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Can a man and a woman be best friends?

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07/12/2011

Rachel Bertsche photo 2 

In the early days of this blog, I addressed one of the most obvious friendship questions: Can a man and a woman be best friends? 

At the time I was staring down the barrel of a year-long friend quest. Actually, by the time I wrote this post, I was almost through month three and had no new male friends to speak of. I was on the fence regarding the whole When Harry Met Sally debate.

Over a year later, I’m still unclear. It seems a question worth revisiting, at least in the wake of my search. In all my friending, I made one—count ‘em! one!—platonic straight male friend. I met him when I joined LEADS, the JUF social group for young Chicago Jews. He was the leader of my group and lives around the corner from me. So we hung out at our meetings, which were weekly for about two and a half months. These days we see each not more than every couple of months, but I’d certainly consider him my friend. We text every now and then, and have lunch sometimes when he works from home. It’s all very exciting.

There’s absolutely no sexual tension in this relationship. He’s met Matt, he’s only known me as a married woman, and, most importantly, we’re just not each other’s type. Being friends is a no-brainer. And Matt’s certainly not jealous. (As I mentioned in the previous post, Matt’s not the jealous type. So much so that sometimes I have to ask “aren’t you at least a little jealous??” I mean, come on.)

The only other guys I’ve become independently friends with since moving to Chicago were either 1) co-workers or 2) gay. I had a few “work husbands” during my 9-to-5 days, though it’s perhaps worth pointing out that each one switched jobs not long after our office-marriage began. Coincidence, I’m sure.

Despite these friendships, I still don’t think I could have met a straight man this year who could have become the kind of best friend I’m looking for. Daily phone calls or emails, weekly playdates? What I know is that when I hear of a woman whose best friend is a man, I wonder. I’m not saying they’ve all had, you know, relations, I’m just saying that it’s the natural question. And I’m not sure I want a friendship surrounded by that much speculation and grey area.

I guess my new take is that a man and a woman can be just friends, but it’s the rare case. A true deep, meaningful friendship between the sexes is tricky and might be asking for trouble. What you may think is platonic, after all, he might think has the potential to be more.

(Though, to be clear, that’s not the case in my new friendship. That’s for real platonic. Just to clear that up.)

What say you? Man, woman, newly acquainted, just friends. Possible? Or no?

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