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Men and Women Are Never JUST Friends, Right?


By SR JamesPublished 7 years ago 5 min read
It's a familiar "rule" that we've all been told at one point or another, either by friends or family or even our partners; "You can't just be friends with him/her, there's obviously something going on between you two."

Lies, lies, lies, and more lies.

Your genitals and gender do not decide who is a suitable friend for you, and once you realise that, you start to see the "rule" for what it really is; something that rom-coms have been telling us for years. Hollywood has been doing our thinking for us on this one, and it's about time we stood up and picked our pals for ourselves.

Take Friends with Benefits. Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake become great friends, but predictably add sex to the equation and end up as a couple. It's an antiquated trope that has been recycled time and time again by the film industry to prove to us that even if we start out as "just friends" with a member of the opposite sex, we'll inevitably end up happily in love with them. It makes men believe that if they spend five minutes being nice and friendly with a woman they're somehow entitled to our bodies, and it makes women believe that their male friend is secretly their soulmate. It makes our partners think that if we have a friend of the opposite sex, the relationship is going to be ruined by us falling in love with our friend.

How many fights have indirectly been caused by this myth? How many relationships have ended from fear of it happening? How many would-be friendships have been ruined by one of the people assuming there just had to be more than platonic feelings there?

It's ridiculous, and honestly my last relationship was slowly killed by his jealousy of my male best friend. We had been friends for four years before I met my partner, and despite a brief disconnect we reunited as friends and picked up where we left off; going for meals together, hanging out in each others houses, even sleepovers were we slept in the same bed. It sounds weird, right? But it isn't. It's exactly what I'd do with a female friend and just because he had something extra between his legs I'm supposed to treat him differently? Nope, sorry, but nope.

I mean for starters, it's sexist to assume that because he's a boy he's automatically interested in me romantically, but besides that, I'm bisexual and my partner at the time didn't have the same issues with me sleeping in the same bed as a girl. Not only does that trivialise my sexuality (another rant for another article), but it's a prime example of how Hollywood has taught us to see sexual tension where none exists.

Like clockwork, any time I was planning to spend time with Tommy, my male best friend, an argument would happen between my partner and I. He would insist that he trusted me, but not my friend. The thing is, he had no reason not to trust my friend other than it felt normal to him. We had never tried to start a relationship, said that we had feelings, or even kissed drunkenly. It was 100% platonic for both of us, but to my partner, Tommy's gender made it a suspicious friendship.

Another friend of mine, Paul, was always on the same page as me about this; he was happy having completely platonic friendships with the opposite sex, but his girlfriend at the time was convinced any female friends of his were potential threats. Not because he'd ever done anything to earn that assumption, but because it was how she'd been taught to think by pop culture—I mean, it's primarily films that perpetuate this myth, but everything from novels to TV to comic books contributes to it.

I know I probably sound like I'm trashing my ex-partner and Paul's, but I'm really not. I'm trashing the fact that people are subliminally thought for on this whole subject; not many people get to think for themselves on this one, because from a pretty young age we watch things that promote the idea that boys and girls can't be close friends without introducing their genitals to one another. Even Harry Potter does it; Ron and Hermione are genuinely in love, but when they're hunting those horcruxes, Ron comes to the conclusion that Harry and Hermione dancing means that Harry is moving in on his girl. And okay, Ron is thinking more negatively because he'd been holding the horcrux too long, but still, the seed is planted there and then that there is something to worry about when it comes to friends of the opposite sex.

As we age, and we watch more adult themed things, that seed is watered time and time again by dopey rom-coms telling us not to worry, because if our relationship doesn't work out it doesn't matter; we're supposed to be with our friend anyway, not the crappy partner that you, the protagonist in your own story, starts out with.

A friendship can grow in to a beautiful relationship, in fact it's a great foundation to build a relationship on, but it doesn't automatically mean you're destined to be with your friend. You could simply be friends with someone you're interested in before getting involved with them romantically, if you want a relationship built on friendship, but you do not have to date someone you're already friends with just because you're friends with them.

I actually did do that with my last partner, and it resulted in an almost five year relationship with someone who I would genuinely love to be friends with once he's ready, but if Tommy and I had bought in to the friendlationship (yeah, I made it up, and I'm owning it) thing, it's safe to say it would have crashed and burned, hard.

I'm not gonna lie, until maybe a couple of years ago I was the paranoid girl that thought if her boyfriend had female friends, he'd end up cheating on me with them. It came from a place of insecurity, believing that I was the crappy girlfriend and he would end up with the friend who he was actually meant to be with. Insecurity + thinking that rom-coms were basically gospel = horrendous girlfriend.

I'm still an insecure mess, but I don't religiously believe in rom-coms and their predictable plots anymore, which means even if I feel shit about myself, I don't project my issues on to other people, which is something we should all aim for; not just because it makes us better people, but because it shows that we can shun the bible of rom-coms and think for ourselves.

My point is that friendship is not synonymous with sex, and we need to stop buying into the idea that it is. It's ruining our relationships and stopping us from having amazing friends just because they have different genitals to us. I think the vast majority of us are smart enough to realise we deserve better than being told who is and isn't a suitable friend for us, and next time anyone tries to tell you it's not okay to have a friend of the opposite sex, tell them to go and fuck themselves.


About the Creator

SR James

Conservative-hating feminist who writes about pretty much whatever pops into her head. Big fan of dead trees with tattoos. Twitter @SRJWriter

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