I have made many young people angry over the years with my claim that guys and girls can almost never be friends. If they are adamant that I’m wrong, what I sometimes add next is almost guaranteed to make them angry… which I’ll share shortly. A million years ago when I was a teenager, I worked at a movie theater at the mall (a statement that demonstrates my age: (kid) “Theaters were at the mall? That’s weird”), and there were a number of girls I worked with that I would have described as friends… but they weren’t. How do I know they weren’t friends? If they bent over, I was looking. If they wore a low cut shirt and not paying attention, I’d grabbed a peak, and not in the “I’m gay and want to appreciate your figure” kind of way. I was more of the “hubba-hubba kind of peaking, but doing it subtly, so I don’t get accused of being a pervert” kind of way. Now that I’m old, it’s more “put those away because it’s gross” kind of way and I stare at the ceiling. Back when I was a teen, did those girls know I was looking? I don’t know. I tried to be a ninja gawker, but maybe I was the construction worker gawker without realizing it, so I was clearly not a friend. That being said, there were a few girls I worked with that I would have called friends and mean it; why? Because I had zero attraction to them. Am I saying they were ugly? No… because I don’t want to seem rude. The reality is, however, if a guy says he’s friends with a girl, he’s either hiding his interest or she’s unsexy. Neither reason is very flattering: (guy) “We’re best friends because she’s ridiculously ugly and her personality sucks.” This is how I came up with the friendship test: If the girl bends over in front of the guy and he looks, he’s not a friend. If she bends over and wants him to look, she’s not a friend. If the guy tells her to get that out of his face, they’re friends. If he kicks her then they’re buddies.
Besides having been hit by the ugly stick, other reasons guys aren’t attracted can include they’re related (that should kill any interest or… weird) or the girl has crushed the guys hormones so much he wouldn’t even dream of her as an option. Sometimes guys can be friends with an ex, but it means his manhood/soul has been so destroyed by her the thought of her naked is like picturing his sister. Essentially, if a girl says she’s friends with a non-related guy, you can now ask, “Is that because you’re too ugly or did you crush his manhood in some way?” It’s fun to see their faces.
Can guys and girls be friends? Absolutely. I’m best friends with my sister… but she’s my sister. She’s also different because she can talk like a guy. She can be very girly, especially with my wife or her girlfriends, but she’s a chameleon and can talk like a guy, which has led to her making a lot of women angry at her: (other girls) “How can you get along with guys so well?” Guys and girls have a hard time being friends because we generally communicate differently. Last week I pointed out that guys are more like sprinters when it comes to listening and talking while women are more marathon runners of communication – that’s a big difference. Plus, guys don’t like sitting and talking at a coffee shop. We like to be doing something and let the conversation naturally happen. I’m a therapist and I’ve always hated sitting at coffee shop. I’d rather be walking, driving, or building something together. Maybe when I’m retired and I’m one of those old guys sitting at Tim Hortons desperate to feel connection it’ll be different, but generally guys don’t like talking for the sake of talking. Girls are generally more into that. If you’re not a teenage boy staring at the girl thinking how hot she is, it’s pretty hard to talk (or listen as she talks) to a girl ramble, which adds to the difficulty of guys and girls being friends.
I don’t know why girls want to think they can be friends with guys, but they seem to care a lot more than guys do. Guys are usually like “That makes sense,” unless he’s wants to keep his plan of trying to pick her up a secret. Back around year five of dating my wife she wanted to prove me wrong and had started hanging out with a guy ten years older than her, was married, and in the worship band at church – seemed safe to her. It was normally in a small group and never alone (I had a boundary against that for both of us), but at one point it was just them talking and she said something about I didn’t want her talking to him, which made her angry, but then he admitted he had feelings for her. I’m guessing it was more the “I’m telling you this in hopes you’ll realize you love me, too” situation (guys have this need to confess their hearts for some reason), but that was the final time my wife ever tried to prove me wrong. I don’t want to say I was right, but… you know. Her cousin/good friend tried to prove me wrong for five years with a bunch of different guys, and then also gave up because every guy she claimed was a friend was someone who eventually confessed to having feelings.
I think girls want to be friends with guys because they can feel a sense of power over them, which happens when a guy is interested. In these situations, yeah, the guy will be very accommodating and do all kinds of things for you without asking for anything, but that’s because he has ulterior motives, and that’s why it’s not a friendship; it’s an investment.
Whether guys and girls can be friends is a pretty serious thing because “friends” is how a lot of affairs end up happening. If you’re emotionally investing in someone of the opposite sex when you’re married, you are setting yourself up for disaster.
Here are the seven different levels of closer relationships for guys and girls besides dating:
- Friends: When people are friends, it needs to be a mutual and fair relationship. There will be times where one is helping the other more, but as long as there’s appreciation and both parties are okay with it, it works. Sometimes the “friend” title is more “we’re only connected because our partners are friends,” but it’s still mutual. I would describe the wives of my old high school friends as friends, but we’re not close. There’s a mutual respect and care for each other, but we’re not hanging out alone – that’d be weird. So we’re friends as in it’s mutual and fair, but not in the “I can call you to share my heart when I’m in trouble” because that’s the danger zone.
- One is Friend-Minded & One is Interested: This is not a friendship because it’s imbalanced and the friend-minded person holds the power.
- One is a Friend-Minded & One is a User: This is not a friendship because it’s imbalanced and the user holds the power over the friend-minded person.
- Two say Friends, but Hope for More: Both people are on the same page, so it’s mutual and fair, but it’s not “friendship,” it’s more courting to see where things go. There’s an unspoken commitment to each other even though it’s not officially exclusive.
- Two say Friends, but Hope for More but One or Both Have or Looking for Another Option: This gets extra dangerous if one person is thinking the other is being exclusive when they’re not; the other is still testing the waters with others to confirm they’re making the right choice. This category also includes people who are married and looking elsewhere or people who want a backup boyfriend/girlfriend (aka they’re not quite good enough to be number one, but they’re better than being alone).
- Two people essentially dating without confirming the status: Some couples are couples without the anniversary date.
- Two people are dating, but hiding it from others: My wife and I were officially a couple for three months before we admitted it to the church I was working at to make sure this was the right relationship. Sometimes you have to hide it to make life easier if you break up… although if you’re hiding it because it’s an affair, you’re being a terrible person.
This week may you find ways to protect yourself because whatever the situation, we don’t want to set ourselves up for failure, which includes hurting others unnecessarily or getting ourselves into trouble.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people (like me)