One of the biggest myths in dating – and one I can’t stand – is the idea that men and women can’t be just friends. In its own way, it’s perversely fascinating because it’s very much a Straight People Problem. The idea that sex will inevitably come between two people doesn’t seem to be an issue when it’s two gay men or two gay women… and then of course, the idea that bi and pansexual people can’t be friends with anyone. But put a straight man and woman together and the general assumption is that somehow sex will inevitably rear its head and make platonic intimacy impossible.
As tempting as it is to just make jokes and quote When Harry Met Sally, the idea that men and women can’t be just friends is actually shockingly toxic to men. Men already have a hard enough time fostering emotionally intimate friendships with other men; when we also accept that platonic intimacy with women can’t exist, we isolate ourselves even further. As a result: we find ourselves even lonelier than before, even when we’re surrounded by friends and familes.
As part of an ongoing series on helping men be more emotionally intelligent, we’re going to pick apart some of the barriers to cross-gender platonic intimacy and talk about how to learn to be able to be just friends with women… and how this can make us better, healthier men.