I CONFESS: Men and women can be friends
Sat, December 01, 2012 - 12:00 AM
I believe a man and a woman can be best friends without being lovers. The key thing is for both of them to recognize and respect the nature of their relationship and for each to never cross the invisible moral line that separates close friendship from intimacy.
I have such a relationship today and it is great. Though my friend is married, he and I can talk about anything. I can share my feelings with him, knowing that what is said between us, stays between us. And he can do the same.
Most important, we know how far to go. There is never a suggestion, hint or any overture about us becoming intimate. It is mutual respect. He is happy with his life, I am happy with mine; and together, we are happy just being pals.
I would be the first to admit though that such friendships are not as easy to keep on an even keel, especially if both individuals are going through problems in their personal relationships and so turn to each other for solace.
I know this well because years ago my male best friend at that time and I briefly became lovers. That occurred because he was not honest in his intentions with me, and I was too naïve or immature to realize it.
Notwithstanding that unfortunate mistake, I still insist a man and a woman can be buddies without becoming intimate if they behave responsibly and respect each other.
In my case, my good sense prevailed and I broke off that relationship because I realized that the deceit which had crept into our friendship was not what I wanted; it was not who I was and what I stood for.
I despise men who cheat on their wives and girlfriends and I always swore that I would never become involved with a married man. So I could not continue doing that and live with myself. It was wrong!
Though I disappointed myself by my actions then, the one lesson I learnt from it was that as an individual you have to know who you are and stand up for what you believe in, no matter the circumstances. If you stand for nothing, as sure as there is a God in heaven, you will fall for anything.
My only consolation too was that I wised up before that situation got really out of hand.
Looking back at those days I can see clearly now that the two of us were destined to be lovers, given what was going on in our personal lives, and our penchant for confiding in each other.
He and his wife were having real difficulties and everyday he would talk with me about them to relieve the burden of it, as well as to seek advice on how best to manage the situation. He felt that as a woman I would better understand how another woman thinks and behaves.
In my case, I was still trying to overcome the break-up of my marriage. My husband and I had separated and it was a bad break. Our children were very traumatized by it, thinking they would never see their father again as he no longer loved them. So my daily struggle was to keep listening to their fears and reassuring them. As such, I just needed an adult whom I trusted to unwind emotionally to, but not intimately.
As that guy and I had been close professional and personal friends for years, and were accustomed sharing each other’s secrets, we naturally turned to each other in our personal crises.
It was not something that I certainly planned. In tears over my situation, I hugged him tight. We then held each other and began kissing each other; things got out of hand after that. I was too weak to resist, and he was being a man.
As I said, to this day I regret that incident and the couple other times it happened. But what hurts most about that affair was not realizing how, in assisting him to get in tune with his wife and bring them closer together, I attracted him to me instead. It was not intentional but it made him want to be with me and not his wife.
The other disturbing thing was how his dishonesty and deceit took over our relationship. He swore he was not sexually involved with his wife and I would encourage him not to be like that because when such a void occurs, depending on the morals of the woman, another man could be invited to fill that breach.
So when his wife became pregnant he wanted to leave her, saying she had stepped out on him. He used that to show me why we were so right for each other and to seek to intensify our relationship. And, because I trusted him, I believed him.
But when the baby was born it was the spitting image of him. Seeing that child wised me up immediately. I knew then that I had been fooled and immediately severed ties with that man. I have never made that mistake again.
Since then, I have established close friendships with other men and maintain these through honest dialogue and mutual respect. That’s why I will always insist that men and women can be best friends.
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