But I completely agree with everything you said.

    (Also. Éowyn and Merry? I've never seen that one before and I'm so glad. Ick.)

  3. Many of my *best* friends are guys. In fact, out of my ten closest friends, 70% are guys. I can also attest to the fact that I have wondered "what if" about each of them. (One also happens to be my boyfriend). It's just something us girls do. We are by no means serious about getting in to a relationship. But the possibility crosses our minds. We like to wonder.
    To be honest really, I feel so close to all my guy friends on a level that is different. They are like brothers to me. Brothers that I can talk to about anything, brothers I can tease and who will tease me, brothers who I know will always stand behind me. Hoorah for these awesome men and some of my very best friends!

  4. Great post, you really nailed it on this one :)
    Two things: first, I need to go wash out my brain after the Merry/Eowyn example, and second, I think the term "friendboys" needs to be in far wider proliferation :D

  5. First, I agree with just about everything you said.

    Second, THANK YOU. so. much. for that second paragraph. As odd as it may sound, sex vs. gender is one of my most common grammar rants.

    That is all, keep up the good blogging. :)