Thought Catalog

Are Opposite-Sex Friendships Doomed To Fail?

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Jacob Ufkes

I’ve always liked the idea of having a male best friend, someone whom I can drive crazy and go to when I need a guy’s opinion, someone who isn’t secretly judging me or comparing body parts. But there has always been this stigma surrounding opposite-sex friendships, a permanent question mark, because for some reason, people just can’t leave sex out of the equation. And it’s difficult when you find someone who gets you, who you can have banter with without worrying it’s going to upset them and who you know will always be there for you, not to think “what if,” not to push banter over the line into flirting, not to just go there and see what happens. You’re only human.

And what happens when one of you gets into a relationship? Will their new partner be okay with you two hanging out so much of the time? Will they get jealous and stop you from spending time with each other? Is it silly to ask a partner not to get jealous of you hanging out with a member of the opposite sex? Or will they just buckle and agree to never speak to you again? To ignore your text messages and phone calls and pretend as if you never existed?

Will a sexual relationship always trump a platonic one?

And I think that’s the problem- the laid back vibes, the ability to just be yourself without subconsciously worrying about how you look or how you’re portraying yourself, and always having someone to give you solid relationship advice from the male perspective: it is under constant threat from any number of unknown sources.

Maybe it’s you- maybe you begin to fall for them- I mean, you can’t help it- they’re super attractive and wonderful and already know all of your flaws and have stuck around, or maybe they begin to fall for you and you don’t want to jeopardize the friendship, or maybe you drink way too much one night and just end up in bed together and you have no idea how to recover from that.

Or perhaps worse still, someone outside of the both of you enters your life and decides that your friendship threatens them, makes them feel uncomfortable, makes them worry that you two will just ride off into the sunset together, and just like that- they cut you out of their lives as if you never mattered.

And I’m not saying that opposite-sex friendships are impossible, I am sure they can survive but I also know many friends, of both sexes, who have experienced situations where they have had to choose between a romantic partner and a platonic friend, or when they have ended up in bed with them and only one has wanted something serious after that.

I guess we are just wired to want something more when everything already seems to be working- you have all of the components of an incredible relationship right there so why not just take the leap? Why would you not want to date your best friend- it would be easier, right? It would just make sense. But once you go there, once the clothes come off and the words get said, you can’t go back, you can’t un-know, un-see, un-feel and for some people, it’s too much. Some people just want to have male friends and a boyfriend, all of the perks without the arguments and complications and jealousy.

Some people aren’t prepared to make something so seamless into something messy, something which could end, something which may make you hate each other.

And I get that, I’ve dated people and realized further down the line that we would have made great friends- that the shared values and caring was there but the sexual chemistry wasn’t and having to cut them out of my life because hearts were broken was utterly devastating- being in situations when all I have wanted to do was talk to them and knowing they wouldn’t respond. It took a lot of adjusting, a lot of wishing things had been different, a lot of wanting to go back.

So maybe we just need a button we can press to turn off any of that romantic-feeling-stuff inside of us, a button which will stop us from ruining something so wonderful and free of life’s disappointments and complications. Maybe we need to somehow hold up a barrier to our hearts and stop it falling into situations it doesn’t belong. Maybe we just need to learn to stop picturing what could be and accept what we have.

Maybe we need to trust that sometimes, a guy can just be a friend, no matter how attractive or wonderful or perfect he might be, maybe sometimes we need to just save him for when everything goes to shit and we just want to hang out with a beer, have a cuddle and not feel pressured to take our clothes off. TC mark

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