Can Guys and Girls Be Friends? – Part 2

Welcome back! If you’re following on from Part 1 I was already planning on doing a follow up piece but I read something that friends with benefitsmade me angry so prepare yourself. Here comes a rant!

In response to my previous post, a friend sent me an article entitled “Sorry, ladies – but we men can NEVER just be your friends: As scientific research confirms what he learnt the hard way, COSMO LANDESMAN gets a few things off his chest”.

I immediately wanted to break things.

The basic premise of the article, as the title says, is that men can never be friends with women and the reason stated is because every man secretly wants to have sex with his female friends and given the chance would jump in the sack pronto!

I take issue with that.

I don’t take issue with whether or not the data from the 88 sets of young male and female friends from Winconsin University is accurate. I don’t take issue with whether or not the results are applicable to the wider population. But boy do I take issue. I take all the issue! I am clearing out the issue shop like everything’s on sale!

I take issue with the implication that it’s normal for men to enter into friendships with women simply with the goal of getting them into bed. Whether it’s true or not, that’s just disgusting. This may well be the motivation of most guys in approaching friendships with women but that does not make it right, it does not make it okay.

I take issue with the author’s projection of his own personal inability to control his libido onto the entire male population. If we don’t have the emotional or spiritual maturity to be friends with someone without having to try and date them or sleep with them, our goal should be pursuing that maturity not resigning ourselves as sleeper agents for date rape, ready to be awakened given the first sign of weakness or potential consent.

“I take issue with the implication that it’s normal for men to enter into friendships with women simply with the goal of getting them into bed. Whether it’s true or not, that’s just disgusting.”

This way of thinking is definitely not restricted to Mr Landesman but it permeates western societal thinking and I for one would personally like to punch it in the face. If it had a face. But it doesn’t so I’ll write an angry article about it instead and seek vengeance like it killed my kung fu master…

We seem to be perfectly happy to train up young boys into men who believe that they are perpetually out of control. If they eat so much that they can’t move we sigh and mumble things about the male appetite. If they spend an entire day playing a video game we barely bat an eyelid. If they lose their temper or become aggressive and break something we shrug and say “Boys will be boys.” When they grow up into self-indulgent men, they struggle with their blood pressure and we put them in our hospitals. When they grow up into lazy men, they can’t pay their bills and we put them on benefits (if they’re British). When they grow up into violent men, they hurt their families and we throw them in our prisons. It’s probably true that boys are more prone to physical aggression than girls but I don’t think most of us would say that the answer is in excusing that but rather in teaching boys to control and understand their anger and manage their own feelings.

Why is it different for sexual desire?unrequited love

The increase in discourse surrounding, pornography, rape culture and the sexual objectification of women is revealing that boys are being trained by society and the media to view women simply as the givers of sex. They may be allowed to have other roles but those other roles must give way to the primary role of providing sexual pleasure whether visually or physically. Boys are raised to believe that women are either there to be aesthetically pleasing and looked at or sexually satisfying and slept with and that the ultimate attainment of manhood and masculinity lies in the physical conquest of women. Once a boy has sex, he is then considered a man and not before. Of course, following his first conquest he is able to increase his manly status by the frequency of his subsequent conquests and the peer ratings of his targets.

I think this is sad. Really sad. And really scary.

“It’s probably true that boys are more prone to physical aggression than girls but I don’t think most of us would say that the answer is in excusing that but rather in teaching boys to control and understand their anger and manage their own feelings.”

This foolish mindset is clearly seen in the invention of the phrase “Friend Zone”. If a guy is unable to stimulate reciprocal romantic or sexual feelings from a female he is considered forever banished to a hellish land known as the Friend Zone where he is to serve out the rest of his days in perpetual torment as a shoulder to cry on and a lowly dispenser of tea and sympathy.

