The mysteries of male female friendships

I have always had quite a few male friends. In fact, one of my best friends is a guy and I think it’s healthy to have both friendships with your own gender as well as the opposite one.

But I have been having a few thoughts recently as to how even the friendships of between people of the opposite sex are, because more often than not, some kind of attraction seems to arise at some point during the friendships.

Take me and my male friends for example. In some cases, we started off by being attracted to each other, but for one reason or another, the attraction turned into friendships and stayed that way. In other cases, we started off as friends, but at some point, he would either get attracted to me or me to him. In most of those cases, the attraction eventually disappeared, although not always completely.

Many of my girlfriends as well as me, have experienced that when we get out of a relationship for example, those men we thought were friends, appear to not want to remain just friends when we become available on the market.

Another classic is that really lovely male friend who is always there. He’s straight, in touch with his feelings, but not in a dorky way, he always has time for you and so on. In fact, it’s the kind of man we’d really like our boyfriends to be, except he’s missing that little extra. Maybe he’s too geeky, not smooth enough, or doesn’t have the right body type. And when he finally gets a girlfriend, or even starts liking another girl, we get jealous even though we didn’t like him in that way. We want to be his only girl.

I know 100 per cent platonic male female friendships do exist, although I am questioning it after a guy I thought felt nothing for me other than as a friend said that he wouldn’t mind if something physical was to happen between us. Forgive my French here, but when your friend becomes a fuckbuddy, it’s a miracle if the friendship remains.

But maybe for guys, the way between friendships and something else is shorter while girls have a habit of placing guys into category. “you\re in my friendship ox and that’s where you’ll stay” kind of.

What are your thoughts on this?

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12 thoughts on “The mysteries of male female friendships

  1. I am generally not a fan of being friends with someone of the opposite sex unless you are
    very committed to your partner and the friendship is limited in some way such as being office
    colleagues or doing an activity together such as playing a sport or some type of
    volunteer work. There is a reason that you became friends which is a type of emotional
    attraction and that is easy to blossom into something more at least on the part of one of the
    friends.

    Michelle

  2. I am too old to be part of the generation which tries to have “friends with benefits” relationships which I feel are more often suited to the male temperment than the female. It’s difficult for a woman to sleep with a man more than a few times without developing some type of emotional attachment even if those feelings lose steam as she gets to know the guy better.

    1. I agree with you entirely on everything you said. I’d not be able to have a friends with benefits relationship with a man without everything ending in jealousy. And I do think 100% platonic friendship between male and female, meaning no feelings or atraction ever arising, are rare unless you say, one is committed to a partner, or share an interest.

  3. I wish it were possible to have a close friendship with a person of the opposite sex, but I agree with you that it is very difficult to achieve. Men have a certain directness in their personalities which I, as a woman, find refreshing and relaxing to deal with. But I think that women tend to respond to emotional intimacy and openness from men and if you really talk to a man in that way, you can start feeling more than a friendship towards that man. How men think is a mystery to me, but I agree that it seems to be easier for a man to move back and forth between friendship and romantic feelings for a woman than vice versa. Men turn it on and off easier than women usually can. I have found that men often want to end romances in a way that leaves it possible for them to start up the romance in the future, but women usually need more closure than that.
    Especially if you are not in a romantic relationship or involved in one that lacks a certain emotional intimacy, it becomes easy to feel something for a male friend. And I would guess that sometimes a friendship can develop into a real romance even if it didn’t start that way. But if you take that leap, you have to be willing to lose that friendship if the romance ends.

    How is school going?

    Michelle

    1. The few good male friends I have manage to maintain a close friendship with, are all in committed relationships and for me, it mentally blocks romantic feelings, though I’m not saying it could never happen.
      School is very busy. Got lots of essays and exams all November, so in december I’ll have lots more free time. I’m hoping to spend it travelling.

  4. I have to give my thoughts here just for the sake of a balanced view. I am a male and have a female friend who I consider my best friend and we have known each other now for about 22 years.

