For as long as we know, the question of whether men and women can have truly platonic friendships has been a mystery. While some may feel that primal attraction will always outweigh any existence between the genders, many believe that friendship with the opposite sex can be independent of romance and mutually beneficial. Here are a few reasons (based on my own experience) that platonic friendship may be beneficial.
For someone like me that thrives on conversation with others, I’m always interested in listening to a different perspective than my own. As a woman, there are just things that I cannot understand about men (like why they leave the toilet seat up). But having an honest guy around to break things down and explain them from the male perspective can offer clarity that I would otherwise never get. On the flip-side of the equation, many men that I know find the female mind to be a confusing and often scary land, filled with land mines. Having a woman around to give insight and dispel myths can give a man a much better understanding of women, and maybe make things a bit less frightening.
Dating Advice 101
Another example of when a platonic friend could come in handy is when you’re considering dating. It’s one thing to get dating advice from your girlfriends or “the boys,” but what better dating advice to receive than from someone on the other team? Having a solid friend in your corner to give you tips on what to look out for can work to your advantage. And this can work in two parts: during courting, and for relationship advice. During the initial dating phase, as a guy your female friend may be able to give you advice on whether girls really like flowers, or whether your date idea is romantic (or not). For ladies, a good male friend may be able to let you know if your dolled up face looks appealing, or if it’s a bit too much for a man’s taste. During the deeper parts of a relationship, that same friend may be able to help you navigate communication with your partner as well. Even in the healthiest relationships there will inevitably be arguments and disagreements between two uniquely different humans. Platonic friends can bring light and understanding to some of the actions your partner takes and what they may mean when he/she has a hard time verbalizing it to you. This can even help you better understand and communicate with your S.O.*
*An important caveat here: be careful what you divulge to your platonic friend when it comes to relationships. There may be true friends that genuinely want to see your relationship thrive, but there can also be wolves in sheep’s clothing. In other words, your so-called “friend” may very well be keeping a mental note of all the issues in your relationship in order to try to win you over romantically later. Tread lightly with the amount of information you let loose. Remember: it’s never a good idea to let people into too much of your relationship business*
Guys and Gals Are Fun
Maybe this is just my own opinion, but having guy friends around can be hilarious! As much as I love and adore my girlfriends and the bonds we share, sometimes the estrogen can be a bit too much for me. Having a fun friend of the opposite sex can be a nice change of scenery, so to speak. Most of the guys I know have a great way of not taking life too seriously. Having someone to blow off steam and joke around with can be calming, and being able to listen in on guy code can be insightful and may even sometimes apply to your own life. For men, being around a nonjudgmental female friend can be like a glimpse into another, very interesting world.
Friendships between men and women can certainly offer insight into how different we are, but more importantly it can remind us of how similar we are as well. As hard as it may be to believe, men and women are not from different planets, and being around one another can remind us of how much we truly need one another. You may be asking yourself, “why should I care about the opinions or views of the other gender?” And the answer is simple: because we live in the world together. When we listen to one another, we acknowledge that there are other perspectives in the world, and maybe our ideas are not the only legitimate ones. Ultimately, understanding more about others allows for a better canvas for communication. Whether for reproduction, elevation, global commerce, or even just as positive influences, it’s important for men and women to come together for the good of humanity.