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We Can Be Friends, But Here’s Five Things About That

The other day, I read a pretty good piece over at Clutch Magazine by my friend Jamilah Lemieux. The article, entitled, “A Case For The Homeboy” is exactly as the title implies, a case for platonic friendships with people of the opposite sex. What I appreciated most about Jamilah’s piece is the way she moved past the rather stale debate as to whether or not men and women can just be friends.

Like her, I think the only people still struggling with being platonic friends with the opposite sex are the same people whose voices are still cracking. So how about we just agree mature men and women can definitely be friends, but these friendships are not a monolith and thus, each friendship is unique.

Take me for instance. I most definitely can be friends with females, but it’s not easy. Here are five things every female should know about being friends with Jozen.

JUST BECAUSE I HAVEN’T MADE A MOVE, DOESN’T MEAN I WON’T

Here’s the thing about my female friends: I’m attracted to most of them. Men don’t ask for friendship, they settle into it. Most of my female friendships stem from my failed efforts to make them more than friends, so  the attraction never ceases it just gets suppressed. Unless my good friend is in a relationship, pregnant, or engaged, I never really get to the point where I see her as a sister. Somewhere in the back of my mind I’m definitely thinking of her in a non-sister way.

IT’S BEST IF SHE DOESN’T CONFIDE IN ME HER BEDROOM ISSUES

I don’t think it’s insulting for a woman to think I would make a move on her. I think it’s insulting for a woman to think I won’t. So when a woman starts talking to me about her problems in the bedroom with the opposite sex, I only know one form of counsel, and it’s a hands-on approach. If she is not down for this method, then she needs to go to her other friends and see what they prescribe. Never forget, I’m the straight male friend.

SHE CAN’T GET MAD WHEN I CANCEL OUR PLANS AT THE LAST MINUTE OR FLAKE ON HER; BASICALLY TREAT ME LIKE HER MAN

I’m a friend, not a boyfriend, so if we’re going somewhere to kick it, we’re going dutch at all times. Of course I’m a gentlemen — you’re my friend, you should know that — but when it comes to paying for her movie ticket, please. Those are dating privileges.

Also, if we did have plans, and I cancel them at the last minute, there’s no reason to treat me like the guy who canceled a date. We weren’t going out on a date, we were just going to hang out, like I do with my boys. You know what happens when I cancel plans on my boys? They don’t trip. As a matter of fact, whenever I see them after the canceled plans have passed, they rip me for not being there because they will act like I missed the time of my life. One of my boys asked me to help him move out, and originally I said I would. Then he gave me the call time and I said I wouldn’t. Him and I are friends to this day, closer than ever. Sure, every now and then he’ll bring it up and say, “You were a jerk for that.” But then we go right back to playing Madden or drinking beers. If I had pulled the same thing on a female friend, I doubt we would be friends at all. Speaking of moving…

SHE’S HELPING ME MOVE TOO

She thinks just because she’s a girl, she gets excluded from assisting me with certain things like hard labor. Wrong. If she’s a really good female friend of mine who has been a shoulder to cry on, she can also be a shoulder to put a box of my things on. Any woman who is a friend of mine can expect a phone call from me if I need my apartment painted or some help lifting some furniture. And I would call my boy but remember what I did to him? Yeah, he’s doing the same thing.

IF WE EVER DO DECIDE TO DATE, SHE CAN’T HOLD AGAINST ME THE THINGS I DID TO OTHER WOMEN WHILE WE WERE FRIENDS

This one is a bit tricky. Maybe we were friends for a while and now things have felt a little heavier than before. We start looking at each other differently and are thinking about making our friendship into something more. If we go there, I don’t expect my friend to forget about all the trifling things I did to other women I dated, but I also don’t expect to be held hostage against them. One would hope if a female friend of mine did start to look at me as something more it would be because she saw good in me despite my past mistakes.

Click here to read Jamilah’s article, “A CASE FOR THE HOMEBOY”

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  • Theryl

    Guilty of being mad about the cancelled plans, but only when my time is disregarded.