    We first met when I was 17 and she was 16, which is probably the most remarkable part since usually at that age hormones tend to go a bit wild when it comes to the other sex, I can’t remember any moment over the last 22 years that either of us felt any urge to “get physical” with one another.

    Although the saying is, “never judge a book by it’s cover”, everyday reality is far from it. Everything is judged by how it looks. Multi billion dollar industries are created around this fact to make covers, packaging and persons look “attractive”. So being attracted to one another, in my opinion, does not have the meaning of a sexual relationship per se. My friend was (and still is) a beautiful and amazing woman. From day one we can literally talk about everything at anytime and anywhere. So were we attracted to one another at first? For sure! And we probably still are but it’s purely platonic.

    We can discuss our relationships and give each other our opinions. This is great and can be beneficial for both our relationships. Honestly I can not imagine that a man gives me advice on how a woman would think or react in certain circumstances.
    And yes we have discussed sex but without the urge. We were asking each other the same question; Would our friendship be possible if it ever would have gotten that far? And we both had to agree that it wouldn’t. So you’re right it really would be a miracle if a friendship still remains. I for one don’t believe I could do it. It wouldn’t be a true friendship.

    We both lived in the Netherlands when we first met and spend a lot of time together. She had a boyfriend at the time but they only did see each other in the weekends and later he moved to Germany and only came back every two weeks from memory. Was there jealousy from his site? I would say so. Quite a bit actually but hey, we had nothing to hide. I guess he wasn’t that open minded. He does a lot better now though. On second thought, I would probably have felt the same. A platonic relationship between two people can be really hard to understand if you’re the one who is in a sexual relationship with one of them.
    We probably did push the boundaries a bit when me and my friend went to visit a thermal bath/resort for a day. And yes that is one of those resorts where bathing suits aren’t permitted.
    If you want to test if your friendship is purely platonic than that’s the place. It would show immediately if the male wasn’t genuine in this relationship if you catch my drift.

    We were close, even during the couple of relationships I have had with women. 14 years ago my friend got married with the same man she was in a relationship with since I met her and I was her best man and their chauffeur for that day. Still one of the highest honours one can receive in a friendship. We still have close contact albeit not in person. They now live in the U.S. and I moved to Australia. We use the internet and FaceTime to stay in touch, and we still discuss everything at anytime and anywhere. I would have loved for her to have been there at my wedding 8 years ago but circumstances prevented it. We both have kids so meeting each other in person is a long way of but it will happen. That’s what friends are for.

    I really like your blog. Some posts are like looking in mirror. My wife is blind just like yourself and I understand where you’re coming from with regards to the misunderstandings of some people. I was just reading a story about a restaurant in Melbourne where three women were refused entry into a restaurant because of their guide dogs. So as you can see there is a long way to go to fully understanding or accepting this issue. By the way in every state or territory in Australia guide dogs are allowed in restaurants or any public place. This was just an error on the side of the restaurant owner. But still sad that it happens.

    Rob

    1. Hi Robert,

      Thanks for a very nice reply.

      I think what you say about attraction is interesting. I agree with you that attraction has to be there for two people to connect, though I would argue that the word attraction can be a little bit misleading when talking about platonic friendships. But that is perhaps because the word attraction tends to be used to describe non platonic attraction. The attraction you talk about therefore could arguably also happen between two males or two females in a friendship situation. If they are both straight which we will assume for the sake of simplicity, the attraction will always remain platonic. Is there maybe another word for it?

      You are lucky to have a female friend who is that close. I have a close male friend with whom I can discuss relationships. He recently said he wouldn’t mind sleeping with me, but I have decided to entirely disregard his comment, because I value him way too much as a friend. Also, he has a girlfriend who, as far as I know isn’t jealous of me, because we talk about different topics also when she’s around even if she doesn’t participate in a discussion. That close male female bond you’re talking about though, is certainly not something every outsider can handle. But if and when I find The One, and he has a close female friend, I will be accepting, although I will insist on at least meeting her, either face to face or via Skype if they don’t live in the same country, just so that I can feel more at ease. But I wouldn’t insist on always hanging out with them and I would of course give him the same treatment when it came to my good male friend.
      I like your idea of testing out friendships in a place like you describe. And being the best man and chauffeur at your friend’s wedding must have been big.

