Recently, I found an article that talks about platonic friendship. Can men and women become really close friends without any sensual desire? Based on my experience with my guy best friend, my answer is a big YES! But, as viewed by men, this article says ‘NO’. It seems that according to a study conducted by a Japanese bridal site Bridal Souken and was translated by rocketnews24.com, many more men and women think it is than isn’t and gender is but a single piece of a bigger puzzle.
I honestly found the idea of doing a scientific study on platonic friendship humorous at first but later realized it’s interesting, and perhaps has raised serious debates. I’m going to share my personal point-of-view on this matter by telling you a story.
Whenever I hear the phrase ‘platonic friendship’, I can’t help but reminisce the memories I had with my very close friend, Jemar whom I called my “guy bestfriend.” He died at the age of 21 in a motorcycle accident.
We were yet but strangers on our first few days in high school since we both studied in different schools during our elementary years. We became acquainted when one of my very close girl friends had a crush on him and I eventually became the bridge of the two. Since I had to talk to him about some things between him and my girl friend, we usually spent most of each school day together. He’s an eldest child among two siblings and guess needed a sister-like figure that’s why he liked hanging out with me. When we reached sophomore, I gradually considered him as my best friend and he considered me the same. He called me “ate” a Cebuano salutation for ‘big sister’ while I called him “dodong” a local vocative for ‘younger brother.’ On our second year of friendship, I became and acted like her real sister, telling him what to do or not to do (especially when he started wooing my girl friend). People who didn’t know us very well would ask if we had a special relationship or what because what we had wasn’t typical to them. We hugged whenever we saw each other, and he’d place his arms on my shoulders while we were walking down the street or even held my hands. We even slept on the same bed one time when we were both so busy at school and became exhausted. It was literally ‘sleeping together.’ Indeed, the platonic feeling was mutual.
We became so accustomed to treating each other in a sweet but unromantic way. Though some of his guy friends would tease us and thought we’re into something, we really didn’t mind them…at all! As for me, it was indeed nothing even until we graduated high school. When we both stepped into college and needed to part ways, that changed a bit. We had each of our own partners. There was some kind of awkward feeling whenever he hugged me. He never changed but I did. He even hugged me in front of her girlfriend but never would I hug him in front of my boy friend.
What made me change when I had a boyfriend? I guess the reasons were obvious. One, I didn’t want each of our partners to feel jealous. Two, I realized, we were no longer youngsters and both worlds have changed. Or, was I the only one noticing the difference? It’s just so unfortunate that upon writing this article, I couldn’t get the answer to my question. I asked a few of my male students if they experienced the kind of friendship we had. Unluckily, only one out of twelve Japanese male students had it. His answers to my questions were totally the opposite of what I expected although I know his answers were more realistic than mine. He said, he kept his feelings toward his girl best friend for years. He was just too afraid to break their friendship since the girl told him beforehand this painful line, “You’re just a brother to me.” That line was a slap on his face though it was unsolicited. He thinks that what the girl made her say that, is perhaps he was showing signs of his true feelings.
My intent of citing real-life stories is to show that a man and a woman can really be true friends free from physical interests but not in all cases.
Is a friendship between a man and a woman real? Yes. In fact, we all build platonic friendship daily. Females interact and build friendship with males at work, at school, at our neighborhood, etc. However, physiologically and psychologically, we are born with innate or natural impulses commonly known as human instincts including reproduction and pair bonding which I think are barriers. Therefore, it’s not impossible for a man and a woman who consider themselves as ‘just friends’ progress to non-platonic relationship like boyfriend/ girlfriend or the kind of intimate friendship shown in the movies ‘No Strings Attached’ or ‘Friends with Benefits’ solely because we’re human beings capable of feeling some sensual urge. Nevertheless, breaking the barriers I mentioned earlier may annihilate a good friendship. A platonic friendship therefore is possible, but has a critical point of termination.