Platonic friendships: Can men and women really just be friends?

When it comes to this burning question, there are all sorts of views, some may even have an anecdote to share. In the 1989 movie, “When Harry Met Sally”, the writer Nora Ephron was exploring the exact question, “Can men and women be friends?” According to Harry (played by Billy Crystal), men and women can’t be friends “because the sex part always gets in the way.”

“Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.”

Oscar Wilde

Firstly I’d like to note that I am referring mostly to deep, connected friendships between both a heterosexual man and woman and not the casual and circumstantial interactions that happen between people in groups of friends or work colleagues.

From an evolutionary standpoint, men and women were never meant to be friends in the first place. Many leading philosophers claim that the entire purpose of life is to reproduce and pass on your genes. Although this statement is controversial and debatable, we can all agree that our basic instinct is to survive and reproduce.

“If I had the chance, I would smash”

There’s a reason why cross-sex friendships tend to make a significant other feel jealous or threatened. Even if it isn’t said outright, sometimes you can feel tension in the air or glaring eyeballs burning into your skin. Trust me, I know! At this point, I’d expect someone to comment and say, “Oh but if someone’s jealous of a cross-sex friendship, then that’s down to their own insecurities!” — sure, I don’t disagree with this statement. You do find many individuals in relationships while simultaneously still healing from old wounds or unable to let go of past trauma which can create these negative feelings towards the “friend”. However let’s be real… there is a risk that in cross-sex friendships, one or the other will develop sexual attraction, and possibly feelings over time. It’s just how human nature works, but it doesn’t always happen.

Bear in mind that just because your friend is sexually attracted to you, it doesn’t mean they will necessary act upon it. Either they will keep it hidden from you or confess to you when they get the courage to do so. In the past, I’ve had one great friendships fizzle out because he chose to admit his feelings for me… it was pretty awkward and a shock to say the least. After I told him the feelings were’t mutual, he started backing off and our friendship unfortunately never went back to normal. I really hoped he’d be fine over time, but he clearly wasn’t. I reached out a few times to see how he was, and although he would respond (short, blunt answers), I realised our friendship was pretty much dead in the water. 🙁

I have many male friends, and it’s not by choice. I’ve always naturally found that we have more common interests, the same humour, a similar outlook on life and I appreciate that they’re all straight up, no bullshit kind of people. That’s not to say my girls aren’t!

Here’s a confession… I had a little thing with one of my good guy friends about 9 years ago… it was a while back and we were young, but I definitely don’t see him in that way at all. There’s no emotional attachment and it’s certainly the same from his side. He’s a good looking dude and we’ll joke about the past if it ever comes into conversation (rarely!) but it’s never impacted our friendship. These days we’ll talk about life and even offer each other dating/relationship advice!

There’s a couple guys I’m close with who I’ve known since primary school and we literally have a brother/sister type of bond, nothing more, nothing less. I’ve been to their house, I know their parents, siblings and vice versa. And I really value those long-lasting friendships.

With some of the other fellas, they have openly told me that if they had the chance, they would “smash”. Does it bother me? No. Does it affect our friendship? No. I’ve always set and maintained boundaries and I don’t entertain flirtatious behaviour for sake of an ego boost or anything. I draw the line and they know that. I’ve joined in on a “lads holiday” and taken a trip with just one of them in the past. Nothing happened — we slept in separate rooms, partied together, dined together and soaked up the sun by the pool. All amazing holidays! Ultimately, I believe we all have a high degree of maturity which allows our cross-sex friendship to be really lovely, fun and wholesome.

Woman please

When my guy friends get into relationships, I respect the boundary and tend not to invite them out one-on-one. I also decrease the calls, texts, cut the explicit chats about sex, etc. — I just know that their partners wouldn’t appreciate it. Likewise I would feel the same if the roles were reversed. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t want their partner to feel uncomfortable or feel like I’m getting in between them. Funnily enough my friend recently admitted that his ex wasn’t a fan of me, 😆 she thought I was “going after” him. 🤦🏻‍♀️ Woman please.

I do get it though, I used to be in a relationship with a guy who was always chatting to his female friends. If we went to an occasion/event, all these chicks would be hugging him, constantly floating around him, giving him that little “playful” stroke on the arm. He ended up being a cheat anyway 🤷🏻‍♀️ so yes I get it!

So… can men and women really just be friends?

I do believe it’s possible… with a few caveats here and there. Sometimes you grow up as childhood friends and it simply remains that way. In other cases you build friendships overtime, and if it so happens that one develops feelings or the “sex part” gets in the way (and it’s not reciprocated) then by all means, a line needs to be drawn. From my experience, this “line” usually come from the woman. This is where boundaries must be put in place. I’ll leave you with some final points to think about.

