Blurry Lines and Confusing Space

Here's the question: Where is the line between a friendship and a romantic relationship? What defines the two? Separates the two? Is it just sex? Are we still "just friends" as long as either a)Neither of us has a desire to have sex with one another or b)We're simply not having sex? I don't know that I have the right answer, but I do have an answer...

While I think that there really is something pretty deep that separates a romantic relationship from a deep friendship, I think that line is being blurred more and more in our society. We have the types of relationships with friends that was once saved for only romantic and committed relationships. We use friends to support us in ways that was once something done only by a significant other. This is where the conflict comes in between your boyfriend and your best friend. This is why there's the argument of whether or not men and women can have truly platonic friendships. As a woman who has a male best friend, a guy who I have no desire to sleep with, but love and appreciate on a very deep level, I've read and heard it all. My friendship with him was definitely a thorn in the side of my now broken and battered former romantic relationship. Did I choose one guy over the other? Yes. I did it all the time. Sometimes it was my boyfriend, sometimes it was my guy friend -- but I was always having to choose.. more on that in another post... In any event, people told me that it wasn't fair to my boyfriend to have to compete for my affections with another guy. My boyfriend told me it wasn't fair that my guy friend could be there and he couldn't. He felt closed out and maybe he was, but does that invalidate my friendship? Because my boyfriend was insecure, does that mean my friendship with a guy was less than platonic? I don't think so.

The issue with a heterosexual woman and a heterosexual man being just friends sans sex must stem from an idea that two people can't have a deep friendship and it not be sexually charged. This argument must go on to assert that if two women, or two men have a deep friendship it may be sexually charged BUT they are not sexually attracted to each other so that sexual charge is null and void. So it's impossible for me to have a non-sexual, deep, platonic and loving relationship with a man simply because he's a man but it is absolutely possible and even expected of me to do it with a woman....

It's all a sham. First off, plenty of women and men who probably don't consider themselves homosexual or bi-sexual have deep friendships with individuals of the same sex that ARE sexually charged. They just don't act on them OR that sexual charge manifests itself in ways other than... well... sex.

I'm heterosexual. I'm not heterosexual because I've never met a woman to whom I was physically and sexually attracted, nor am I heterosexual because I'm "supposed" to be. I am heterosexual because I have an attraction to men. A sexual and physical attraction to men. I have a sexual attraction to men that I do not, have never and will never have to women. I do believe that if were transported to a place where only women live, I would still be attracted to men. This is an important distinction. This does not mean that I can't appreciate another woman's beauty. I have a friend who I think is absolutely gorgeous. I say it all the time. I don't want to have sex with her and my physical attraction to her is not the same as the one I have for, say, the guy who works in the office across the hall from mine.

I have a very close friendship with another female. It's different from the close friendships I've had in years gone by. It's different from the close friendships with women that I have now. My friendship with her is not like anything I've ever experienced. Not that it's mind-blowing or deep or larger than life, it's just very different. What makes it different is that there is a certain level of physical comfort we have with each other that I can't say I have with any of my female friends. I've never viewed anything about our relationship as sexual or potentially sexual but conversations with other friends about this relationship have me looking at it through a new lens. This relationship is the catalyst for this post which has been whirling around in my head for quite some time. If my friend and I had the same relationship, but one of us was male, would we be on the verge of jumping into a committed romantic relationship?

This all seems so contradictory to me. On the one hand, my deep, loving, platonic, completely NOT sexual relationship with a man, a heterosexual man, is invalidated by many because "men and women can't do that". On the other hand, my deep, loving, slightly sexually charged relationship with a woman (who may or may not be heterosexual) is completely validated and expected, even encouraged. I've never had to convince someone that my female friend and I are not sexually involved. Not ever. Even people who know the extent (read: complications) of our friendship. I have, however, had to convince and re-convince family and friends that my guy friend and I are just friends.

So is it a gender thing? Is what separates a friendship from a romantic relationship dependent on the gender of the two people involved, plus sex? So I'm not playing with the fire known as a committed relationship as long as either the other person is a female and/or there is no sex? Hmm... Very interesting.

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