Here’s a little snippet from the article:

“As far as guys are concerned, friendship is merely an aphrodisiac. A man can meet a woman who is not, at first glance, that attractive or his type. But as time passes and he gets to know how funny and smart and fun she is, that woman becomes very sexy indeed — and men don’t mind the long game, like I did with Pamela. For three decades I did my duty as a loyal and devoted friend — I was the shoulder to cry on, the dispenser of tea and sympathy, hugs, advice and brotherly affection. I hid my disappointment when she gushed to me about her latest love, just as I hid my delight when it all went wrong. I did this because what I always carried with me was hope. I clung to the belief that one day Pamela might change her mind.”

pokeboy memeApparently as guys, friendship is merely a means of slowly turning a woman on until she can’t help but sleep with you. I think this is a hugely damaging mindset for any young man to accept. Why? Because another way to say that is emotional manipulation. Because to a normal, thinking person that is clearly taking advantage of someone’s vulnerability. Because it is poisonous to both the concept of friendship and the souls of men (and women). The young boy who can’t seem to “catch any prey” will fall into a despairing identity crisis thinking himself less masculine due to his failure.  The young boy who constantly treats friendship as a stepping stone to scoring will never actually receive the benefit of mutual friendship with the opposite sex that actually adds to one’s personal growth. The young boy who trains himself to essentially trick women into bed will one day spend his nights praying that one of his own kind doesn’t come looking to be “friends” with his daughter.

Living a life of unrequited love and intentional deception is sure to warp your heart and mind. Surely it’s better to come clean about how you feel than to try to tenderise your “friend” with tea, hugs and false brotherly affection? This is NOT friendship. It’s nothing like friendship at all and I think friendship is misrepresented throughout this article. If friendship becomes, in our minds, simply a means by which we can get something from someone else I think we’ll be in danger. If friendship becomes nothing more than a set of behaviours that can be superimposed onto any unsuspecting target I think we’ll be in danger. In fact, I think the rise of social media and online lives has already shown us that friendship is in danger. We’re in danger of forgetting how to love.

“The young boy who trains himself to essentially trick women into bed will one day spend his nights praying that one of his own kind doesn’t come looking to be “friends” with his daughter.”

I think that having only one real word for love in English really does hurt us at times. The Ancient Greeks had 6 Words for Love:

  1. Eros – Sexual passion
  2. Philia – Deep friendship
  3. Ludus – Playful love
  4. Agape – Selfless love
  5. Pragma – Longstanding love
  6. Philautia – Love of the self

Understanding the difference between some of these can definitely make our friendships less weird and our lives more enriching. I really believe love is a human need. Humans need love but the kind of love we need varies and it’s important that we understand that. It’s also important that we understand that we are never entitled to love from another person. Love is always a gift. There are people we can look to for love but they are not obliged to give it. It’s not love if it’s not a choice. Getting to grips with the needs of our hearts and finding healthy outlets for them is essential to living in peace. Do give that Greek article a read!

Back to Mr Landesman, or rather, the ideology that he is representing. I take issue with the world’s confused communication that sex is not only the goal and the height of human experience, it is simultaneously a casual, dismissable biological encounter. However much we’d like to pretend it’s not, sex is much more than a frivolous joining of bodies. Let me share a controversial but hugely enlightening quote I once heard: “If sex was merely physical, rape victims would recover once their wounds had healed.” Let me add as poet Jefferson Bethke says: “If sex is just for fun, why does it take such a toll? Maybe it’s because you don’t just have sex with a body, you have sex with a soul.”

Sex is an incredible gift from God that is designed to create and promote intimacy in the covenant of love and commitment between a husband and wife. This is the place that God chooses to bring forth human life on the earth. So yeah, it’s a big deal. But is it the whole deal? No, I really don’t think it is. Ignoring for a second, the fact that the greatest Man to ever walk the earth didn’t have sex, it’s really dangerous when we start building up sex to be the goal of all people everywhere. It creates an unnatural desperation for the kind of meaningless sex that destroys and numbs our hearts while quickly becoming an addiction. This belief is part of what keeps men from truly being able to be friends with women because we’re training ourselves to see them as goalkeepers of the ultimate prize and so our purpose is never to engage the person but to score the goal and get the prize.

