Thursday, July 3, 2008

We Are Just Good Friends

Some questions are eternal. They serve to eternally perplex and eternally amuse. My favourite quintessential eternal question is - Can a guy and girl be just good friends? It's one of those age old questions, one that has no right answer and yet it begs to be asked every now and then.

Ofcourse the ambiance in which this question is asked determines the quality of the answers you get. Ask it during a mellow evening, 3 beers down and Doors playing in the background, and chances are you'll get to hear some very funny experiences and some very honest opinions. Ask it at a less opportune time (like just before entering a meeting, if you have really bad judgement) and your guaranteed response will be a cold sharp look.

I'm sitting in a bar with a friend, rock music on the side and potato fries in our mouths. This is the perfect setting to delve into shady conversation such as this.

Can a guy and girl be just good friends? I ask her. Her being Priya, an old friend and someone who has just exited her 15th relationship in half as many years. Probably not the most appropriate person to get an opinion on being just good friends with a guy , but hey, she's candid and opinionated and she could be just what I need to get this question answered.

Sheesh ofcourse they can, she replies, all the while trying to make eye contact with the rocker looking fellow sitting on the opposite side of the bar. She continues - The pre-requisite is that each has to be physically repulsive to the other, otherwise there is always the danger that chemistry may creep in through the back door.

This from the girl who is drop dead gorgeous...but then again she can just about spell platonic. Hmmm, maybe she does have a point here.

So does a platonic friendship rely on smelly fungal feet, black teeth with holes in them and 300 gigantic warts? I turn to ask her this but am instead treated to the eye rumba between her and the rocker. I am guessing that those two are not heading up the platonic street any time soon.

I ask this to another friend, Sara. She's petite and bubbly and adorable and has been married for ten years, but not without her share of guy adventures.

Sure a guy and a girl can be friends. But I have found that a guy and I just cannot be good friends, she says ruefully. She puts it down to the fact that she thinks she sends out wrongs signals inadvertently, she is all green lights where reds should be glowing. Hence she has cut men friends out, no men, no complications. And yet despite her best attempts, her stubborn signals must be shining bright for she's is always the one to get hit on when when we go out, she has old boyfriends (and boys who were friends) constantly trying to get back in touch and a series of new men trying to get her number. In her defence, I have to say that the only guy she actually hangs out with a lot is someone who is awfully cute but obviously someone in whom she senses no danger and someone she introduces as 'my best girlfriend'.

I ask a guy I have known for quite sometime now. Can you and a girl be just good friends?

I'm just good friends with you, are'nt I, he asks with a twinkle in his eye. According to him, this is a question for an 18 year old. They are apparently the only ones who should be racked with strange and meaningless questions like this. Once you have crossed 30, you should only worry about the monumental questions like, how can I keep from balding and how can I make it last longer? We giggle together like the old friends that we are.

This question is irrelevant to an 18 years old, I tell him. Most 18 year olds can muster up enough chemistry even with a tea pot.

It's all age related, he insists. Then he elaborates - At 18, every girl you see has potential. At 30, you are probably in a relationship and it becomes easier to be just friends with other girls. At 70, the only friendship that exists is of the platonic type. Chemistry at this age is related to how quickly the aspirin tablet will dissolve in water.

Okay, so here's a new twist to an old tale. Can a guy and a girl be just good friends despite some initial chemistry / attraction? Are'nt there people we all know who were attracted to each other, maybe even went out for a bit before realising that they worked better as friends than as a couple and have stayed great friends ever since?

They probably can be friends even when the attraction exists, my friends says after chewing on the thought for a while. He continues - but as long as there is some amount of attraction, under no circumstances, not even accidently, should she try to look any prettier or touch his hand or kiss his cheek or say she missed him and wear a blouse with the top button undone!

Our final conclusion is that minor attractions can be managed if the girl acts like a bitch, dresses like a nun and keeps a room's distance between them.

It appears that being just good friends is hard work. Either there needs to be replusion of some sort. Or one foot needs to be in the grave. So what about people who really are just good friends? Work colleagues? Gym buddies? Singing in the same choir? Drinking buddies? Movie buddies?

They're probably people who just dont find other people sexually attractive, says Arpana, close friend, confidant and someone who has managed to convert even the most complicated of relationships - her marriage - into a platonic state of two good friends living together as flat-mates. She says that opposite sexes can be great friends, but only if the friendship is not complicated by lust. You can never be friends with a guy you fantasize about. I agree completely. No point playing Scrabble with a guy and pretending to think of a word that starts with an s and ends with a t, which will fetch you 22 points, when all you are dying to do is run your fingers through his hair. Bad bad idea.

