Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Why is the lady's heart on her cookie? That's weird.

Dear ss,

I’d love to know your thoughts on if boys and girls can actually BE friends (a la “When Harry Met Sally”). My world was rocked this weekend when one of my best friends hooked up with this guy she’s been friends with for years. It’s always been there, we just never thought it would happen.

Love,

Sally

Dear Sally,

Here are my thoughts (worth about a penny):

Short answer: No

Longer answer: Yes, buuuut…

Short answer: Yes

Confused? Me, too.

Seriously. My answer is yes. Men and women can be friends. But their friendship will (usually) always have to negotiate the push and pull that sexual tension creates. And sometimes there will be sex hiccups. And those will have to be dealt with. Sometimes friendships will not weather the storm of hiccups. Sometimes they will. Sometimes friends who’ve had hiccups will need to take a break and regroup six to eight months later. And sometimes they will have another hiccup and keep having hiccups until one of them draws the boundary, dies or gets married. Or they get married to each other.

I have male friends who are dating or married to my girlfriends. Because of this, they may as well not have a penis or even be male. (No offense guys.) Then there are my close male friends who are either single or dating someone I don’t know. With a vast majority of these men (87%?), it hasn’t always been platonic, but we were able to forge something post dating, post awkward make out that is satisfying and mostly not weird. But the tension still exists. (I’m not sure there’s such a thing as “getting it out of your system.” That would be like getting sex out of your system and if that’s the case, the problem might be bigger than the issue of boys and girls being friends.)

I have one close male friend who I have never, ever made out with. Twenty five years ago, in junior high,  I wanted to go with him. There was one mention of sex 13 years ago. It lasted 27 seconds and we both were like, naaaaah. It would have ruined it. Now, it’s a non-issue, unless a present-day girlfriend does the inevitable, “I can’t believe you’ve never dated. Never? Never had sex?” No girlfriend. We have never, ever dated or had sex. Because it would be like having sex with a sibling. And while I do dabble in 1 to 3 ill-advised dating practices, that is not one of them.

So I guess the question I’m more interested in isn’t so much whether or not men and women can be besties, but why people are willing to put friendship on the line in favor of sex (or activities that lead to sex) without a clear conversation before the sex is had and understanding of what will happen after the sex is done. a. Will we be together? b. Will this change our friendship?

(I know the answer to this question, of course. It’s easier to get drunk, make out and worry about it later.)

I have a feeling if one did the communicative thing, it would probably take one down the path of naaaah.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had this conversation but twice in my life. As I mentioned previously, once, it did lead to naaaaah. But the other was after a long night of Cinco de Mayo, which lead to, “But I thought you meant…” the next morning. [hic] It’s ok. We became friends again. Six to eight months later.

xo, ss

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