Saturday, June 23, 2007

FRIENDS


Can men and women be friends?

This is a topic I think we have all dealt with at some point in our lives. I first encountered this when I was 8 years old. I had my very first girl "friend". We lived right across the street and had so much fun together. We would walk to the bus stop, play outside all day, ride bikes downtown to get a chocolate dipped ice cream cone, sleep outside on the trampoline. We were great buddies. But we were also a boy and a girl. So I climbed the big eucalyptus tree by our house and carved "Brad + Nona = True Love"! Once on the way home from the bus stop we stopped in the apple orchard and experienced our very first kiss!!! And I can still remember like it was yesterday the night we were sleeping on the trampoline with a group of kids. I was laying awake counting shooting stars. I thought everyone else was asleep and I was whispering each time I saw a shooting star...one, two, three, four. Then before I could say the next number, Nona leaned over, kissed me on the cheek and whispered "Five"!!! A wonderfully innocent romantic moment!

Then a couple years later I moved away and went through Junior High and puberty! Suddenly that innocent 8 year old boy was trapped inside an adolescent body trying to make sense of all the urges and surges. But I've always had a lot of female friends. I can remember times when I wished a friendship would be more. I can also remember having female friends who wished it would be more. Sometimes the friendship was obvious because the girl might have been dating someone that I knew. Somehow that "unavailability" eliminates the awkwardness and allows for friendship.

So what's the answer? Can men and women be friends? To be honest I am still experimenting with the concept and don't have a clear answer. Recently I have tried to remain friends with a woman after ending our 8 month relationship. That is very difficult because when someone has been much more than a friend, it feels natural to want that intimate connection to remain. No matter how logical it seems in your head, your heart and emotions just don't understand. So we drifted back into more than friendship. We had hurt feelings and misunderstandings. We were confused and conflicted at times. But we have also had amazing supportive conversations over coffee. We enjoyed lunches, dinners, concerts and movies without the pressures of an intimate relationship. But I know it was only because we were both using an incredible amount of self-discipline and restraint.

I also have a wonderful female friend that I met shortly after I ended my relationship. She was also coming out of a relationship and so neither one of us was ready for anything more. So we became friends. Our children get along great. We have wonderful deep conversations about life and love. We go to lunch, dinner, concerts and movies. Wait a minute...this is sounding familiar! But the difference is that we have never been anything more than friends. So those strong emotions that come with intimacy are missing. Even though she is very beautiful, I don't have any of those same pangs of emotion like I do when I am trying to be friends with my former girlfriend.

I would welcome comments on this post, but here is what I think. Men and women CAN be friends, but it all depends on the situation. It's not much different than a romantic relationship. We all have experienced the "Dating Game". You know how it's played..."I hope she likes me" or "Uh oh...I hope he doesn't like me". The game stops when you find that connection and chemistry. There's no more doubt because you both know you want to be together and wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I think it's the same with friendship. If one person just wants to be friends and the other person wants more than friendship it just won't work very well. But if both people are committed to being good friends and nothing more...that can be a wonderful experience!!! Just stay away from those apple orchards! ;-)


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