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?

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Love Tarries

Embed from Getty Images

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.

Do You?

Do you believe in love?
Do you believe in marriage?
Do you think there is only one right person for you or many possibilities?
Have you ever had your heart broken?
What inspires you?
What are your dreams?
What places do you want to travel to in the future?
What do you want to do with your life?
What are your thoughts on God?
What are your spiritual beliefs?
What causes do you believe most strongly in?
What are your talents and strengths?
What are your spiritual gifts?
What do you like best about yourself?
What would you change about yourself?
What do you struggle with?
Do you consider yourself an optimist or a pessimist?
Do you believe in second chances?
What things make you angry?
Are you more task-oriented or people-oriented?
What is your family like?
Are you more comfortable with kids or pets?
What do you like to do for fun?
Do you always run early or late?
What genres of movies and types of books do you like best?
Who are your role models?
What is your preferred method of communication?
What is your primary love language?

Author’s note: I published this yesterday on my poemhunter poet page. It may not be poetry in a pure sense, but I was inspired to write a list of questions that seem especially helpful to ask in a romantic context. Some of these questions are also good for getting to know friends and family on a deeper level. Feel free to use and share these questions! 🙂

“Shy Girl” and “The Waterfall”: Original Poetry

Shy Girl

The shy girl smiles.

She ponders and does muse

why when it comes to love

she always seems to lose.

 

The shy girl hopes,

but hopes seem so threadbare;

in a tapestry of love

she finds it quite unfair.

 

The shy girl wishes

that things would change.

She is shy of heart and action,

and she is forlorn for a love exchange.

____________________________________________________________

English: Waterfall near Lepena, Slovenia Slove...

English: Waterfall near Lepena, Slovenia Slovenščina: Slap, Lepena, Slovenija (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Waterfall

Churning.

Rushing.

Swirling.

Flowing.

Tumultuous

waters

flow down

the rocky

craggy

cliffs

seeking freedom.

Seeking peace.

Seeking release

from the chains that bind her.

 

She would cry

if she wasn’t

already water.

Transparent

and flowing

amidst the

beat of the sun

on her body

and the chirping

of the birds

comforting her with their tender song

in the sweet mountain air

that completely envelops her.

Perhaps

the water

are her

many tears

as they flow

free

and with abandon.

 

Tired of trying.

Tired of bondage.

Tired of who she needs to be.

Tired of the expectations.

 

She just longs to be free.

Pure.

Unrestrained by people’s expectations

of who she needs to be.

She wants to just be herself.

A waterfall flowing,

but now with a new calm strength

that is soothed by the warmth

of unconditional acceptance

from the One who watches over her

and loves her

even when she cannot always accept herself

or love herself.

 

Poet’s noteThis poem explores the internal conflict of the poet amidst expectations in the spheres of her family, work, faith, society, and even herself. 

 

***I have more of my poetry on www.poemhunter.com.  Here is a link to my poet page and poems:

http://www.poemhunter.com/julie-a-smith/

Love Quotes (Take Two)

I must confess that I started to look up some love quotes for this post, and I meant to type www.brainyquote.com, but instead I typed www.brainyquote.quote.  YEAH.  I am really weary and my eyes are feeling very tired, but still I had to laugh at the irony of that mistake.  Sometimes all you can do is laugh at yourself, you know?

So, here are more love quotes gleaned from www.brainyquote.com

1. “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”

~ Mother Teresa

2.”The one thing we can never get enough of is love. And the one thing we never give enough is love.”

~ Henry Miller

3. “The quarrels of lovers are the renewal of love.”

~ Jean Racine

Au

Au (Photo credit: JohnGoode)

*** I must comment that I find this quote highly thought-provoking.  If you do not feel love, then you are indifferent and do not desire to quarrel.  You can disagree and quarrel when you are upset or hurt or frustrated in a love situation.  However, a desire for harmony versus strife may lead to less quarreling and more embracing of love in all forms.

4. “The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.”

~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

5. “There are never enough I Love You’s.”

~ Lenny Bruce

6. “There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved: It is God’s finger on man’s shoulder.”

~ Charles Morgan

7. “Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”

~ James A. Baldwin

8. “Love takes up where knowledge leaves off.”

~  Thomas Aquinas

9. “Love is a friendship set to music.”

~ Joseph Campbell

10. “Love is a force more formidable than any other. It is invisible – it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could.”

~ Barbara de Angelis

11. “Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.”

~ James A. Baldwin

12. “Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.”

