I’m getting very tired of the old belief that men and women can’t just be friends. While it’s not as widely believed, referenced, or inferred as it was a long time ago, there is still residual jokes and standards that are upheld today in society that imply some people just can’t let it go. (Not that I’m trying to make this an “okay boomer” moment, but this does tend to occur with some of the older generation).
Men and women CAN just be friends. Here are a few of the reasons why this bothers me, even when people claim they’re “just joking.”
1. It implies that an individual (man, woman, non-binary, gender fluid, etc.) is going to be attracted to literally anyone under any circumstances, and that just isn’t true. We all have tastes. We're all attracted to people or not, and often times if the person is a close friend that rules out any attraction to them because they’ve been slotted into a certain role in your life.
2. It implies that if you did find your friend attractive, you would do something about it to jeopardize the friendship. I have plenty of male friends who are very handsome, and I find them attractive. That does not mean I AM attracted to them or would act on that attraction.
3. It implies that when you, the friend, or both of you are in a relationship you would be a horrible enough person to act on any semblance of attraction and betray the person you're with simply because the person is of the gender you prefer.
I’m in a committed, long-term relationship, and many of my male friends are as well. My boyfriend also has other female friends, also in committed relationships. I have never felt concerned or threatened by the women my boyfriend hangs out with, nor has he ever felt concerned or threatened by the men I hang out with because a relationship built on trust between two good people isn’t fragile enough to be broken by a friend of the opposite sex.
So, let’s let the jokes of “oh, you’re hanging out with a boy, does your boyfriend know?” die. Because it’s not funny, it’s offensive to the person in question’s character, and my male friends aren’t all uncontrollable monsters, thank you very much.