Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Unforgettable girls

The confusion over Cate Blanchett's "relation-ships" is a reminder that platonic friendships can be just as intense and rewarding as sexual couplings, even though the latter are usually seen as the real deal.

Many women say they've had female friendships just as important to them as sexual relationships - emotionally, mentally, and on every level - yet such friendships are often dismissed as trivial and superficial.

Journalist Daisy Buchanan writes "I barely remember the boys I went out with as a student, but the girls are unforgettable. They're the ones you'd have 72 hour 'dates' with and they're the times I feel nostalgia for.

"Modern female friendship - at least at the start - can be more like a love affair than an actual romance itself. Anxiety, jealousy, neediness; it's a lot like falling in love.

"It makes me wonder whether no relationship can be entirely platonic, and that you don't have to experience sexual feelings towards a person in order to feel romantic ones."

I'm not sure men could say the same about male friendships though. From what I know, they seldom have that intensity and richness. I've certainly never had a male friendship like that myself, either at school or in adult life.

As for sexual relationships being superior, quite often sex is the only thing that keeps them going, and the friendship aspect is minimal. Or conversely, there may be minimal sex and it's more like a tight and complex friendship.

But there's a general assumption that sex somehow enriches a relationship in a way that's lacking in an "ordinary" friendship. The logic is never quite explained but the cliché persists.

A curious cliché considering the high divorce rate and all the sexual relationships that collapse just as often as the platonic variety. Clearly they're going sour as much as they're being enriched.

Let's hear it for the infinite possibilities of friendship, in or out of bed.

30 comments:

Bijoux said...

I've been fortunate to have many close girl friends, with a number having lasted 35 years or more. Some I'm only able to get together with once a year, but we pick right up and can talk for hours.

It is sad to me that after a sexual relationship ends, the friendship most often ends with it. I value those past relationships just as much. Or maybe I'm just nostalgic?

Nick said...

Bijoux: That's the sign of a really good friendship, that however long it is between meet-ups, you can just carry on as if the conversation never stopped.

Yes, it's a shame that the end of a sexual relationship is often a complete split. Those couples who manage to stay friends have a rare gift.

Dave Martin said...

It simply boils down to the fact that relationships of any sort are just as diverse as the people that have them. What works for some may not work for others, some people don't know what they really want until they've tried different things, and of course different people place different emphasis on specific areas of a relationship.
We're all complex creatures, and we're never going to understand or approve of the way everyone chooses to live their lives. Part of being human is that we all make mistakes (granted, some bigger than others) but as long as we can learn from our experiences there's still hope for us.

nick said...

Dave: True, all human relationships are diverse and complex and enormously variable. And we all try out different types of relationship to see what suits us best (and that may or may not include sex).

susie said...

For the past 16 years, the women who I am friends with have been connected to my son...playgroups (yuck) school, sports,etc. sometimes they are not the gals I would have naturally picked as friends.

Nick said...

Susie: But would you say they've been enjoyable and worthwhile friendships nonetheless?

Grannymar said...

Maybe it is something to do with age, but friendships from my young life have lasted the test of time, while recent friends seem to blow hot and cold. Maybe I'm just boring and do not relise it! ;)

Nick said...

Grannymar: I suppose the older friendships have stood the test of time because they've known you so long that they're not going to desert you on some trivial pretext.

John Gray said...

I hold my friendships very dear.....funny chris does not have friends in the same way......
He calls me and my friends
" emotional masturbators "

Nick said...

John: Emotional masturbators? That's a bit unkind. Does he not approve of people who are "over-emotional"?

CheerfulMonk said...

I had a friend from grammar school/high school. We didn't see one another very often because we were over a thousand miles apart, but it didn't matter. When we got together it was the same as it had always been. She died 20 years ago, and I still miss here.

Nick said...

Jean: As I said to Bijoux, that's a true friendship, when you can just carry on effortlessly as if there was never any interruption.

Helen Devries said...

There are people I see only rarely...though we Skype and e mail...but when we do we just pick up where we left off.

