We are 'Just Good Friends' , and its true !
A widely held notion that often becomes a matter of debate amongst the GenNext teenagers and adults is whether a boy and a girl or a man and a woman can never be "just friends". Who will take what stand tells a lot about his/her upbringing, cultural influences and personal beliefs. No matter how objective or liberal we claim to be, the first thought that springs up in our mind when we spot a young girl and boy together anywhere is that – they are dating. Perhaps it’s high time to change the age-old viewpoint. For the truth is ~ boys and girls or men and women can form meaningful friendships without the romantic dimension.
It is because we instill in our children too early on, the differentiated sex segregation lessons that they feel more encouraged to look for same-sex friendships. In such a scenario, a girl and boy becoming bosom pals become more of an exception than a convention. And consequently, it is the society that labels their innocent friendship (in more cases than not) with the name of love, or whatever term they choose. From the toddler years through the preschool times, children do not even identify their friendships on the basis of gender. But it is during the growing up years when the people who form friendships outside their gender are seen as ‘bold’, ‘free-minded’ etc., and it is these generalizations that tarnish the friendships and often lead them to confusion, as they jostle with their feelings, trying to decide if their friendship is ‘just friendship’ or there is something more to it.
It is said that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. This explains the more-or-less perennial tension and conflict that exists between them. However, it is a beautiful thing when two individuals of different genders actually come together and get along well as friends, so much so that they share secrets, build a strong faith in each other, support each other through thick and thin, and also, have a rollicking good time!! The notion that boys and girls cannot be just friends would have been well-suited in the last century or so, when they had clearly demarcated area of dominion, the workplace being a male monopoly while woman reigned at home. But today, both girls and boys study together, work together and have shared interests. It is only natural that they will become friends. And in this context, what matters is that their temperaments and wavelengths should match, their gender hardly matters.
Platonic love is not an ideal. A boy and a girl can stay as fast friends without falling in love (or lust, for that matter). The attraction is there, so are the feelings, but despite all of it, it is the friendship that wins. Of course, they do need to draw a line, and respect each other’s integrity, but the male-female issue should not come in the way. Also, it is important for the friendship to be free of gender-defined ego issues, such as the girl subconsciously assuming a submissive role or the boy tending to dominate on account of his so-called "prestige". However, such things are almost on the wane, thanks to the social arenas and workplaces being equally open to both boys and girls.
Sociologists and psychologists are of the opinion that cross-sex friendships are emotionally rewarding for both girls and boys. The former’s sentiment-oriented friendship and the latter’s activity-oriented friendship blend into a bond that culminates into a healthy interaction, fostering mutual communication and strengthening their ties even further. Again, it does not always necessarily lead to love, or anything of that sort.
Whatever the challenges and intricacies are, both genders have to honestly and candidly negotiate what their relationship will exactly mean. The public eye in the form of doubters need not dampen their equation in anyway. The dynamics of their friendship can best be identified and addressed by them alone, how they will set their boundaries and define their limits is up to them. At the end of the day, communication is the key to all relationships. After all, friendships survive, and thrive, not based on others' perceptions but how they individuals concerned take it.
The problem might arise if one person secretly harbours romantic love for the other person, in which case the person might end up getting hurt as the other person may not be having any such feeling. In such a case, the person harboring love for should communicate the same to the other person to avoid future complications. And of course if the friendship of two persons graduate into love, that is perfectly fine too! Else let the friends be there for each other as "Just Friends" !