- Gender and Relationships
Can men and women have platonic relationships?
Just Friends: Tony Rebel and Swade
Can’t see we’re just friends, they say I’m bunnin’ my lady
Some criticize and say, mi ha mi cake and ah eat it up
They can’t see we’re just friends, they say I’m secretly loving you (Oh no)
They say we coulda never live so and nuttin nah gwaan
This is the chorus of a 2002 reggae song by Tony Rebel and Swade. The song addressed common perceptions that men and women cannot be just friends without there being more to it. Indeed, when some women know that their boyfriends have a lot of female friends, they may be somewhat uneasy.
Guys might be even worse, since they know the tricks that fellas (including themselves) may try with “friends.” In fact, some might argue that it is what female friends are for. As the reggae tune suggested, many persons just don’t buy the notion of men and women being “just friends” too cheaply.
Whether it’s because of the “friends with benefits” phenomenon, or knowledge of how the bonding process occurs, there may be some overtones to relations between the sexes. That many relationships commence with friendships also reinforces the idea that friendship may be just a starting point for greater things.
Many persons refuse to believe that it could just be, without anything else happening. However, there are several obvious reasons for the existence of truly platonic relationships.
No romantic attraction
Not everyone is heterosexual, so that fact automatically undermines the idea that men and women cannot be friends. However, even a heterosexual male or a heterosexual female may not be attracted to each other for various reasons.
Perhaps it’s the absence of physical attraction or maybe you don’t think the person is the type that you can have an intimate relationship with. After all, the dynamics of a romantic relationship are much different.
The only issue with low levels of attraction is that it can morph into attraction later on, especially if a strong emotional bond develops. Even though there are different levels and types of attraction, there are some friends whom you would simply not perceive in that manner.
The type of love that obtains here is Philia, as opposed to Eros. Often, it’s the case that one friend has some level of attraction while the other does not, but sometimes mutual non-attraction may exist.
Some friends may have tried dating, or were actually a couple once upon a time. This can alter the perception of the relationship to others, or can have bearing on the nature of the interaction between the pair. However, it does not necessarily mean that it’s impossible to be friends with a person of whom you have carnal knowledge. However, the situation would be a tricky one, since there could easily be residual feelings or the temptation to drift back to the golden days.
The friendship foundation
I knew a fella who required his female friends to be within his physical attraction threshold. The funny thing was that he resembled a Rugrat more than a stud, but that’s beside the point. In that case, the friendship is not completely platonic to begin with. However, if it is based on good conversation, empathy and shared experiences, thoughts or secrets, then it has a better chance of remaining platonic.
What is your "just friends" quotient?
Have you experienced truly platonic relationships with the opposite sex?
Fidelity and high-mindedness
What makes humans superior to other animals is our mind. We do not have to be victims of our impulses and desires. Unfortunately, some folks do not have that mental fortitude to ignore lingering feelings, regardless of whether they’re in a relationship or not. However, even if there is some level of attraction, a disciplined mind can ensure that a friendship remains platonic, especially if it is patently apparent that pursuing more would not be ideal.
Although many persons might raise eyebrows at your friendships with the opposite sex, it is possible for things to be strictly platonic. Sometimes, friendships develop into more, and the chances of that happening may exist for some time. You may even hear of friends who were married to other persons getting together after they divorced their spouses.
It is in our nature to wonder what it would be like with a friend of the opposite sex. Some psychologists argue that it is merely a process called “love mapping.” Just because this occurs at some point does not mean that it not platonic; your mind merely toyed with the possibility.
Someone I knew used that as a basis to convert a friendship into an unlikely relationship, with unhappy results. They did not want to just be friends, but for those who make more prudent decisions, there’s nothing wrong with being “just friends” with the opposite sex.