It never ceases to amuse me how men and women can look at the same situation from two completely different angles. No place is this disparity more glaring than in matters of male/female friendships.

True story: In having a conversation with a female friend recently, she referred to a guy with whom she spends time. I asked if they’d ever dated before, and her response was, “Oh god no, we’re just friends.”

BOOM. There it was. Her justification for being able to continue hanging out with him: that she felt no weirdness or sexual tension. She simply just didn’t view him “that way.”

I told her I’d bet a million dollars that if a guy asked that same male friend what the nature of his relationship with her was, that his answer would be something along the lines of “I haven’t hit that yet, but as soon as I get the chance, I’m all over it.”

And why am I so sure about that? Because the sad truth is, as much as I’d love to believe differently, men and women can’t just be friends.

No way, no how, no matter how altruistic and pure-intentioned we think we’re capable of being. It just doesn’t work that way.

A woman can look at a male in her life and classify him as a “friend,” with no intention of ever removing him from that platonic category (The dreaded Friend Zone, sorry boys – I’ve tried to help). While a man can look at that same woman and label her not as a “friend,” but more like a female he just hasn’t slept with yet. Both are accurate from each person’s perspective, but the difference is one of intentions. Ours? Harmless. Yours? Up to no good, if we let you.

So in keeping with that honesty, here’s my confession: I’ve always been a girl who enjoyed hanging with the boys more than my own gender. Sure, I have lifelong friendships with girls who I’d trust with my life, and who I thoroughly appreciate and value. That type of female camaraderie is precious. But that said, with very few exceptions, I’ve always been more comfortable amongst the Y chromosome crowd. Room full of dudes? My favorite place to be. Room full of females? My own personal version of hell. Even still, I’m under no delusions about the nature of our “friendship.” And any woman who isn’t aware of it should read this, too.

I don’t mean to sound disparaging to my fellow females, but guys are more low maintenance, transparent, and they carry with them very little drama. We, on the other hand, can be finicky, passive aggressive, and tend to place ourselves and our friendships into a social hierarchy in which inevitably someone gets left out.

And if hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? Then watch out, because we can hold grudges with the best of ‘em. So it’s no wonder that some women gravitate toward guy time. We just need to realize that the sexes have entirely different end games in mind.

But going back to the statement that we can’t just be friends, it’s necessary to finish it off with “….unless one of four things is at play.” If one of these factors is activated, then a male/female friendship can exist in perpetuity. And what are those four things? I’m glad you asked, boys, because it’s about to get real up in here.

1- One or both of you is taken. If either side of the friendship has a significant other (or historically has over the duration of your friendship, thus preventing the proper timing needed to act upon your attraction), then it’s fair game. Taking the possibility of hooking up off the table pretty much diffuses the sexual tension time bomb, temporarily at least.

2 – You’ve already consummated that attraction in some way. Whether with just a drunken make out session or a full-blown hook up, if you’ve seen that person with bedhead the next morning, sometimes that’s all the action you need. Once the thrill of the chase is over and you’ve reached that (sometimes anti-climactic) pinnacle, men and women can often go back to being friends. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen again later down the line. Hey, who doesn’t love a good encore?

3 – Something is legitimately preventing you from taking things to a non-platonic level. What could those things be? That you’ve dated their best friend and are now off-limits, the hot girl is your buddy’s sister (thus he would kill you), or that one of you is flat out not attracted to the other. If you’d rather hook up with a blood relative than get with her or him, that would make it easy to hang out without getting physical. Also, sucks to be them, for what it’s worth.

And finally, 4 – That you just plain haven’t hooked up yet, but it’s coming. And if the case is that it’s bound to happen sooner or later, then you’d better buckle up, because you never know if it’ll be a bumpy ride afterwards.

As with many of my steadfast decrees, I’ll add a final addendum: I reserve the right to be wrong. Perhaps there are totally healthy, platonic friendships out there between men and women. Look at Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock (totally gonna hook up). Or Chandler and Monica (definitely got it on). Or no, here you go – Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Oh hell, who are we kidding? They’ve totally f***ed. Whatever – no disclaimer necessary. See? I was totally right all along.

But whichever category you fall into, realize that true friends are hard to come by. And however you consider said friend – with benefits or without – always remember to consider their feelings above all else. Mostly because it’s good karma, but also because you never know when the embargo could be lifted. Happy Friday, my friends. May your weekends be filled with good company, great possibility and even better stories –MW.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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