“Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.” – Oscar Wilde
This was a man writing in the 18th century, of course times have changed since then. Through history men and women have had separate social circles, men went to work and then to the pub, women stayed at home and had book clubs or just a girls night. Stereotypical I know, but the stereotypes exist for a reason.
We only interacted between sexes for the purpose of finding a mate. Men would find a woman to court and then they’d be married. There were few cases of friendships.
Platonic friendships are a recent phenomenon, men and women started to interact in a day-to-day scenario after the fight for women’s rights. When we broke free from the household and started mingling in the work sphere and going to university with the men.
Its impossible to not be friends with the opposite sex, we can’t avoid them. They’re with us at work, or at school but are we ever ‘just friends’? That is the question that is debated among many. Normally one party believe they are just friends, while the other resents being friend-zoned.
So the question: can we be ‘just friends’ with the opposite sex?. Let’s debate it.
If you aren’t attracted to the opposite sex then obviously you can be friends with the opposite sex no problem. So that’s the debate solved rather quickly for some people.
But when it comes to the straight people of the world, the question is more complicated. We are preprogrammed to think of every person of the opposite gender as a potential mate.
Even in school, when we’d talk about our friends, our parents would jump to asking if Tom was your boyfriend, it didn’t compute that you could just be friends.
Now, in adulthood, when we meet someone new, we size them up as a potential boyfriend first. If you don’t consider them as a sexual partner they become a friend, or ‘friend-zoned’. But there was that initial attraction where you considered them as a partner. We saw them as more than a friend. And this never goes away.
We are always aware subconsciously that there is a possibility of something more developing, all it normally takes is a drunken mistake one night. And how many of those do we know that have happened?
If we are raised around mixed gender friendships it becomes the norm for us, but the role models we have for platonic friendships have never normally stayed platonic for long. There is always one party that considers there to be a possibility, or even a mutual attraction.
Take F.R.I.E.N.D.S for example, a show built around 6 friends. 3 female, 3 male. Through 10 seasons, all of them managed to kiss or hookup with each other, apart from Monica and Ross as they are siblings and it’s not that kind of show.
But you have a prime example of how you can be best friends with the opposite sex, but a drunken night can lead to two of them getting married.
The most common example of platonic friendships going haywire is the back-up plan. So many shows have these friends say to each other, ‘if we aren’t married by the time we are 40, then we should get married’. Would you be able to consider marrying your friend if you were in fact, ‘just friends’. It requires some sort of attraction for you to be able to sleep with them.
Platonic friendships have a limit it would seem, there is always an underlying knowledge that you both could be a couple if you were to put in the effort.
The Female Has The Power
On TV a well as in real life, the female has the power in whether the friendship stays platonic or progresses. Take Monica and Chandler again, it wasn’t until Monica got drunk and made a move that their relationship progressed.
If the female keeps the boundaries constantly set a platonic friendship should theoretically always last. Hence why drunken night mistakes cause so many of these friendships to end.
Of course this isn’t always true, sometimes the male is completely not interested in the female and will still turn her down. But the majority of cases see the male as complaining he has been friend-zoned, the female has put him there, and only the female can take him out.
When Does It Work?
Just as there are many examples of platonic friendships becoming a sexual relationship, there are many cases of success. And a pattern can be found. If you look hard enough.
My first pattern lies in the examples of Harry Potter and Hermione as well as J.D and Carla from Scrubs. The pattern that can be found here for a successful platonic friendship is when the males best friend is interested in the girl first.
The bro-code or just the respect for each other means a boundary is never crossed. The platonic friendship stands because the male knows the female is off limits to him.
In this is that there is also at least one of them in a relationship. It helps to keep a platonic friendship in check when one or both of the parties are in separate relationships, it means they never consider each other as mates because they already have their own.
For example, Lily in How I Met Your Mother manages to stay friends with Ted and Barney because she has always been in a relationship with Marshall. She’s never been able to be considered a possible mate.
Another pattern that can be found in successful platonic friendships is when they have friends since childhood. When they consider each other more brother and sister than possible sexual partners. The friendship bond is incredibly strong between these type of friendships, take Black Widow and Hawkeye as your example here.
There is nothing they wouldn’t do for each other, they love each other and have each others back no matter what.
Of course, Hawkeye is also married which helps keep their relationship in check.
Why Would You Want A Male Friend?
It seems like there’s a lot of hassle involved, your partner could get jealous of the friendship or you’ve always got to be on guard to keep the relationship in check. But if you do have male/female friends there are some benefits.
One, you have a best friend. It doesn’t matter what gender they are, you have a best friend who can make you laugh and will always look out for you. This is a precious thing and should always be treasured.
And two, you can learn a lot from the opposite gender. Girly nights and lads nights are great, you can bond over similar interests. But there are certain things that the opposite gender can give you that you can benefit from. To know the other’s perspective on matters or to know what girls actually want can help you out massively.
You’re getting valuable inside knowledge that can help you out in the long run.