The other day I was watching When Harry Met Sally* and I was rather bothered by Harry, who more than once, declared that men and women cannot be merely friends, “because the sex part always gets in the way.”
I definitely disagree. Don’t listen to Billy Crystal. Dude is an idiot. I opine that a friendship between a man and a woman is not only possible, it is desirable and beneficial to both parties. If you’re a man without any female friends, I suggest you go about trying to find a few as soon as possible, instead of buying into an archaic notion that straight people can only be friends with members of the same sex. You’ll be the better for it.
I have many female friends, and I love them all. They’re great to talk to, especially about matters of the heart. Some of my guy friends are still weirded out by love and/or sex talk that isn’t crass in some way, and will respond by calling me a wimp or one of a number of slang terms for the female genitalia. Whereas my female pals will have an honest and insightful conversation with me about it. In fact, if I ever have a question about a girl, I ask one of my girl friends for counsel.
Of course, you don’t want to form a friendship with somebody simply because there is some continuing value to you, but when you have girl friends, you’re granted an inside track into the female psyche—something that most men including myself like to pretend we understand, but most certainly do not. When I talk about girls with my male friends, it’s usually not long before one of us cops out of deep thought by dismissively saying that girls are crazy, which is a terrible generalization and stereotype that we should destroy. Both males and females can be completely freaking bonkers. Trust me. I myself am pretty crazy if I look at my actions objectively.
The vast amount of information I’ve garnered from girls about what women tend to like and how men should behave around them is completely invaluable. Getting two drinks with a girl and asking her about a conundrum you have involving another girl will BLOW YOUR DAMN MIND. And once you’ve consulted a female, it does wonders for your confidence.
Recently, I had a date that I was super nervous about.** I know the basics of how to date, but consistently crave reassurance that I’m going to go into it and not make a complete idiot of myself. So I hit my friend Steph up about EVERYTHING.
“She told me she likes that I wear flannel,” I texted a few hours before the date. “So, like, do I wear a flannel shirt or is that too cheesy and stupid and not dressy enough?”
She told me to go with the flannel, then told me which boots to wear and some other tidbits that were very helpful.
Finally, she texted: “No hat. Definitely not a hat. I am adamant about this.”
She knew instinctively that I’ve been wearing snow hats around for the past two months on account of my wild mop of hair that I have been “too busy” to get sheared.
Then she sent me a few Pinterest links showing me hairstyles she believed I could pull off, even in my disheveled state. She made me send some pictures for pre-date approval.
I went out sans hat and the date went very well. I might see her again someday, at which point I will consult Steph and others about second date behavior.
Finally, to address Harry’s opinion re: sex.
Do I want to have sex with my female friends?
Yeah. Well, most of them, probably, and it’s happened before without screwing things up too awfully. But I’m also used to wanting to have sex with women in my life and not acting on it. I’m sure you are, too.
And if you’re not, grow up and get out there and find some lady friends.
*Surprisingly, this was not the worst Valentine’s Day of my life.
**If you don’t suffer from crippling nervousness before first dates, then I hate you and will never understand you and am green with envy of your high self-esteem.