“I’m Not into You; I prefer the friend zone.”

I Don’t Accommodate Uncontrolled Men
I was casually skimming WordPress recently between working on other entries and I saw this post above about the idea of some men not controlling their sexual impulses because they’re seeing how some women are dressed in their summer wear. As I read through the post, it got me thinking about the concept of being in the friend zone and platonic relationships across gender.

Ironically, most of my acquaintances and dear friends are female. So I’m used to being around women a lot of the time professionally and personally. Because of that, I’m usually stuck in the “friend zone” a ton of the time. Honestly, that’s never bothered me as there are very few women I’ve met during my dating life that I was mad about being in the friend zone about. In fact, one of my exes I had her initially in the friend zone and she was the one who pushed for us to have a relationship. My approach is clear: if I’m attracted to someone, i’m approaching it from that lens. If I’m interested in the person in a platonic way, that’s the approach I use. I try really hard not to mix the two, especially doing the latter as a means to get to the former.

The interesting interactions I’ve observed is encountering new women for the first time. The level of skepticism and wariness I’ll encounter (even in group settings) is just amazing at times. Initially, it used to bother me but now it doesn’t because I’ve tended to look at things from the other perspective. Women are still victims of interpersonal violence and abuse, sexual harassment, stigmas and all sorts of other unhealthy things perpetuated by men. Plus the whole lying cheating scoundrel thing is still there too. So it makes total sense for that cautious approach to be present from a woman’s perspective.

But just as the author talked about how her husband was able to exercise control over his sexual impulses and could view other women as women first, I wonder if our ladies are in a situation where they really know how to cultivate a platonic relationship with someone from another gender. And no, I’m not talking about the “gay best friend” stereotypes either. Maybe it’s having worked with female clients who’ve only seen the ills that men can commit, or having exes or friends who were survivors of abuse or even when I did outreach to youth I got the sense that people weren’t experiencing as much healthy cross gender relationships.

I’ve been in the situation before where colleagues at work and I were hanging out and I was taísked to escort the colleague’s close friend to a different dispersal point. I remember getting the “these are my good friends so take good care of them” speech once too. I’ve laughed in my head because these weren’t people I was attracted to and I knew where my relationship with the colleague stood on on her totem pole (lower than her connection with her friend), so I wouldn’t be stupid enough to do anything to jeopardize that. But the fact that such a conversation was necessary is telling in its own way.

I’ve even had a good friend who viewed me with great skepticism initially stated she appreciates our friendship being so platonic because many of her other male interactions (including dating relationships) have always had undertones of ulterior motives. It just begs to ask the question: if we sell the message of men by any means necessary conning their way into getting over on a woman for whatever reason, how can we really improve better gender relations?

In no way am I claiming sainthood here. It is also not an opportunity to seek sympathy for my own experiences. It’s just that for me whenever people dogging out an opposite gender I cannot help but wonder how many positive experiences they’ve had. Perhaps there is something I’m doing in these social circles that induces that wariness that I’m not aware of. Or maybe it’s just contemporary society is in a place where we get sold the expectations of genuine platonic relationships across gender lines are the exception and not the rule.

Still, the question I ask: if we teach each gender to readily identify unhealthy and not unhealthy situations where interacting with other genders, what do healthy interactions look like?

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