Can Men and Women Just be friends? Dating and the Age-Old Question (Take Two)

Author’s note- this post from several years ago was on my mind again recently, and I want to re-share it (with a few slight editing updates) since the topic is so good and is one that many people have pondered over the years.

Can men and women just be friends?  That is a question that many writers, singers, and infinitely countless number of women and men and boys and girls have pondered through the ages.  It is the quintessential age-old question.  I, too, have pondered this question over the years, and my interest in women’s studies and my own personal experiences in the murky waters that can be male and female friendship has led me to examine this subject one again.  Also, I have noticed that of all my blog postings, the most popular one is my first post on Word Press, “Love, rejection, and poetry (a.k.a. a heart, a wall, and vulnerability)”.  I have observed that there is an wide interest in the topic of rejection judging by the many google searches where people end up on my blog when they are looking for topics such as “love rejection poems”, “heartbreaking love poems”, “rejection poetry”, and “famous poems on rejection” (I didn’t realize that I was famous).  If you are interested in reading my post on love and rejection, then feel free to link to it here: https://julieannesmith.wordpress.com/2012/01/

Today I was reading an article in the Daily Illini online written by Tanya Trivedi on 4/24/12 entitled “Just friends or hidden desires: Cross-gender friendships not clear-cut.”  I found the article to be thought-provoking and well-written, and it caused me to re-visit this topic, ponder my personal experiences, and take action to write a blog post.  Trivedi begins her article with a quote from Oscar Wilde and then she poses some interesting questions.  Here is an excerpt:

“Centuries ago, Oscar Wilde said, “Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.” Can his perception of friendships between males and females still ring true in regards to sprouting relationships in the 21st century? Perhaps love, passion, enmity or worship is lurking under the illusory layer of what we think of as friendship.”

(Quoted from http://www.dailyillini.com/index.php/article/2012/04/just_friends_or_hidden_desires_crossgender_friendships_not_clear_cut)

Look deeper in to your friends personality

Look deeper in to your friends personality (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My experiences in the vastly murky waters of male/female friendships (and relationships) has not always been a pleasant one.  Hence, some of my poetry.  I am definitely not a huge dater, and I actually have only dated a small number of guys in my life.  There is a long list of reasons for that, but I am sure no one here wants to read a book.  However, to give a “Julie’s condensed version”, I would say some of the reasons are:

1. My parent’s divorce scarred me, and I have various fears related to love.  I am greatly troubled by the vast number of marriages that end in divorce, and how it seems (for reasons that I do not understand) that people can have longer relationships with their favorite sweater than a committed, lasting, and emotionally healthy and stable marriage.  Pardon my bluntness.

2. I am quite independent, and I have never been one to “need a man” to be happy.  Sometimes it seems to me that many women let  their own emotional contentedness and happiness with their life rest on the fact of whether or not they have a boyfriend (or husband).  I would like to think that has never been me.

3.  I am not a fan of internet dating.  I prefer to know a guy in person.  However, with the current rise of internet dating, sometimes it seems that I am the only one not really desiring to run out and do e-harmony or Match.com.  Almost every wedding that I have attended in the last 5 years came about as the result of internet dating.  Am I missing out?  Personally, I do not think so. (Author’s updated note 9/9/16- I am pondering this topic again re: if I am missing out, because internet dating is a possible avenue to love, although I MUCH prefer the old-fashioned way of knowing a guy in person and then dating.  However, the jury is still out).

4. I keep busy with my friends, family, interests, church, and (previously) my educational degrees that I attained.

5. Financial limitations, perhaps??? I was unemployed after the two companies that I worked for both closed during the Recession, and no way was my focus on dating.  Also, these days, while I am a feminist, I still think that it is beautiful for a guy to treat a girl very special on a date, as well as to pay, especially if you are first dating and the guy has initiated the date.  Call me sexist if you want to, but honestly I like that tradition and think it is quite noble and honorable.  However, often times both parties wish to date but do not have any money.  Dating doesn’t really need to involve much money, and creative and free alternatives can also be done. Personally, I am quite content with pizza (which you can cook at home) and a relaxing movie, but it can be nice to go out, too.  (Good conversation is always free, might I add).  However, if I am left to fend for myself and pay my own way (as some guys seem to prefer), then honestly I would rather be able to afford to pay my rent than to go to a nice dinner at Texas Roadhouse.  Dating is not a necessity, but I will not go so far as to say dating is a luxury, either.  I believe there are economic factors in dating that have previously been overlooked and heretofore have not been the focus of Sociological studies about dating.

