I just got home from work. The hour is later than normal because I went out for a couple of beers with a co-worker after work. My co-worker and I are very good friends; we know lots of stuff about each other’s past, each other’s current lives, romantic relationships, and political and religious leanings. We get together regularly for dinner or drinks, occasionally with the other’s significant other joining us. We e-mail each other’s personal e-mail accounts about non-work items regularly. Hell, we’ve even compared pornography souces. Sounds like probably a million other work friendships (except for the porn thing), and probably better than most, right?
The reason this is important, the reason I am posting about it, is because my co-worker is a man.
This occurred to me, actually for the first time, while we were drinking tonight. During a lull in conversation, I told him, “One of the reasons I love you so much is that we can drink, we can talk, we have this wonderful intimate friendship, and I can be as handsy as beer will prompt me, and we have none of that [motion back and forth between each other] baggage that so many male/female relationships do. You don’t think I’m coming on to you, so you’re neither hopeful nor nervous about it. We’re just friends, for once everyone is clear. And I love it!”
He smiled, “Indeed.” And we were of a single mind. What a wonderful moment!
I think this minor moment is of importance to The Jane Community is that I’ve heard it said, over and over, that men and women can not be friends. That the sexual subtext of the human animal prevents this from occurring. That there’s always going to be, at the very best, unconscious sexual jockeying, game-playing, some sort of unvoiced undercurrent that will either ruin whatever “friendship” develops or will turn that “friendship” into, at the very least, a sexual relationship.
I used to agree with this viewpoint. Now that I’ve actually experienced the contrary, an extremely rewarding and non-sexual fe/male relationship just as intimate as any I’ve experienced with my best female friends, I must disagree. That this has only happened now because, in general, my most rewarding fe/male relationships have been with boyfriends or ex-boyfriends (I tend to keep them around as friends because I liked them before we became a couple) bears mentioning. I’m not sure if it’s age, maturity, or the particular compatibility of my co-worker and me, but I’ve discovered the wonder of a rewarding and non-sexual fe/male relationship that has fundamentally cracked my previous views of the fe/male dynamic.
I’d be interested to hear about your experiences in this arena, and about any shifts in your perspective over time. I am, at the moment, attempting to reconcile the repercussions of my perspective shift, and I’d like to hear how such a thing worked for others.