Can Men and Women Be Friends?
This article seems especially appropriate right now, as the majority of my close friendships are with men…
Coping with Optic Neuritis, has taught me to depend on the support of my friends and my male friends rarely disappoint. Also, I must admit, as a single woman it’s fantastic to have a man around for doing “man things”…. (sorry, but my specialty is brain surgery, not faucets) while enjoying the benefits of a lighter, less emotionally charged relationship.
I love hanging out with my dude friends but one of the strangest things is navigating the cultural stigma of male-female relationships.
For example, the simple act of initiating a conversation and/or friendship with a man is complicated as it’s often misinterpreted as a “sexual advance” because I am a single woman. If I were a straight man it would be primarily viewed within the context of a possible friendship, or Bromance. If the man is already romantically involved, then friendship is impossible because the female partner forbids it. After all, everyone knows that anytime a single woman talks to a man we are going to try to seduce him regardless of wether or not he would even be a suitable match. Right?…no.
This happened to me recently when I invited a man over for dinner in an attempt to further our friendship. He was interesting, seemed interested in me as a person and by every indication led me to believe it would be good to further the friendship. Unfortunately, by the time I was able to get around to getting to know him better, he had started a new relationship and made it very clear his new partner would not approve of him having dinner with a single woman.
Finding a person interesting does not mean I want to marry or have sex with them, but due to cultural stigma and societal norms this attitude persists along with the same belief that any man I frequently hang out with is my man.
As a single, independent woman, traveling away from home most of the year and is frequently alone, the ability to form friendships with people of all types and all walks of life is one of my most treasured strengths…and frequently my saving grace. There are so many exciting and interesting folks out there, I feel fortunate to be the type of woman who is able to navigate the rough waters of platonic male – female relationships and here’s hoping this article will give you “food for thought” while we navigate the course of our own happiness.