Intergender Friendship

“Women are quite able to make friends with a man; but to preserve such a friendship – that no doubt requires the assistance of a slight physical antipathy.” -Friedrich Nietzche

I’ve heard men claim that men and women can’t really be friends; that men are only friends with women because they want to sleep with them. Or that people can only be friends with someone they aren’t physically attracted to. I don’t buy it. I think that some people are quite capable of being friends with someone they might want to sleep with. I don’t think everyone can, but I think most can.

That’s actually not the point of this post.

I think there are circumstances under which people can’t be friends. Circumstances where it’s a terrible idea to attempt friendship. Circumstances which say “RUN SCREAMING IN THE OTHER DIRECTION.”

I’ve recently seen several of these situations.

A female friend of mine was seeing a guy. It wasn’t a serious thing and he was seeing someone else simultaneously. He decided to pursue a serious relationship with the other girl, and “broke up” with my friend. She took it in stride and moved on. However, a week or so later, he contacted her out of concern that they weren’t “still friends.”

She didn’t think that they were friends to begin with. The keystone of their relationship was sex, and the friendliness between them was secondary to that. And you know what happens when you remove a keystone. She felt that any attempt at friendship was likely to be a major temptation for them and would probably not go over especially well with his new girlfriend.

In another situation, a female friend considered a flirtation with a male friend. Though nothing physical had happened, both parties expressed interest. The guy became involved with another woman and ceased the flirtation, but mentioned that he still wanted to be friends. He stated that while he’d love to pursue something sexual with her, it wasn’t a good choice for him at that time.

Frankly, I don’t understand the men in either case.

When I go to the grocery store, I don’t buy junk food. If I buy it, I will eat it. This is the equivalent of buying a huge bag of potato chips and letting it sit on the counter and stare at you. You want to eat them. You desperately want those chips to be in your mouth. Those chips’ sole purpose in life is to be in your mouth. And yet you can’t eat them.

Who thinks this is a good idea?

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