6. I strongly prefer being friends with women to being friends with men, with a few exceptions over the years.  Those exceptions are typically  the husbands of my close female friends (or my Dad or brother), however some other exceptions that I have made over the years have led to pain and heartache, causing me to being even MORE apt to prefer friendship with women rather than men.  My heart has been hurt enough over my lifetime.  Finally, it can be hard to safeguard your heart and still be open to romantic love, which I desire.

7.  Ok, ok, maybe I am writing a book here.  So, I will end this list with the fact that I am picky.  Also, often the guys that I would enjoy dating do not clearly initiate, most guys seem gun-shy about using the D-word (author’s side note: which I understand, because none of us like rejection…but I totally agree with a quote from the movie When in Rome: “the passion is in the risk” or “the beauty is in the risk”), and I can be shy when I like a guy.  And, as far as being picky, I think that it is important to have an emotional connection with a guy that you would date, as well as a physical attraction.  Also, I would enjoy some common spiritual beliefs, however I have had it both ways in dating, and honestly I found it challenging both ways but for different reasons.  Finally, two of the qualities that I find most endearing in a guy are seldom found together: boldness and gentleness.  I desire to be treated tenderly and gently, and guys that have a gentle and caring personality are very attractive to me.  However, I also enjoy bold guys who are leaders, highly verbal, and “Joshua” type men (meaning Joshua from the Bible).  If I ever find a guy who has both qualities, that may be the perfect guy for me.

As far as men and women just being friends, I am coming to realize that I cannot do that topic justice in one blog post.  I will say that it is a hotly debated topic, and in my personal experience some guys that I used to be friends with have acted like they no longer wanted to be my friend after they asked me out, and I verbally told them that I did not feel that same way about them.  No one wants to hear “I just think of you as a friend”, but sometimes that is the truth.  I would rather be honest, but I never want to hurt anyone.  I remember a guy friend in college who I suspected liked me, but I had a boyfriend.  Almost immediately after my boyfriend and I broke up, there was an instance where the three of us were eating lunch together.  We went to part ways and my ex left first.  My guy friend at that point took the opportunity to kiss me on the forehead while I was standing there shocked and stunned, and he said, “I can do that now since you are single.”  UH, NO!  Sometimes stuff like that makes me frustrated, and at times it seems like male and female friendships (and relationships) are like buried landmines in a vast field and you walk across the field and do your best to try to escape without major damage to life and limb.  Alright, I am being dramatic.  It is nowhere near that complicated or harmful, but male/female friendships are challenging and pose unique issues for everyone involved.

How about you?  I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on male/female friendships.  Do you find them challenging?  How do you safeguard yourself from being hurt?  Do you even think men and women can be friends, or is it a lost cause and we are all fooling ourselves?

Love Tarries

Love tarries
as sunrises and sunsets,
new moons,
summer,
fall,
and winter
come and go
and another spring bashfully peaks
through the horizon.
The delay
and wait for love
weighs down my heart
with much sadness.
I feel forsaken
by love.

Men in my age range
seem to prefer model-types,
exotic foreign girls,
girls who like to flirt,
or girls who run after guys
and make things happen.
So, I’m no model,
nor do I want to be,
and beauty ultimately should come from within,
but I fault too many guys
for caring too much about appearance
and putting it on a pedestal,
and not caring enough about qualities
like compassion or intelligence or courage.
I don’t have exotic foreign appeal.
Alas, I can’t compete with that.
And I’ve never been one
much for flirting.
I appreciate genuine connection
and prefer to be monogamous
with flirting, but in dating
and not with every single guy.
I’m more traditional in nature,
and want to be pursued,
but society seems to laugh
at that these days.
I can be both traditional,
as well as for women having equal access
and opportunity in both the home and work sphere.

