“Can Men and Women Be Friends?”
Harry said no. Sally said yes. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, stop now and go rent the movie. If you’re familiar, then hang with me because I think I’ve finally answered The Big Question, “Can men and women ever be friends?” I don’t think it’s yes. I don’t think it’s no.
I think it’s maybe.
And the game-changer isn’t always about sex, like Harry and Sally might have you believe. Sometimes, it is, sure. But other times I think it’s about something else entirely.
My 2017 so far has been littered with a crap ton of situations where I’ve been faced with the question, “Can we really be buddies?” Through a series of many trials and mostly errors, I’m starting to learn when it’s a yes and when it’s a no.
There was Jamie. He was a charming, handsome and fiery Portuguese man who shared my love for basketball, wine and Orangetheory Fitness–everything you need for a solid relationship. We had one great date, a sexy kiss at the end, then he texted me after, saying that, by the way, he’s also “talking to” someone else and doesn’t plan to stop and he’s not sure where that leaves us because we had a great connection, dot, dot, dot. But he’d love to be friends and call me to reconnect if things don’t work out with her. Until then, we can always chat about the Warriors.
Where that leaves us? I’ll tell you where that leaves us. That leaves us at “fuck off.” Sorry, Charlie. Not gonna be your Plan B or fallback girl should your Plan A lady kick your ass to the curb. Friend potential? Nah. Not when you’ve put me in the category of “girl I might wanna fuck if the woman I’m seeing stops.”
And there was Mark. We dated. Then we didn’t. Then we did, sorta platonically. Then we didn’t. Then we did. Following so far? I know it’s confusing, but stick with me–it has an end, and soon. We recently got together to “hang out”: Wine bar, then a comedy club, then a thoughtful, bordering-on-deep conversation afterwards. No sexy anything, but I wished for it. He texted me the morning after and said “thanks, that was fun, I want to go see that comedian again.” I said, “I was thinking the same thing!” So we did the next night, and this time there was a sexy something–a sweet kiss in his car. Unfortunately, that was followed by a not-so-sexy admission from him: “Um, I’m seeing someone else.”
Wow. Huh. Really? So, you just made me the other woman and I didn’t get a say in that? Think you could have said something before you sucked my face off? Or maybe before you decided to spend half your weekend with me? Or, I don’t know, maybe when you were telling me about all the new things in your life . . . your new condo, your new Jag SUV, your new electric guitar, your new antique typewriter, and oh yeah, maybe your new lady? Douche nugget. Oh–but you wanna still be friends? Let me think about that as I bolt out of your car, slide into mine, block your number on my phone and unfriend your skinny ass on Facebook.
And there was George. Always George. George has been in and out of my life for almost two years. Until last night. I finally got the balls to block his number along with Mark’s; might as well kill two birds when you’ve got the stones to do it, right? Once upon a time, I fell head over heels for George and have spent the past way-too-many months trying to get my heels back on the ground where he’s concerned. Ours was a hot and heavy romance that ended as quickly as it started. When he could sense I was getting attached, he bolted, because that’s what George does. But not for good. Just long enough for me to get unattached–and then he’d show up again. My own little private whac-a-mole. Always popping up when I’d least expect it, charming me into a sexy date, then disappearing until the next time.
I’m sorry, sweetheart, but we both know this has been a long time coming. I’ve tried to be your girlfriend. Your booty call. Your texting-bordering-on-sexting buddy. Your last-minute date when you didn’t have any better weekend plans. Let’s be honest: I’ve allowed you to disrespect me in a hundred ways–and that’s not on you, that’s on me. But while I’m feeling offended that Mark kissed me without telling me about the new lady in his life, I really need to play fair here and lump you into the category of men I can’t be friends with. You’re handsome, sexy and charming AF. But you only care about yourself. And that’s not gonna work for me any longer. Buh-bye.
Listen. Can you hear it? The faint sounds of Aretha Franklin belting out her famous girl-power song in the background . . . R E S P E C T, find out what it means to me.
I believe the game-changer in male/female friendships is often about respect. I have male friends who I’ve made out with or even fucked, and I don’t want to fuck them again–and I’m sure they’d say the same about me. I’m content with our platonic friendship. We were able to transition from a romantic relationship into a sweet friendship because, along the way, neither one of us treated the other like shit. Crazy idea, right? We respected one another. And while there needed to be a cooling off period, eventually we were able to reconnect as buddies.
Sure, I think the sex thing can get in the way sometimes . . . I mean, it is difficult for a man and a woman to maintain a platonic friendship if one is always thinking about getting naked and the other is wondering whether to have beef or chicken tacos for dinner.
But I would venture to say that it’s impossible for a man and woman to maintain a friendship if one or both of them have disrespected the other. Maybe some time can go by and wounds can heal and people can forgive . . . but by that time, you’ve probably both moved on and forgotten unless there was a solid foundation to start with. Respect is important in every friendship, but when it comes to the man/woman dynamic, it’s a non-negotiable–I’m convinced.
By the way, it’s chicken tonight. Spicy salsa. Maybe a little guac on the side. I blocked two other numbers last night as I redefined my boundaries and re-evaluated my male friendships, which can be healthy and empowering and all that . . . but shutting people out of my life is never fun for me, even if it’s necessary. So, excuse me for now: I’ll be eating my feelings for dinner.