Monday, 4 June 2012

What are friends? A continuation

So let's continue with the 'friends' issue. What is a 'good friend'? Is it possible for women to have men as good friends and, vice versa, men to have women as good friends? Obviously, regarding the latter, what comes to mind is 'When Harry Met Sally'. They started out as not such good friends when they were single and not such good friends when they were in partnerships with other people but there was an innate attraction, obviously sexual, all that time. And we know the ending: they end up in each others' arms, having come to the conclusion that yes, indeed, they loved each other and could no longer be 'friends.'

Can married men have women friends? When does a woman 'friend' stop being a 'friend' and start being a lover? I asked a question: "What do you call a good friend?" My answer: "Someone you like very much, whose company you enjoy and can share secrets with." If a married man is sharing secrets with another woman, seeking this woman's company for lunches and coffees and then discussing all manner of things, both normal and intellectual, then where is the boundary of 'friendship' and when does the sexual attraction and disloyalty enter into it?

Would a man wonder whether his wife's good male 'friend,' who she sees from time to time and meets for lunch once a month and spends inordinate amounts of time texting and whose mobile number she knows by heart, is more than just a 'friend'? Would he appreciate that she has compartmentalised him, her husband, into another sphere of her day-to-day life, without considering that perhaps he may be hurt by her sharing time and secrets with another man?

What are the boundaries, the lines, in marriage that should not be transgressed? When does the betrayal begin? From the time that these two 'friends' first met at all? When there was some kind of mutual attraction that drew them to each other so that, in spite of other commitments, they wanted to be 'friends' with one another? When did they start sharing secrets? Did they not perceive that sharing intimacies that they had, indeed, transgressed what was an initial friendship into something far more profound?

There is something in every one of us that seeks the rewards of a good friendship. Women generally have women friends with whom they will discuss their lives. Men, not so much. How many men actually discuss intimate aspects of their lives with their male friends? Perhaps it's because men are so competitive. Women are far more trusting of their friends not to judge them or their mates. Men believe that should a male friend know that things are not quite right at home or that if perhaps, there is a relationship with another woman, then they will be judged. Or maybe not. I was told that men and women think differently about relationships. It's certainly something to think about. What, indeed, is a friend?