Love tarries
like a long, cold winter
when spring seems like it is forever gone,
and I sigh
and grow in patience,
albeit somewhat ungracefully,
in this wait for beautiful and lasting love.

Digital Inequality and the IRS

Inequality is “an unfair situation in which some people have more rights or better opportunities than other people.”  The definition of inequality is “the quality of being unequal or uneven” and can include social disparity and disparity of distribution or opportunity (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inequality).

In terms of digital inequality, this can also be referenced as a technology gap.  I understand this very personally, because I was raised in a blue-collar family that was largely against computers when I was growing up.  I think my parents either hated or were scared of computers, and my Mom as a postal carrier never had need of a computer.  Today she gets upset when coupons are e-mail only since she doesn’t do e-mail, however, now that she is retired she surprised me when she took an entry level computer class with her friend at the community college.  Personally, I never owned a computer or laptop in college.  I would sometimes borrow my friend’s or my boyfriend’s computer, but mostly I would live at the library or computer lab when I needed to write papers.  Finances were an issue, and my first real computer came once I graduated with my Bachelors and Masters degrees and bought an old computer from an acquaintance for $100.  I know my experience may not be typical, but it is important to note that not every family can afford computers and technology, which can be very expensive.  This reality does set a child behind in school and can be a learning disadvantage.  A pencil and notebook is much less expensive than a laptop and affording home internet, and for parent’s struggling to put food on the table, technology is most likely not a priority.

Tonight I was disappointed and concerned when I went to my local library that is a star library in my state (Illinois) to pick up my federal and state tax forms and booklets.  Earlier in the week I had no success picking up the tax forms at the main post office that always stocks them, so I figured that perhaps I was thinking about my taxes late this year and the post office was just out of everything.  However, the sign at my local library said that the IRS decided to not send federal tax booklets this year to places that they always send them, like post offices and libraries. An extremely helpful woman at the library reference desk pointed out that the IRS also did not send supplementary forms like years previously, and a library staff member had to repeatedly call and ask for tax instruction booklets, only to be given 10 booklets that were quickly gone.  Also, there were no IL-1040 forms or booklets at all, and it was unclear to me what the library was given regarding state forms.

People looking for tax booklets were instructed to go online to look up the information.  This is not a good option for people who want to use a tax booklet and a paper form to mail their taxes in the old-fashioned way, which many older people still do.  Also, the library had a sheet with a phone number to call to have tax forms mailed to you.  That is a decent option for people that aren’t trying to do their taxes that night or at the last minute.  However, it is a hardship and a hurdle for taxpayers to jump through when instruction tax guides are not free and easily accessible to people of all income levels.  Many people may not have access to the internet at home, and most people would not like doing confidential tax information at the local library. I think this situation is inequality since it is social disparity and a disparity of opportunity for people of lower income levels.

Libraries and post offices are hubs of their community and provide services to people regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender, or other factors.  While I can understand the IRS wanting to save money in the costs of printing and mailing forms, which is good both economically and environmentally, it still troubles me that this move results in an inequality that epitomizes the technology gap that is a way of life for many citizens in the United States of America.  I am a fan of freedom, and my hope is that people who are comfortable with old school paper tax forms can easily find and use them, while people who are comfortable with internet tax filing can utilize the internet to file their taxes.  I do not want to see either option cease to exist.

 

 

 

 

I’m going to feel Deprived if my Husband doesn’t Cook

Pot roast

Pot roast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m going to feel deprived if my husband doesn’t cook.  In my head is this fantasy that I have, and I just laughed as I wrote that, because in this fantasy my (future) husband likes to cook.  Steak.  Mashed potatoes.  Chicken.  Pot roast.  Tacos.  You get my drift.  Oh, but my future husband doesn’t mind baking, either.  Chocolate cake.  Brownies.  Cookies.  Banana nut Muffins.  I laugh to myself again.  You are probably laughing at me, too.  Or, perhaps you are outraged.  Actually, that is kind of the mood I am in.   I feel like pushing the envelope a bit.  I’m not outraged, but actually I just want to set gender expectations on their head.

