Yesterday, I was texting a boy-friend, and he suggested we should have “dinner and a movie” one night this week. Dinner and a movie? , I thought. Isn’t that a date? Aren’t we just friends? Does he fancy me? Am I being arrogant to presume he wants anything more than friendship?


We’ve known each other for 7 years now. We used to sleep together. I was obsessed with him whilst at university, but he never committed. We stopped talking, and, coincidentally, I ended up in an 8 month relationship with his little brother (I didn’t know it was his brother at the beginning, I swear) – he hated me. We started talking whilst I was with Jules. We became friends. Good friends, because it’s nice when you’ve already been there, and there’s no way it could be anything (having dated his brother). And it’s nice to have that boyfriend you can talk to, and rely on, and share all your romantic dreams with and know they aren’t judging you.
But then it got complicated. In the build up to Christmas last year, I bought a christmas tree decoration that was a silver present you could open up like a box. Being a hopeless romantic, I was talking excitedly about how amazing would be if I opened it and found an engagement ring in there (I was single at the time, so it was just a silly fantasy). One night, he came round to mine and cooked for me; this was fairly normal so I didn’t read into it. As I wasn’t going to see him before Christmas, he put a gift for me under the tree and left. Then I received a text saying: “Check your silver box, then open the present under the tree, and let me know what you think”. Oh god, I thought. There is no avoiding this one. Surely he hasn’t proposed to me? Does he fancy me? Have I been blind? What about his brother? I was too nervous to deal with it. Too apprehensive to know what was waiting for me. Too worried about what conversation we’d need to have. So I replied with a cool, “I can’t open it, it’s not Christmas yet!”. oh no! Then I took the box down from the tree… and I opened the latch… And I looked inside… And there was a beautiful pair of pearl earrings. Phew! No ring, he was just being a sweet friend. Next, I opened the box under the tree… And it was an empty box for the earrings… Oh wait, there’s a note… “I know we never did years ago, but now I want to. Can I take you on a first date?” Uh oh. Although, I’m a girl, a hopeless romantic girl! So it was an aww that’s the most romantic thing ever BUT WHAT IS HE THINKING kind of uh oh! So we talked. And I ruled it out as ridiculous. And he said he didn’t care about his brother or what his family would think. And I told him I did. And I explained that those old feelings for his brother wouldn’t disappear, and I wouldn’t be able to do it. So much had happened and I just couldn’t see him that way. Then we agreed to be friends. Good friends, deep in the knowledge that nothing more can ever happen. And we are. But sometimes I sense it, by the way he reacts when I talk about boys, or the way I see him looking at me, and then I wonder if he still does want to be more than my friend.

We’ve all been there though, haven’t we? We have a boy(that’s a)friend, and either fancy them (although we convince ourselves we don’t), or we know they fancy us (and we brush it off and ignore it), OR we just wonder if they fancy us. OR we don’t think they fancy us, and then we become single, and then they try it on. OR the get a girlfriend and they slowly drift out of our lives, leaving us hurt and confused about how they viewed the friendship.

So this dinner and a movie text got me wondering if it’s possible for man and a woman to just be friends. I know, I know, it’s a contraversial topic. I went to a mixed school, and considered a lot of my best friends to be boys. I used to be extremely defensive with people who claimed that a girl and a boy could never really be friends. But the older I get, the more I’m starting to wonder if, perhaps, there is some truth in it.

So can a man and a woman be friends? And by friends, I mean a 100% platonic relationship?

It got me thinking of my all time favourite film, When Harry Met Sally, and the scene in which Harry (Billy Crystal) in and Sally (Meg Ryan) are travelling in a car together on their way to New York:

Sally: “We are just going to be friends, ok?”

Harry: “Great! Friends! It’s the best thing… You realise of course that we can never be friends.”

Sally: “Why not?”

Harry: “What i’m saying is, (and this is not a come-on in any way shape or form) is that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.”

Sally: “That’s not true, I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.”

Harry: “No you dont”

Sally: “Yes I do.”

Harry: “No you don’t.”

Sally: “Yes I do.”

Harry: “You only think you do.”

Sally: “You’re saying I’m having sex with these men without my knowledge?”

Harry: “No what I’m saying is they all wanna have sex with you”

Sally: “They do not!”

Harry: “Do too.”

Sally: “They do not!”

Harry: “Do too!”

Sally: “How do you know?”

Harry: “Because no man can be friends with a women that he finds attractive; he always wants to have sex with her.”

Sally: “So you’re saying that a man CAN be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?”

Harry: “No, you pretty much wanna nail them too.”

Sally: “What if they don’t wanna have sex with you?”

Harry: “It doesn’t matter cause the sex is already out there, so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.”

Sally: “Well I guess we’re not going to be friends then.”

Harry: “I guess not.”

And I realised that it is always the man to claim men and women can’t be friends. When you’re in a relationship, it’s always the guy that insists your boyfriends just want to sleep with you. And if the man is the one saying this, does this mean its true? But they have girlfriends, so does that mean they want to sleep with them? Should I be jealous?

So can dinner and a movie ever be friends? Or is there always a hope that it will be dinner and a movie … and something more?
And even if one of you does have feelings for the other, why can’t you just be friends? As long as you’re both clear that nothing will ever happen, then surely that’s better than not being in each others lives at all? Or is that just miserable acceptance of unrequited love?

And I really don’t have a conclusive answer to this one, dear readers. Because I don’t know. I think there will always people who have strong opinions for and against the sincerity of mixed friendships. What I am certain of is that friendships with girlfriends are much more solid and much less complicated. The older I get, the more I look forward to gossiping, and bitching, and talking about men, and drinking, and crying, and laughing so hard it’s like an ab workout with my amazing girlfriends. Because men really are from Mars, and Venus feels more like home.

What do you think?

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