~ Robert Frost

Also,  I always appreciate the example of Jesus Christ and His view on love.  He was mistreated and spoken poorly about, yet he talked of turning the other cheek and offering forgiveness.  That view is often not shared in this world of offense and unkind words.  I am inspired by the life Jesus led, and I find Biblical verses on love and forgiveness to be helpful in trying to live life the way that I should.

Love Quotes

English: Love heart

English: Love heart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I find quotes quite awesome, and some of the best quotes out there are love quotes.  Thus, I have culled together numerous love quotes from a couple of sources.  In particular, I am a fan of quotes by people that I admire, other poets/writers/thinkers, and spiritual resources.

To get it kick started, here is a spiritual quote from a recent Air1 verse of the day that I appreciate:

“Love each other with geniune affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” (Romans 12:10 NLT; www.air1.com)

Here is one of the quintessential, classic verses on love that is one of my favorites to read when I want to read about love.  I find it a high standard to attain to, and I often fall short.  These verses are from the Amplified Bible, which I find cool because it amplifies words and adds new facets of understanding and shades of meaning.

“Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.  It is not conceited (arrogant or inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly.  Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]….Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].  Love never fails…..” (I Corinthians 13:4-8, Amplified Bible)

These inspiring love quotes are gleaned from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_love.html

“A flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and man cannot live without love.” ~Max Muller
“At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.” ~Plato
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ~ Lao Tzu
“Do all things with love.” ~Og Mandino

“Don’t brood. Get on with living and loving. You don’t have forever.” ~Leo Buscaglia

“Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.” ~Albert Einstein

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” ~Mother Teresa

“Everything is clearer when you’re in love.” ~John Lennon
“For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.” ~Judy Garland
“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.” ~A. A. Milne

Hope: A Poem (The Beautiful Promise of Tomorrow)

Author’s note:

This poem is fictitious and inspired by the author’s imagination.  The only exceptions are that the woman’s name “Maria” was inspired by the name Maria in the musical “West Side Story” (a musical that I like which has many good lessons).  Second, the pink was inspired by pink being my favorite color, and also by my desire to somewhat personify the sunset.  Thus, I gave the sunset  some characteristics that (at times) I possess.  Finally, while I have at times felt like the little sparrow, forlorn and perhaps somewhat broken (which I do not care to elaborate on), this did not inspire the poetic sparrow, nor did any other resemblance to another person, thing, or sparrow, living or dead. (Ditto for the little old man).

 Hope: A Poem (The Beautiful Promise of Tomorrow)

The little old man

with a crooked back

and a kind yet wistful smile

gazes out at the shimmering ocean

beckoning to him in the distance.

Lost in thought

he ponders

simpler times,

days gone by,

and a girl with a pretty smile.

 

“Ah, to be young again,”

he thinks to himself.

Youth is wasted on the young,

as the old saying goes.

 

He has no regrets.

The mistakes he made

taught him well,

but yet

still his heart aches

and at times

he is lonely.

 

He misses his sweet Maria

with an intensity

that sometimes awakens him

in the night.

She was his muse

and his joy

and his love.

His beautiful wife

gone six years now

(My, how the time seems to fly).

But, she was NOT his life,

yet she played quite a starring role.

A good distinction,

the man has always thought,

is that life should be shared

and enriched

but never overtaken

or overwhelmed.

 

Startled,

the little old man’s reminiscing

is broken

by a tiny little sparrow

looking forlorn

but yet brave

with his little broken wing.

The sparrow takes a little hop

along the glistening sand

and looks up with curiosity

at the little old man.

 

“Friend, I know how you feel,”

the man whispers with a conspiratorial wink.

Truth be told, sometimes the man

has been broken in spirit

and broken in his grief.

Yet, somehow,

a tenacious, persevering will

helped the man fight on.

But now,

his frail body

was starting to feel broken,

as age took its usual toll.

(He was approaching age 90,

it is important to note).

The little old man felt an affinity

for the little sparrow with his little broken wing,

and it brought a second smile

to the man’s weathered face.

The sparrow brightened his day

and reminded him to never give up.

 

Slowly, the man’s gaze slide up the horizon.

A sunset was starting

to pierce the sky.

“Where had the day gone?”

the man wondered.

A hint of a beautiful, stunning pink timidly peaked

bashfully

across the horizon.

Skittish

yet hopeful.

The spectacular sight

of the blossoming sunset

caused a hope to spring anew

into the little old man’s heart.

Every day is a gift.

There is the UNKNOWN PROMISE of tomorrow.

Beauty can shine her brightest

even in the darkest hours.

 

Thus, whistling a cheerful tune,

(one I think anyone could recall),

the little old man shuffled off

with hopeful expectation

of a light brighter than any dawn

and the beautiful promise of tomorrow.