Friday, December 09, 2011

Can Men and Women Be "Just Friends"?

Short answer = No.  Anyone who thinks men and women are fundamentally the same is surely insane.

Very interesting video:




(HT:  Robbalicious)

20 comments:

Pete Scribner said...

Showing my age a bit here, but reminded me of the scene from When Harry Met Sally when they're on their way to NYU.

sara said...

I'm wondering if there might be special circumstances that might make it possible. Like brothers and sisters? They can be friends, right? I mean if you remove sexual attraction, then couldn't it be possible? Maybe be they can be friends if they find each other physically repulsive.

Amy Romero said...

of course men and women can be just friends...if the man is gay.

Steve Dawson said...

First.taking a sample of college age kids is not a very good sample to get a wide opinion.

Second, your comments lend little to a complex subject. My short answer is "Yes" a man and a woman can be just friends. I am married and have 2 female friends. Yes, my wife is aware of my friendships with "other" women. One is married and one is divorced and no, I don't want to have an affair with either of them.

Next time, you might want to do a tad of research and find what other people say to give your blog post more depth. For instance:

http://blog.christianitytoday.com/women/2011/10/were_just_friends_no_really_1.html

and

http://danbrennan.typepad.com/the_sacred_friendships_pr/2011/10/cross-gender-friendship-a-single-woman-and-a-married-man.html

Might be good places to start a good thought process

Anonymous said...

Why is the host speaking into a feather duster?

Linda said...

I think this is devastating. If I listened to the conclusion this guy found in the video, I would have to suspect every one of my male friends of secretly wanting to be in a relationship with me. So I shouldn't have any male friends? Or I should work on being unattractive so that I *can* have male friends? Instead of talking to them, of spending time with them, I should say, "no, friendship doesn't work between genders; please go away"?

I'm sorry, but I don't think physical attraction is the fundamental factor for a relationship. Sure, it's a part of it, but there is far more that goes into a relationship than that. Or maybe I'm just ignorant?

It reminds me of the question of friendships between men, which Tim Challies talked about in "The Burden of Perverse Assumptions" (http://www.challies.com/node/600). Just as men can go through life lonely, missing out on lasting, "forged in the fire" friendships with other men because of the assumptions of others, so too I think that men and women can miss out on great, lasting, close friendships because of the burden of physical attraction. Some of my closest friends are men. So yes, I think men and women can be "just friends" - and I thank God that they can.

Edwin said...

I'm not coming down on a side here, but to deny the differences and the issues involved is too much.

Steve: I'm assuming your wife would have no problem with you going on a 5-day hiking/rafting/camping trip in the mountains somewhere with one of your guy friends. Do you think she would have no problem with you going on the same trip with just the divorced or married woman? If she did have a problem, why would she? You're just friends? Nothing would happen, right?

Linda: Can you guarantee that your close guy friends have no feelings for you beyond friendship? I think that is what the video is getting at. Not that guys and girls can't be together and hang out and such, but that the female has to understand that underneath it all there is (probably?) something more (even if he wouldn't act on it by their own doing). Seriously, if you leaned in for a kiss, would they engage or back away?

Women have no clue what goes on in the mind of a man; even the best of them. When Jesus said that to look at a woman with lust you have committed adultery with her in your heart; He in one sentence convicted every single man in history with adultery (except Himself, of course).

GailM said...

I am a female and have had a few close male friends. My intentions in knowing those guys was to keep it as only friends. But, every single one of those guys ended up trying to pursue a relationship with me-something I wasn't interested in. After the unintentional heartache I caused, I now know better and act differently because I care too much for my male counterparts to lead them down the wrong path.

The unidentified variable in this experiment is the intimacy of the friendship. Up to a point, I believe it is possible to "just be friends," but once you have enough shared experiences and time spent together, it simply changes everything-especially for the man.

Steve Dawson said...

Edwin:
I would never go on a 5 day camping/rafting/hiking with anyone. Doesn't interest me at all. I tend not to go away with anyone for long periods of time (even my wife).

So, let me answer your question in another way. Up until recently, the married woman was my doctor (she got a promotion). I am a transplant recipient and she was my transplant doctor. Over the past 5 years we have had regular appointments on an average of every 3 months. She and I have been alone in a room while she was examining me.

At another point, I had gotten tickets to a show. My wife wasn't sure if she could make it that night due to a scheduling conflict. She was the one who suggested my married friend as a possible stand in for her.

My divorced friend and I have a slightly different relationship. We see each other for lunch on occasion. We also haven't known each other as long as my other friend.

I do have a problem with your statement that women have no clue what goes on in the mind of a man. First, I do believe that most do have an idea. They are not that clueless. Second, there is a BIG difference between lustingafter a woman and wanting a relationship with her. Lust assumes not caring for her feelings, just getting what you want. Relationship implies a two way street, one with mutual respect, caring, and love.