So here is the final conclusion from a bunch of been-there-done-that people. As a girl if you want to be good friends with a guy, you need to be terrible looking, mean, married and not in touch with your sexual side. As a guy, if you want to be good friends with a girl, you need to leave your testosterone at home and belch a few times for good measure.

As for me, I do think guys and girls can be just good friends. It's got do with being with the right people, being happy with other aspects of your life, being in a satisfying relationship, having areas of interest with your friends and trust . Have I had strange vibes from guys I thought I was being just friends with? Er, yes, especially in those hormone driven college days, but I moved beyond it or through it depending on how important the friendship was.

But today I am good friends with several guys. Fun, intellegient, talented guys. And I dont look at them as 'guys', I look at them as friends. And we're just good friends. No complications, no issues. And you know what this means right - Either that I am acompletely unattractive pain in the neck or that I'm one of the luckiest girls in this world.


Idling in Top Gear said...

If the other person is taken, then it is easy. If they aren't, I've found that what helps is being obviously out of the other person's "league." I've been friends with girls that look up to me, and girls I look up to. To me, it is only problematic when the person is "in my league," single, and is pretty much "my type." May be coz I am a 26 year old with a 22 year old mind. :)

Preeti Sharma said...

Great take on this. Maybe you should write a post on this :) And in my experience, most men have minds of a 22 yr old!

Anonymous said...

At 18, like your friend says, it is difficult because every girl is a potential candidate. Or thought to be so. It's a Russian Roulette. Hit or miss but not as lethal. But at 25+, I guess your desires are more well defined. You know what you want, who is really potential and then only pull the trigger. And, if you still suffer from the Russian Roulette hangover there, then probably, it's as fatal.

And excuse me, both of you above, for any seeming immaturity. I am 22!

slo said...

nice take. But I guess it all ultimately depends on a certain level of understanding that the two share and largely on "what circumstances actually bring you together". I personally believe it is perfectly possible and even enjoyable for a guy and girl to be "just friends". Of course you always tend to be closer to some than to others. When the understanding is mutual, a hug when you need it, a friendly touch or even a caring peck on the cheek/forehead does no harm. For me the defining line in the article is, "you can't be friends with someone you fantasise about". It's about how strongly you believe in the NAME that you have give the relationship - when you call it friendship, is it really that??? do you really mean for it to remain that way??? And if you do and the opposite person does, that's when the friendship is sublime and one that you can stake your life on!

Dez said...

a boy and a girl can be friends, if one of them is unattractive.

basically, a guy will be friends with a girl if he can't get inside her knickers. and a girl will be friends with a guy if she cannot marry him.

so it's an ordinary 'matter of convenience', raised to the level of 'noble intentions', when you can't get what you want...

'platonic relationships' are a lot of's just plain hypocrisy

Open Humour Blog at

Preeti Sharma said...

Gradwolf - Hmmm, so age seems to be important. You being 22 - best of both worlds.

Slo - Yes, as adults we are pretty much responsible for relationships we get into and should act accordingly. Sensible and smart!

Dez - Your comment had me in splits. LOL. So I'm guessing you don't have too many platonic friends =)

k10 said...

Just friends is possible...
Good friends becomes a little too much to ask for.

Dez said...

preeti, ur comment had me amused. of course i have platonic friends -with guys!! and any platonic friendship that i have with a girl is because i lost :):)

u kno, only in india is this issue discussed. in western societies, friends sometimes have a fling with each other, after which, they are back to being friends. simple. no discussions. no blogging. no comments :):):)...

...still, ur article is quite readable...good show

Roy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roy said...

I feel [my own opinion] a good friend is the ANOTHER-ME with a different skin … whether it wears a famine physical feature or male physical feature, it’s not an issue. Important: Can I put TRUST ... Do i need to wear musk to be diffrent ... Do I find another me under that skin?

second look at life said...

Ok, here's what i think!
Can a guy and a girl ever be just friends? No. But can they eventually be just friends? Yes. In every relationship between opposite genders, there is potential for attraction. There will be times when either one is attracted to the other. Or worse, both are at the same time. If they are able to ride over the attraction, and still remain friends, they, i believe, end up with a stronger friendship than what they started off with. If they give in to the attraction and get over it with no hearts broken, then also their relationship gets stronger. If God forbid, there are broken hearts, then it will take them a very long time to get over the pain and start learning to be friends again.
Relationships are journeys; and change over time, circumstances and maturity levels. And because frindships/attraction/love are feelings and not led by logic, one can never predict how the other person will react.
But this is all fine theoretically. After all, "agar ghoda ghaas sey dosti karega to khayega kya??"

freespirit said...

