Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Few Good Men

Recently, a friend of mine bemoaned the fact she was having difficulty finding men to date. She lives in New York City. She's attractive, intelligent and a lot of fun. We were talking about men in general and I mentioned that in addition to my being attracted to men and enjoying romance with same, I relished the friendships I have with men - gay and straight.

The male personality.

My friend's big problem is that literally all of her male friends are gay. I'm not suggesting she dump her gay friends but finding straight men to be friends with, if not date, would lead her in the direction she wants to go. But my friend seems to believe that you can't be friends with a straight male in the same way you can with a gay man.

I disagree. I have several male friends who are gay; I have as many male friends who are straight. Many of my straight male friends have long time girlfriends (and I usually become friends with them as well when they realize I'm not after their guy)so our friendship is based on emotional intimacy only. There have been one or two occasions when the emotional intimacy, at times, bordered on the relationship turning into a romance but both of us had the sense to know the friendship was what was probably going to last and worth keeping unblemished. A physical encounter can change everything and few want to risk ruining a good friendship.

Not every guy I meet and like is someone I'm attracted to or interested in romantically. I believe having male friends is a great joy; they are great to ask "guy" questions of without any strings attached. I've had male friends - straight and gay - 20 years younger than myself, my age and as much as 30 years older. I'm not pretending that strong friendships between a straight woman and man don't sometimes lead to either or both privately wondering what sex would be like with the other.

Yes, I have wondered at times. I'm a healthy, straight woman who enjoys emotional and physical intimacy and the "Let's pretend for a minute" in my personality leads me to speculate. But it usually ends there.

On the practical side, having straight male friends can lead you to being introduced to their friends, the friends of those friends and the possibilities open up where you can meet a guy looking for a girl. You can't lose. You are able to get out there and meet men and, even if a romance does not develop with one, a friendship might. Is that so bad?

A great friendship is another form of love between two people. I am sad that my friend has limited herself so much to what she can and cannot accept in terms of friendships with straight men. That does not always present a problem. It can be quite fulfilling (and helpful) in your romantic liasions; having a guy to act as a sound board is not to be underappreciated!

Open thy mind! Appreciate friendships for the joy they can bring - members of the opposite sex, no matter what their orientation, is definitely worth exploration. I've been very lucky with my friendships. I wish others had the same luck.

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