In a recent edition of our school paper, someone wrote an opinion article on this very topic. The thought that men and women can’t be friends is a bit of an ancient ideology. And it really got me thinking.
Why aren’t there more close friendships between men and women? According to this Psychology Today article (http://tinyurl.com/y9pwl4l), it makes perfect sense in today’s world for men and women to be close friends. In the past, there were very few opportunities for men and women to interact outside of purposeful dating, hence why cross-gender platonic friendships rarely worked out. Today, men and women work together, they play on sports teams together, they hang out together. It is possible for men and women to be close friends but there is a key challenge that must be overcome in order for a friendship to survive: Communication. Just as in a romantic relationship, open communication is a requirement if you want to get beyond the initial physical attraction when it hits. Because it will hit. Of course, if you’re not adult enough to handle having a conversation like that you will not be able to remain long-term friends.
Since we’ve determined how men and women can remain close friends, think about this: Why do we not see more of these close, platonic friendships? Maybe it’s just me but we don’t see a lot of true best friends that are opposite genders. I know that we all tend to feel more comfortable within our own sex (it’s a proven phenomenon called voluntary gender segregation), but I think it’s also something we should try harder at.
I know it can be difficult. Believe me, I am the last person to claim it’s easy to befriend people, especially guys. But I wish it was easier. Because there are a lot of awesome people in this world. By taking away the idea that cross-gender friendships are taboo, we allow ourselves to get to know these people, to learn different perspectives, add new dimensions to our lives, and simply expand our social circle.
Men and women can be friends. I’ve seen it; there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be. So let’s get together and make new friends!
Rianna De Winkle