When I read ur take on this, I blurted out with an 'exactly!' and thats how i feel. i am good friends with a bunch of fellas and things are hunky dory, no confusion, no mess up.

And hey you are good at this, looks like i stumbled on an interesting blog :)

slo said...

second look at life - a very very practical and realistic view of the topic. I agree to every word!

Preeti, u've surely sparked off a heated other topic has the capacity to evoke so much discussion as ur "quintessential eternal question"!!!! good going :)

Preeti Sharma said...

K-10 - You're saying that too much familiarity leads to intimacy. Possibly, but doesn't there need to be underlying chemistry to begin with?

Dez - True that India is one of the few places where these issues are discussed. In the West they dealt with this a long time back and concluded that physical intimacy in all shapes and forms were good, never mind if you were friends before, after, in between or not at all - a lot of times physical intimacy is an exploration of the friendship and is minus the emotional baggage.

Roy - Hi. Sometimes friends are another us, sometimes they are the opposite of what we are.

Second Look at Life - Hiya. Agree completely. Eventually that which does'nt break, gets strengthened. And ofcourse, if there is attraction, it can help to get the curiousity out of the way. BTW, you have readers commenting in on your comments on this blog - WOW.

Freespirit - Lucky you - guess that puts you in the same boat as me :) (refer the last line of the blog)

Slo - Don't you just love these questions and the answers that they inspire...I know that I do!

SundaeRed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SundaeRed said...

Hey P,

Thoroughly enjoyed this one. Very Sex & the City style. Sara sounds interesting. Have I met her somewhere?


Anonymous said...

Few years back I would have been eager to say yes of course. Those were the days when I wanted to convince the world that boy-girl friendship was as natural as, well, other natural things (I am not good at this!) But that was just coming out of a girls school and having weird ideas about the whole concept. All dumb. Time proved.

After I messed up my first one or two friendships, I thought maybe I was wrong. But now I have reached a stage where the messy has become unmessed over the years and new friends no more entering my fantasy (well with me, every new guy had to be fantasized about and the question of attraction was not an important point!). So now I say yea it sure is possible.

But I'd like to wait a few more years and see if I change my mind, cause this whole thought seems cyclic.

Preeti Sharma said...

I thought you would recognise her. Thrilled you liked:)

Preeti Sharma said...

ms cris - Age and experience seem to have a lot to do with it. But then again, so do a million other things. Agree with you that most crazy things seem cyclic and happily give us the chance to make the same mistakes over and over again...what fun :)

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

I agree with your conclusion and my lovely, pretty Preeti, you are definitely one of the lucky ones!
By the way, I think I know who Sara is and you have described her so perfectly!!
As for my take on the whole issue? Like I said, I agree with you. When you have your hormones under control, you can can look forward to some pretty deep, long-lasting friendships.
As for you my dear, I hope you are always, always surrounded by friends!

Preeti Sharma said...

This was such a fun article to write because of all the experiences that we've been through. And thanks for your vote of confidence!!

Preeti Sharma said...

This was such a fun article to write because of all the experiences that we've been through. And thanks for your vote of confidence!!

Mama - Mia said...

i would go for luckiest girl in the world! :)



Anonymous said...

It is possible..but like your friend, it depends on what signals you give subconsiously.
I have a friend who is not looking for a relationship and mingles with guys because she has NEVER had a guy friend..they have always ended up liking her..or the chemistry came in the way and they ended up feeling stuff you don't feel about a friend. this happens with every guy she meets..she is pretty but its not just about her lookds..after much thought she agreed that she was flirty..and probably did not give the "only friends" vibe..
i on the other hand am very cautious on giving off attractive signals..this is because i am very conscious about coming across as desperate ..i know i know..flirting with a guy is not such a big deal..but thats how i its very easy for me to get all chummy with guys because i am gaurded about my chemistry and don't send off any "girl" vibes..advantage is that i have a load of guy friends...i may not have many relationships..but i do have faith in me that when i meet mr. right i'll let my gaurd down and see the girl in me :)
it all depends on what you felt about each other in the beginning of the friendship..if the feelings were not there in the beginning its very rare that it will surface later.

Sajith said...

Ha ha! Great writeup again - Wow! you make writing look so simple!

And as far as being friends are concerned, it is possible - but unfortunately for me, once I screwed up one of the best friendships in the same vein....The truth is if friendship gets messed up in this wind, things feel so awkward and u end up losing a great friend =( I still feel sorry but I still believe that best friends only can form a good couple...
hahah there I go nuts again! :)

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