Thursday, September 4, 2008

Why Men and Women CAN be Friends

Commentary by Andrea Semler

I'm sure you've heard people say these lines: "I wish he would stop texting her. I'm his girlfriend!" “I don't like the way all her guy friends drool over her like she's single." "Can you believe those two? They always eat lunch together at work, even though they're both married to other people."

Male-female friendships are usually a source of discomfort and controversy. I'm sure you've heard plenty of reasons against it, so I'll just summarize a few for you.

1. Men and women have a strong biological drive to procreate with someone they fancy.

2. Feelings of jealousy can arise in a significant other, and drive a wedge in the relationship.

3. Pretty much any other combination of the first two.

The situation looks awfully grim, doesn't it? Well, there are several things wrong with this hypothesis, and I'll address each point:

1. Just because someone is attracted to a friend, doesn't mean he/she must act on those feelings, or even voice them. People are more than just the sum of our emotions—we’re logical, rational beings! To claim that attraction is a deal-breaker in a friendship is frankly an insult to humanity. Yes, I may be attracted to a friend, but I calmly acknowledge it to myself, take a deep breath, and go on with my life. At that point, my lust has been completely stripped of its power over me.

2. A partnership must be built upon mutual trust and commitment. If a simple friendship can drive a wedge between two people, their relationship was doomed anyway. How do I know this? Because I've had jealousy happen to me, and plenty of other people have too. We got through it by talking calmly and honestly about it. Again, people have the ability to choose their paths in life beyond being slaves to emotions. When I'm jealous, I remind myself of all I have to offer my husband that this other woman doesn't, and I think of all the things we have built up together, and I let my feelings go.

3. WTF are bisexuals, chopped liver? According to this whole hypothesis, I would never be allowed to have friends again, because there's the potential for lust or jealousy in each and every friendship I may ever have. That is absolutely outrageous. I am not going to be a shut-in simply because I decided to love one person above all others. No, instead I am going to live a life that is centered around friendship and community with people of both genders.

I refuse to reduce people to the shape of their genitals and the ratio of their hormone levels. There are not just two kinds of people out there: those I could possibly be attracted to, and those I couldn't. Instead, there is a rich diversity of people with different thoughts and feelings, intelligence and creativity, skills and imagination. I don't have to limit myself to a certain crowd because I am afraid of my potential feelings. I can embrace what everyone has to offer, and offer of my own heart in return.

Yes, men and women can be friends. The more friendships we have to share, the better this world will be.

1 comment:

Candace said...

Well done! Favorite line: "I refuse to reduce people to the shape of their genitals."