Sunday, November 7, 2010

Play mates

weekend today November 6 - 7, 2010, Page T3, Column (The Fairer Text)
Source website:
Georgina Chang,, 05:55 AM Nov 06, 2010

Or why single guys can never be platonic (pure affection) with single girls - unless they're repulsive

PHOTO: Is it really that hard to have a platonic friendship, the writer wonders.
Artwork by FAIZAL

Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd

weekend today November 6 - 7, 2010, Page T3, Column (The Fairer Text)

I BELIEVE single guys and girls can be good friends who offer support, companionship and guidance when needed.

PHOTO: Georgina Chang
weekend today November 6 - 7, 2010, Page T3, Column (The Fairer Text)
The writer is the senior creative director of 987FM and Lush 99.5.

I've always had great guy friends who gave me advice on how to charm the latest beau, or criticised the jerk when it all went awry, or escorted me home safe after too many drinks.

They're great to hang out with, mostly because they don't get angry or petty. I can forget their birthday, forget to call them, and even ditch them for a hot date. But anytime I do call, we'll just pick up where we left off. No hysterical accusations.

I never questioned the premise of this until lunch one day with a bunch of male colleagues. We were chatting about sports and hot girls (I'm quite at ease with these subjects) when one of them announced that a single guy can never be friends with an attractive single girl. All the fellas at the table agreed solemnly, nodding in unison.

"We think about sex all the time. At the back of our minds, we'll be trying to bed her," another concurred. When I gasped audibly, the third elaborated: "I can only be friends with her if I find something to repulse me. Like she's really not my type, she's obnoxiously loud, or she's dating a good friend of mine." (Apparently if she's dating some random bloke that would just be a challenge.)

They unanimously agreed that if there was no repulse factor, guys will subconsciously still hit on her by being gentlemanly, considerate of her well-being and making sure she's fed well, comfortable and hopefully, drunk too.

That, of course, suddenly made me very suspicious of my male friends. Did they all have an ulterior motive of wanting to get in my pants? I had flashbacks of the copious glasses of champagne they pressed into my hand. Then, a depressing thought popped up: What about those who didn't attempt to take my clothes off?

Was it because I repulsed them?

Of course I'm flattered when men consider me desirable. But I don't want them to be nice only because they want to ravish my curvy body. (I have a mind too, you know.)

Er, unless they're really hot. Then I don't want them to be my friend, I want them to be my boyfriend. I agreed with my guy friend who said that it's "nice to have attractive female friends, but better to have an attractive girlfriend".

So I honestly cannot fathom the concept of "friends with benefits". How can two attractive people who enjoy each other's company only want a physical relationship when the itch, boredom or rebound strikes them?

If you're enjoying each other in more ways than one, isn't that a relationship? If I like talking to you and I want to feel you up too, I'd prefer to do both consistently. That equates to a relationship. Or is that old school?

And what happens if you don't want "the benefits" anymore? How do you hang out casually after that? What if the sex was bad? What if the experience was disappointing? How do you maintain honest eye contact with your friend, knowing he has small floppy low endurance bits?

I think that if there's attraction, you can only be friends if you haven't been intimate. That just makes it rife with tension. Especially if only one person develops feelings of love. Which is usually us women - we have such inadequate skills of compartmentalisation. But that's going to sour the friendship.

Also, you can't stay friends if one gets married. That would be disrespectful to the spouse, wouldn't it? So this revelation will make me suspicious of my boyfriend's female friends. If they are attractive, does that mean he's trying to have sex with them?

An ex once proclaimed: "You shouldn't have male friends. Once you get talking and sharing, feelings will develop and sexual involvement will start."

I realise now that since he had many female friends, he was clearly speaking from first-hand experience.

A survey of 1,450 members revealed that 83 per cent believe men and women can be platonic friends and that 71 per cent hope that their partner started out as a friend. I suspect most of the respondents were women. We are happy to have hot male friends that we can show off, comfort us when we're down - and because he's good looking, that attention will boost our ego and self-esteem.

It seems that the quandary lies with men as they let the sexual tension spoil a potentially beautiful friendship. However, a Penn State University study of 300 students found that the friendships that thrived despite the attraction or occurrence of sex were those in which the friends had an explicit discussion of the sexual boundaries, and felt confident and positive about each other's feelings. They concluded that a key factor for male-female friendships to be successful is similar to romantic relationships. It's all about open communication.

Well then, I'm going to continue engaging my guy friends in honest meaningful conversations, but I'll also be very up front on who can or can't grope me. Because all my male friends are very important to me, and I'd hate to lose anyone to something as frivolous as unrestrained sexual desire. Right?
By Georgina Chang,, 05:55 AM Nov 06, 2010

The writer is the senior creative director of 987FM and Lush 99.5.