Friends and Lovers

Voice Card  -  Volume 8  -  John Card Number 19  -  Fri, Aug 25, 1989 4:09 AM

Our first great sex debate has now come to close, but I think it's time to start another. The battle of the sexes is a topic which is endlessly controversial and always thought provoking. It's something we all have a very large stake in.

This time I'd like to focus on the subtopic of platonic friendship versus romantic friendship. Two questions.

First. Is it possible for a man and a woman to become very close friends without sex ever becoming an issue?

Second. Friends sometimes become lovers. But can lovers become friends?

My answer to the first question: For all practical purposes the answer is no. Of course anything is possible in the arena of human relationships, but this one is almost always impossible.

This question may hinge on the definition of "close friends." I define close friends as two people who see each other regularly over a period of at least several years and who frequently share intimate details of their lives. Close friends can talk about anything and genuinely enjoy each other. They play together and work together whenever they can.

I've run into quite a few women who feel there's no reason men and women can't be close without being tempted into a sexual relationship, and these women are annoyed when it doesn't work out that way. Most men I've met, on the other hand, seem resigned to the inescapable power of sexual drives. If a man and a woman spend a lot of time together, sooner or later sparks will fly.

Maybe if both people are happily married to non-jealous spouses, and maybe if they are both middle aged or older, then MAYBE they could get away with it for awhile. But I say "Never underestimate Mother Nature."

My answer to the second question:

Can lovers become friends? Should they try? I think this depends on the depth of the love affair and the depth of the desired post-love friendship.

I think casual lovers can easily become casual friends. And a serious love relationship can and often does evolve into what I would call an acquaintanceship. In the case of a broken marriage, especially if there are children involved, it is highly desirable to be on at least amicable terms with the former spouse.

But when a major love relationship comes to an end, my feeling is that it is best not to try for a CLOSE friendship (see first question for my definition of a close friendship).

Either it will work or it won't. If it does work then the couple probably should not have split up in the first place. If a close friendship starts to evolve, someone is fooling himself and eventually one or both people will be severely hurt. A post-love close friendship is, I maintain, just another stage of a long, drawn out break-up. If two people have to breakup, it's better to get some emotional distance. Without such distance the wounds will not heal and new healthy relationships are not possible.

If, on the other hand, the attempt at a close friendship fails, the pain is greatly magnified for both parties. Of course there may be exceptions from time to time, but my rule of thumb is "When it's over GET OUT." If at all possible, both parties should avoid recriminations or other such emotional violence. And maybe after enough time has passed a moderate level of friendship is possible. But I say that in general, serious lovers should not try to become close friends.

Argue with me, if you dare!