Can men and women be friends? Harry Burns says no. He says eventually, one (or both) of them will become attracted to the other, and sex will ruin the friendship.
I believe something a little different. I think men and women can be friends... if the sex issue has been resolved. How so? Either they've already been there, done that, and know it won't work - or they mutually friend-zoned each other from the very beginning.
There's a fine line that separates a truly platonic friendship from a budding relationship. That line is different for everyone, and it changes depending on the friends' own relationship status. For example, as a single woman I might have invited a guy friend to be my platonic date at a wedding - but only if he was also single. The way I see it, even if I know that we are just friends, it is disrespectful to the woman in his life to invite him on what seems like a date - whether it is or not.
I suppose I feel strongly about this because of what I went through at the end of my marriage. An emotional affair contributed to our problems, and I would never want to risk doing the same to someone else.
If I'm with a guy, I'm also overly sensitive about women who want to be his friend. I think there's a difference between a woman who genuinely wants to nurture a platonic friendship, and a woman who has more in mind. I think it's pretty easy to tell one from the other - especially for me. This is one time when I would never ignore my gut - it knows best.
Sorting through this baggage has been tough, since Toyfriend is a guy who has mostly female friends. Of course I trust him, but it is tough to explain that I still do not trust some women. It's also tough to explain how something that seems like a trust issue isn't all about trust. Sometimes it's about feeling left out, or insecure.
One thing I have learned since my divorce, and through several failed relationship attempts, is that it's important to communicate those feelings clearly and fairly, without blame or accusations or jumping to conclusions.
The truth is, being open and honest seems to eliminate (or at least mitigate) most problems that come up in a relationship. I have found that, with the right guy, I am better able to navigate this issue.
Toyfriend is a wonderful, honest, trustworthy guy who is a good friend - and his friends happen to be women. In 99% of those cases, there's no issue, and I just need to work through my own feelings of insecurity or inadequacy. In the other 1%, I share my feelings and trust Toyfriend to make my feelings a priority.
I know some people think I'm crazy. Maybe I am. I suppose I "put up" with stuff that many wouldn't. It isn't easy; I struggle with insecurity and worry, and of course I'm scared someone will come along he likes better. But at the end of the day, I remember that can happen any time, any place. If it's meant to work out, it will. If he's meant to meet someone else, he will - no matter what I do.
Surprisingly, there is a ton of comfort in realizing I have absolutely no control. In realizing that, if I'm with the right person, that fine line almost doesn't need to exist.