Tuesday, 29 November 2011

In which I wonder whether men and women can just be friends

One evening last week, after being thoroughly spoilt* by The Writer, he and I curled up on the sofa and stuck on the grand dame of romcoms: When Harry Met Sally

The overarching theme of the film, succinctly put by Harry, is that men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way. Even as two people in relationships, men and women can’t be friends: This is an amendment to the earlier rule... The person you're involved with can't understand why you need to be friends with the person you're just friends with. Like it means something is missing from the relationship and why do you have to go outside to get it? And when you say "No, no, no, no, it's not true, nothing is missing from the relationship," the person you're involved with then accuses you of being secretly attracted to the person you're just friends with.

It was at this scene that I turned my head to find TW nodding sagely: “He’s right. Women always think that.”

I thought about this for a moment, all ready to denounce such a daft claim, but then found I couldn’t. Much as I don’t want to, by and large I agree.

Because women do seem to get peculiarly jealous when it comes to their boyfriend’s female friends. I think it’s because they’re seen as a threat – which is particularly daft, really, because if he and she wanted to be sleeping together, you wouldn’t be dating him now, would you?
TW has plenty of female friends, and I have no intention of getting in between him and them. In fact, some of his female friends I’ve met and have now got to know, and thoroughly approve of, thankyouverymuch. Girls who can hold their red wine, and have intelligent discussions about Gerhard Richter are people I very much want to spend time with.

But my stance has no doubt been coloured by my experiences on the other side of the coin: more times than I care to remember, I’ve been the female friend who’s been edged out by a prickly girlfriend. No amount of rationally stating my case; getting very cross; or having my own boyfriend has convinced these women that left alone with their man I wouldn’t take the opportunity to jump him.

It’s ridiculous, frustrating – and, if you’ve been friends with said chap for a good long while before the girlfriend came along, painful. Why should you be down a great friend because some girl has got her insecurities in a twist? Of course, it takes two to wreck a friendship, and in these cases, it’s particularly aggravating when your friend of however many years won’t fight for your friendship against his girlfriend’s neuroses. It’s a powerful maxim, anything for a quiet life.

I’m not saying women are the only people at fault here, by the way. I’m sure there are plenty of possessive male types out there who’d rather tar and feather their girlfriend than have her hang out with a bevvy of boys. I’m just lucky enough never to have come across one – and if I did, I imagine he’d get pretty short shrift. My friends – male and female – are important to me, and I won’t have people dictate whom I’m allowed to spend time with; just as, I might add, I wouldn’t dream of doing to anyone else.

Because, whilst I might love the film in all its 80s-haired glory, I fundamentally disagree with its premise: men and women can be just good friends. And I have a few of them to prove it.

*Dear TW’s Boss: if you’re reading this, I’d be much obliged if you’d see fit to give him every week off. Or, at least, every other week. Because I like it when TW is in my house, baking endless brownies, and preparing exquisite and delectable dinners that are waiting for me when I get in from work. And once a girl’s been shown a manner to which she’d like to become accustomed, it’s mean to take it away again. Thanks ever so.


Rage said...

Possessiveness of that type if very bad, and usually says far more about the possessive partner than anyone else.

I don't understand how anyone can think it practical to try to prevent their partner from coming into contact with the opposite sex, like some bad modern day imitation of Jane Eyre.

One of my mates once went out with a girl who went completely postal when she caught him reading someone's copy of Esquire (which is far from the most crude of men's magazines). Apparently, we were told over drinks at a later date, she didn't like him looking at other girls' bodies; failing to appreciate the huge gap between looking at a picture of an attractive girl and cheating on her in any way whatsoever.

Needless to say, that relationship didn't last all that long. And nor should, I think, any relationship where one party seeks to regulate who the other is permitted to be friends with.

nuttycow said...

I think one of the fantastic things about being in a relationship is that you not only get to spend time with the one you love, but you also get to spend time away from the one you love too. And where better to do that than in the company of friends (male or female)?

I hate to be one of those people who links to their own posts in the comments section in someone else's blog but I wrote my own take on the Harry theory and, to prevent the whole thing being repeated, I thought it would be just as well to link:

Anonymous said...

I once dated a guy who told me that when I was on holiday in Scotland I was not allowed to visit/see the male friends that I went to University with while I was there. Told him to decide whether or not he wanted to be with me - I wasn't giving up people who'd I'd known for many years longer than I'd known him. He dumped me - his loss I feel.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

I bloody hope men and women can be just friends. Because I have absolutely no intention of shagging any of my male mates. The thought makes me shudder a bit. Great blokes Not that they'd ever see me that way either. But still. Yick.

Exes that are now friends is a different matter entirely though...

rencake said...

I think men and women are perfectly capable of friendship- I have some close boy mates and I have on the whole got on swimmingly with ex-boyfriends' friends.

However there was a period of time with the last boyfriend when nearly every FB profile pic of him was him and on particular girl mate together. At first I didn't have a problem with it at all, then his aunt posted on his wall "Laura* is very beautiful"' basically he had so many profile pics with her that a family member assumed they were an item. No on!

James said...

Blonde, you must be one awesome girlfriend : )

I am still looking for one :(

Loki Mars said...

Interesting topic and one I want to discuss on my blog. In short my best friend is Female and we're very close, not in a physical way so much but in terms of trust, we tell each other everything. Both of us are in serious relationships and both our partners are totally cool with us being friends, which I actually find lucky as I know a lot of people would have issues.

I think there's a number of ways it works, for one we've known each other since we were teenagers and have developed a unique friendship. I see her as a Sister, she sees me as a Gay Best friend, sounds weird but it works.

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