BE EXPLICIT WITH THEM
It’s important that you’re clear on why you are friends with them. If the motivation is not platonic, then be honest with yourself and admit that you are attracted to this person. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a friendship with them, but it will help to acknowledge the attraction you feel and know your limits in awkward situations.

EASE UP ON THE TOUCHY FEELY-NESS
Rein it in so you don’t give the other person the wrong idea. At the same time, don’t entertain it if they start getting all touchy-feely with you. A hello/goodbye hug is okay, but shoulder rubs, thigh grabs, hair stroking… well! 👀

SHARING THE SAME BED… REALLY???
You know, I was reading up on this… and perhaps I’m an old skool kinda gal but apparently cross-sex friends sharing the same bed is fairly normal? I never realised that and don’t get it. I’ve never shared the same bed with any of my guy friends and wouldn’t want to! How awkward! Personally, I wouldn’t suggest this.

BE AWARE OF EACH OTHER’S SITUATION
When a boyfriend or girlfriend enters the scene then it’s probably time to take a step back. It’s not worth treading on someone else’s toes. Acting accordingly is the respectable thing to do, the last thing you want to do is cause conflict!

COVIDiaries: The 6 feet of separation

Firstly, I really hope everyone has coped okay during these turbulent times. Living in the midst of a pandemic and a lockdown is something that no one could have predicted. Socially and economically there have been a few cause for concerns. Many people have lost or feel terrified about the future of their jobs, some separated from and worried about loved ones, others craving freedom because home felt like their prison or those who are simply stuck indoors with little to no outdoor space. It hasn’t been easy for everyone to adjust to the “new normal”, which is why communicating, connecting, finding new hobbies and really making the most out of life’s simple pleasures is vital. We all need to muster the energy and enthusiasm to get through each day, and if we can refocus some of that energy on our own wellbeing and look out for others; then that’s always a great starting point to a more positive outlook.

Prior to the outbreak, I had been speaking to a few people across Hinge, Bumble, OKCupid and Coffee meets Bagel just to curb my boredom. I went on a couple dates here and there, it was great fun but overall the vibe wasn’t quite right so things died out fairly quickly. There was one guy in particular that I matched with on Hinge. I specifically remember when I went through his profile, something about him just didn’t sit right with me. I mean, it’s likely I was being judgemental (we’re all human at the end of the day!) but he had this very “laddish” look about him. Bar that, he did send quite a funny ice breaker; and funny is always good in my eyes. But don’t get it twisted, funny does not win me over.

As we started talking, I probably put in about 55% effort. That’s my general rule of thumb, you need to see what the other person is about without going all in, and I think you can get a good enough gauge if you fire the right questions and carefully look at their responses. After a few days of talking, I sussed that he was quite a smooth talker, confident with a tendency to step on the line of cocky, witty, funny, fairly charming and quite direct. I’ve dealt with many guys alike in the past, some slightly worse than others and I’ve always ended up extremely unimpressed. My normal reaction would have been to not bother but I was quite intrigued with him mainly because I saw a little bit of my personality come through in his responses. Also the fact that I knew within myself that I needed to be more open minded! As with most guys I meet online, my guard is held extremely high. Most things that are said, I take with a pinch of salt. With this guy, my guard was up for a while… it still is to be honest but it has dropped a significant amount over time.

And almost 9 weeks later (to my suprise) we’re still talking, regularly. We have these weekly video calls which I find very pleasant and entertaining. I’d explain what happens during these calls but I’ll save the details for another post. I guess it’s nice to get dressed up and pretend I’m going out on a date (literally just chilling on my bed), though I must say my efforts of late have been on the decline! Clearly I’m getting far too comfortable! 😬

The most frustrating part is that we haven’t actually met! Timing has been unfortunate but nevertheless I’ve genuinely enjoyed getting to know him thus far. I’ve appreciated the reciprocation in terms of time and effort put in to build a connection. You’d think in lockdown, people would get tiresome of having to entertain a conversation knowing that it wouldn’t lead an actual date… at least not for a while, consequently throwing in the towel after a couple of weeks or so. I wouldn’t be shocked if people said they were video dating purely as a time filler.

With video calls it still feels like there’s a barrier between us. Even though we talk frequently, without the physical form, we’re only getting a small part of what we’re about. It’s a fact that 70% of our communication is done via body language. So I guess my concern now is not so much him being a “lad” but more so us meeting properly and having an actual date! I’m not a pessimist but I can’t help but wonder “what if…”

We finally meet and there’s zero chemistry!?
We don’t find each other attractive face to face!?
We find each other unbearable?!
He’s not really that talkative in person and it gets awkward?!
He’s not really that funny and it gets awkward?!


