So… We can’t just be friends?

Ages ago, I watched a really silly interview with Steve Harvey, where he essentially reeled off all the generalised sayings about men and women that’s made him money over the years. There was one comment he said that made me laugh. How ludicrous! I thought. Why do people buy his relationship books? Surely he’s a man who’s become a parody of himself without even knowing it! In the interview, he’d said that men and women can never be “just friends” because the man is always thinking about sex; in his mind, as long as he’s close to her there will always be a chance for him. Obviously I’m uncomfortable with how similar this sentiment is to the “friendzone” mindset: when a man just doesn’t know his boundaries and decides that pushing himself onto a woman is the best way to ignore her stance that she really is just his friend, and in response to his rejection he hurls abuse at her for “friendzoning” him (or sometimes worse).

I shook my head at Steve Harvey, because I’ve never believed that to be true. It was just another stereotype based on pseudoscience and biological determinism about the crazed, feral, explodingly strong libido that heterosexual men have which means that if you’re not going to sleep with them, shut up and leave ’em alone.

Until now, I suppose…

Let me explain: I don’t believe the biological determinist lark, but recently I’ve been hurt by certain events that have left me disappointed in a few people—men—who I thought were my friends, but who now live a nonexistence in my life that I find quite worrying. They have both been alluded to in previous blog posts, and I would love to link to said posts, but it’s half-past ten in the evening; I start at 9am tomorrow and it just seems too long. I’m only writing at this time because I’ve had these thoughts in my head all day and I need to get them down.

Both of these guys were… not “love interests” by any means, but they were (in my mind) potentials. One of them used to message me often on Facebook and we used to chat and pray together on Skype or on the phone; he invited me to his church once, which was nice. Now, these things aren’t extraordinary, but he did this thing that I now know a lot of church guys do for a reason I still don’t understand. He had this habit of talking to me about marriage and kids and homelife. He even recommended that I read Adventist Home and used to always talk to me about relationships. In fact, he once asked me if I was seeing anyone. I took this to mean he was interested, but one day, he posted a picture online of his girlfriend (a woman who never came up in any of our conversations), and I withdrew a bit. I was shocked. This was my first experience of the “church way” and I didn’t like it. In my opinion, all the evidence showed that he had played about with me a bit. If he’d told me there was another woman from the start I would have known where I stood and continued correspondence as friends.

The friendship I shared with guy number two was too intense. As I think about it, I cringe. He told me very personal things about himself (that I still and will always keep to myself); I spoke to him about personal things; we spoke almost daily either on the phone or on Skype; he told me he was attracted to me and just when I thought things were going somewhere, he said I was more like a sister to him and that he didn’t mean to make me think we were going places. At this, I was angry. I felt as though he had called my heart out and I felt vulnerable because until then, I didn’t realise I was still trying to come to terms with a fairly recent instance of unrequited love. It made me really reassess myself; I put a lot of blame onto my actions and I was paranoid because I felt as though I would never get this relationship thing right. After a very tense and difficult and uncomfortable conversation with Guy Two, we almost stopped speaking.

Today, I can’t really say I’m friends with either of these men. With the first, we don’t even like each other’s statuses, let alone private message. With the second, he’s changed his number twice and has decided not to give me either of them—and I’ve been texting the wrong number for a long time. I don’t even know what he’s doing with his life or if he’s doing well, which is a shame. Now it’ll be awkward for us to talk again because it just won’t be the same.

Now, I wonder if the relationships I had with these guys were genuine, of if they were only used as tools to see my character and if I would be a good match for them. When it didn’t work out, they discarded me, which I don’t think is fair. Did I ever have a true connection with them, or what is all one-sided?

I realise now, that some guys really can’t be “just friends”. Of course, this is only my take on it and there could be a reason why we’ve all lost contact, but from where I’m standing, it looks as though they’ve both terminated whatever contribution I made to their lives.

Until next time…


5 thoughts on “So… We can’t just be friends?

  1. Why must sex (or romantic interest) be distinguished from friendship? I think many of us have the notion that there are those you call “friends” and then there is that one “special friend” who you might marry or have a romantic relationship with. And so, many of us look at our friends with the wonder of “could they be a romantic interest?” Which, if we’re looking at friends with this question of potentiality, I might say we are not actually seeing them as a friend to begin with.

    • Interesting. I suppose that when I meet someone and we begin to chat, I always see them as a friend, especially within a church network, it’s really easy to make many friends. These examples I gave were different because although I had thought we were friends, they soon gave another signal that suggested something else. I can see now in hindsight that I must have misinterpreted in some way, but I think their actions afterwards speak volumes…

      Now I feel as though I have to be very careful when making a new “friend”, in case this happens again, and I partly understand why a lot of church men keep their female friends to an absolute minimum: because they’re not able to make appropriate relationships with the opposite sex. And that’s quite sad…

  2. I know this can be a heated topic. I think the difference in making friends with guys is where you draw the line in your friendship. Before my husband, I had guy friends. But I never talked to them on the phone, texted them unless I had a question about an event or something, or hung out with just them. I know it sounds silly, but the few guys I got hurt by in the way you are describing, I broke those unspoken rules I had placed in my own life.

    My husband was nice enough to girls, but later he told me he was always cautious to make sure he never got close to any girls unless he thought there was a strong likelihood he could marry them. No girls were hurt by him because no one caught his eye until me. He didn’t get to know me through texting and one on one deep conversations, but through being in ministry together and finding out we had common interests in Christ. After that, he chose to get to know me better making his intentions clear. It was the easiest, most natural and Godly relationship I have been in. And it still is.

    I only share this because I think you are beginning to see the harmful effects “friend” relationships with guys can have on you. I want you to be able to experience a relationship with a man who will cherish you without causing you pain in the process. Have I mentioned I enjoy reading your thoughts?

    • Hey! It’s been a while and I always enjoy hearing from you 🙂

      To be honest, I’m beginning to realise just how important it is to maintain healthy Christian bonds with others. Thankfully, through all of this I really learned to reflect on things and whilst I may never have the same friendship as I once did with these guys, I’m thankful for the experience it gave me in learning to be more discerning—and to be more patient in these matters too.

      I have thankfully begun a relationship with a person who has always been a closer friend than others, and I suppose over the years affections were formed that have been reciprocated. Funnily enough I spoke to him about my blog post and he said that since his relationship with me (and a bit before) he did change how he interacted with women because he didn’t want to be inappropriate in any way. It looks like I’ve been slow on the uptake of all this!

      But reading your comment has really given me food for thought, and now I think I’m going to have to reconsider how I handle my male relationships… otherwise I could end up leading someone else on too, and cause problems for others…

      (Thank you for your kind words!!!)

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