Steve Dawson said...

GailM

If you made it plain that you were only seeking friendship, then you have not lead anyone on. Friendships are wrought with the potential that you can get hurt. It's a risk that you take in any relationship be it same sex or opposite sex. You cannot control other people's feelings, only your own.

Patrick Chan said...

BTW, this piece from Lutheran philosopher Gilbert Meilaender might be worth reading.

sara said...

Patrick, I read a little more than half of that article and will go back to it after supper to finish. Nice that it's so relevant given how long ago it was written. Thanks for linking it.

What I'm taking away from it so far is that, though friendship between a man and a woman is possible, it faces peculiar challenges and is maybe more rare than two people of the same sex. And the challenges are not only due to the potential of sexual attraction.

Philip Miller said...

I'm a single divorced man who is choosing to remain single. I have attempted several times to befriend single women and even been clear about my intentions, but sadly every time it's become complicated and needed to be discontinued. On the other hand I do have numerous "friendships" with married do women, but even in these I've found that there has.to be very intentional boundaries. I've concluded that our sexuality is such an integral part of who we are that it's nigh impossible for platonic relationships to exist.

Philip Miller said...

I'm a single divorced man who is choosing to remain single. I have attempted several times to befriend single women and even been clear about my intentions, but sadly every time it's become complicated and needed to be discontinued. On the other hand I do have numerous "friendships" with married do women, but even in these I've found that there has.to be very intentional boundaries. I've concluded that our sexuality is such an integral part of who we are that it's nigh impossible for platonic relationships to exist.

Linda said...

Edwin,

For the majority of my friends I can absolutely guarantee that they want only friendship. They consider me as their sister, someone they can go to for advice, for prayer, for a shared laugh or a shared tear. Some of them are in relationships with other women, who are also my friends. I consider these men as brothers, as well. They are like extended family.

For a few of my male friends, I'm sure that if I wanted a relationship, they'd be for it. I do understand that "underneath it all" for SOME men, there is that desire to be in a relationship with every single girl he sees. But I also believe that these men have self-control, and even if they lust after every girl, they won't chase after every girl. But, quite frankly, if I were ever to want a relationship with any of my friends, it wouldn't be because of the knowledge that he would go for it with any girl. I do have some clue about the desires of men (with many guy friends, and five brothers to boot), but again, that base physical attraction does not a relationship make.

ruhamah said...

Honest question: Is this video intended to be taken seriously?

Anonymous said...

Steve, Your wife might find it acceptable for you to have female friends but you would be the exception not the rule. Before you "fall" into your own self-righteous attitude perhaps you should read what the Scriptures say about being married with female friendships.If you think you are above the sin of adultery you are already in danger.

Angie said...

I have been in Gail's shoes. Her comment hits the nail on the head: "Up to a point, I believe it is possible to "just be friends," but once you have enough shared experiences and time spent together, it simply changes everything-especially for the man."

I think the reason is explained by Emerson Eggerichs in "Love and Respect." He says women bond eye-to-eye but men bond shoulder-to-shoulder. When you're in a friendship, you are sharing experiences that cause a man to feel strongly bonded. And for a man, it's easier to make the jump to a relationship because God made them to feel attracted and be the initiator. Especially if he feels she needs him...

Claire in Tasmania said...

Weird. I was the only girl in a sharehouse of 4 in my final year at uni. I was friends, at different levels with all three of them and none of them was the least bit interested in me. Maybe the girls in that video are just big-headed?

But why does 'one of you likes the other' equate to 'not just friends' anyway? A friendship is a friendship, whatever the potentials of the future or the thoughts in people's hearts... I was just friend with my now-DH for 2 years. He had decided he was going to marry me and we were *still* just friends, until the time came when we started moving beyond that.

Edwin: having differing boundaries from one friendship to another is not the same as having no friendship at all. Choosing not to go drinking with someone because you know it will put that person in too much temptation doesn't mean they're not your friend. Choosing not to go camping with someone because you feel it might put one or both of you in too much temptation doesn't mean you're not 'just friends'. It means you are making sure it stays that way.

Steve Dawson said...

Anon, you might be surprised to find out that there are more cross-gender relationships around than you think. Especially among people who are married but not to each other.

What fascinates me the most is the assumption that admitting that you have a friend of the opposite sex is in some way "self-righteous" and that in some way that it violates Scripture. I don't consider myself "above" any sin. However, why do you presume that I would necessarily commit adultery with a close friend?

I do not subscribe to the idea that men can't control themselves. It takes two people to commit adultery. Lust doesn't need the friendship to exist.