Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Can Single Men and Women Be Friends?, Part II

Well, yes and no. In a previous post, "Can Single Men and Women Be Friends?, Part I", Singletude delved into some scenarios in which male-female friendships thrive. But we all know that not every platonic pair rubs along together like Jerry and Elaine. Today we'll consider a few scenarios in which attempting an opposite sex friendship will put you on the fast track to Couplesville...or Frenemyland.

When Single Men and Women Can't Be Friends

1. Friends Plus

We've all lingered in this delightful stage between friendship and romance, "accidentally" bumping into each other in the break room, nudging each other at parties, and locking eyes across the table. It's a stage I've nicknamed "friends plus" because it's more than innocent camaraderie but less than full-blown love.

The key word here is stage. It's transient. At some point, the pent-up frustration reaches fever pitch, and Peggy Lee starts singing in the almost-lovers' twitterpated heads. The pressure on these two is greater than on two initiates in the mile high club, and something's gotta give. Usually, it's the friendship. The two become an official couple or at least add benefits to the mix, and if they ever demote themselves to "just friends" again, it will be through the filter of past carnal knowledge.

If they choose not to sacrifice the friendship, then they invariably head down one of two roads. Either they relegate each other to Not-Worth-It standing, in which case the friendship can survive if they're committed to it (see "Part I" above), or the attraction continues to simmer unfulfilled as they watch each other hooking up with others from afar and eventually boils over in a traumatic fit of accusations or tears. Because of the high probability of the latter occurrence, Singletude suggests that Friends Plus really can't be friends and should come to a decision on their pseudo-friendship as soon as possible, either transitioning it into a relationship or making a break entirely.

2. Ex-lovers With Regrets

You may recall that in "Part I," we established that Ex-lovers With No Regrets are rare. That's because most relationships are ended unilaterally. Someone is the dumper, and someone is the dumpee. Even if there's a mutual agreement that the relationship isn't working, there's often one person who would rather try a little harder, forgive and forget, see a counselor, or patch it up in some other way. In other relationships, neither member is content with the decision to split, both harboring fantasies of what might have been "if only."

Lots of former couples try to adjust to friendship, especially if they had a history as friends before the relationship. Unfortunately for these folks, navigating a friendship can be like steering the Titanic through iceberg-infested waters. Around every bend is a hazard--unrequited love, unresolved disputes, jealousy of new partners. Whatever hurt or anger resulted from the relationship isn't going to vanish just because it's no longer a relationship, and if one or both partners cling to old affections, the friendship can become an anchor that keeps both of them from moving on.

Over time, a lot of these well-intentioned "friendships" become empty shells as the partners grow increasingly distant. Others implode like Friends Plus-ships deferred. The sad truth is that these formerly dynamic duos can't be friends.

3. Seesaw Friends

Seesaw friends are inherently imbalanced. One of the friends is grounded in the steady knowledge that this is a friendship and nothing but a friendship, and his or her affections are stably platonic. The other friend, however, is flying high on infatuation and begins to get frustrated as it appears that the return of his or her feelings is forever up in the air. After hanging onto hope for a long time, this friend either spills his guts or becomes manipulative, trying to insinuate herself into the beloved's dating relationships, enacting various ploys to win the beloved's attraction and/or jealousy, or rolling out the red carpet treatment in hopes that the beloved will realize how wonderful the wannabe lover is. If Friend A remains firmly planted in friends territory, Friend B's resentment may erupt into passive-aggression or outright hostility that undermines the friendship.

The saving grace of Seesaw Friendships is that crushes come and go, and someone who's falling for a friend today may be mortified tomorrow at the prospect of squeezing their friend's hairy butt. While a Seesaw Friendship may not be one to discard offhand, friends should keep close tabs on it. If unrequited love persists, it may be time for these playmates to get off the seesaw.

Have you ever tried to maintain a friendship in one of the above circumstances? If so, what was the outcome? Do you think it's possible for men and women to be friends in these situations? In what other scenarios is it difficult or impossible for members of the opposite sex to be friends?

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Victoria Gothic said...

Can single men and women be friends? In high school- rarely. High school is like real life, everything is just on a smaller scale. Real relationships that last months or years and scaled down to weeks and months in high school. And if single men and women can be friends, then I'll just let you know, high school is not the place to look for it. Very few people know what their doing, much less what they really want out of a relationship. (Though we can make assumptions; if its a guy, he probably wants sex or at least something physical; if its a girl, she probably wants feelings of closeness and worth. Ironic, isn't it, that I identify with the second. I suppose I was given the name Victoria quite accuratly.)

Well then, thats the younger generation bit, and, as usual, most of them are less thoughtful than anyone has a right to be; it scares me sometimes, their thoughtless nature and all. What they all need is some Jane Austin- oh how I do love her books!

Clever Elsie said...

most of them are less thoughtful than anyone has a right to be; it scares me sometimes, their thoughtless nature and all. What they all need is some Jane Austin- oh how I do love her books!

I hate to say it, but this thoughtlessness doesn't change. When I was a teen, I thought it would. I thought my peers were immature and would "grow out of it." Not so. In my experience, at least, uncaring, insensitive teens become uncaring, insensitive adults unless something jars them out of it. However, I have found that once outside the limited pool of one school district, it becomes much easier to connect with other thoughtful people.

(And, yes, Jane Austen is delightful. Ah, that Regency repartee! I loved her when I was growing up.)