Mainstream entertainment media have coined the term “friend-zone.” Maybe you have been in this position or put someone in it. This could be your choice in any relationship or perhaps your stance is not so voluntary.
In any case, the idea arises; can a man and a woman be just friends?
Let me first clarify, I will only allude to heterosexual relationships in this article, for my understanding of social interactions and norms in homosexual relationships is subpar.
The philosopher Plato is credited for his theories of love and friendship according to psychologytoday.com. Named after the man who theorized this ideology, platonic is defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as “of, relating to, or having a close relationship in which there is no romance or sex.”
Though today’s definition is not as Plato intended, the discussion surrounding men and women “friends” is brought up from time to time. This could be the result of the aforementioned friend-zone issue, or of a friend in denial of their true feelings. The real question to ask is not can a man and woman remain friends, but can they be friends without romantically loving one another?
A Huffington Post article about “platonic friendships” noted that research suggests men and women can be friends, but that romantic “opportunity” is always in the back of our minds.
I tend to disagree. I consider myself a “bro,” and have many male friends who come to me for advice about women they like. Call it a gift or a curse; I am the match-maker, not the match-made-in-heaven.
I am not attracted to these men, though that is not to say they are not good looking men. I simply do not lust after them, and we connect for other reasons.
There are several good reasons to have friends of the opposite sex. For one, they offer insight to any opposite gender issues that may come up in life. This can range from gift ideas for loved ones, or how to appease coworkers or bosses.
Also, it is good to have a friend of the opposite sex who will have your back in awkward situations. For women, this could mean physical protection or defense from a man friend. For men, this could mean disputation of rumors or gossip from a lady friend.
In any regard, the crucial part of this equation is NO SEX.
Sex complicates things, feelings differ, and the point of a platonic relationship is defeated.
If it is not possible for you to maintain a friendship without serious attraction to the person, do not bother trying to make them a friend. If they are interested, make them a lover, but do not get stuck in the friend-zone. That will leave you unsatisfied, longing for mutual affection, and you may even miss out on someone better.
What if you are the friend without feelings, and your friend is overly-friendly? Try to be sensitive to your friend if you think he or she have feelings for you. It is tough in the friend-zone when you want to score in the end-zone.
Talk to him or her and make your intentions clear. This is difficult and often awkward, but it is better than losing a friend. Most times, a real friend would rather maintain a platonic relationship with you than no relation at all.