This is a topic that has bothered me for many years now …. the notion that men and women can’t be friends unless at least one of them is attracted to the other romantically and/or physically. This is what some people I know believe to be true. This might be the case for some people, but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily true for everyone. In addition, it seems like there is often an automatic assumption when people of the opposite sex (assuming we are talking about heterosexuals) are seen together that they must somehow be involved in a relationship, legitimate or not, rather than giving them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are friends or relatives. I’m sure this happens though as well when two people of the same gender who are known to be gay or lesbian are seen together.
I grew up surrounded by boys and have always had plenty of guy friends, some of whom I have been more than friends with at some point. Others I did have a little crush on or I knew they liked me, but it remained a friendship in spite of the fact that one of us was interested in something more with the other person. I have also had numerous other guy friends over the years with whom I only wanted to be friends and vice versa. The problem is that I keep having to explain that we’re just friends, especially if it is someone I have remained friends with after being in a relationship with them previously. I should be able to say that we’re friends, period, and not have to say “just friends”. I really wish that some people wouldn’t have that automatic suspicion just because we’re of the opposite sex.
My husband has been particularly suspicious since he doesn’t believe that we can be just friends because of him not believing it’s possible. When I would ask him if that means he was attracted to any or all of his female friends, he always said no, which of course I didn’t believe, knowing what he believes. I guess he thought I would believe he is the one exception to the rule or maybe that it only applies to me. It has taken me decades to get him to believe that I really am “just friends” with my guy friends, and I’m even not 100% sure he still doesn’t think otherwise. I think he will always at least assume that any guy friend I have definitely has some sort of ulterior motive if they choose to spend time with or keep in contact with me. He will never understand that not everyone thinks like he does.
I have also been with people when they have seen someone they know, let’s say it’s a guy friend, and he is walking or having a meal with a female other than his wife. He is immediately presumed guilty of cheating on his wife, or at least the thought is entertained. I know it happens frequently that people do cheat, but what happened to giving people the benefit of the doubt? It could be a friend, a cousin, a co-worker, or anyone else. This makes me a little hesitant sometimes to meet a guy friend out in public because I feel like people will assume I am doing something wrong when I am not, and that’s probably partly due to having experience with people who automatically assume the worst. I know other people who have the same hesitation as well. It shouldn’t be that way. If you see two people who are kissing, holding hands, or being affectionate in some other way, go ahead and make assumptions about the nature of their relationship. Otherwise, they might appreciate it if you gave them the benefit of the doubt.
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