  • Eshe

    Last minute flaking when it is a task (moving, covering something,etc) is rude whether you are my girl or my boy. Hanging out is whatevs on either side. But the task flaking would make me look at you sideways for bit regardless

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  • Tee

    “Men don’t ask for friendship, they settle into it.”

    Knowing this in college may have saved about 80% of my male friendships. I’m just way too oblivious to my homeboys digging me. Oh well, lesson learned.

    Loved that “Homeboy…” Post on Clutch as well.

  • http://facebook.com/yesip621 Yesi Jukebox

    I love that you put a twist on this topic by making it about YOU. I see certain similarities with my friendships with my boys but as you said each friendship is unique. I would comment on the conditions to being your friend but we aren’t exactly friends, I just stalk your blog everyday lol

  • http://www.twitter.com/dev_rox Devin

    I agree 100%. I know a lot of people who think men and women can’t be friends. I disagree. But I also feel that men don’t choose to be in the friend zone, MOST of the time; like you said, they settle into it. I have some male friends who have been attracted to me when I wasn’t feelin them and vice versa but at the end of the day, we’re homies regardless of gender.

  • http://twentysomething83.wordpress.com Tessie

    See…my issue is that really platonic then? Maybe I need to look up the definition, but if there’s always a potential for something else to happen I almost feel like it’s tainted. I say this because as a female I’ve sworn off being able to be friends and JUST friends with a male. Coming from personal experience all the male friends I have or used to have have resulted in someone admitting (and occasionally acting) on attraction. Maybe I’m not mature enough yet, but it distracts from the things of friendship for me, like being able to talk about other guys etc. But I like that you were honest about what it means to you.

  • http://natashasjourney-natasha.blogspot.com Natasha

    I LOVE what Jamilah said. I agree with her 100%! I feel like I can learn from a male friend. That is why I always want male friendships. I believe the best relationships stem from friend-first situations anyway. Also I can’t open up and be myself around a man unless I feel he is cool enough to call a friend.

    I understand the way men view friendships with women better now Jozen because your blog today. I had a childhood friend come back in my life. When I did not want to pursue a relationship I no longer heard from him. But he claims he always wanted to be my friend. I find that odd. I mean can you say you were really a friend if you bounce when I just want to be your friend? The irony. I am just a person who looks at life deeply and I can’t have nothing in my life half way. So if it’s painting walls, getting up in the middle of the night to pick you up from work or helping put in a new AC unit(smile) I am there. I am a loyal person and expect the same in return. My lesson is learning everyone, male or female are not the same way.

  • Spring

    Canceling plans at last minute is never cool whether dating or friends

    “Any woman who is a friend of mine can expect a phone call from me if I need my apartment painted or some help lifting some furniture.”- Lifting furniture? lol Dang thats messed up Jozen. Leave that to men

    And wanting a woman not to hold ur past triflin ways against you is ridiculous. I wouldn’t date you because of your past ways. Think about it, if you knew a girl who was triflin and would cheat on her boyfriends would you date her after the fact? truthfully? most likely not

    Love ur blog! Keep writing

  • http://natashasjourney-natasha.blogspot.com Natasha

    @Tessie
    I agree, I think if a friendship has some romantic under tones than it is tainted. Of course it can be an attraction, but if you my friend than be one! Even GOD says if you luke warm he will spit you out! If he is my friend than I expect that. I don’t want a man who “acts” like a friend, be one or go! I am not going to be the emotional place to fall. Women do this to men too. Not good.

    Man and women I believe can be friends sis. We just have to mature emotionally first!

  • Sunkissed404

    I’m guilty of putting one of my closest guy friends in that zone…forever. We became friends through a mutual friend (a guy). I really wanted guy #1, but he was a slore. When guy#1 messed up, guy #2 picked up where he left off and tried to be slick about getting to know me. I never gave in…We became too good of friends to see each other any different (in my eyes).

