Written by Jonathan Barker and Paige Farnsworth | Media by Thomas Hajny
It’s a new year, which means new couples on campus, professors preaching about “The October Rule” to the freshmen, and a whole lot of romance rumors. We see couples going on late night walks, giving each other long goodbyes in between classes, and holding hands in chapel.
But these couples aren’t that interesting compared to the “just friends” couplings. We all know them. The guy and girl that aren’t dating even though everyone assumes they are. The ones that eat together, laugh together, and spend open dorm hours in each other’s presence. It seems that even two individuals being in the same room together instigates presumptions that a relationship will begin, creating more tension in the air than a last second potential game-winning free-throw.
And then the questions come: “Do you two like each other?” “Are you guys dating?” “Going to get that ring by spring?”. Although these things are often said in jest, quips like these aren’t fair to those friendships.
Sometimes, we act as though an opposite-sex friendship is impossible. As if the only possible connection between a male and female should be an intimate relationship. About three years ago, a video hit YouTube entitled Why Men and Women Can’t Be Friends and since then it has received over nine million views. The video features a young man interviewing students at Utah State University, and in it he establishes that girls can be friends with guys but guys always want more. We decided to ask around to see what Greenville College really thinks about this topic.
Can guys and girls be friends? We interviewed several professors and a few students on campus to get their opinions on whether or not men and women could be friends without emotional or sexual tension.
LET’S HEAR FROM THE MEN
From a male perspective, I’ve found that there are rarely problems maintaining a friendship with a female friend unless attraction comes into play. Professor Robert Munshaw stated that “In this case, there might need to be some pretty clear boundaries in order to keep things at the friend level…in my college days at GC, I didn’t think of every girl on campus as a potential dating target.”
However, if tension does occurs from any attraction, Professor John Brittingham stressed, “Sexual tension in a friendship is something that can be worked around if you are willing to communicate with the other person. It is also not as though all men are purely driven by their penis and all women fan the flames of desire.”
Although God may have created us to procreate, we are not damned to our biological functions. Believe it or not, there’s a lot more to women than how pretty they are. Fellow student Brian Gertler commented, “It’s a mindset. If you’re going into a conversation with a bias about anything, good or bad…you’re putting a label on somebody before you actually get to know them.” He elaborated, “Being just friends is possible, it just takes a lot of redefining of how you view women.”
If we are to overcome any obstacle, we first have to be aware of the obstacle. In his interview, Professor Rick McPeak provided some interesting insight: “Males and females can maintain deep friendships, but not without sexual and emotional tensions/conflict. All human relationships exist within these tensions. We have to know this and understand it in order to act responsibly within them. If we deny the sexual or emotional component, we are more likely to become caught up in them by surprise.”
Sustaining friendships with the opposite sex can be difficult in certain situations. However, they are a very important part of human connection. If you eliminate the entire possibility of befriending a female, you are limiting yourself and preventing yourself from gaining helpful insight from a different perspective.
Professor Richard Beans noted, “Men and women are not opposites, as in light and darkness. In fact, they are far more alike, than they are different. The difference between women and men, however defined, is both wonderful and real, but it is not opposite. And despite what we might have heard, men are not from Mars, and women are not from Venus. We are all from Earth and we are all God’s precious children.” Although we are distinguished, we can learn from these differences rather than hinder and bewilder ourselves with all of this conflict.
Want to see what the girls think? Read the girl’s side here or check out the podcast below.
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