Biz Markie, one of the greatest talents to break out in the *90’s, has a song entitled, “Just a Friend.” For those of you who aren’t lucky enough to be familiar, throughout its duration, Markie unfolds a story about a girl he starts seeing who claims that one of her male companions is “just a friend.” By the end of the song, Markie discovers that the “friend” is that and then some. Poor Biz. But Biz is not the only one to come face to face with the question of whether guys and girls can just be friends. Numerous people face this situation every day. Poor (enter your name here).Last semester I studied the different kinds and aspects of friendships (yes, there is a class on friendship). Of all the topics that my class focused on, cross-sex friendship was the only kind that could not be determined to be if at all possible. Numerous articles only pushed me into further confusion as some approved the possibility while others denied it. I am nowhere near the level to say, overall, whether guys and girls can be friends platonically. My focus here is to merely put this idea out into the void (i.e. the minds of WCU) and see what kind of feedback it renders.
As I have mentioned before, I have two brothers. Growing up in a house of mostly testosterone has definitely shaped my perspectives. Sports, not clothes and shopping and other stereotypically girly things, were more my focus. I liked dirt, mud and paintball. On the playground, if there was a choice between hopscotch and soccer, I always took the latter. Being in this environment only surrounded me with boys. So, it was only natural that some of my best friends have always been guys.
Until last year, I’d never questioned if the guys I hang out with are really my friends. Only when an ex-boyfriend brought it up did I even consider the possibility that the guys had ulterior motives. (You know, the idea that guys are friends with girls so that one day there may be an opportunity there.)
Anything that my guy-friends did for me, to my guy, seemed to have a double meaning. I would tell my boyfriend, “Herbert,” how my friend picked me up from practice or took me to class when it was too cold. Herbert would respond that my friend only performed these actions because he liked me and wanted me to see that. If my friend had a girlfriend, I would tell Herbert, who would reply, “Doesn’t matter.” Now, maybe I am naive or maybe it’s just the way I was brought up but to me, the guys are just my friends.
In one of the works written, A. Abbey cites that “males are more apt than females to view both men’s and women’s behaviors in a more sexualized manner….Males do seem to perceive friendliness from females as seduction….Males often perceive a responsibility to take initiative and assert masculine sexuality.” Though I do not have any resources in front of me to state otherwise, females have an equal share in wanting to turn a platonic relationship into a romantic one.
Another point is that males and females view affection in friendships differently. William Rawlins states in his book, Friendship Matters, that “women appear to use similar criteria for evaluating the closeness of their relationships with both genders, and male friends are often not rated as caring or as close as female ones. Moreover, the sexual potential of relationships does not significantly confound females’ views of friendship. In comparison, men seem to employ separate standards in assessing the emotional closeness of their friendships with men and women.”
Despite all the quotes and facts I can use, it still does not solve the ultimate question. Can a guy and a girl be friends and not turn it into a relationship or not even feel the need to? Of course, I want to say, “yes” because that’s been my belief since I was five. But then again, I can’t tell you that I’ve never liked any of my guy friends or that none of my guy friends have had feelings for me.
After thinking about it, the only conclusion I can determine is that, like everything else, cross-gender friendships are circumstantial and only hold the truths of that particular relationship.
Jaylyn Bergner is a senior majoring in communication with a minor in creative writing. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.