  • MsPrincessKey

    I love this post but the third one is a little sketchy in my book. I don’t care who you are or our relationship to one another I’ll still be peeved you flaked especially if it’s not something you do to other people. If you’re the type of person who it already flaky before hand then I may not be so upset about and will probably have a back up person waiting in the wings.

    All of these things can be summed up into the one thing which I say to all my boys “Hey I’m still a straight girl although I maybe the only one here, I’m still here none the less.” I know men and women can be friends but you have to always remember he’s still a man and you’re still a woman.

  • Tiffany In Houston

    I can’t ride with your third statement. I am considerate of my friend’s time, regardless of gender. Cancelling at the last minute without a really valid excuse is just rude. I value my friendships and someone who constantly did that to me would probably be black history. It’s that golden rule thing, ya know.

  • Chanee’

    LOL @ “I only know one form of counsel, and it’s a hands-on approach”

    Two posts from two of my favorite bloggers!

    I agree having male friends is definitely beneficial as long as you keep it friendly. The thought that men and women can’t be freinds just boggles my mind. But I do know that if one of my homeboys calls my 5’1 frame to help them move they’ll be getting a side eye and a kick to the shins lol.

  • http://www.thebeautifulstruggler.com Jamilah

    Thanks for the shout-out! I appreciate that you qualified this as “being friends with Jozen”, as opposed to being friends with men in general (which a LOT of folks would have done). I definitely have seen some of this stuff with men I know and I think your attitudes are relatively common.

    I’ll hold my thoughts on the moving thing, lest I lose alla my feminist street cred!

  • http://www.my28cents.com my28cents

    Good piece.
    I think everyone should have a few platonic friendships with people of the opposite sex. In my case, the conversations are completely different. Kind of like what @Natasha said. I learn a lot of things from my female friends that I would never learn from my “ESPN-only watching” guy friends.

  • http://www.girlsarethenewboys.blogspot.com mouf.peace

    ‘chuch.

    my friend, a guy friend, once told me “men and women are only friends ‘cuz the woman keeps it that way,” and when i look at my closest guy friends i can agree. before being close friends, they’ve all liked me. in no way does that mean i’m like, the finest girl on the planet. no way. but it def holds truth to what my homie said.

  • Janine

    People, sure 2 adults of the opposite sex can be friends, but lets also be adults and be honest, men don’t meet women and say “ooh she looks platonic”, or “we should go out and have a drink and not have sex”. the attraction plays a role.

  • Dontchasethem

    It’s hard when there is a physical attraction there. It makes that line very murky. When me and an on again off again “friend” try to be just that. The attraction on so many levels was distracting in itself. My voice isn’t cracking but this is just hard to do for any adult with feelings.

  • goalawal

    1. Jozen dont discriminate against sex w/ pregnant women… Its pretty damn GOOOOOOOD……. (I’ve heard)…@ leasr u can say u’ve had a 3some.. “Unless my good friend is in a relationship, pregnant, or engaged, I never really get to the point where I see her as a sister”
    2. I will from now on always use “Never forget, I’m the straight male friend” for every situation i need to get out of w/ my female friend.
    3. Nice of you to also let @Natasha shine on thru’ your post…there are many that would never have been comfortable enough to do that

  • http://www.teaandsuch.blogspot.com Tea

    I have yet to have a male friend ask me to move. I’d do it if they asked though. Cute post! Or wait, excuse me, I meant to say very-nice-and-masculine-and-not-cute-at-all post!

  • L. Dejean

    If she’s a really good female friend of mine who has been a shoulder to cry on, she can also be a shoulder to put a box of my things on.

    ^^^That made me laugh!

    I’m the friend you can generally depend on so unless i have prior plans, i’ll always be glad to help!

    “Never forget, I’m the straight male friend”

    ^^^I have to remember that with a male friend or two…some have made their intentions known…so i have to watch what i say or act around them!

    Great post! I’m finna read the Clutch post!

