The Male/Female Dynamic- A Pseudo Friendship Best Left to the Young and Already Complicated

By: Shannon Day 

When I was younger, I had a few close friends who were guys. Had you asked me then if I believed that men and women could be friends, I wouldn’t have hesitated to answer: abso-fucking-lutely! Those were the days when we thrived on complication, after all. It was the time to blur those lines, to dive into the unknown and to entertain the what ifs and why nots as we so fancied.

Throughout the teen years, even extending into our twenties, those blurry-lined friendships were our right of passage.
Just Friends…
I’m sure you had a few of those relationships in your time. You know the ones. You’d spend hours on the phone or hanging out, talking about whatever the hot topics were in your teen world. You may have even messed around once or twice, just to test the waters. You were never a couple, always just friends with a few elements of couplehood thrown in there.
And when one of you was in a relationship, things would inevitably change but you were still friends. Boyfriends and girlfriends just had to accept your friendships. Chances are they too had friends of the opposite sex and it would’ve been considered possessive and controlling to expect anything but.
It’s Complicated…
Male/female friendships might have appeared simple at the time but chances are they weren’t.  They were usually tainted by a one-sided ideal of what the friendship could possibly become.  They were also often fuelling half of the duo’s ego, while he or she sensed the feelings of the other and relished in the attention of it all. Or perhaps there was the appeal of: keeping options open, with the notion that at another time, a relationship may be on the cards. I would also guess that some of those friendships were created to fill time…
Socially United… 
Now, don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of friendships that didn’t have the above mentioned elements but they were more social unions that occurred within groups. These male/female relationships were not complicated at all.  They consisted of fun times in social settings. They didn’t extend to late night phone calls nor did they consist of any soul-revealing conversations or one-on-one just friends time together, which is why they remained uncomplicated.
Simplicity is where it’s at…
Now that I’m older, and married, I have only one true male friendship in my life because I honestly believe that men and women cannot just be friends. Not close ones, anyway. Of course I have some male friends. They are of the social, casual kind. No personal phone calls or text messages. No soul-revealing conversations or one-on-one just friends time together. These men that I speak of are my husband’s friends or my girlfriends’ partners, for the most part. And these friendships aren’t even remotely complicated.  We laugh. We have fun together. We hang out in a group. That’s it. That’s all.
You disagree?
Perhaps you are sitting there rolling your eyes, thinking who is this narrow-minded idiot? Maybe you have a more open approach to relationships and boast a close friendship with someone of the opposite sex (who isn’t gay) that totally disputes my point-of-view. If this is the case, I really would love to hear what you have to say but before you comment please have another quick read of It’s Complicated… to ensure that your friendship doesn’t, in fact, fall into one of the described scenarios or that it hasn’t got another doomed formula like, you-used-to-be-a-couple-but-now-you-are-friends, for example. Unless you have kids together, is there really a need to hang on?  I just don’t believe that a close friendship, within those circumstances, can be a genuinely platonic and positive experience for everyone involved.
Are you starting to see my P.O.V. yet?
If your friendship does happen to slide into one of the above scenarios and you are in a long-term relationship, be honest with yourself. What is the basis of your friendship? And is it possible that your time and energy might be better spent within your own intimate relationship?
Life can be complicated enough so when it comes to the topic of male/female friendships, I choose simplicity. If you’ve been in my heart or my pants (or you’d like to be) then you shouldn’t be in my life or even on my Facebook for that matter.
Free Yourself…
So go ahead- de-clutter! Purge those uneasily defined friendships from your life and then head over to your Facebook and your Twitter and do a quick, well intentioned, cleanse there too.
Choose simplicity. Unblur those lines. And just love the one you’re with.

17 thoughts on “The Male/Female Dynamic- A Pseudo Friendship Best Left to the Young and Already Complicated

  1. Hi Shannon, I think you classified all the types of relationships men and women have pretty well! And I agree, I think it’s a slippery slope to be friends with someone of the opposite sex once you’re an adult, especially if you’re in a romantic relationship. I have to admit though, my Facebook friends list may contain a few vestiges of my former life as a single person. Of course it also contains a few people who I can’t for the life of me remember how I know them, or if I actually do at all. So to me, Facebook doesn’t really mean all that much:)

  2. I can’t even COUNT the number of times I have had this discussion with people!! It’s such an interesting topic! But I have to disagree with you Shan. But only with certain people!

