Friends with benefits, but not what you think

    I was asked to my first date party October of freshman year. He was a fellow frosh I had just met a few weeks before — through other boys in Elder — and I was stoked.

    We dressed up, sat together on the bus, talked, laughed, danced. You know, pretty standard stuff. But at the end of the night, while other guys were making out with their dates, or failing to, we said our goodbyes and went home alone. It wasn’t a failed hook up. It was a date with my Best Guy Friend.

    When Harry Met Sally and countless other chick flicks suggest that girls and guys can never be friends because “the sex part always gets in the way.” But I think we’re looking at this all wrong. The sex part is precisely the point.

    Of course I don’t mean having it, but talking about it. Girl friends are amazing and they will love you and give you great advice and cheer you up and make a shitstorm seem like a light drizzle. But girls can’t think like guys do. We try to, but there really is no substitute for a penis.

    Having a translator from the other side — one who won’t get jealous or manipulate you in hopes of making you his girlfriend — is something every girl needs. Where would I be today without my BGF? For one thing, I would’ve bought the wrong shelves at Home Depot. DIY is not my strong suit. For another, there are times I may have acted a little more girl crazy than normal or sweat some stupid text for way longer than necessary. A bro who can put things in perspective for you is a helpful asset.

    So what does he get out of it? More than I do, according to Psychology Today. Listening to me blab on about my problems, he becomes a better listener and gains emotional intelligence, something many men could use more of. Furthermore, I provide an outlet to release emotional frustration and share the “F” word. And by that I mean feelings, of course.

    But girls can’t think like guys do. We try to, but there really is no substitute for a penis.

    Bros don’t tend open up to each other the way girls do so having me around to bitch to, and trust me I deal with lots of bitching, has its perks. And, as he does for me, I serve as a translator because, let’s get real, many a straight boy cannot understand that “do whatever you want” really means “if you don’t do what I want you are in for some fresh hell later.”

    Slate recently published a series called Simply Platonic, which explored platonic relationships in history, in the media and in action. Despite the argument made in favor of these relationships throughout the piece (except for the fact that Hollywood rarely lets them happen), it ends on a rather cynical note. The author doesn’t immediately buy it when she gets the “they’re just friends” line, even though she’s had a platonic relationship of her own.

    I think our humble generation is ready to move past that. The more time the sexes spend as equals, both in work and play, the more we have in common. Maintaining friendships becomes easier. We’re approaching an age where hetero male-female relationships are becoming a norm. We’re no longer separated by gender roles, at least not if we don’t want to be, and relationships are no longer dominated by the male. I mean, I totally wear the pants in my BGF relationship… most of the time.

    That is not to say we’re perfect. Lucky for my BGF and I, we’ve been serial monogamists since we’ve known each other, so suspicions about our relationship have been pretty low, but they haven’t been non-existent. I’ve definitely gotten the “have you guys ever hooked up?” question a few times and most people are at least mildly surprised when I answer in the negative. It’s all about timing. It never worked out for us in the beginning, and by now we’ve reached a place where anything sexual would just be weird and unnecessary.

    There are lots of reasons why my BGF and I are friends that go way beyond our being a guy and a girl, but, I have to say, it’s great to have a guy I can talk about sex with, without actually having it.

    Teaser photo by Francesco Rachello on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.


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