  • YoYo

    Dope Post…Completely correct, on every point. One other thing, the older you get as a guy, the less likely you want to be “friends” with a chick. I mean, why the fcck would you want to hang with an emotional roller coaster if you’re not smashing? Seriously? Fellas, would you rather hang w/the fellas or your girl? Chances are your boys. Once again, we only put up with that b/c we are smashing, companionship, etc. In Brown Sugar, the movie, my man wanted to smash the ENTIRE time trust me. She was banging. Ladies if you’re attractive, if you have a male friend over the age of 25, he’s gay or he wants to smash, PERIOD.

  • http://womanofcolor.wordpress.com brownivyx

    This post was hilarious, as usual. I really enjoyed reading it.

    While I do retain a little bitterness over past attempts at intra-gender friendships that went horribly awry, in the preceding few months and weeks even, there has been a drastic changing of the tides in this regards, and I’m actually just beginning to enjoy (again) the benefits of being friends with hetero men. They’re way less emotional than women, which is kind of nice (OK, really nice). They don’t regard me as competition, or as a threat for other men (though, on the downside, they don’t *quite* work as wingmen either…there’s some subconscious territorial/c-blockery that occurs that I’m still trying to politic). Also, they pretty much let you know if you’re working at a high point appearance-wise (lots o’ comments) or a low point (silence). So, as long as one is willing to navigate the tricky gender politics of the thing and, possibly, deal with unfriendly/disapproving SO’s and their edicts, it is possible.

    I pretty much agree with everything said in the post, with a few clauses. Yeah, it’s OK to make a move (I guess). It is not, however, OK to be a big baby and get all weird henceforth if you get shot down. That’s the risk. Real friends should be able to deal and let it go. Also, depending on the personality type, I think a person gets the right to cuss someone out, within reason, if they flake. The flaker has to take it. Lastly, yeah, I totally don’t mind helping a male (or any) friend paint and move their stuff. Goes without saying. As long as they provide beer/liquor and adequate food as payment in full and, if available, cable TV. That’s just good etiquette.

  • http://www.dabestofs.com T Nelson

    Im so Co-signing the She’s helping me move too lol

  • http://vickstahs.tumblr.com vk

    i’m with Theryl. It’s not really a matter of bailing out as friends to be honest, it’s more a thing of respect. Unless you have damn good reason to flake out (i.e: you fell down and broke your arm/nose/face/heart), you should really think twice about making plans with me again because more often than not, I wouldn’t bother. Come on, it’s got more to do with respect than anything.

  • **inquiring mind**

    Yeah I’m the rest… everything its cool except being a flake… Jozen, there’s no excuse homey, cousin, yo MAMA whatever… manners are f!cking manners! smh

  • freespirit Z

    “Never forget I am the straight male friend”

    That had me LOLing…When you are just friends as a woman you tend to forget that physical attraction is typically why you started hanging out in the first place.

    The only way I will get mad about canceling when we are suppose to hang out is if we were physical then the next “hang out” time you cancel. This just slightly unnerves me and brings up the womanly “insecurities”

  • http://liferequiresmorechocolate.com Tiffany

    That last one is def tricky. Now she knows all your dirt and your business and may feel she can use it against you. Yeah I was a little too open about some info with a friend I started dating so every time we were sexting he would say did you send this to dude too. We are no longer dating, so now he doesn’t have to worry about that anymore.

    Peace, Love and Chocolate
    Tiffany

  • Doesn’t Matter

    I dunno about this one. The fact that you still have to try to make a move signals to me that you can’t truly just be friends.

  • http://www.falliblesage.com Fallible Sage

    My best, most solid female friendships occur when I’m not attracted to them. Attraction, even if just physically, has the potential to create issues.

  • citygirl22

    @Spring , his last point was not WHETHER you find him dateable, but rather IF you decide to date, you cannot hold his past against him. Makes perfect sense. Either you accept someone as they are or you keep it moving.

    Great post Jozen… on point in every way. I have always had more male friends than female, and I love them to death!!! It doesn’t matter to me whether they find me attractive, or vice versa, or whether we had a history, dated or even smashed. The point is, if we are TRULY friends, then I am invested in their happiness (even if it’s not with me) and well-being (down for them at all times) from my heart, regardless of whether our loins are involved.