    I find that with younger “friend” relationships, there is always one party that wanted more, and usually the other party is enjoying that attention. Let’s be honest…we all secretly LOVED it when that cute guy “friend” called us in the middle of the night drunk…it meant someone was thinking of you. It was a fun and exciting feeling to believe someone was COMPLETELY obsessed with us. Now if someone does it, it’s annoying, and you KNOW they are complete mental cases. (Some guys still do it btw!) Usually, this is still the case with older male/female “Friendships”, therefore, they aren’t really ADULT friendships. I agree there is a certain element of sexual tension with most male/female friendships. Probably 90% of them. I don’t think this is because people can’t control themselves.. I believe that these people are needing something more in their life. Same reason why married couples have affairs. It is because something is missing, somewhere. Maybe people that have the “friend” relationship that you speak of are seeking male/female attention in some way shape or form more because they feel they do not have enough? I find it is always OBVIOUS that one party wants more in those “friendships”. Sometimes it is the person saying they are only friends when clearly they would have more if given the chance. Or the other party would take the chance if given it and everyone involved knows it. THAT is where you get into a slippery slope, when people keep the friendship when truly knowing it is not truly about “friendship”. SLIPPERY…… because it is not about truly caring about someone. It’s about caring about attention. BIG difference. Mostly I find, people are not even 100% aware they are doing it.

    I have a handful male friends that are single, married, have girlfriends ect. Their significant others have no problem with it, and neither did mine ( if I have one at the time…lol). I think because it is just people that care about each other and it is genuine. I think it comes down to whether there is enough trust in all the relationships in general. And if the “friend” is perceived as a possible threat. I always find this interesting. If you think about people who cheat, it’s usually the “friend”. Again, I think it is because they are either consciously, or sub consciously looking for some kind of attention outside of the relationship. It all is about your own security and having 100% trust in that person to say no if any advances ever happened. If I didn’t trust someone, I simply could not be with them. Period. That is why I am still single I suppose…lol!

    I also have always made my male /female friendships very distinct, very quickly…there was NEVER any “fooling around or testing the waters”..ugh..Jesus!! NEVER!! Gross!! lol!! I tend to place guys into the “BF material”, “FUN but not serious”, or “Friend Zone” after about 10 mins of meeting them. They never change. I had one that did and it ruined any relationship we had..So I never did it again. I lost my so called “Best Guy Friend”. Lesson learned…but then again…I guess he was never really my “friend” after all now was he??? 🙂

    It’s totally possible, if everyone is in it for the right reasons. This IS rare…I agree. But it is possible. I have living proof. 🙂

    • Lol! I think you need to get your own blog going Shan! I’m sure you’d keep us laughing. The male/female friendship is a hot topic indeed and one that isn’t black and white for everyone. Maybe I’m lucky that it is for me but I’d say it is that way because I’ve made it that way. And I like how easy it is! Remember though, I’m not saying no men- just no BFFs that are men.

  3. A majority of my friendships over the years have been men because I have gotten along better with them than I do most women. Some have bordered on romance or just wanting a shag here and there but most have been strictly platonic with no hint from either party that the other wanted anything more than that.

    I’m close friends with my ex-husband now plus two of my closest friends (32 and 59 respectively) have been around longer than a majority of my female friendships.

    • Thanks for your comments! Sounds like you and your guy friends make it work! I am not in the situation where I have close guy friends so I can’t relate but it sounds like you have some solid guy friends who don’t fall under any of the It’s Complicated categories…. Or do they but you are able to overlook it and focus on the friendship?

      • Never had to deal with the “It’s Complicated” with those two thankfully! We’ve had our disagreements of course but never reached the “It’s Complicated” stage.

  4. Have to disagree with you on this one Shan, from personal experience. My friend Dan and I were friends for 20 years and that friendship ended when he passed away 3 years ago. Our friendship was genuinely a platonic and positive relationship for both of us and didn’t fall into any of the “its complicated” scenarios. This friendship in no way affected my relationship with my partner, (ask him….heehee). I can love the one I’m with and others also. I feel blessed to have had such a friendship.

    • Sounds like you had a lovely friendship with Dan, Lynda. I have to say I don’t think I’ve ever had a close friendship with a guy that was straight forward. I have had a few people sharing their successful male/female friendship stories with me and in some cases they had to overcome some of the It’s Complicated scenarios to make the friendship work long term. It obviously can happen for some. For me, I think moving abroad resulted in the drifting of some of my frienships and the ones with guys just sort of naturally faded. It was never a mission of mine to rid my life of them. They had just had their time and place and that place was no longer on the other end of the phone line. Thanks for your comments. I have a feeling this article has made some readers reflect on and feel quite proud of their successful male/female friendships and I think that’s fantastic!

  5. it was indeed a great friendship. I think we live in such an ever changing world that all sorts of unexpected friendships regardless of the sexes can occur. Your article has certainly made me think.

  6. I think if you can have a close friendship with someone of your own sex, I.e with minimal expectation, you can have a close friendship with anybody of the opposite sex….expectations make friendships complicated….whether with a man or woman

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