Hi, I'm Jeff. Larissa and I met in New York City in the spring of 2003 as part of the same BYU internship group. Even though we've lived fairly close to each other (in both Provo and SLC) during much of the intervening time, we actually have spent more time together in Manhattan than in Utah. We share a love of New York, musicals, chocolate, themed parties, and blogging. Riss invited me to craft a guest post on her blog a few months ago, and although my procrastination may indicate otherwise, I was flattered. If you enjoy my writing, I'd love it if you visited my blog sometimes.
It's likely many of you have seen the above video since it first appeared online about two months ago. I figured Valentine's Day would be a great time to discuss it, and this would be a great forum for the discussion, as Larissa writes about dating and relationships on a regular basis (including thought-provoking, related posts like this one, this one and especially this one just in the last couple of weeks).
So anyway...the conclusion reached in the video...I agree with it. Or, I agree with the sentiment being conveyed, as held by the demographic conveying it. There are so many people in the world (or even just at Utah St., where the interviews were conducted) who are all unique individuals, that obviously there's no viewpoint on this subject that applies universally. There are always exceptions. But I agree that, generally speaking, heterosexual males in the age range of those in the video are unlikely to become friends with women they would not be interested in dating given the right set of circumstances. (As I've moved into my 30s, I don't relate quite as much to what the guys in the video were saying, but in my early- and mid-twenties I would've answered just like they did.)
By "friends," I mean good friends, the type of friend that you take classes with or go to the movies with or talk to about your dates. It's unlikely that anyone has more than a half-dozen or so of these friends of the opposite gender in their lives at any given time. Just because someone can read your Facebook status updates doesn't mean they qualify as a friend in the context of this debate.
I need to point out here that as I analyze this I am only thinking about friends who are both single. Once the man or the woman (or both) enters into a committed relationship with someone else, the two can certainly remain friends but the nature of their relationship and how they interact with each other should and hopefully will change. If a guy's female friend gets married and the guy still wishes he could date her, that is inappropriate.
I also believe the women in the video were sincere. It seems reasonable to me that girls can develop solid friendships with guys with absolutely zero interest in any kind of romantic relationship. But that doesn't mean those same guys don't want to date the girls on some level. Guys and girls are different. We all know that.
So, if I'm right, guys and girls can't "just be friends," largely because guys only choose to become close friends with girls they "like." However, I think a more important question than "Can men and women be friends?" is "Can men and women have true, sincere friendships while harboring some level of not-acted-upon physical attraction?" While that would be a little unwieldy to ask people in a rapid-fire, man-on-the-street YouTube video, I confidently answer "yes" to that query. You ladies don't need to freak out that your guy friends like you and have expended at least some mental energy trying to figure out if there's a realistic way to make your friendship evolve into a dating relationship. Most of us are able to walk this tightrope without making the time we spend together awkward or uncomfortable.
Any guys out there want to back me up? Any ladies want to point out the flaws in my arguments? Bring it on. (Thanks again, Riss, this was fun!)