Archive | April, 2013

Love, Part 4 of 5: You’re My Best Friend…Maybe

10 Apr

There are many words to describe me. Ask my friends. Ambitious, passionate, loyal, funny, silly, and fabulous are just some of the adjectives they’d throw out (OK, maybe I threw in “fabulous”). Another thing they’d throw out? I’m a total guy’s girl.

Allow me to clarify before you picture me in baggy JNCO jeans and a backwards cap: I’m not a guy’s girl in the tomboy sort of way. I’m more of a guy’s girl in the “She’s really cool and don’t mind having her around the guys” sort of way. I genuinely like watching sports. I like beer. I’m almost drama-free (and if I have drama, I usually don’t voice it). Additionally, I’m really laid back in the “Let’s talk about chicks!” arena. I’m always willing to listen to who makes the current smokin’ hot list or how her body looked (…and what her non-made up face looked like the next morning. For the record, the results are usually negative). I’m also a standing wedding date and a regular to family/holiday dinners (because their moms already met/love me, so it’s easy). I also know what they’ll eat/not eat on any restaurant menu. That’s a skill in-and-of itself.

Everything I just detailed falls within a day in the life of Kerry. This is because approximately 70 percent of my best friends are guys. It’s been this way since 1999, when I met my core group of best guy friends in high school. My “guy group” only grew as I got older.

Don’t get it twisted. It hasn’t always been easy. Being close friends with dudes has its own set of complications, especially if your friend of the opposite sex is single too. This brings us to today’s topic at hand:

Can a single guy and a single girl be just friends?
Answer: It depends.

First, let’s dive into the features and benefits of guy/girl friendships.

Benefits for a Woman: A woman’s friendship with a guy gives her the opportunity to have a light, fun, non-complicated relationship (not always the case with female/female friendships). Women are attracted to a man’s ability to think logically and rationally. A woman also loves the natural protective nature of a man. Having a close guy friend, she gets all the bennies of having a protective figure in her life without the boyfriend status. She also gets an inside look into the workings of the male brain (gold). She also can wear pajamas and no makeup to his apartment for a microwave popcorn dinner and he won’t care. Score.

Benefits for a Man: Surprisingly, a man’s friendship with a woman affects him more than vice versa. A man values his woman-friend’s opinion more so than women he dates. A man also secretly loves a woman’s emotional support. A man doesn’t hesitate to call his close female friend for advice/comfort, but will hesitate to call women he’s sleeping with or dating (because he doesn’t want to risk his manhood). Another benefit to a man – and probably the biggest –is he never has to explain anything to his female friend (behavior, thought process, anything). A man loves to feel understood in every way, shape, or form. Whether it’s how he acts when he drinks too much or what he prefers for dinner, he loves the fact his woman-friend “gets him” and doesn’t judge. In short, if your male friend considers you his BFF, you are taking on the role of the best girlfriend/wife he could imagine, without all the nagging or sex (in that order).

The above description sounds pretty cookie cutter. Simple, even. Unfortunately, these tidy little descriptions are almost never the case. Males and females are, well, males and females. They are biologically predisposed to figure out what the other person means to them outside the friend zone. This doesn’t guarantee anything will actually transpire between the two. However, it is scientifically proven the thoughts are – at some point – present.

In a 2012 Men’s Health article, male and female friends were asked if they were – at some point or presently – attracted to one another. 41 percent said they were either attracted to their friend or thought about dating them. Taking this one step further, guys were twice as likely to say they were attracted to their female friend than vice versa. Hmm.

Based on this little nugget of information, I decided to conduct an examination of the types of single guy/girl friendships out there. Based on my research, I’ve rated each relationship on a scale from 1-10 (in order) based on if they can “truly” be friends are not. The goal with this little project is to understand the scope of male/female friend dynamics and help others navigate through it, based on my own experience and (at times) stupidity.

You Dated…Then Broke Up
We’ve all been there. Suddenly you’re dating. Then you’re not. The reasons vary: It’s not you, it’s me. We’re better off as friends. Blah blah blah. Then you try out that latter thing – being friends. How’s that going? Odds are not well. It’s because the friend thing doesn’t work unless you both didn’t really have romantic feelings for one another from the onset. Take it from a girl who has tried to be friends with most of her ex’s: It doesn’t work. You either want to be back together or – at least – sleeping with them. If neither are the case, you probably secretly hate them…and will hate them even more once you force yourself into a “friend” situation and see them with someone else (ouch). As true as your intentions may be to keep the relationship, it will always feel forced, difficult, and unnatural. The only exception to this rule is if you know you both know you’ll get back together at some point. Ready to be honest? How do you ever really know?
Really Friends? 1

You’ve Hooked Up
For a man, hooking up and going back to being friends is easy. Sex is an act and then it’s over. For a woman, it’s not that easy. There are hormones, emotions, neurological changes…ugh. Note I’m not talking about the typical one-night/few night stands (chicks can let these experiences go pretty easily. In fact, most are pretty forgettable. Sorry, guys). I’m talking about a guy you’ve build a pretty kick-ass friendship with over the years. It’s simple: If you sleep with him, it will forever change your relationship. No going back. It will either turn your friendship into a budding relationship because it felt right for you both or one of you will end up really hurt. Tricky.
Really Friends? 3

Hands down, this is the worst. You know the drill: One of you had feelings for the other. One of you finally put these feelings out into the universe, hoping for the best. The best didn’t happen and the feelings weren’t returned. Total bummer. Getting back in the friend zone post-trauma is pretty difficult and not just for the rejected party. The “reveal” moment for either party is a relationship turning point, giving one friend certain power over the other. This power can transcend into the non-rejected party getting strange and distant once the information is out. Or, they might start hardcore flirting with the rejected party (if they haven’t already) just to test the waters (never good, as it send mixed signals). Further, they may start taking advantage of the rejected party, using them as a dating “crutch” if their current dating life sucks. You both can try to keep this going, but there will always be a perma-stamp of hurt and resentment associated with the friendship. I speak from experience.
Really Friends? 5

This one can be fun if you don’t take it too far. You both know you’re attracted to each other, but that’s where it ends (you both know it would never work out and you’re both OK with it). Through this understanding, you get an amazing friendship plus all the benefits of longer stares, “You look greats,” intense hugs, semi-platonic (OK, not really) kisses on-the-lips…you get the picture. Pretty awesome, yet harmless. Just be warned: If you cross the line, please reread “You’ve Hooked Up” (above).
Really Friends? 7

Platonic All the Way
This one puzzles your friends and family the most. You’ve been best friends forever. You are the first person the other calls with happy/sad/complicated news. You can sit and talk about nothing for hours. You are happy hanging out or partying like its 1999. You love each other’s friends and family. There are no secrets between you two. Actually, you know too much about each other. The only thing you don’t know is what each other looks like naked.

Don’t think I’m nuts – this type of guy/girl friendship CAN happen. It just takes a very special pair of people. No one will understand it. To others, it’s natural two single, attractive, awesome people should try it out if it seems so OBVIOUS they should be together. Let me break it down for you: Even if the attraction is there – even if one, the other, or both feel like the other person is perfect – they will not cross the line. Why? It’s not the fear of rejection that makes you uneasy (though, that may be a small part). It’s the thought of not having the other person in your life if things don’t work out. It’s a feeling that hurts more than anything you can imagine. Take that as a HUGE sign.
Really Friends? 9 (Not a 10. In these types of relationships, you always have to leave a +1 to chance)

Have any of you had experience with the situations above? I want to hear from you. Leave comments!