I am looking forward to meeting him (finally), we joked that it would take us about 10 dates until we’d eventually see each other and currently it appears we’re on track! However it goes, I’ll be sure to enjoy the date, have fun and a good laugh. Fingers crossed it’s not another kittenfish or brick wall situation! Who knows… but make sure you stay tuned for the next chapter of COVIDiaries! 😀

You used to be my cup of tea but I drink champagne now.

You know the ones that got kicked to the curb like… months ago, then have the audacity to come crawling back into your life on all fours? Yeah, so I got hit up with that “Hi stranger…” nonsense recently, and nothing could make my eyeballs roll any further back!

It’s nice to think that these people have chosen to insert themselves into your life once again because they finally realised the error of their ways and want to make another go of it. But thankfully people like us with a brain know full well that’s not usually the case.

There are many reasons why old flames return… all which have very little to do with you at all. I get it, we’ve all been there, at first you’ll get those “What if” questions:

What if this time it’s going to be different?
What if they’ve changed?
What if they’re actually sorry this time?

You end up overthinking to the point where you might even consider giving them another chance. However, let me pause you right there. Allow me to share my thoughts which will (hopefully) mitigate further drama and bullshit where an ex or old romantic interest is concerned. Honestly, I just don’t want anyone to entertain silliness and enter a vicious cycle that frankly won’t bring you any happiness in the long run. Here are the main reasons why someone will boomerang themselves back to you:

COMFORT ZONE
Most people have gone and taken the easy option at some point in life, that might even include going back to an ex. If you’ve been in a relationship for a while, it’s natural to become habituated to each other. One might have even tried hooking up with someone else and realised that it’s far too much work. Hence they head back over to their “Comfort Zone” where minimal effort is required. In my opinion, this is what I call settling. Eventually someone will get bored and flee the nest so why prolong the inevitable?

SEX
Some old flames crawl into your life again just for the physical intimacy. Maybe the sex was fire 🔥 or maybe it’s simply been a while. They might convince you that they’re back to stay, however… it’s just sex they’re after. My advice? Don’t do it unless you can mentally/emotionally handle the aftermath.

EGO BOOST AND REGAINING CONTROL
Watch out for these mofos. 🤨 These ones think they’re the best thing since sliced bread. There are certain characters that love the feeling of having control over others, and if you’ve ever dated someone like that… I suggest you run in the opposite direction. These vultures will circle back around every so often to see if they still have power over you. They’ll use lines like “Remember when we…” or throw in private jokes you once shared, basically exploiting your vulnerabilities and “weaknesses”. And if they get you under their spell again, you’ll be feeding their ego, making them feel like they’ve still got you wrapped around their finger. Save yourself. Block them and cut them off pronto.

LONELINESS AND BOREDOM
Well that’s not your problem is it? I don’t care if they’re in COVID-19 self isolation and you shouldn’t either. A reason why some exes might come back is because they have no other options. Maybe their lives are lacking excitement, maybe their social calendar has been empty for too long, maybe they can’t be arsed to date… or maybe they need to find a new hobby! Whatever the reason… don’t let them use you to fill the void.

REGRET / ANOTHER CHANCE
Believe it or not, some people can learn their lesson but it’s rarely the case from my view. Regret doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has changed. I would tread very carefully with second chances. I’ve been foolish enough to give people several chances but generally if a relationship ended, it did so for a reason.

“Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

– SATC, Samantha Jones

I’ve experienced every single one of the above and I’ve learnt my lessons the hard way. While certain guys are sliding in my messages, I’m quite happy to slide them into my block list. Time is precious and I don’t believe anyone should be wasting a second preoccupying themselves with situations that involve stress and stupidness.

Are we burning ourselves out with all these matches?

Dating apps… there are far too many options out there (I’m talking apps and potentials), it’s been said that the golden rule of dating is to never put all your eggs in once basket. I’m not opposed to this, however if you’re not on your A-game or you’re a newbie to dating apps, this multi dating palaver can quickly become confusing, tedious, tiring and kind of messy! I know because I used to be a multi-dater once upon a time. I got to a point where I was having 3 dates a week. And no I’m not bragging here. It was fun and a great laugh at first, but I started pondering… is it really worth the time and energy? Is multi dating truly the way forward in search of a suitable partner?

Repeating the same small talk, asking the same questions to X number of guys over and over — while also trying to remember what they’ve/you’ve said… it’s far too exhausting! Keeping up with several conversations simultaneously meant that I had to leverage my organisational skills (good thing I’ve worked in Project Management). I used to have copy and paste questions (and answers) saved in my phone notes! Basically a bunch of templates. Cheeky huh? It was certainly an efficient way of doing things… but in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have treated dating as if it were some kind of routine/chore! 😬

Multi dating = Multi confusion?

