The ability for a man and a woman to be pure and platonic friends is debated incessantly. Many believe this is not possible and breeds inherent issues, and others are proponents of it (albeit–some for the wrong reasons).
Even if you’ve just met me, you will have heard me mention the name of at least one of my male friends. My friendship with males has been a natural part of my life since I was six months old (I know–sounds crazy right?), but this was the point in which my nephew was born and we were a package deal from that moment forward. He was my nephew, my brother, and my best friend. I spent more time with him than I spent with anyone. Little did I know, this built in me a relational comfort with guys that essentially became a part of who I am.
I was thinking about this (my friendship with guys) recently after a precious friend of mine passed. His passing caused me to reflect on all of the people I know because of him. At one point, we had a pretty robust crew. For sake of this post, we’ll call this group of friends “the crew”. And of course, I was the only gal. Others would frequently comment on how odd this was, but to me, given my context, it was normal.
I traveled back a little further to try to pinpoint a time when I didn’t have at least a handful of guy friends. I couldn’t think of a single moment in my life where this was the case. I’ve caught so much flack and from various angles for this over the years. My mentor is vehemently against opposite sex friendships, particularly when either party is in a relationship. Quite naturally, I’ve had to contend with understandable concern from my friend’s girlfriends, and, I’ve also had some of my own friends challenge me regarding these friendships.
At each turn, I always give deep consideration to the concerns of others. I view these as opportunities to assess my intentions and/or motives in these friendships. And I’ll be honest, I haven’t always operated from the most honoring position in terms of my guy friends and their relationships. When I was younger, there were things that I was just completely ignorant about (i.e appropriate boundaries).
My friend’s passing brought about an impromptu reunion of the crew. We laughed, we joked, we reminisced. The circumstances prompting this reunion SUCKED but it was so good to be in the presence of my crew again. It’s been about 6-7 years since we all hung out so, I couldn’t help but to observe how much we’d all grown. I noticed that while there’s still this crazy comfort level I have with them, I am much more intentional about the manner in which I engage. At this point in my life, I desire for all of my interactions with my friends (both male and female) to be honoring to them, their relationships, and ultimately to the Lord.
I’ve learned some invaluable things from my guy friends over the years. I LITERALLY would not be who I am without these relationships. Here are a few gems I’ve gleaned that I have these friends to thank for:
- Everything is not about me – You know how we tend to assume people are doing things to us intentionally? So, we play out this whole scenario in our heads to which we subsequently form thoughts, opinions, and behaviors in response to. Yeah so, being around my guy friends allowed me to observe that if they weren’t with, talking to, or actively thinking about the woman in their life, they were completely enthralled in something altogether different. Part of me took offense to this because I wanted to believe that when my man wasn’t with me, he was staring at my picture and unable to focus on anything else amidst his thoughts of me (lol). Welp, that’s not the case (and truthfully Veronica at 33 wouldn’t want it to be). But essentially, I applied this globally. I removed the assumption that everything or anything for that matter, is about me.
- Wisdom in compartmentalizing – My crew of guy friends are all really successful. One of them said to me recently, “I don’t think you realize who you’re friends with.” In a roundabout way, he was saying: “we’re all kind of a big deal!” He’s obviously super humble (lol). I digress…a characteristic I admire in men is their ability to compartmentalize. Mentally they keep things completely separate in order to achieve maximum results in their individual pursuits. I adapted this in my own way some time ago and I must say, they’re onto something.
- Logic Should Balance Emotions – The misconception is that men are void of emotions. That has not been my experience. Rather, I have been exposed to men who acknowledge the emotion then set it aside to work through the issue logically. After years of processing things with men, I couldn’t help but to implement this same approach in my own life.
- Men Don’t Settle! – This took me a little longer to observe. But MAN OH MAN when I had this epiphany! While we (women) tend to settle all the time (relationships, salary, treatment from others, etc.), men refuse to settle. I found this to be particularly empowering in the dating space. Once I grasped this, I no longer cared to stomach things just for sake of not being rejected should I speak up. There was no need for me to present anything other than exactly who I am when interacting with a man and being 100% ok with whatever the outcome of that was. And best of all, I don’t feel any remorse toward being picky. Bottom line is, every man that blows my way is not worth my time. Period.
- Men Live Their Lives – Listen! Men do not sit around wallowing in self-pity. They (at least ALL the ones I know) are out making things happen and having a blast in the process. This has been pretty inspiring for me throughout the years. Definitely helps me to shift my perspective when I’m in a funk.
I’m so grateful for the parts of me that have been molded by my friendships with guys. I will say though, opposite sex friendships are not for everyone. I believe the only way these types of friendships can work is if there are clearly communicated or enforced boundaries on both sides, and both people must have the heart to always seek to honor one another in thought and deed.
I think it’s also necessary to add that in no way, is my goal to be or think like a man. I fully embrace and enjoy being a woman (and all the beauty that comes with it). This is merely an ode to the enhancement of who I am that’s been inspired by my friendships with men.