We’ve heard the question several times before, ‘Can men and women be friends?’
If you’re a gent who has no problem meeting women, and hopes to one day meet the woman of your dreams, but keep striking out for some reason, this article is for you.
In reflecting on the question, I can remember back to my college days when I was presented with the question. At that time the answer was pretty obvious, because I would only be friends with women who I had no interest in. I’ll spare you the reasons by making the assumption you have been in such a situation, and have your reasons for only considering friendship.
Fast forward almost 20 years since the evening I was presented that question. One summer evening a couple of years ago, I made the acquaintance of a very attractive young lady at a concert in Brooklyn, NY. I was in attendance alone, as we as she. We struck up a conversation about the band and the event. We hit it off immediately and exchanged contact information.
Following the event, we either talked or texted almost every day. At the time, I was aware she had a boyfriend but didn’t pay it any mind. After all, she came to the event alone. Who is this gent that lets his woman go out to a nightspot alone? Where are her girlfriends? I had no reason to be convinced by her relationship status.
Don’t get me wrong, I had no ulterior motives with her. I was just keying in on obvious clues. On the other hand, perhaps there are gents who have no issues with their women going to a nightspot alone, and no concerns about who or what their women might encounter during her outing.
It turns out that she was in a long distance relationship. That revelation confirmed my suspicions; her relationship with him was about as legitimate as a $3 bill. To each her own, who am I to judge? I just know I’m not listening to her ramble on to me about some dude who lives 3000 miles away.
The friendship between this young lady and I continued to develop through Fall and Winter. We hung out a number of times and had great times with each other. In the back of my mind, I contemplated the possibility of something developing between us, but maintained my ‘friends above all’ mindset. A false friend is the last thing I ever want to be. Besides that, she proved to be very unreliable. We made plans countless times, only to have them canceled at the last minute because of some unusual set of circumstances involving her.
Despite those occurrences, I still liked her as a person and frequently gave her the benefit of the doubt. The holiday season came upon us and decided I should get her a gift. The challenge in shopping for her was to find an appropriate gift that suggested my sincere feelings about her as a friend. I didn’t want to run the risk of making her uncomfortable with something overdone, and there was simply no reason to overdo it. She was a good friend, but I had lots of questions about her. In most instances, the demarcation line between friends and becoming something more typically gets blurred, often causing people to go overboard in making a gesture or deciding on a gift. Things usually don’t turn out well from such a move.
I found a reasonable gift, something that reflected her style, and another gift that represented our shared interest in music. Christmas day was approaching and she suggested that I host a small Christmas gathering with a few of our friends. The idea sounded great and I was all for it.
I’ll go on the record to say that I’m not a party planner. For our little gathering, I decided to take a few pages out of the Martha Stewart playbook to reflect the holiday spirit. I found myself in places like Target and Crate and Barrel, buying things for my home that I wouldn’t dare consider in ordinary circumstances, and would never again use after the party.
The day after Christmas was party day. I spent the morning preparing food and getting my place ready. Early afternoon rolled around and I hadn’t heard from my friend. I texted her to see what time she planned on arriving. Several minutes passed and I didn’t receive a reply from her. I knew it was a bad sign. Finally, after about 35 minutes I received a reply from her saying she couldn’t make it, that one of our friends wouldn’t be able to make because she was sick, and that I should call the party off. The dagger in the heart was a follow-up text message from her saying, “I’m really sorry.” Translation, “I’m not really sorry, but it’s something I feel I should say anyway.”
The nice guy in us would take it in stride and say “It’s okay.”- which is exactly what I did. Seriously disappointed, I thought that was the end of it, until I received a text message from her 12 minutes later stating, “Well, at least I can use the time to clean up my place, I’ve been putting it off for too long.” The nice guy in me immediately switched off and I decided to let her know exactly what I thought of her remark. I replied saying “I went through all of this trouble to plan this party, you tell me you can’t make it, and you have the nerve to be so ignorant and insensitive to tell me that this is an opportunity to clean your place?”
She was very apologetic over her remark. Her apology did nothing to quell my displeasure with her. Absolutely disgusted, I asked her for her address so I could mail her gifts to her. Her reaction to that text made it evident that she was unsettled by my signaling that I would deal with her insincerely. She asked if I might be able to meet her in the next day or two to exchange gifts. I told her I didn’t have time and insisted on her giving me her mailing address. I was firm in my intent to mail her gift to her.
That doesn’t mean you have to be impolite to her, but you can be firm. Take care not to create the impression that your stance toward her is an act, this is about respect. When she infringes on the boundary of disrespect she needs to know there’s an arsenal behind it, and that arsenal should never be put to the test.
A week passed without us speaking. She texted me to let me know she received the gifts that I mailed her, and how much she liked them. I was happy to receive the news, but it didn’t make any difference to me considering the history of nonsense with her. She followed up her text asking if we could meet in person for her to give me her gifts. I agreed and she replied letting me know she’d let me know when she would be free to meet.
Another week passed and she texted me to let me know that she would be free either Saturday or Sunday, but couldn’t confirm. I didn’t have any plans so either day would be fine for me. Sunday morning came around and she texted me asking if I could meet her for brunch. She would of course pick the coldest day of the winter when the temperature was 27° F with a wind chill of 7° F.
I took the NY subway one hour from Brooklyn to Queens to meet up with her. When I arrived, I thought I would meet up with her at a restaurant so that we could minimize our exposure to the cold weather. Instead, we walked 30 minutes to a local neighborhood restaurant that specializes in Grilled Cheese sandwiches.
While walking, I thought to myself, “I came all the way out here in freezing cold weather to meet up a faithfully unreliable friend to have Grilled Cheese?” We finally arrived at the restaurant and settled in. She gave me the gift she got for me; we talked, shared a few laughs and had our grilled cheese. She then brought up that she was seeing another guy and talked about the issues with him. I listened to her go on and on about some really questionable things with her new boyfriend and the dealings between them.
In the middle of her rambling, the question that came up for the first time 20 years ago, came back to mind, ‘Can men and women be friends’? The answer struck me like an ice pick, “Absolutely not! I am too old for this nonsense of messing around with shady women; this coming from a guy who has a history of dealings and bad outcomes with shady women. I came all the way out to Queens in the freezing cold, when I could be in the comfort of my own home, watching the NFL playoffs, but here I am eating grilled cheese sandwiches, while she rambles on about her boyfriend. What in the hell am I doing?!”
It was finally time to go, thankfully. She walked with me to the subway. As we parted ways, we looked back at each other. During that glance, I thought to myself “I will never see that chick again in my life”.