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Why can’t we be friends?

By in Opinions

Since the dawn of time, there have always been preconceived notions that boys and girls can’t be friends. Platonic friends are thought to eventually fall in love with each other — an idea that is perpetuated in movie plots and television shows.

I call complete bullshit on this heteronormative ideology.

Why can’t we be friends with the opposite gender without attraction being the underlying reason? My guy friends are some of the best of friends I’ve ever had, and yet, despite our emotional bond, I harbour no romantic feelings towards them.

Before anyone starts thinking that I put them in the “friend zone,” I’d like to stop you right there and tell you that the friend zone does not actually exist. It’s used by individuals as a justification to be seen as “nice guys” when they are rejected. It’s a way to shame women for rejecting men who have feelings towards them while simultaneously making the rejectee appear to be the victim.

If a woman is friends with a man, or even just nice to him, that doesn’t mean she is looking to couple up. She doesn’t owe you shit.

The idea of the friend zone makes friendships seem worthless. If friendship is just a stepping stone to sex, then it becomes a punishment when propositions are rejected. Many people eventually lose the established relationship because they don’t fulfill the sexual connection that the other party was hoping for.

I grew up thinking that your friends are your friends and their gender doesn’t matter. In elementary school, I would be the one to “catch” cooties from being around boys. I ignored it.

It wasn’t until high school that I saw how problematic coupling behaviour is. When I grew closer to a guy friend, we would be questioned by friends and strangers about whether we were dating. It got to the point that we were even given a ship name. We laughed it off, of course, but it was still irritating nonetheless.

Now, in university, I find the mentality of being friends with the opposite sex is still around an elementary-school level. Why can’t we be open to and accept the fact that there are all types of complex relationships in the world?

I refuse to pull away from a relationship with someone I connect with just because people think we are dating. They are the ones who need to reassess their views and ideas on relationships.

Connections are important in our lives regardless of gender, sexual identity and orientation. Humans are social creatures, and we need to interact with people on a deeper level — this is biologically imperative. Our need for connection has been genetically ingrained in us as a means of survival since Homo sapiens and Neanderthals first came about.

We need to connect to people to survive — otherwise, we as a species could die of loneliness. As we progressed as a species, these relationships have become complex enough to include interactions with different levels of intimacy and respect.

Limiting your connections limits the possibility of encountering new perspectives, ideas, pleasure and fun. I want my guy friends to be part of my life because we can learn from and grow with each other. We can have a mutual relationship of love and respect without romantic or sexual feelings being involved.

Even if it so happens that I end up liking one of them or having a sexual relationship with one of them, this is not the priority, and I don’t see why it should be. Life is short, and I want to be surrounded by people who make me happy and make me laugh, and if that so happens to be a guy, then oh-freaking-well.

And for those who continue to question my relationships — whether they have sexual overtones or not — it’s not your concern.

Platonic or not, relationships are a beautiful thing. They are one of the few things in society that make us all happier and better people through unification. Socialization is what keeps us alive, and it will continue to do so as we develop as a society. So don’t be afraid of being friends with someone just because people keep questioning if you’re dating. You know where you stand with them, and no one else should have a say in the matter.

Yashica Bither

Graphic: Jaymie Stachyruk / Graphics Editor

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