The latter part of the 21st century brought a revolution for male female relationships. Feminism plus the invention of the contraceptive pill, meant that women began to have a lot more control over their sexual…erm..output, than ever before. Obviously, women not being entirely at the mercy of men is a good thing. It meant that women didn’t have to be so fearful about how they behaved around their guy friends anymore. Unfortunately, some not so good things came out of that era – people got a little bit overexcited.
Let’s be clear on what I’m NOT saying. Im not saying that men and women can’t be friends. I think it’s great that the old gender barriers that once were have been broken down somewhat, and that people feel more free to have meaningful, platonic relationships with members of the opposite sex without fear of too many raised eyebrows. I think it’s great that I can discuss politics with my male friends and not be dismissed to the drawing room to discuss ‘women stuff’. It’s Fab that Tim and Tracy can grab a coffee together without being scared that neighbours will start whispering about whether Tracy is actually a lady of the night. I’m here for Shaniqua’s right to go to a football match with John. I’m down for all of that inter-gender camaraderie. In fact, I have a personal peeve with insecure women who think that all females are after their significant other. Because they probably aren’t.
Buuttt…I don’t necessarily trust your female ‘best friend’.
The story often goes like this. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl start talking. Boy and girl start talking more. Boy and girl eventually meet up outside of their normal group setting, and start being exclusive. Boy and girl start a relationship. Boy begins to mention female best friend a little bit more. Boy says best friend has been around for ages, she knows boy inside out. She has folded boys freshly washed boxers for him. He knows all her secrets. She was the shoulder for boy to cry on when the ex-who-shall-not-be-named broke boy’s heart into a million emasculated pieces. She knows his shoe size and what he does with his toe nail clippings. Boy claims that best friend is his ‘sister’. They know each other really well, just not in the Biblical sense of the word.
So your significant other tells you the whole ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ thing, and you accept his/her reasoning, with some slight reservations.
Don’t do it.
To all the men or women who’ve tried this whole sibling thing, here’s what I think:
Cut the tape.
I call nonsense on the tomfoolery. Firstly, she ain’t your sister. Unless she came out of the same womb as you, or she was adopted, or your parents lied to you and told you you were actually brother and sister until some fateful day when you were 15 and someone accidentally found a birth certificate with different names, or you’re cousins who were raised as siblings…she ain’t your sister. And in some cultures people marry their cousins. And half siblings.
But you’re not her half sibling, you’re the first shoulder she cries on when life gets hard. Red flag number 1. And you’ve both managed to kid yourself into this whole imaginary shared genetics thing. Red flag number 2.
See the problem isn’t that you’re friends. The problem isn’t even that you’re close friends. The problem isn’t even that she’s told you that thing that happened to her behind the bike shed when she was 14 and vulnerable. The problem is that both of you are in denial about the nature of men and women.
I believe, and some of you will disagree with me – which is fine, that by design, men and women who get on very well and are naturally drawn to each other, will at some point consider their attraction to each other. At that point, they will make 1 of 3 decisions. 1) Decide that the attraction isn’t enough for them to act on it romantically. 2) Decide that the attraction is enough, but that it is one sided (i.e. the other person is at stage 1) 3) Decide they are both attracted and act on it.
If they are both at stage 1, then the friendship will merrily pitter patter along. At any point however, that decision can become 2 or 3. Which is fine, if both parties know this and set appropriate boundaries to stop this from developing once they’re in relationships. But once you’ve started down this whole brother-sister malarkey and your guard is down, one minute you’re sharing backwash from the same can of Fanta, the next minute you’re sharing toothbrushes and underwear.
I rest my case.