Why can’t we be friends? The lyrics of legendary band Smash Mouth’s 1997 song [yes, I know WAR did it first but Smash Mouth is iconic] and a question I have found myself asking way too many times this past month. Lately, I feel like I’m trapped inside “When Harry Met Sally”, minus Meg Ryan’s insanely amazing hair (for reference her hair closely resembles that of a well-groomed poodle, while mine resembles a bowl of slightly over-cooked spaghetti).
I’m grappling with the realization that platonic relationships between boys and girls seem impossible to achieve in today’s collegiate environment, which is perhaps a much more eloquent way of articulating my current feeling that ‘all boys suck right now’. I know I’m not alone in this frustration, as many of my friends have echoed my stories of miscommunication and awkward situations, as well as agreed to go on a #boydetox with me to recalibrate how we approach relationships.
In my quest to decipher why platonic relationships between different genders rarely exist, I did what any normal, busy college student would do. I signed up for Tinder, messaged 30 boys asking them if they think guys and gals can be friends, and then sent out a poll to my Instagram followers asking them the same thing.
With my Nancy Drew hat securely in place, I ventured further into my investigative journalism quest and started asking my friends for their thoughts on boy-girl platonic relationships.
Once I compiled all my scientific data (huge shoutout to the tinder boys who took time from shot-gunning their beers on Saturday night to answer my questions), I realized a trend among these answers.
Some guys told me that as long as expectations are clear from both parties, platonic friendships can definitely exist, but usually those boundaries become blurred and someone ends up with romantic feelings. Most guys said that while they have girl friends, they still would be down to have sex with them if ‘it came up’.
I have a problem with these answers and with my own experiences. I feel that when a boy decides that a girl can never exist purely as friends, free from romantic pressures, he is stripping that girl of her capability of intellect and personhood.
By not allowing platonic relationships to exist with girls, boys are effectively deciding that the only thing a girl can offer them is romantic or sexual gratification. This leads in most cases to a disinterest in what other qualities this girl may have to offer.
Most of my friends are incredible people (ok, all of them are, because I’m a pretty lucky gal) but I’ve seen guys disregard them in a way that just doesn’t sit right with me. If a guy is romantically disinterested in a girl he will often not communicate with her in any capacity. On the flip side of that, if a guy does harbor a romantic interest in a girl, he will either continue to pursue said girl until he is successful in procuring her or he will ignore her if she decides she is not interested in a romantic relationship. In both of these situations, the actual character and personhood of these amazing women are completely disregarded and instead, they are boiled down to what they are able to offer romantically to their male peers.
It may come as a shock, but girls are just as capable of conversation and intellectual stimulation as their male counterparts and, as such should not be pursued solely for romantic purposes.
I have decided that as part of my #boydetox I want to restructure how I relate to persons of the opposite sex. I want to dive head-first into the male psyche and start going on friend dates.
I want to enter new relationships with boys with the sole intention clearly laid out – let’s just be friends, enjoying each other’s company and personalities, emphasizing our personal equality and just acting like normal, civilized people with each other.
To clarify, I’m not looking for a new best friend with whom to share khaki pants and polo shirts, but I would like the opportunity to converse with someone of the opposite sex without the discomfort of knowing that his intentions might misalign with mine.
If Joey and Phoebe could get through 10 seasons without hooking up, there is hope for everyone that platonic relationships between girls and guys can definitely happen.
Now I just have to find some boys to agree to go on a friend date with me,