This is ONE OF 2 responses to Vol 10 Larry 7 ("So it goes")...
Once again you mount a formidable counter attack. I could try to argue for some new category of friendship, like "special", that would allow you to have all the female friends you want without any of them being "close", but this is clearly a losing battle.
Somehow, though, we have drifted off course, and this is my fault because my original question was not very well focused. And in fact it's STILL not in focus. But let me try again anyway.
My original question was "Can men and women become close friends without sex becoming an issue?"
Somehow that turned into "Can men and women become close friends?" But the second part of that question, the part that fell off, is the part I am interested in. What should happen, what does happen, when sex becomes an issue?
In your first response you said that when sex intruded into your relationships with women, it was not usually one-sided. But if it's not one-sided it's not an issue and everything goes smoothly (for awhile). I am trying to explore what happens when the sexual attraction IS one-sided. This is what makes sex dangerous to friendships!
The following situation has happened to me more than once and has happened to most of my friends at one time or another:
Dick and Jane become close friends. They laugh together and play together and talk far into the night. Dick becomes attracted to Jane. For him, platonic affection naturally evolves into physical affection. Not so for Jane. She feels that sex will ruin a beautiful friendship. Dick wants to have sex because he likes Jane. Jane does NOT want to have sex because she likes Dick.
At this point Dick and Jane could go their separate ways. But as it turns out Dick and Jane are CLOSE friends. They like each other very much. So Jane makes the following proposal to Dick: "We can continue to be close friends but only if we agree never to have sex. I will look for sex elsewhere. And as my close friend, I will tell you all about the sex I am having with other men. But we will never have sex on any level. PLEASE PLEASE agree to be my friend!"
Dick is single and does not want to become intimate with anyone else. How should he react?
Position One: Dick should take a cold shower and agree to be Jane's friend. Why does sex always have to get in the way? If men would stop viewing women as sex objects we wouldn't have these kind of problems! Should Jane be forced to lose a valued friend just because she won't hop into bed with him? That stinks!
Position Two: Dick should take a hike. If he agrees to such a fundamental imbalance the relationship will only deteriorate. Before long he will be babysitting Jane's kids while she spends her weekends in Aspen with Biff! This is not a fair deal! Dick would be satisfying all of Jane's needs while Jane ignores his needs. Jane's deal is like giving a starving child a chance to watch her eat. Jane shouldn't be expected to sleep with someone she doesn't want, so why should Dick be expected to sit at the table and watch Jane eat? That stinks!
First, a few notes about my melodrama. Although I have portrayed Dick as the person pushing for sex and Jane as the person resisting, it can easily be the other way around. Still, it is usually the man who pushes and the woman who resists.
And clearly we should not look for a set solution to Dick's Dilemma. The solution that Dick and Jane arrive at will depend on a thousand different variables that are unique to their relationship. A rigid policy in these matters is unwise.
Some of you, especially those who are happily married and have thus risen above the fray, may ask "Who cares?" Let me try to explain why I care.
I see Dick's Dilemma as a classic case study in the battle between the sexes. The more I think about this question and others like it, and the more I talk about it with both men and women, the more insights I get into the differences between the sexes and the reasons behind the friction and hurt feelings on both sides.
Much of the trouble seems to arise because men and women differ on how they view sex and why and when they want it. Consider the following statements. True or False?
All of the above are actual opinions held at one time or another by actual men and/or actual women. Obviously, none of them are entirely true or false. Some I agree with, some I disagree with, and some leave me puzzled.
- Men fall in love with women they are attracted to, while women become attracted to men they fall in love with.
- Men view sex as an end itself while women view sex as a means to other ends.
- Unlike women, a man's self-esteem is tied to his sexual performance.
- Sex is how men get love. Women can get love in other ways.
- Men are more emotional than women and are more devastated by the breakup of a relationship.
- Men are more easily aroused than women.
- As soon as a woman consents to have sex, she loses power in the relationship.
- Women can have sex whenever they want to and thus don't value it as highly as men.
- Women sometimes feel contempt for men because they are so "easy."
- Men think with their crotches.
- So do women.
- Men see sex as a way of healing rifts while women see it as a serious commitment.
- Women talk. Men touch.
- Men and women are pretty much the same.
- Men and women are completely different.
My question is still unfocused, but I think I'm on the trail of something important. Do any of those true/false statements strike a cord? Why isn't Jane attracted to Dick? What should Dick do?