So I was just eating dinner tonight and thinking about how I feel like a “bad” female, because honestly I don’t really like to cook.  I was always too busy reading to help my Mom in the kitchen, and she would have to push and prod me.  So, I really don’t know how to cook.  That is part of the problem.  Also, I hate dishes.  But, I have a dish washer now, so you ask what is my excuse?  Truth be told, my Mom even recently subscribed me to Rachel Ray’s magazine, but I find myself flipping through it thinking that certain foods look good, but then I stumble at the action point where I need to go out and buy the needed ingredients to make the meal.  My observation is that if you don’t have basic ingredients to start with, then your grocery bill can burst your budget and be a major detriment into your foray into cooking.

I fear my future husband will feel deprived with my lack of domesticity.  Here is what “gets me.”  Women are expected to work full-time.  Be thin (and I must say that the older I become, the harder that is, especially with the genetic predisposition of the women in my family).  Be beautiful.  Be sweet.  Love children.  Do the bulk (if not all) of the cleaning in your home.  And, finally, be a domestic “goddess.”  But what happens when you don’t wear the red polka-dot apron and make an amazing pot roast?

Society likes to play it both ways.  Women need to work outside the home, but they need to shine in the home sphere, too.  If you don’t, then you deprive your husband (thus goes the logic).  Your husband deserves a good home cooked meal.  And why would a woman want to “waste” a college education if she decides she wants to raise her children and stay at home?  Is that not a noble profession, or does she have to be climbing the corporate or academic ladder to get applauded?  I think many women get burned out running from full-time work to PTA meetings to kid’s soccer practice, and trying to be home in time to make a five course meal may be an unfair burden that society places on women.  Women can juggle many things successfully, but I think fairness and equality is a standard to be obtained in both the work and home sphere.  Why can’t husbands cook, too?  While I definitely will not feel deprived if my future husband doesn’t cook (FYI, I was just stirring the pot), I do hope that my husband will at least like to grill out, or he will enjoy cooking with me as we learn to cook together.  A girl can dream.

 

Sad and Interesting is the Order of the Day

Days can be thematic sometimes. Today, sad and interesting appeared to be the order of the day. It was a long day, and I got home after 9 pm. As I was parking, I was inspired by a new song that I heard on the radio on my favorite radio station, Air1. It was by Britt Nicole, who I find very inspiring and talented. (Side note: I actually got to volunteer at her concert with radio promotions for Air1 Radio several years ago when she performed a concert in my area). Well, I loved her new song with Lecrae, and I was inspired to get on Myspace, which I don’t do much at all these days, but I still like it for the music and for reminiscing. Anyways, I was stopped by “the new myspace”, saying not only had myspace changed, but that my current browser was not supported to login. All I wanted to do was add the song to my profile as #1 song, but I had to go through the steps to get a new browser to meet my goal. So, I added Mozilla Firefox as a browser, which truth be told, I should have done ages ago, since I hear it is an excellent browser. Funny how when you can’t do something you want to do that takes “two seconds”, it is quite annoying to be slowed down with technical delays. Anybody else agree?

So, after getting my new browser, I tried to login and got stopped by the “new myspace.” Of course, I had to agree to the privacy policies, video policy, and other various policies before proceeding. I also noticed that it APPEARS that unless you are a MEMBER of myspace (i.e. the NEW myspace, not the classic myspace), you CANNOT listen to music! You can only search for music. Why would anyone want to search for music but not listen to it? Sometimes I used to listen to music in my old myspace player without logging in. This probably sounds funny, but I would listen to my playlist when I didn’t realy care or need to login, and when I didn’t care to be tracked for every song I played. Anyways, so, unless I am missing something, it appears the new myspace is EXCLUSIVE for members ONLY to listen to music, which I find sad and, well, exclusionary. I like music being free and for the people. And, don’t quote me on this without double-checking, but I believe that when I tried to check out Spotify app for music numerous months ago (which my friend raved about), I couldn’t login in because I don’t have a Facebook account. I don’t think that is very fair.

