Boys & Girls: Lovers or Friends?

I’m feeling really grateful for men these days. Particularly, the intelligent, attractive, wonderful ones that I’m privileged to call friends. Yes, friends. As if there aren’t enough things to debate – like whether or not I still want to be a therapist after learning how many ways it is possible for me to get thrown in jail  – we have found ourselves debating recently whether men and women can be friends.

Maybe you’ve seen this video, with its brilliantly researched findings that cover a large span of the human population and their opinions on the matter (read: an afternoon’s worth of stalking people on the Utah State campus). According to this painstaking research, girls always think that they’re friends with the guys while the guys all firmly state that such strictly platonic relationships are impossible to be had. I don’t know, maybe that’s a nice thing to hear if you like to believe that every guy you interact with has a secret crush on you. If that’s you, feel free to disagree with me.

I’m only one person, and my opinion is obviously not law, but I think there are some pretty logical reasons for why this way of thinking is both confusing and nonsensical.

  1. If this were true, then we’re just creating an army of little narcissists – ladies who are walking around thinking that every.single.man they are “friends” with is secretly jonesing for them. I mean, come on. I’m all for self-confidence and embracing your beauty and wit, but I happen to believe that I can be appreciated for the person I am without that immediately leading to romantic attraction. In fact, I regularly describe my guy friends as the most attractive, eligible guys I know. Does this mean I want to date them all? For goodness sake, no.
  2. This automatically makes all men liars. If you really don’t just think of me as a friend, why do you pretend to be my friend? Why don’t you just hold my hand and play with my hair so I know we’re more than just friends? Just kidding, please never touch a black woman’s hair. In any case, I’d rather not think that all my guy friends are pathological liars, and that when they treat me as a friend or as a sister, they actually mean it.
  3. I once was told by a guy that he couldn’t be friends with me because he found me too attractive for our relationship to remain simply platonic. He said he could definitely be friends with a woman as long as she’s unattractive. That’s all fine and dandy – and wierdly complimentary? – but what does the fact that I have a fair number of guy friends today say about me? I refuse to believe that my looks have significantly deteriorated to the point where I’m easy to be friends with because ain’t nobody wanna look at that. No sir.

Friendships with people whose emotions do not follow a monthly cycle are the best. I’ve always appreciated the constancy, and the different perspective they bring. But I also appreciate that they care about me, affirm me, get drinks with me, and give me giant bear hugs without it changing the ease and comfort of our relationships. Sure, I used to do the thing where every compliment from a guy had to mean something other than the words spoken. But most of the time, “You look really pretty today” means quite simply, you look really pretty today. I’ve learned to curtsy and say thank ye kindly and move the heck on with a smile on my face.

The process of me learning to not crush on every single guy I know coincides really nicely with the process of me discovering my worth and value. The more I came to understand that I am good enough and worthy of love and affection as a whole and not just because of my feminine body parts, I started to appreciate what others had been seeing all along. I am a whole, complete individual – not just a face, or breasts, or a small waist and an average butt. In the same way, a guy has become more than just a potential cure for a lonely season, but a whole person deserving of love and affection just like I am.

The other side of this argument is the fact that I’ve routinely been called the most oblivious woman alive by my female friends. Maybe it’s true; maybe my literal [almost legal] blindness has infected my relational eyesight as well. If that’s the case – if ALL of my guy friends actually want to recite love poetry, perhaps from Song of Songs, to me – then I will stand corrected. But until then, I refuse to be a narcissist, and I refuse to make them liars.

I guess this is an ode to my menfolk. Thanks for helping me disprove the myth that girls and guys can’t be friends. You’re the tops.

On Aesthetics & Attraction

There are certain people who make the world better just by being in it. My bestest lady, G, is such a one. She’s the best combination of hilarious and down-to-earth, an observant listener and an excellent participant. She’s understatedly brilliant, and just all around my favorite person. Which makes it easy to spend two hours on the phone with her, chatting about everything from the absurdity of Colorado weather to love and relationships.

Which brings me to the topic at hand (sorry G, this isn’t actually an ode to you). Relationships. More specifically, attraction. Even more specifically, a guy’s wardrobe. I don’t do the Top 50 Qualities My Future Husband Needs To Possess lists – at least not in the way most girls do. I have very few nonnegotiables, which makes me feel a little more well-rounded than most. But when I mention that the way a man dresses is one of those nonnegotiables, people look at me like I’m crazy.

G and I talked about this at length today. I said that a well-clothed man was most definitely in my top three. She said it was more of a bonus for her and less of a necessity. [The nice thing about G and I’s relationship is how different yet compatible we are.] I mean, can I help the fact that when a well-dressed man walks into the room, I’m unable to focus on the proper formation of thoughts or words? I can’t, in fact.

It’s less about body type or fitting into a stereotypical look, like the hipster, or the working guy, or the mountain man. (I find all three attractive, in case you were wondering). For me, putting together an outfit is just as enjoyable as writing music – it’s a creative outlet, one that let’s me express who I am through what I put on my body. That’s how I observe people too. I like to think that I can almost accurately decipher a person’s personality based on what they’re wearing, most especially their shoes. If you wear chacos, I immediately think, “Here’s another outdoorsy acquaintance to add to the list.” If you’re wearing a pair of these, I immediately have a crush on you. I fall asleep thinking about what I’ll wear the next day (and what I’ll eat for breakfast). Sometimes, I stand in my new walk-in closet and giggle with joy, because all my clothes are hanging neatly, and are color coordinated. Seriously, that makes me happy.

So is it so incredibly shallow to want a man who values his aesthetic enough to put effort into it? And maybe even enjoy it? Shouldn’t you want to spend the rest of your life with someone you’re attracted to in more ways than just their amazing heart? People always say in response, “Well, you can always change him once you’re in a relationship!” That, I think, is pure madness. If you don’t like who a person is before you start dating them, then you shouldn’t date them. Period. Otherwise, you’re dating your imagination and not the real person in front of you.

Lest you think me completely superficial, my other nonnegotiables include things like being a man who values quiet and space, and being a man with vision and ambitions not just to better himself but the world around him as well. These are the things I’m the most drawn to, but in equal amounts I’m drawn to the guy who can look crazy good without my help much more than I’ll ever be attracted to the total sweetheart over there in chacos. I just want us to look good while we change the world together.

My mom thinks I’m shallow. My friends think I’m just being funny. What do you think? Shallow or legitimate?

P.S. The one exception is being a reader. If you look amazing and don’t like to read, I want nothing to do with you.