Monday, June 2, 2014

CAN MEN AND WOMEN BE FRIENDS? A LOVE LETTER TO MY MALE FRIENDS

Last Thursday, I turned 30 and traveled to Paris to celebrate my birthday. I was surrounded by friends who love me and in the beautiful city of Paris - it was exactly what I wanted. Then, everything got better when, at my birthday dinner, a close friend of mine who lives and works in Singapore showed up unexpectedly to surprise me. He flew 13+ hours and 10,000+ kilometers to say happy birthday and make sure I had an endless supply of champagne on my birthday, so basically he wins the friend of a lifetime award. (I should also note here that another friend of mine, based in Paris, "hosted" my birthday - meaning he planned and paid for much of it. Most of the people traveling with me stayed at his house - he offered people he didn't know or barely knew a place to stay without hesitation. He also wins a friendship award for being so good to me.)

I can't remember a time that I was happier or felt more loved. Excited, I told a few people about my "favorite birthday present" (my friend's presence) and received the following text messages in reply:
"That's so sweet! Do you think he likes you?"
"He's in love with you. Just admit it."
"Ugh. Why don't you just fuck him already?" 

I'll reply to these responses here:

That's so sweet! Do I think he likes me: It is incredibly sweet. It was a perfect, incredibly thoughtful present. And yes, I think he likes me...we are friends after all. In fact, I think he loves me (see below), which is good because I also love him.

He's in love with me: He is, but not in the way people prefer a heterosexual man and a heterosexual woman to be in love. He loves me, yes. I love him, ABSOLUTELY. We are deep in platonic love with each other. And I hope it lasts forever.

Why I don't just fuck him already: The previous comments are maybe naive, but this one borders on insulting - even though they're pretty much getting at the same thing. The question is so loaded with insinuation: Is it that I should reward a man's 'good behavior' or touching gesture by sleeping with him? Like some sort of positive reinforcement for an untrained child? Or, am I expected to sleep with him? Because doing something for someone else or that might make someone else happy means he wants something in return? And clearly that something he wants is...my body? ::rolls eyes:: Everyone who asked this needs to go away and get a clue.

Men and women can be friends, but only in a space where neither of them is wallowing so deeply in desperation that they try to turn everything into romantic/sexual relationships. Not all men are going to be good romantic and/or sexual partners for all women and vice versa. Love appears in life in so many forms. I would suggest that you don't dismiss platonic love or try to manipulate it to be something it's not just because your platonic lover has different sex organs that you. Let's all take a collective deep breath. And stop being so thirsty.

Men and women can also be friends only in a space where romantic and sexual expectations (or lack thereof) are parallel. If one person is operating under the guise of friendship but has no intention of remaining "just friends", they will only be increasingly frustrated and unhappy as time goes on and their love isn't requited. Friendship isn't about hoping or wishing for something more or different in return from the other person.

(This isn't to say that people should never be open to exploring relationships with their friends - it's true that some of the best romantic relationships are based on friendships. But that doesn't mean that every and any inter-sexual friendship is going to be the best romantic/sexual relationship or even a romantic/sexual relationship worth exploring. Romance and sex are important. But friendship is too. All should be appreciated for what they are.)

So, to my platonic friends who happen to be men: Thank you. Novels, love letters and theses have been written on the power of female friendships, and you've proven this power extends beyond gender or sex. It is truly friendship that is powerful. I don't know what I'd do without your presence, protection and perspective. I'm so glad we fell in love. Always, xo.