So I refrained from multi dating strategy and wanted to share my reasons why:

1. As mentioned above. Small talk. It’s necessary but painful… and I’d rather not multiply the number of times I have to do it.
2. I love getting glammed up… but truthfully it’s effort! For me, I’m either dressed to the nines to looking like a peasant — there’s no in-between!
3. When you’re not quite getting that spark and you have to drop the awkward “I’ve had a great time, you’re lovely but…” message. Eeek.
4. Constantly looking over my shoulder during a dating incase I get caught by one of the other dudes!
5. Guilt. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty but… I have a good heart! I feel so bad if a guy starts pouring their feelings out and it’s not mutual.

Some people start wondering whether the grass is greener on the other side. Dating then becomes a numbers game and everyone feels disposable. The problem is that this way of thinking doesn’t allow you to properly connect with someone — keeping one foot out the door ultimately means your efforts are half-hearted.

By the way, how you choose to date is totally up to you. I’m merely sharing my experiences 🙂 So why did I multi-date in the first place? Well I’m not going to lie, boredom was the main reason. But in the early stages of dating (especially when you don’t actually know what you’re looking for) it’s nice to connect with different types of people, have a laugh, suss out what type of people you gel with, what qualities/characteristics you like in a person and what you don’t. Then if you happen to share mutual interests, values, humour and enjoy each other’s company then great! I do think multi dating is ideal for those who prefer to keep it casual… although I know people who do it for the ego boost.

Providing that you’re someone who’s unsure about what you’re looking for, here are some other reasons why multi dating can be a good idea:

1. It prevents you from becoming too attached (if that’s your dating style).
2. You won’t feel the pressure or need to rush things.
3. You’ll have a clearer, more rational observation of individual traits you like and dislike.

Why do you want this position?

Multi dating is like being an employer, you’re looking for the right person to fill a role. The first stage is essentially pre-screening, you know… going through their photos and bios (CV), then selecting candidates to match and chat with. I think my record is holding 17 different conversations across 4 apps at one time — I won’t be doing that again! 😬

Then comes the process of elimination. If the conversation is dead, you unmatch. If all goes well and the candidate has kept my interest then they move to second stage (WhatsApp, maybe a phone or video call). A little after this point, if I haven’t blocked them yet, then it’s final stage (setting up a date). Scheduling dates was a bit of a madness… I had to keep a diary to remember who I was seeing and when. Many articles advise letting the other party know that you’re dating around from the start, I don’t think that’s necessary, but that’s just me.

Disclaimer: My definition of multi dating isn’t having a full blown relationship with multiple people. Nor does it mean I get intimate with every single guy at the same time! Once I’m into someone and the feeling is reciprocated, I cut ties with the others.

Conclusion

I think multi dating is kinda long! I guess my attitude around it has changed, I honestly can’t be arsed! These days I’d prefer to invest time in one person. It requires less effort, I don’t get caught up in any complications, it’s an opportunity to get to know someone on a deeper level without other “distractions”, it’s respectful, and if things don’t work out then it’s just a simple case of dropping them, moving on to the next one or chilling! Why make life more difficult right? What’s your take on it?

Back ups. Safety nets. Back-burners.

A back up partner, standby lover, or spare-tyre lover is a person anticipated as a potential future romantic partner in the event of the failure or unforeseen end of a current relationship.

“If we’re still single when we hit 40, just be with me, let’s have kids together.” — I have a friend who was being very serious about this offer… and by the way, he’s aware I’m writing this blog post! Every time I saw him, he’d say it again and again. I laughed it off, sarcastically joked about it numerous times until he looked genuinely offended.

According to an article I read the other day, “50 per cent of women in relationships have a back up partner.” – Wow, I did not know that. And just to throw it out there, here are some other little facts about women with back ups:

1. Married women are more likely to have a second option in place as compared to those in a relationship.

2. In most cases, the back up choice is usually an old friend, who has harboured feelings for the particular woman. Or else, it could also be an ex-boyfriend/ex-husband.

3. The majority of women said that their back-up would be somebody whom they had known for at least seven years.

4. One in ten women also said that their back-up had confessed their feelings to them already.

I’ve never quite understood or considered a back up. By no means do I judge people who have one but are “safety nets” there out of fear of being alone? Or is it to gain personal confidence knowing you have someone else to fall back on if worse comes to worst?

Looking at it from one perspective, I guess once you commit, you eliminate all other options. If option number one doesn’t pan out, you have to start over, which is probably a daunting thought for some. Then there’s also the element of having someone readily available to cushion the blow in case of a potential heartbreak.

In my opinion, a back up sounds very similar to being a football substitute. You’re essentially “benching” them until you decide you need them. And unless they’re happy with the agreement and are willing to wait it out (maybe forever), I find it unfair to keep someone around (who likely has feelings for you) until further notice. I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable with that arrangement.

But maybe that’s just me and my empathy for others. What are your thoughts?