The Three Amigos and Just Friends

10 Jun

In life, there are three models of opposite gender friends–the Sam’s, the Eli’s and the Tal’s. Each one represents the differing levels of “just friendship” which once can engage in with the opposite sex:

Notice how I have used gender indiscriminate names in order that this post apply to both males and females. I am going to use masculine pronouns, because adding in those extra slashes can get tedious and annoying to write. Therefore, if you are male and looking for this post to relate to you, simply use your imagination. It’s good to exercize it every once in a while even after you have left Kindergarten.

Sam: Sam is that person that as nice, funny, caring and talented as he is, you’ll never be interested in him in that way. You probably met him in high school or through a friend and hit it off. Neither of you ever expressed any desire for the relationship to go further, and probably never will. It’s comforting to have that solidary member of the opposite gender who’s friendship will never be tainted by the unpredicatably terrential throws of the non-platonic relationship. Kind of like a security blanket– it won’t actually protect you from the cold but somehow it still leaves you with that disillusion. Every now and then you share a tender moment in which one or both of you might feel that maybe there could be more than “just friendship.” Maybe all this time you’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places, looking for love in too many faces…and it’s been right under your nose this whole time.

But then reality kicks in and you remember, you don’t really like Sam that way. He is just a friend, and as soon as you find the right person, he’s going to go straight to Memory Land with all your other friends you haven’t been able to keep in touch with. Sorry, Sam.

Eli: Things are a bit different with Eli, you see, he has potential. Unlike Sam, there is this little tinge of interest, a little particle of hope that one day, maybe he will ask you out. You met him at a meal in Washington Heights or have been working with him side-by-side with him at a USBG and have kept up ever since. You have never gotten into such serious conversations with him; you’re still waiting for that to happen but you both have a lot to smile and laugh about when you converse. You notice he sits next to you at shabbos meals, and when he needs to make kiddush, he asks to borrow your siddur out of all the people at the table. Then again, he seems to be friendly with everyone so why bother getting your hopes up? You’re just friends, and it’s such a nice friendship; so easygoing and chill. Why ruin that? Every now and then you think about going to your mutual third party and finding out if he feels the same way, but you don’t. He’s nice but not worth potentially ruining the friendship. There’s no “spark” there, just a warm, mellow complacency. Maybe one day you’ll look into it more seriously, but right now… you are after the sparks.

Tal: And with Tal, you have sparks. There are a hundred ways you could have met Tal, it doesn’t really matter. What matter is that you are crazy about him and are dying to go out with him. He is totally into you, you know it. He dedicatedly calls you every erev shabbos to send the the warmest of wishes, and bring you favorite (coffee)  ice cream when you are stressed and bought you Tweety slippers for you birthday (because he knows just how much you love Tweety). But he hasn’t ask you out.  You wonder why, because clearly this isn’t platonic. No those atoms are super charged and if you aren’t careful an explosion might ensue. Sometimes you get upset at him, but you can’t tell him why. As heart tickling as the calls and Tweety slippers are, all you want is a verbal conformation, and maybe even a date to show he feels the same way. Maybe he is afraid to step out of the Friend Zone…or maybe in his eyes you are just an Eli. You don’t know and if you don’t do anything about it, you never will.

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Can guys and girls be just friends? I think the answer is given away in that overused phrase. If guys and girls could naturally be friends, there would be no need to “just”- ify it. If being friends was as simple as peaches and cream or aloe on a sunburn, then there would be no need to ever explain, “oh, we’re just friends.”

Maybe there are some of you out there who are intelligent and intellectual enough to appreciate a male/female relationship without developing stronger emotions,  but for a lot of us, it doesn’t work that way. Or rather, I will speak for myself and say I don’t want it to work that way. I believe in boundaries. I believe that within certain perimeters, males and females can be friends, but when you cross those boundaries, when you push a little further out of the Friend Zone, that is when the inevitable happens. And it’s supposed to happen! I don’t know why some people see having feelings for someone of the opposite sex as shameful. G-d created us that way. You should be looking to marry someone you can be good friends with because it doesn’t take all that long for the sparks to cool off, and when they do, that’s what you need to keep them going. Friendship.

I never looked to have “guy friends.” In high school, I unintentionally made one or two. It is good to get a male’s perspective on matters every now and then. But even with them, I have made boundaries. You will come to love a good friend, no matter what the gender, if you build an close relationship with them. I love my friends so much. I appreciate so much about them, who they are, the choices they’ve made…and if I respected and appreciated a guy as much as I appreciate my good friends (and was attracted to him), then why wouldn’t I want to date him? Respect and appreciation are the foundation for a long lasting relationship, so if I can find that in someone, if I see that this person is kind, compassionate and trustworthy, I am going to want to keep him. I am going to risk the embarrassment of breaking through the Friend Zone and falling flat on my face. I am going to give my all…Because very few times in life do we meet people who “just” get us and “just” click with.

Some of us get dipped in flat, some in satin, some in gloss. But every once in a while you find someone who’s iridescent, and when you do, nothing will ever compare.
— W. Draanen

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2 Responses to “The Three Amigos and Just Friends”

  1. SternGrad June 11, 2010 at 1:45 pm #

    Very well said! I like how you made the 3 categories of possible guy-girl “frienships.” One point that you made that I thought was a very good point is, “And it’s supposed to happen! I don’t know why some people see having feelings for someone of the opposite sex as shameful. G-d created us that way.” That is true, I never thought about it that way.

  2. coralcap June 13, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    Yeah sometimes I laugh at myself when I look back to my early high school days and so badly just wanted to be friends with guys. I looked at my friends who made guy friends easily and thought, “why can’t I be like them?” But as I matured, I realized that all those friendships generally do is fill in the gap that one feels when they are single with a fake security. I thought post-high school students would be a little more aware of this being that we are now of marriageable age, but a noticeable amount are still thinking like high schoolers.

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