The tone that the article is written in seems to be one of inevitable honesty. I think I detect a hint of shame in there but it’s covered over with a thick layer of nonchalance and indifference. It radiates a vibe that sort of says “Well hey, I tried to deny my debased mind and animal instincts but I’m just a man, like any other man. We’re all the same. Animals. Clever animals. We’re only after one thing. Sorry ladies but you’re just going to have to just deal with it.” Maybe I’m putting words in his mouth but that sounds like cowardice to me! Has anyone else noticed that the evolutionary excuses to act like debased creatures are usually only awarded keanu2to men? When a man goes into a rage or becomes a socially acceptable sexual predator we blame the “animal urges.” It sounds like an excuse to me. It sounds more like “I don’t really have the conviction or strength to take a moral stance against the flow of my own hormones. My heart is so twisted I can’t be bothered to try and straighten it out so prepare yourself to feel the full weight of my inadequacy as I drop the responsibility for my own behaviour.”

“Has anyone else noticed that the evolutionary excuses to act like debased creatures are usually only awarded to men?”

As a Christian man who reads the Bible and listens to the voice of God I really believe there is a higher call for us as men. I’m definitely not there but the more I read the Word, the more I grow in intimacy with God and the more I look at the world, the more I’m convinced that we are getting manhood totally wrong. Articles like this can be tempting to chuckle at and nod our heads to but I believe we need to start standing up to be the difference. The brand of manhood being brought forth by the world is robbing children of their fathers, wives of their husbands and sisters of their brothers. As I wrote in the previous post we need to take our role and responsibility in God’s family seriously. Our sisters need their brothers! They don’t need guys who are waiting around to see how they can get something out of them. They don’t need guys who are just going through the motions in the hopes of a physical or emotional reward. They don’t need guys who are waiting to prey on their trust and vulnerability in the guise of platonic friendship. They need their brothers!

They need their brothers who share the same Father and also carry His heart. They need their brothers who are ready to stand at their side in battle when they are needed. They need their brothers who will fuel and propel them into their calling. They need their brothers who will challenge them when they’re living in less than what Jesus died for. They need their brothers who will listen to them and give them advice when it’s needed and be silent when it’s not. They need their brothers who will value their vulnerability, not exploit it. They need their brothers who will help them to relax and have fun and not take themselves too seriously.

Thank you for reading all the way through. Please check out some of the links below. I make no claims to being a perfect example or to having said all there is to say on this topic but let me close by saying, if you’re pretending to be someone’s friend so that you can get into their pants, you’re being a jerk. Stop it. Stop being content to live as a glorified animal and step into God’s grace for you to display His glory and goodness as a man! A propensity to feel a particular way doesn’t define who you are. Hear the words of Paul the apostle in 1Corinthians 16:13-14 and Romans 12:9-10: “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love (agape).” and “Let love be genuine. Abhor what it evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection (philia). Outdo one another in showing honour.” Dare to be more than the world would have you be. God is calling us, as He always has been, to love extravagantly without price and to lay your life down for your sisters and brothers.

Are you in?

Read on to Part 3

Related Articles, Items and Videos

Just Friends? by Nell Goddard – ARTICLE

God’s Gift to Women by Eric Ludy – BOOK

Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul – BOOK

TEDx Talk – Sexual Objectification of Women – VIDEO

Confessions of Church Players: What Sisters Can Do to Protect Themselves – ARTICLE

Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul – BOOK

The Evolution of the Swimsuit – VIDEO

The Ancient Greeks’ 6 Words for Love (And Why Knowing Them Can Change Your Life) – ARTICLE

From the Battlefield to the Bedroom by Kris Vallotton – PODCAST

Attack of the Friend Zone – VIDEO

Moral Revolution: The Naked Truth About Sexual Purity – BOOK

Sexual Healing Poem – VIDEO

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