, the Washington Post's online news and culture magazine, recently announced a new research project dedicated to trying to answer the age-old question anew: Can men and women truly be just friends?
Reporter Juliet Lapidos plans to survey a sample of platonic buddies
to see whether they stand up in real life better than they do in Hollywood (where all the "Best Friend's Wedding"s, "Reality Bites"es and "When Harry Met Sally"s insist that "the sex part always gets in the way.")
As a girl who has a male roommate (it's just the two of us) and plenty of totally platonic male friends (none of whom I'm interested in boning), I'm a life-long member of the It's Possible camp. But as I've gotten older and moved away from my close-knit group of high school and college friends, I'm beginning to wonder if having a male BFF is about to become a thing of the past. Keep reading ...
I've always had a bevy of dude friends, some of whom I'm attracted to, some of whom I'm not. (Note: There's a difference between acknowledging that someone is attractive and actually being attracted to him.) And they tended to fall into two categories (everyone else was a potential boyfriend or crush):
The Boy BFF (BBFF):
This isn't a Dawson Leery-Joey Potter friendship, but more of a Zack Morris-Jessie Spano situation. Whether you roamed the sandbox in diapers together and think of him as a brother, or, for whatever cosmic reason, you're Just Not Attracted to Each Other, I don't know a single girl who doesn't have at least one of these guys in her life. He can take many forms: A friend from college, a female friend's boyfriend, or some dude you used to work with. Even guys you crushed on back in the day, but now have no desire to be naked with, are admissible.
The Bottom Line:
This is someone who, even if he delivered you breakfast in bed, in the buff, you wouldn't see in a sexual way. This doesn't mean he's not attractive; he's just not attractive to you
. The important thing is that he feels the same way or else, yes, Harry Burns was right.
The Friendly Former F**k-Buddy (FFFB)
: Sometimes, sex happens. Maybe you didn't want to be the only girl who'd never given a blow job, or maybe you split three bottles of red one night and then felt like getting laid. This can also be a guy you used to date, in another lifetime (Jerry and Elaine style.) While you might occasionally indulge in non-platonic congress with said FFFB, you're by no means interested in a relationship, and it wouldn't bother you if he brought a girl around.
Unlike a standard f**k-buddy, this is a top-tier friendship that doesn't revolve around hooking up. But, it happened (and maybe continues to happen, every once in a while) and that's that. You're first and foremost best friends. The hooking up doesn't happen when one of you is in a relationship, and neither of you gets jealous (not even in a teeny, won't-admit-it-out-loud kind of way). And he most definitely doesn't cock-block you when you're out together. That's not cool.
But now that I'm older, it seems that -- unless the men in your life have been grandfathered into your post-college world -- these two categories no longer exist. From a guy's point of view, every stranger is either a potential screw ... or nothing. But the thing is, as a single lady, when I meet a guy who I think is cool, but I'm not physically attracted to, I want to be his Just Friend.
I've discussed this with friends and think maybe my recent platonic dry spell comes down to geography. People who live their adult lives near where they grew up or attended college have plenty of friends, male and female, and are set with their circle. They don't need anyone new. As one friend said, "When a guy tells me he wants to be just friends, I think 'You're in your late 20s. Don't you already have enough?'" But when you're new to a city, the answer to that question is usually, "No."
Or maybe it's just that as we get older, relationships get more serious, and, sadly, a good friend of the opposite sex is almost always a threat -- while your high school BBFF's girlfriend may realize you've "been around forever," the girlfriends of newer BBFFs might not be so understanding.
I'll be watching Juliet's stories to see what she finds out, but I also wonder: Do you believe in platonic friendship? And have you found it harder to make Just Friends as you get older?
Erin Scottberg loves scotch and editing Lemondrop. She does not like you like that.