Wednesday, May 6, 2015

But You Say He's Just a Friend!

"We have an intimate friendship," he told me.

We had been friends for over 10 years and met in college around my freshman or sophomore year. We were very close throughout the years and even after graduation. He was probably my first legitimate male platonic friend.  He was an affectionate kind of guy. He gave the best hugs and was actually quite attractive. There was definitely an attraction between the two of us, but the friendship was the most important relationship for us to maintain.

I've always struggled with friendships of the opposite sex actually. When I was younger I use to be a firm believer that men and women could not just be friends. There had to be some form of attraction at some point and time. Whether you addressed it or not, the feelings were there. But then there was hope....maybe!

Many times when we hung out, it would involve some form of cuddling or lying on the couch together. It was nice. It was innocent. It was what I needed at times, particularly through those seasons of singleness! Let's be real ladies, sometimes you just desire a little affection, and its ok, just know your limits and know yourself!

Did I mention know yourself!!?? As much as I tried to keep it at a friendship level and maintain the boundaries, which we actually did for many years, my emotions and feelings began to peak their little head as we got older. And might I add, they weren't coming from a fantasy place. What he considered to be an "intimate friendship", most women would take that to mean intimate feelings past a friendship!

I finally got the nerve to present my feelings to him because I needed to know where this could go. A solid relationship is always based off a solid friendship first, right? 

Well, this man hit me with the Mayweather jab, "but I don't want to ruin our friendship," he said. 

Really???!! Now I'm embarrassed and confused! We were actually good friends and I just had to express my feelings! I had the Love & Basketball, Brown Sugar scenes playing through my head. Such a woman thing to do! But not really. His definition of intimate friendship equated to wanting his cake and eating it too! I responded to a false image of what he was presenting, and he allowed me to think that until I called him out on it!

Needless to say, after a much needed, uncomfortable conversation, we are still friends today. But my theory on male and female friendships has gone back to the drawing board.  From personal experience, the majority of my male friends I have either dated before, I or the other person has expressed interest in possibly dating, or we have crossed the line physically for one reason or another.

Outside of dating, I've always desired legitimate male friendships. Sometimes you need a little testosterone in your life to balance out the overwhelming estrogen that can suffocate you from time to time. As I've gotten older, I've found the true essence and importance of legitimate and solid friendships. For some of the men in my life, once we crossed the line or discussed dating, we were able to move past the circumstance and actually develop a solid friendship that I am proud to have. And some, we just grew apart. Some men, like women, just can't take being in the friendship zone!

Men are actually great friends to have. Their perspectives on life and relationships are mind boggling at times! Their dating advice can actually be very helpful for you and damaging for your date! Their presence to assist with things around the house, yard work, moving, etc is an absolute wonder! And the mere fact that you can develop and maintain a healthy relationship with the opposite sex prepares you for that romantic relationship you desire.

Again, you must know yourself. Being in relationship with the opposite sex requires discipline and wisdom. The right light, a particular moment, and all of sudden your friend is looking like Denzel and sounding like Barry White! It happens! We must realize that every man that smiles our way and shows us attention is not our husband. He could potentially be a great friend to have.

Everyone says to be friends first before committing in a relationship! Its a great concept, but easier said than done. When an attraction is present, the friendship zone becomes a bit cloudy and its hard to draw the line. But it's definitely a constant reminder that you have to make to yourself: this person is not my husband, but my friend, and I must treat him as such.

I've managed to solidify my current male friendships with boundaries, but still working on the friendship zone during the dating process. But as I take this much needed break from dating, I am learning the benefits and value of just being friends first. It truly frees up expectations and lets you enjoy the moment! And at this point in life, I am all about the simple moments and the solid friendships.