No Sex In The Friendzone
Men and women can’t be friends, says science, because sex always gets in the way.
Well, knock me down with a meaningful glance. Really? Men and women can never be true friends because he’s constantly sniffing for the ride and no amount of shared experience, common interest or inappropriate farting can ever negate that?
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The case for such a depressing scenario is fairly watertight, both anecdotally and biologically. Anecdotally, we all have examples stuffed into the story-storage area of our brains regarding that time Áine thought Cliff was just a sweet bloke and it turned out he was secretly photographing her cleavage with his iPhone.
Brilliant UK sketch show Man Stroke Woman had a recurring piece in which one of the female characters thanks a male friend (Ben Crompton) for a gesture she believes is no-strings-attached, oblivious to the fact that he’s gotten all dressed up in gimp gear in expectation of sexual recompense and is now slinking shamefully out of shot.
I heard the other day of a friend who was chatting with a nice lad at a wedding, who cut her off halfway through the conversation by asking if she had a boyfriend as he had no intention of wasting words on her if she wasn’t going to get her kecks off. And so on and so forth.
Biologically, men are built to spread their genetic material with the abandon of a mayor throwing sweeties off a parade float. Sperm is cheap, because it’s a renewable resource. Women, on the other hand, are built to be selective, because eggs are finite and morning sickness is a fucking nightmare.
Henceforth, says biology, men will think of sex before, during and after friendship, because they’re backed up to the ears with seminal fluid and the sloshing sound it makes when they walk is driving them up the wall. Women are naturally choosy and so must develop other interests, like conversation, shopping and drinking vodka and cranberry while they wait for an appropriate male to fertilise them.
Therefore, men and women can’t be friends. Oh, women think they can, say Anecdote and Biology, but women are far too trusting. Men have rocks and they need to get them off. The end.
Well, Anecdote and Biology may make an effective alliance, but that’s not to say they’re entirely correct. Of course they’re not entirely correct. Because men are indeed capable of not acting like they’re in a never-ending Lynx ad. Yes. Believe it or not, men don’t just wedge themselves in every squishy hole they see. You know why they don’t? Because they’re grown adults at the top of the damn food chain, that’s why.
Biologically, women are built to propagate, incubate and lactate, but you often see women walking around carelessly doing none of the three. That’s because it’s biologically possible not to propagate, incubate and lactate, and not some sort of automotive glitch.
In the same way, it’s entirely possible that dudes, built to impregnate tirelessly so as to minimise any possible Children of Men scenario, ease up on the tireless impregnation from time to time. They do not explode with frustration, like some sort of puppy tethered in a pissbox made of meat. They cope quite well.
Anecdotally, we all have friends of our preferred gender that we don’t spend all day thinking about boning. Or maybe we don’t, because we have incredibly attractive friends doused in musk. How terribly tiring, if that’s the case; being constantly aroused is exhausting, which is why all teenage boys need twenty-three hours of sleep a day.
The fact remains that most of us are perfectly capable of conducting platonic relationships without withering away with the unfulfilled stress of it all.
Men: do you really find all of your female friends attractive? All of them? Even the one you stood guard over while she did a wee in a shrubbery on the walk home from the pub? Even the one who rolls her eyes when you’ve got ‘man flu’? Even the one who knows about the time your dad said you were a disappointment and you ended up crying for hours in the back garden?
Women: do you really think all of your male friends fancy you? All of them? Even the one whose girlfriend just had a baby and who hasn’t had a wink of sleep in six nights? Even the one who won’t hold your handbag for you while you go dancing with some drunken eejit you met in the toilet queue? Even the one who you had the long debate with about the prevalence of misogyny in comic book art and why Patrick Stewart should be crowned king of the universe?
If men and women can’t be friends, proper, platonic friends with nary a design placed on the other’s trembling shoulders, then the logical assumption is that we are all slaves to our impulses, and should so do away with the concepts of government, justice and low calorie anythings.
But of course we can be platonic friends, in the same way that we can refrain from beating our enemies with rocks and stuffing our faces with fudge. And the notion that a woman cannot be just good friends with a man without his primal urges getting in the way is more than just a slightly thrilling absurdity.
It also reduces the very concept of manhood to a common denominator so low, even Holland would need a basement to store it. It excuses bad behaviour (like that of the supreme moron my mate’s mate met at that wedding), it undervalues nonphysical interaction, it assumes that all platonic discourse is rewarded with a session of ugly-bumping and it detracts from the validity of non-heteronormative relationships.
Fuck that noise.
Maybe you’re one of those unfortunate sexpots who spends every waking hour fending off genuine suitors, I don’t know. You might be Adonis made flesh. I am not. And the idea that every man I know is secretly hankering after a session in my undercrackers doesn’t strike me as frightening, or upsetting. It strikes me as utterly ridiculous.