I am a person who does not like to sign something or click accept when I have not read something, especially when terms say that I have read terms, etcetera. Granted, I don’t like reading 40 page terms verbatim, but I try to pay attention to privacy policies and rules. But, I got tired of reading and really ONLY WANTED ONE SONG. It is already late, so I decided to table the new myspace for another day and make sure I am reading when I am less tired. Here is the super sad other thing that I want to comment on- when I was clicking about how the new myspace is different than the classic myspace, it said some things will not carry over in the new experience- things like blogs and comments. That makes me so sad! I always considered my old myspace like a digital record or journal as part of my life- so many happy memories are tied up there, plus blogs that I never saved that were before I was on wordpress. I think I also lost some of my poetry which I may have only had a digital copy of, which of course, I did not save. It is too late now, but I wish I knew more about archiving and stuff that seems taught more in librarian circles. Sometimes it feels like I a babe in the woods, but it is sad once it is too late to do things maybe you should have done, but didn’t think something would be totally taken away from you. I was never warned by myspace by e-mail with the changes, and I knew there was a newer version, but I didn’t use it a ton recently. Still, I don’t think they promoted the switch with a deadline, and I don’t think they publicized what people would lose until it was lost. Maybe I am wrong, and I not trying to speak something untrue, but with so much of our identities wrapped up in the digital realm, I wonder how many people would be upset if their Facebook profile got wiped out, or how would they feel if Linked In pulled the plug? We are all vulnerable.

Once I decided to pass on the new myspace (for tonight anyway), I got on Air1 Radio (www.air1.com) to stream the mixology live. Of course, I got distracted by their home page with “trending now” news headlines. Here is the one that caught my eye. It is about new Lego figurines being more grumpy than in previous years. I think that is interesting, but sort of sad. Here is the article:

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/11/18904238-do-legos-need-anger-management-figurines-grumpier-than-ever-study-says?lite

Also, an article I was reading earlier in the day was in the Chronicle of Higher Education about privacy, law, and government. It was highly thought-provoking and troubling. If you are interested in privacy laws, logical arguments, or freedom, then I definitely recommend it. It fits my theme of the day- sad, yet interesting.

http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Privacy-Matters-Even-if/127461/

Ghetto shoes: Is Duct tape considered Fashionable? (Inspiration for a Better Cause)

Today was one of those days. When you decide you want to go for a walk on your morning 15 minute break to get needed exercise and enjoy a non-rainy day, but then your shoe decides to come apart at the seams, literally, completely detaching from its base. I must comment that I have lost two pairs of my favorite dress shoes in the last 10 months, so to now lose this third pair of shoes, a comfy Montego Bay Club pair of sandals, is making me wonder why I am so prone to shoe “catastrophe?”

In order to be resourceful at work and last through the day, I first tried to repair my shoe using packing tape and velcro sticky fasteners (that seemed past their prime), but those solutions did not last more than a few minutes, and unfortunately my morning walk got postponed. My third solution was duct tape, but since the base and side of my shoe were very slick, the shoe did not bond well with the duct tape. Thus, duct tape was not the solution that I had hoped for. But at least the duct tape helped my shoe limp along until my lunch break, when I resigned myself to racing home to get a different pair of shoes. Honestly, I wasn’t sure that my shoe would last through the day, and I didn’t want to “push my luck” when I had to more mobile at work later in the day. Also, I wasn’t too keen on wearing my “ghetto shoes” to a meeting with an Associate Dean and co-workers that I had in the afternoon.

I wonder if duct tape is considered fashionable? Here is a picture for you to decide.

My Poor Shoe on its "last legs" (a.k.a. Duct Tape to the rescue!) (photo by Julie A. )Smith)

My Poor Shoe on its “last legs” (a.k.a. Duct Tape to the rescue!) (photo by Julie A. Smith)

The one really good thing was that the whole situation made me think about deeper issues than just the loss of my shoe and embarrassment of my duct tape solution. It made me think of all the children around the world who do not have even ONE pair of shoes to wear. Besides being unsafe if children walk without shoes through briars, stumble upon broken glass, or encounter other sharp objects, I am sure that being without shoes is also a health risk in terms of hygiene. No child or adult should be deprived of clothing or shoes, as well as basic necessities of life such as water, food, or shelter. It is sad the basic necessities, as well as luxuries, that many of us in developed nations take for granted. When is the last time you had to wonder if you had shoes to wear or if your water was unclean?

