1. Why Men and Women Can't Be Friends

    Friday, December 9, 2011

    Over the past couple of days, I've seen a bunch of Facebook friends link the above video, and a lot of people (guys and girls) are commenting on how true this rings for them. I actually think the video is kinda funny, and does have a point to make - but I don't think it's the one that the filmmakers are going for.

    The premise is basic: 

    Ask ladies if boys and girls can be 'just friends'.
    Ask gents if boys and girls can be 'just friends'.
    Observe the difference.
    Ask girls if they think the guy friends they have would want to hook up.
    Comedic revelation!

    Now, without even watching the video, I bet most people would have easily understood this segment from the summary I gave. It's a cliche narrative. Guys want to fuck everything, and girls are either:

    1) Naive
    2) Eternal Bringers of False Hope

    Number 2 is where I think a lot of the 'funny but true' response is coming from, and I want to address this first. But I actually think the bigger issue is that the way this video (and this 'Harry met Sally' question) approach sex and friendship is fundamentally confused. But first to the girls.

    The video works out to an elaborate play on the 'friend-zone' concept. Guy wants to fuck a girl, girl just wants to be friends. Guy accepts this friendship on the misplaced hope that girl will re-assess, and all of this is made worse by girl's flirting and/or mixed signals. This has nothing to do with actually being friends. Let me explain.

    If someone hits on you, you recognize this, but have no intention of sleeping with them, the right thing to do is to make that clear. But there are complications. For starters, letting someone down can be an awkward or difficult thing to do. This doesn't make stringing-along justifiable, but at least relatable. How many guys put off a breakup because it's hard? Plenty. Second of all, awful as this is, having someone around who you know finds you desirable is a really nice ego boost. People tend to associate false-hope behavior with girls, but it's really just a power discrepancy that is admittedly, often in girls favour. 

    Guys do this kind of thing too, but instead of allowing the other person to crush on them, and not reciprocate, guys will actually date a girl they have little-to-no interest in and fuck them, only to dump the girl in a week or two's time. Both of these scenarios are cowardly, and both of them prey on the unattainable expectations of the other person. 

    But the power dynamic isn't always so skewed. Attractive and attracted people often become friends, and don't fuck because of circumstances or commitments. That doesn't mean they don't find each other interesting, worthwhile, and don't care about each other. It also doesn't mean that the friendship is unsustainable. I would be willing to bet that most people have at least one person in their circle that they would sleep with, but have no illusions that this is likely going to happen. And that person may very well feel the same way A little sexual tension or harmless flirting can be the fun topping on a real and fulfilling friendship. It's just not an either/or thing.


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