      With good friends, you certainly don’t have to always meet face to face to maintain closeness. My best childhood friend now lives in Egypt and she lived in Norway when I lived in the UK. My good male friend lived in Denmark whilst I lived in the UK and now we both live in Norway, but very far away from each other, so we only speak on Skype or on the phone.

      I always like to hear from sighted men who are married to blind women. As you may know from your wife, or perhaps her blind friends, we are sometimes met with ignorance on a very basic level and I’m worrying at times, that because of this ignorance, a sighted man would bypass me, but I know it’s stupid. Then again, we all have our insecurities, be it about blindness, our nose, or the way we speak. The guide dog issue you describe is common everywhere. All western countries (I include Australia and New Zealand) allow guide dogs everywhere, but either restaurant owners don’t like dogs and think they can be arsy, or they don’t know. Taxi drivers are the same.

      Finally, my first boyfriend was Dutch. We were together for two years, so I spent a lot of time in Holland. Nice country and I miss it!
      Linn

  5. I loved hearing about Robert’s very close friendship with his female best friend and how their friendship has lasted so many years. I suspect that my suspicion that men and women can be close, yet strictly platonic friends stems from the fact that I have always lived in the United States where men and women often ascribe to more traditional roles in friendships and relatioships than do our more evolved European friends.

    I too was surprised when I read the newspaper article that Robert mentioned. I am very recently visually impaired so I was unfamiliar with how common this type of ignorance of the role of guide dogs can be and a little amazed that this type of ignorance still persists today.

  6. I have to agree that is misleading in a sense just for the fact that, as you described, it’s often used to indicate a certain attraction in relation to a romantic relationship. I always try to put words in different contexts as to understand the meaning of it better. English is not my first language and this often gives me a better understanding without having to use a dictionary. Just had a look in the oxford dictionary and there it states: a quality or feature that evokes interest, liking, or desire. I guess that backs pretty much my example.

    I really liked your question if there maybe is another word for it. This is exactly how I ended up on your blog. It’s so easy to get lost on the net. Especially since there is so much interesting stuff to read like your blog.
    It happened while I was doing a game of “draw” with my friend in the U.S. (draw is similar to Pictionary. One person draws and the other will try to guess what the word is that is being drawn)
    I had to draw the word “bromance” So using the same method of thinking I see “bro” and “romance” I instantly concluded that it must have had something to do with being in a homosexual relationship, because of the romance in it, but my wife disagreed and said that it is just a really close friendship between two men. Oxford dictionary definition for bromance: A close but non-sexual relationship between two men. Which does not make sense to me at all after dissecting the word. So a heated trialogue erupted between me and my wife with my friend on FaceTime. Which has been inconclusive so far. Me and my friend did agree though that we had to come up with a word for a platonic male-female relationship. And while were at it one for female-female as well. Although often you hear two close female friends refer to each other as “sister”.

    What is your opinion on “bromance”? Agree or disagree with the Oxford Dictionary?
    And perhaps when we all stick our heads together we can come up with a new word for a male-female platonic relationship.

    I miss the Netherlands myself sometimes and then especially Amsterdam and Scheveningen. Although I am originally from a place called Zeist, in the province of Utrecht, I have fond memories of both previously mentioned places. Perth, where I am now, isn’t to bad either though. Relatively quiet and a beautiful climate, a bit comparable to a Mediterranean climate. Where did you spend most of your time in the Netherlands?

