One of my closest friends in the whole existence of the world is a girl, and is like a sister to me. We laugh. We hug. We tell one another everything – because we like to be involved in one another’s lives. We cosy up – because penguin formation is so on trend. But we sure as hell don’t bump uglies.
I have faced strange stigma about this at various points over the last half-decade or so. The most telling of these occasions took place about six months into my university career, at a pub quiz with people from my block. I thought my mate could come along as well (not to help; she has staggeringly little knowledge of music, film or current affairs. She would agree with this, with added fake offence).
Her and I are originally from the same place – and had both been part of a dozen-strong group that had migrated to the promised land (Leeds) for further education. She had recently rekindled a romance with one of my best friends from home – they were always on and off, and had finally committed.
Across from me sat three friends whom I had known only since coming to Leeds, and next to me sat my ladyfriend from home. Now, we are good friends. Like, really good friends. She has seen me cry. I have seen her cry. I helped her through a break-up and held her in my arms as she made my shoulder sodden with tears. She is one of very few people that can be blunt with me about anything in my life, and I will listen. We have inside jokes. We have no boundaries in conversation. And we happened to sit there trading in-jokes for the duration, both of us nearing tears (happy ones) a number of times. As she popped to the toilet towards the end of the night, two of my friends leant forward.
“You two are close, aren’t you?” they remarked.
“Yeah,” I said, frowning slightly as to what they were getting at.
Almost in unison, they asked: “Have you gotten together before?”
I frowned properly now, and firmly replied. ”No.”
“Are you sure? Because she definitely likes you.”
“Yes, I think I’m sure – as she is ‘getting with’ my best mate from home at the moment,” I said, finally.
For some unbeknownst reason, they weren’t convinced by this – as if I was lying to spare any embarrassment, the truth, or any number of hidden facts – when I wasn’t. Forgive me the cliché, but we were, and still are, ‘just good friends’. And this is where I am at a loss.
I think there may be moments in a number of male-to-female – or female-to-male friendships – when those who are just good friends decide to try make it something more. Statistically, I think it is more often the male who instigates this; some sort of primal animal nature rears its ugly head, and one has inherent carnal desire appear in full view (…well, steady on. I’d rather not ‘full view’ of it).
As for me? I cannot fathom why certain members of society feel that the male population must either fancy, pine for, or copulate with all humans that have breasts. We are capable of relating to people on other levels, you know, and of being just good friends. We do not need a tattered and torn sexual history with all females put in front of us to prove they are just good friends either – though I’m sure a few friends would beg to differ with this, backed with a defence of their own secondary school street cred, those blasted house parties, and a few too many blue WKDs.
It seems to me that from what I consider a normal male perspective, ie. my own, that men and women can be just good friends. I believe it is wholly possible to share a pizza and a bottle of wine with a member of the opposite sex without having to hold their hand, stick your tongue down their throat, or father their child.