Complicated Friends

June, 2016 – I stood and watched as my friend walked down our long driveway and saddled up the U-Haul moving van.  This amazing friend walked into my life a few years ago, and even though I wasn’t looking for this friendship, he was exactly the friend that I needed.  His imprint on my life is a good one, and I am a better person today because of his influence.  My friend and his family drive away to start a new adventure.  They are relocating several states away.  A few months ago, we learned of their impending move and the mourning process began.  It has been a difficult journey.  There has been sadness, tears, denial and joy.  Shortly before the move was announced, my friend and I collaborated on the following post – a post that I could never quite bring myself to publish until now.  This post is dedicated to my friend and all of the others out there that truly give of themselves to be a friend to someone.

 

Earlier, 2016 – Are you ever absolutely amazed at how a certain friend became part of your life?  What happens if this blessing comes in the form of a member of the opposite sex?  Can a man and woman be friends?  Well, yes and no – it depends on the man and the woman.

 

To insure that this post is credible and accurate from both the male and female point of view, I have invited my dear friend to help us explore this topic.  You guessed it – my dear friend is a man.  I realize that many people strongly believe that men and women can never be friends.  I ask that you to read this post and consider the possibilities.

 

A little bit about us.  We are both married and have long marriages.  We are both in the same stage of life in practically all areas, although my friend is 8 years younger than me.  We are both committed to our spouses and children and we reside in the same town. So, does this spell d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r?  We are not naïve.  We are both aware that this friendship must be handled very carefully.

 

So, what do you think?  Do the friends have to find each other unattractive in order to make this work?  Can two people of the opposite sex who find each other attractive be friends?  I propose that physical attractiveness is not the only issue.  Even when one or both find the other physically unattractive, an affair can result.  When you mix the potion of male and female chemistry, attraction is about more than physical appearance.  This makes me think about that famous scene from When Harry Met Sally – Harry Burns:  Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.  Sally Albright: So, you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?  Harry Burns: No. You pretty much want to nail ’em too. The chemistry that exists in a male/female relationship aren’t completely about physical appearance.  It is possibly even more about emotional connection and vulnerability.

 

So where does this leave us?  Successful opposite sex friendships are a rarity but they are possible.  Both individuals must be completely committed to protecting the relationship and all of the others that are involved.  Friendship between a man and woman is probably the most complicated type of friendship but if done correctly, it can be a highly rewarding and enlightening experience with great depth.  My friendship with my male friend has brought many new perspectives into my life and it has helped me understand men on an entirely new level.  Why do we have friends?  They enrich our lives; and an opposite sex friend can enrich your life greatly.

 

Here is a list of practical ways that your male/female friendship and all involved can be protected.  This list was compiled by me and my friend as we sat and had coffee.

 

>Both individuals must be completely committed to doing the right thing no matter what.  You must be alert to your own feelings.  An emotional or physical affair is not an option.

>The spouses of each friend must be treated with respect and the marriages must always come first.

>Never make comparisons between your friend and your spouse.

>Tread very carefully when the subject of your husband or wife comes up.  Your spouse’s secrets should never be discussed.  Be aware that hashing through marital difficulties can stir up protective feelings that can lead to problems.

>As difficult as it is, each friend must have the freedom to “cry foul” and confront the other friend regarding any boundary that has been crossed or potential problems developing within the friendship.

 

I know that there are some readers out there that I have not convinced.  You might belong to one of two camps.  Either you think “no problem, I can be friends with them, have a little fun and play with some fire” or you say “men and women should never be friends – it’s always heading for an affair”.  If you are casual in your attitude about male/female relationships or you are not careful in selecting an opposite sex friend who possesses a high level of integrity, I would urge you to not have this type of friendship and of course, if you don’t believe that a proper male/female friendship is possible, you should not violate your conscience but please be careful to not judge others who have opposite sex friendships.

 

The bottom line – this type of friendship is not for everyone but if you are committed to correct opposite sex friending, you might get to experience a friendship that will bless you, your friend and every life that it touches.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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