    I do hear stories from my wife or her blind friends about ignorance from time to time but often they can laugh about it because they understand that not everybody instantly knows how to deal with a person who is blind. Although most of them are very independent there are situations when they come in an unfamiliar environment where they might need some help. A good example of bad ignorance happened two days ago with to my wife at the domestic airport here when she wanted to leave for Melbourne. She used a different airline than usual and the airport had recently changed after renovations so she was unsure about where to go. At large public places she uses a white cane and this often does wonders but not this time. Somebody, at some stage, must certainly have seen her looking for the right gate or walking back and forth. No service was offered however. This resulted in her not making the half our cut of time for boarding and, even though she arrived just ten minutes late, no lenience was given. Mind you, the plane is still at the gate this time it’s just that they do not allow anybody through the gate half an hour before the departure time. So she spend most of the night at the airport waiting for the next flight. Service at airports probably will degrade further over time because of cost cutting measures to stay competitive but it’s sad. I see it will go back to say a century ago when only the wealthy got looked after when it came to providing service.

    I currently do a course in personal development. Positive thinking and change it’s called. And I can see a classic example in your reply. “I’m worrying at times, that because of this ignorance, a sighted man would bypass me, but I know it’s stupid”. I see negativity and contradiction here. Best is to eliminate the bit that makes you worry and replace it with something positive. There are some good tips online. Best known are repeating the same affirmations every day. I had to laugh now I read it back because if there is anybody sceptic about these sort of things it is me. But I went into my course with an open mind because I liked the title and I had a negative mindset about things that had happened in the past. And, although it takes some effort, I do believe that you reflect what you think and others pick it up. And it makes sense when you think about it. Anyway it’s a bit of topic and I’m not a lifestyle guru but I thought I trow it out there.

    Finally my reply to Michelle. Your description about how friendships are usually looked at in the U.S. is probably similar to here in Australia. It’s mostly blokes stick to blokes and sheila’s to sheila’s.
    And you said you only became vision impaired recently. That is something I find hard to understand since most of our friends here have been either blind from birth or at least a very young age. Adapting to being blind after being sighted must be so much harder. Respect for that.

    Rob

  7. With respect to the word bromance, it often refers to a situation where one man has a crush on another man but in a non-sexual way. For example, on the Seinfeld television show there was an episode in which George had a bromance with Tony who was dating Elaine. Tony was very attractive, athletic and most important to George he was fearless in his dealings with people. George did not want to sleep with Tony, but he wanted Tony to like him and to have a close friendship with him. George offered to make him special sandwiches, etc. to keep in Tony’s good graces. This is a bromance.

    It was interesting reading what Robert wrote about practicing positive thinking. I tend to be a worrier and to anticipate the worst possible outcome. Sometimes, however, I think it can be helpful to think in a negative way although it can certainly be stressful. For example, I got myself involved in learning how to navigate the world as a visually impaired person much sooner than most people in my situation. I have been told many times that most people who are losing their vision do nothing until the point they are bumping into walls. I started acclimating myself very early and in certain ways, that has worked out. For example, I learned how to use a screen reader and a Victor Reader Stream when I could still read large print which helped me since I don’t know Braille and reading written directions was more natural to me than hearing them.

    Michelle

    1. Rob,
      I also like to play around with English. When I moved to the UK, I thought my English was good, because I read books in English with no problems whatsoever, but when it came to daily life interaction, I found it hard. A BBC radio presenter once said that there are two kinds of English. The one they speak everywhere in the world, and the one spoken in English speaking countries and I agree with him. Now, I’m extremely comfortable with English and I chose to do an International degree here in Norway, because I feel more comfortable expressing academic ideas in English rather than in Norwegian. I think the combination of me now speaking English on a native level and it not being my native language, make me daring to explore the language more and spice it up with words and expressions I take from for example Norwegian. Some of my English friends find the way I spice up the language amusing. I am also getting comfortable with speaking, writing and reading Italian, making me at times language confused, but being a language lover, I find it fun.
      About the Oxford dictionary definitions of the words attraction and bromance, I agree with them both. So according to the definition of attraction, it does not have to be sexual, but I think because of its common usage as such, I may not use that when talking about really liking a girl I just met for example, as that could easily be misunderstood! I think what Michelle is describing, is more of a man crush. Man crushes can go only one way and are indeed non sexual, as are girl crushes. But a bromance, is, according to my understanding when the man crush is returned, making it a strong friendship between to men based on a non sexual attraction and closeness. I have heard the girl versions being referred to as a homance, or a womance, but I am not a big fan of either! I have three such friendships, one with my actual sister, and I find them amazing because I like having girls I can trust completely to be honest with me, know that we’ll be fine after petty arguments and have someone to open up to about really intimate details for advice.

