Why Can't We Be (Just) Friends?

It’s called the When Harry Met Sally syndrome — men and women cannot possibly be just friends. There is always some romantic attraction there, and, eventually, they are going to act on it or have to end the friendship/have the friendship ruined by awkward sexual tension.

I call bullshit.

I know that everyone buys into this whole idea. I know everyone buys into most of the ideas in relationship advice books/the advice given out by “relationship experts.” And, to be honest, I LOVE When Harry Met Sally.

But this whole idea that men and women can’t be friends? Nope, I just don’t buy it. I can’t agree with it when I’m friends with a whole bunch of guys who I love dearly but NEVER, EVER in my life would be attracted to. They’re like my brothers, for the most part, and, because we’re not in the South, that’s just wrong.

Sit down and think about your real-life friendships with the opposite sex. Can you honestly say, for every heterosexual person of the opposite sex (or homosexual person of the same sex, if you roll like that) that you are friends with, you would date each and every one of those people? That you’d like to explore a romantic relationship with them? That you’d be OK with a one night stand with them?

…I didn’t think so. And don’t think that it’s any different for most of them. Yeah, I’m sure it’s nice to picture yourself as an incredibly desirable human being that all your friends want to be with, but, come on now. That’s just your delusional fantasy world. Fun, yes. Real? Not so much.

While we’re at it, I’d also like to call bullshit on the idea that exes cannot be friends — and I’m talking real friends, not the fake “Oh, hi, how are you doing, I’ve missed you so much, let’s catch up over coffee, K bye” type of friends. There’s enough happily divorced couples out there who are still friends to dispel that myth right now.

So you try it, it doesn’t work out, and you end it. Unless it was a horrible break up — someone cheated, someone said mean things, some other imaginable, horrible circumstance — I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t be friends. Let’s face it, there was something that attracted you to that person in the first place, and, except in extreme cases (see above), that doesn’t just disappear when you break up. Sometimes you’re just better off being friends, but it takes a failed relationship to make you realize that.

Once again I draw on my own experience — one of my best friends is an ex-boyfriend. Yes, it was a short, strange relationship, and, yes, we did have a rough time navigating the friendship waters for a while, but we have an incredible amount of things in common and pretty much “get” each other all the time. With the exception of my boyfriend, he is the first person I go to for advice or just to talk.

Then again, maybe I’m an anomaly, I don’t know. But, honestly, just because popular culture says we should curse our exes to hell, seek revenge on them and their new significant other, and be sleeping with all of our friends of the opposite sex doesn’t mean jack.

And I can’t be the only person out there to realize that.

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3 thoughts on “Why Can't We Be (Just) Friends?

  1. Caitlin says:

    I agree with this completely. It's entirely possible to be just friends with the opposite sex and even an ex.This kind of reminds me of a less pessimistic take on Chuck Klosterman's "Harry met sally" thing in sex drugs and cocoa puffs!:)

    Like

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