Because my husband is ill and we don't go out and about we don't meet too many new people these days, though.

Nick said...

Helen: A shame you can't get out as much as you would like. Which means you value your existing friends all the more, I guess.

Rummuser said...

I have a handful of men friends who have enriched my life as I am sure I have theirs. These relationships far outweigh platonic relationships that I have had with women for their intensity and spirit of give and take spiritually and physically. My romantic relationship with my late wife is the stuff that novels are based on and she enjoyed being in the circle of my friends too.

Nick said...

Ramana: Good to know that you've had such satisfying male friendships. And you've often commented on the very special relationship with your wife, and how much you miss her.

kylie said...

Nick,
You are mixing everything up. When you are talking about divorce rates you are talking about dysfunctional sexual relationships but your comments on intense friendships are about functional friendships.

A really spectacular friendship which also involves good sex has to be, by definition, richer than a platonic friendship.

I have never had a female friendship to compare with the best romantic relationship, good but not comparable. Having said that, I realise that my experience is not the only one

Nick said...

Kylie: I mentioned divorce rates only to make the point that sexual relationships are not necessarily as wonderful as the popular cliché suggests.

I'm sure there are many spectacular friendships that include good sex but there are also plenty of sexual relationships that don't work out so well.

Of course friendships are equally varied, and can be anything from shallow to wonderful. I was only saying that for some people a platonic friendship can be just as satisfying as one that includes sex.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I have some very dear girlfriends who I trust completely and can tell anything to. And my best romantic relationships (including my marriage and my current relationship) are ones where the friendship aspect is as powerful as the sexual aspect.

Interestingly, the research on friendships shows that in general, the most emotionally intimate relationships are between two women, followed by friendships between a man and a woman and then between two men.

Nick said...

Agent: That research seems to confirm my own assumptions. The men I've come across seem to be very unwilling to get too intimate or personal. I think many men still see themselves as "the strong silent type".

Keith Smith said...

I had a lot of friends from my school and army days, and we were always totally loyal to each other. Sadly now they have all died; I am the last now at 78. I cannot point to a friend now and say "He's my good friend", I can only point to the gravestone and say "He was a good friend to me". Now I find it difficult to strike up new friendships it's too late now to build up the type of relationship I once had with my old friends.

Nick said...

Keith: This is often a sad fact for oldies - longstanding friends are dying off and as you say making new friends is difficult. Personally I hope I snuff it before my small circle of friends starts diminishing.

Ursula said...

in your response to Keith you say:

"Personally I hope I snuff it before my small circle of friends starts diminishing."

How selfish is that? Looking after number One and leaving your friends in the lurch? You remind me of my mother. She too hopes she'll "go first". Not a bleeding thought for my father.

U

Nick said...

Ursula: But it's just as selfish if other people expect me to plod on for another 20 years just so they have a bit of company. To clarify, I'm not including Jenny. I would hope not to leave her stranded for a long time yet. So my friends are safe for the time being!

Secret Agent Woman said...

Nick, I have to admit - I kind of like the idea of not being the last living among my circle of friends, too. But maybe that makes a good argument for making sure you have friends in a range of ages? And you know, since women typically have longer lives than men, it's one of the reasons I prefer dating younger men. My boyfriend is only four years younger than me so it's not quite enough to close the gap, but it helps!

Nick said...

Agent: Having friends of different ages is a good idea. I have one friend who is 28 years younger, so I think she'll outlive me at any rate!

Ms Scarlet said...

I have some wonderful friendships, both male and female. I am still good friends with my first fiancé... not the second fiancé, his wife didn't want me on the scene... even though it was me who introduced them. She is no longer my friend either. Odd.
Sx

nick said...

Scarlet: Strange how his wife didn't want you around. I wonder what she had against you? She must have found you very threatening in some way.

Ms Scarlet said...

I think she went through a jealous phase, shame though because before I introduced them we used to have a laugh. My ex must have spoken about me with too much enthusiasm!!!
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet: That's a great shame. She must have felt oddly insecure.