      My ex boyfriend comes from a small town near Rotterdam called Neuwerkerk an den Ijssel, excuse my spelling, But his mother worked in Zeist so I have been there. I think he lives in Utrecht now, but we haven’t been in touch since we split up in 2005. I love Amsterdam too and I’ve been on the beach in Scheveningen. I have a good understanding of spoken Dutch as it’s close to Norwegian, but I find it harder to read.

      What happened to your wife was awful! Something similar happened to me in Florence, Italy. They forgot me near the gate, and when my name was announced at the PA system, I got up and walked around like a crazy person with my cane hoping somebody would see me and help me. I got help and though I arrived late, I was allowed on board the plane. I think we do have to laugh at ignorance, but sometimes, on a bad day, it is very frustrating.

      I too am skeptic to personal development stuff, though I agree on your thinking reflecting your outside and for that reason, I do my best to be positive. Now, I blame the cold weather for my negative thinking, and when it’s nice and sunny, I’ll need to find something else to blame! Only joking, but I tend to think a lot more positive when in warmer climates, so during the spring and summer, I feel as if my confidence is a lot higher. I too, hope to live in a Mediterranean climate one day. Having said that though, I am also making an effort in the cold and I am well aware of when I’m negative, so trying to shift my focus.

      Michelle,
      You said that negative thinking had been helping you. Thinking that you may not be able to read large print one day, and therefore starting to learn how to use assistive technology, is not very negative, although I think I can see your reasoning behind that argument. I would say it’s positive thinking, because you foresee what may happen, and then you make adjustments and take precautions so that if or when it does happen, you can still go about your daily life and enjoy it. I made friends with a lovely woman from New York who lives in London who is a journalist and recently lost her sight. For some reason, she reminds me of you, or how I imagine you to be judging from our blog correspondence. You are both well aware of having to make changes and all the implications becoming and adjusting to a life as a visually impaired person are. But although frustrating and having to get used to a lot of new things, you have made the decision to get on with it in stead of complaining about it which is the only right thing to do. And for that I admire you. As I said to her, I’m born blind and I’m pretty independent. But I think being blind sucks, so I understand very well some of the issues you may have. I don’t moan so much about actually being blind, but about how it’s not practical for me. But I make sure to do that to people who understand and who know me, because I am not a self-pitying kind of person. And we should be allowed to have our moments as long as we live life the best we can and not let those moments dominate us.

      I am hoping to write more posts when I’m finished with my first three days exam starting tomorrow, but I’m enjoying our discussions. And I think we should make up a word for platonic male female friendship and get it in the Oxford dictionary!

  8. Going back to the title of this blog entry, I am still skeptical that a straight man and a straight woman can have a long term, very close friendship without one or both of them developing a strong emotional attraction to the other, a feeling that is more akin to that of a boyfriend or girlfriend rather than a friend. I believe that women generally respond to emotional intimacy and if a woman opens up and really talks to a man over a period of time, she will usually develop a feeling for him that is more like that of a girlfriend than an ordinary friend. I also think that women are less visual in their attraction and respond to what they hear more than what they see. I think that men find it easier to compartmentalize their feelings and find it easier to have sexual intimacy without strong emotional intimacy. This is just my own feeling based on my experiences over time and I hope that I am wrong about this.
    Michelle

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