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April 11, 2024

  • Poetics of April
    As we enter into the poetics of April, also known as national poetry month, here are four voices from well to lesser known. The Tradition – Jericho Brown Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Brown visited the last American Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP 2024) conference, and I loved his speech and humor. Besides […]
  • Barbara Marie Minney in Perrysburg
    Indie bookstore, Gathering Volumes, just hosted poet and (transgender) activist, Barbara Marie Minney in Perrysburg To celebrate Trans Day of Visibility, Minney read from her poetry book – A Woman in Progress (2024). Her reading depicted emotional and physical transformations especially in the scene of womanhood and queer experiences. Her language is empowering and personally […]
Spring Housing Guide

Me and my friend, sittin’ in a tree…

Can men and women be friends?

Rarely an issue generations ago because the answer was simply no, it is a modern question as gender roles change and workplaces become more integrated.

I began thinking about this after a recent argument with my 27-year-old younger brother. He told me that I should stop hanging around with married women, engaged women or females who were otherwise in relationships. His comments came after I took an old college friend, who has a boyfriend, as my date to another old college friend’s wedding and after I went to lunch with another old friend who is married.

He said if his girlfriend was asked to a wedding, out to lunch or even regularly talked on the phone with another guy he’d “probably bust the guy’s ass” even though he would not be jealous or think his girlfriend was cheating on him.

He actually said, “its just not right” for his girl to have other guy friends. For one reason, he said male-female friendships just put a strain on their primary relationship.

I immediately told him he was still living in the 1950’s, was too Republican and spent too much time listening to Glenn Beck. I told him his girlfriend should have as many male friends as she wants and it is probably unusual for neither to have any friends of the opposite sex.

I told him I have numerous female friends, in relationships or not, and we are totally cool.

But being the open-minded person I am, I decided to give what I thought were his closed-minded views a little thought and do a little research.

It also so happened about this same time I found out there was a totally untrue rumor that I was sleeping with this female friend at work, simply because we seem to have long, intense conversations. Now this girl, who is 11 years younger than me (but still legal, I am just really old) is single but I still saw that the people who proliferated the rumor probably shared my brother’s thinking.

And while disputing my brother’s argument, I admitted to him that before one of my female friends was married and having problems with her future husband she and I made out and considered dating before she got back together with him. I believe this was the “we were on a break!” issue Ross had on “Friends.”

Maybe I was helping make my brother’s case. recently did a survey on the issue. Here are some of the highlights:

“Do you believe men and women can be platonic friends?”

Yes: 83 percent

No: 11 percent

Unsure: 6 percent

Have you had a platonic friendship that crossed the line and became romantic or sexual?

Yes: 62 percent

No: 36 percent

Unsure: 2 percent (Brandon’s note – how can you be unsure about this?)

“Who is more likely to misinterpret the intimacy of friendship for sexual desire?”

Men: 64 percent

Women: 25 percent

Unsure: 11 percent

“Is it possible to fall in love with someone who first enters your life as a friend?”

Yes: 94 percent

No: 4 percent

Unsure: 2 percent

“Do you hope that when you do fall in love, your partner will have started out as your friend?”

Yes: 71 percent

No: 9 percent

Unsure: 20 percent

“Who is better at keeping sex out of a platonic relationship?”

Men: 13 percent

Women: 67 percent

Unsure: 20 percent

Okay, the survey is pretty interesting. Most people, and many psychologists according to a Psychology Today article, said they think men and women can and should be friends. It also says sometimes things do get physical and guys generally may either mistake the friendship as something more or simply try to get some action off their friend.

I think my own life mirrors this survey. I do have numerous female friends. Several started out as me liking them romantically. I would find the attraction was not mutual and we became good friends. Maybe I am just a sadist and enjoyed the constant reminder of rejection.

In several cases, I remain very good friends with ex-girlfriends. I am even close with one’s husband.

The roommate I most got along with was a platonic female friend. Perhaps it helped that we were both dating other people at the time.

The Psychology Today article states that men are able to more openly communicate their feelings and get support from women, while women enjoy taking a break from the often very emotionally draining relationships they have with other women.

The article suggests perhaps establishing boundaries with opposite sex friends. Maybe communicating to your significant other those boundaries will make them feel more at ease.

I would never give up my female friends just because of a societal attitude, but based on my track record and the research maybe my brother and I are tied on this one.

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