After having a conversation with a friend about motives and boundaries and friendship, I realized that I need to be honest. I need to have my motivations and thoughts brought forth and I need to lay them out for all to see. I am a single man who is most comfortable being friends with women. I can count my male friends on one hand. And while this sounds sexist and stereotypical, I still think the following is applicable: I don’t like sports, I don’t like cars, I don’t fix things myself, I read voraciously, I like celebrity gossip, I love TV storylines and will follow them slavishly, I am a romantic, I love love stories, I cry, I hate beer, I use lotion and facial cleanser daily, I don’t have calluses, I wouldn’t go into a strip club, I love talking on the phone, I emote, I communicate, I suffer from diarrhea of the mouth, I care about what people wear, I notice haircuts, and I’ve found that I actually really like having my toenails painted. Is it any surprise that most of my friends are women?
With all of that being said, I am still a man, by default and by choice. It can be easy at times to see me as “one of the girls”, something that I explicitly encourage, and that’s when it can be dangerous. Being a straight woman who is friends with a straight man can be done and it can be done very well. It’s also a path that’s fraught with risk and difficulty. If you are a woman and you are friends with me, there are things that you may forget. There are things I may not tell you. Things like the thoughts below which I am now sharing with the world:
1. I probably find you attractive and want to have sex with you. I’m a man, you’re a woman. If the option presented itself to have sex with you, it’s likely that I would be very interested.
2. Any appearance that I’m better than your spouse or significant other is an illusion. It’s easy, as your friend, to support you, to understand your craziness, and to be there when you’re upset. The dynamic of a relationship with someone with whom you share a home, children, history, family, and years of love is very different than someone who may see you or talk to you for even as many as a few hours a day. Every relationship has its ups and downs, and during those down periods, I might seem like a shining example of “how to be a spouse”. I’m not. If I was a female friend, the comparison would never be there, but just by the fact that I’m a man and your friend, it’s a logical jump. Don’t believe it.
3. I’m horrible with boundaries. One thing that I’ve learned about myself is that I don’t believe in boundaries. And even as I try to learn about boundaries, I still have a hell of a time seeing those lines. Whether it’s part of my controlling nature or my need to be accepted, I will attempt to be ever-present, to have an opinion on everything, and to convince you that I’m right. I’ve gotten better about stopping when those boundaries are exposed, but it’s always a battle.
4. My loyalty can enable you. I’m fiercely loyal. When I’m your friend, I’m there for you completely, and while this can be good, it also means that I will not tell you if I think you are doing something wrong. In fact, I won’t even think that you are doing something wrong – I will support your actions unilaterally as a way to support you and will be able to justify it quite easily. And with a gorilla in your corner, it can be hard to hear legitimate criticism and concern from others who love you.
5. I’m selfish. Once I’m your friend, it can be hard for me to get enough time with you, enough of you in general. If we get along great, always laugh, and you’re always happy when you’re with me, I’m happy too, and so why shouldn’t we do that ALL THE TIME?
Lest you think I’m beating myself up, I’m not. I know that I’m an excellent friend. I’m loyal, dependable, funny, fun, optimistic, reliable, reasonable, smart, and a solid person to know. But how can I tout these traits as being admirable while ignoring the negative aspects? I can’t – it’s irresponsible.