I was blessed to go on a short-term mission trip to Haiti when I graduated from college, and it forever changed me. I worked as a teacher’s aide in a second grade classroom at a Christian school. While in Haiti, I saw poverty like I never had before, and it opened my eyes to the wealth and privilege that I had in the United States of America. It made me want to help, and while sometimes it seems that I can’t do as much as I’d like due to my limited resources and finances, I am confident that every bit helps. Today, when I thought of children without shoes, it made me think of Tom’s shoes, a business that cares to help needy children get shoes, as well as charities like Shoes for Orphan Souls.

Check out these links if you are interested and can give to help needy kids get shoes:
http://www.toms.com/easterncongo/l?cid=ps_usbrand&gclid=CI_d5e6h07cCFe1AMgodz24ACQ

http://www.shoesfororphansouls.org/

Fun By the Numbers: 716 views, 19 followers, 22 posts, and 52 countries since January 29, 2012

WordPress Logo

Stop the presses!  I hit over 700 views yesterday!  I am so excited and somewhat amazed.  I remember when I had dry spells where there were days with no views or just 1 view of my WordPress blog, and I have observed that several times I have had 19 views this past week. Yay!  Another item of note which I just realized is that tomorrow July 29 is my 6 month blogging anniversary on WordPress.  I am really glad that I joined WordPress.  My fellow bloggers are fantastic, and everyday I can be inspired, as well as learn new things.

So, my Sociological background corresponds with an interest in society and human nature, thus I want to do a fun by the numbers post.  In addition, I want to say that I am GRATEFUL for every follower that I have, every viewer that takes a moment to view my blog, every like, every comment (well, the non-spam ones), and all the countries represented by the views of my blog.  Thank you for reading and for the joy that comes through my WordPress blog.  The internet really does make the world a smaller, more unified place, and that is really beautiful.

Let’s get to it.

Views: 716 (as of 11:03 am)

Followers: 19 (only one of which is a good friend of mine since when we attended college together; I appreciate that there are so many people I have never met following my blog.  I know some people have over a thousand followers, but I am super happy with 19 followers).

Posts: 22

Time blog began: January 29, 2012

Busiest day: June 5, 2012 (23 views!)

Most popular topic categories viewed in the last week:

#1= Personal (44 views)

#2= Life (27 views)

#3= Random Thoughts (24 views)

Most popular topic tags viewed in the last week:

#1= Mother Teresa (28 views- a nice surprise)

#2= Bible (27 views)

#3= Love (21 views)

No-spam 

Real Comments= Not very many (shameless plug for non-spam comments)

Spam Comments= 552 (and 12 more sitting in the spam que)

Author’s random note: Spam is annoying.

Countries where people have viewed my blog = 52 countries since WordPress began tracking on February 25, 2012

Note:  This is one of my favorite categories.  I love how the internet unites people around the world.  I am a fan of culture and travel, but I just wish that I could travel more.  There are so many incredible countries in the world.

Here is the link to the map of the 52 countries where people have viewed my blog.  I tried several ways to copy and paste it, but it seems that I need to take a class on how to do this successfully.  I will take this class with 5 year olds. 🙂  If anyone knows the secret to this, please offer collaborate assistance.  I can copy and paste to a Word document, but only the link shows up here when uploading.

Map of Country Views since February 25, 2012

Just for fun, here are the top ten countries where people have viewed my blog.  (If you are reading this, then I will say again that I appreciate you!)

#1= United States of America (350 views)

#2= India (48 views)

#3= Philippines (45 views)

#4= Canada (24 views) (Tie)

#5= United Kingdon (24 views) (Tie)

#6= Singapore (19 views)

#7= Malaysia (16 views)

#8= Australia (12 views)

#9= South Africa (9 views) (Tie)

#10= Uganda (9 views) (Tie)

Extra note: I find it cool when there are countries which I have never heard of where someone views my blog.

Example= Seychelles

Shares= 3 (Facebook, etcetera)

*Feel free to ask if there are any stats that you are curious about.