Can Men and Women Actually Be Friends?

When Harry Met Sally says ‘no’. A huge, resounding no.

Meg Ryan’s character didn’t even like Billy Crystal’s character as a person, and they still got together. In fact, now that I’m really thinking about it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything, in media or in real life, that has indicated that ‘no’ could ever be a ‘yes’.

Even the most ridiculous example, Harold and Maude, which is about a friendship between a twenty year-old boy and an eighty-year old woman ends with them having sex. Eesh.

Why is this? Why does this happen? Even if people are in relationships and they form opposite sex friendships… whoops, there they go, either cheating, or seriously considering it. It’s a puzzler, for sure.

I guess the first question you have to ask is why are you being friends with them in the first place?

Friends, like everything else in our lives, are meant to supplement an internal need we have.  That need is different for everybody.  It could be companionship, someone to help you have fun, the only person who will go out drinking with you, something to make you feel good about yourself, career connections… the list is endless.

If you had one friend for each one of those needs, that would be freaking exhausting. How would you keep all of their names straight? Logically speaking, since the amount of time in a day is not infinite, our goal in life is to find people who can provide many of the things we need, rather than just one.

We constantly trade up, delegating the amount of time we spend with people based on how much they can offer us and how much we need from them at that particular time. One of the main reasons why I believe people have both friends and significant others is because very rarely can you find someone who can fulfill all ‘friend’ duties, while also fulfilling all, um, ‘sex’ duties… if you will.

If you are friends with a member of the opposite sex, and they are doing a fan-fucking-tastic job of fulfilling all, or even just some, of your ‘friend’ needs, it is literally impossible to prevent yourself from wondering if they might also be able to fulfill those ‘sex’ needs, too. After all, human nature is all about efficiency, right?

Ain’t nothing more efficient than that.

It is also my belief that people cheat because their significant other is not fulfilling one of their needs. Maybe it’s a ‘sex’ need, or maybe it’s one of those ‘friend’ needs that one would expect their significant other to be able to deliver on. Unfulfilled ‘sex’ needs usually result in those moment-of-weakness one night stands (which sometimes upgrade into full-blown affairs), while unfulfilled ‘friend’ needs usually take time to progress to sexual relationships.

I believe infidelity that arises from ‘friend’ needs not being met is due to that human need for efficiency rearing its ugly head: If my significant other can’t support me the way I need, and this person over here can, what if they can also fulfill my ‘sex’ needs? For efficiency’s sake, I won’t need both of them, I can just trade up.

So, here’s what I’m thinking:

If there is ever a possibility of sex in any sort of relationship, those two people cannot be friends. Sure, they can try, and I will applaud them for doing so, but I’d be shocked if it worked.

If you really want to be friends with someone, perhaps for an intellectual or emotional need they fulfill, do yourself a favor and keep the friendship online, where there’s no possibility of sex. That way, no matter how many of those ‘friend’ needs are being fulfilled, you still gotta look else where for those ‘sex’ needs.

You’re welcome if I just blew the lid off of that for you.

P.S. Don’t do the co-ed wingperson thing… You know, the one where you help your opposite sex friend get laid? That’s basically you trying to figure out all of the attractive things about your friend that someone else will like. Do you know what happens when you do that? That’s right, you become Watts from Some Kind of Wonderful.

Don’t be Watts from Some Kind of Wonderful; You’re not going to end up with Keith.

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