About platonic friendships between men and women

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

About platonic friendships between men and women

Postby manas » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:31 pm

I've had some good friends, both male and female, in my life. But I am aware that in traditional societies, men generally mix with men, and women with women. In such societies, men don't go about befriending women, or vice versa. A man's personal dealings with women are limited to his wife, daughters, etc.

What do folks think about this? I recently made a good friend, who happens to be female. Our friendship is completely non-sexual; although there is affection between us, it's just like hugs etc. Do other folks have such friendships? Furthermore, are such friendships doomed to fade once one or the other gets romantically involved (with someone else, I mean)?

I'm curious about this. As far as I'm concerned, if I had an actual girlfriend and really trusted her, I should not mind her maintaining her male friendships. Not should she mind, me maintaining my female ones. But why is it that, in actual practice, this often is not how things work out? But has it worked out for anyone here?
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Re: About platonic friendships between men and women

Postby JeffR » Sun Sep 08, 2013 4:53 am

I've had some good friends, both male and female, in my life. But I am aware that in traditional societies, men generally mix with men, and women with women. In such societies, men don't go about befriending women, or vice versa. A man's personal dealings with women are limited to his wife, daughters, etc.

What do folks think about this?


I think it's pure nonsense. I have and have in the past been friends with many females.
Furthermore, are such friendships doomed to fade once one or the other gets romantically involved (with someone else, I mean)?

Typically, only when the "someone else" is the uncharacteristically jealous type.

As far as I'm concerned, if I had an actual girlfriend and really trusted her, I should not mind her maintaining her male friendships. Not should she mind, me maintaining my female ones. But why is it that, in actual practice, this often is not how things work out?

In my experience this is an invalid question since, in actual practice, this is how things work out.

But has it worked out for anyone here?

Absolutely.
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Re: About platonic friendships between men and women

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Sep 08, 2013 11:27 am

Hi, Manas,
Whenever and however you run counter to social expectations you have to deal with people's wrong assumptions, either by letting your words/action be misinterpreted or by (endlessly) explaining the truth of the situation. You have possibly had to do this in relation to your Buddhism, for instance.
The kind of platonic friendship you are talking about is relatively rare in Aussie society so yes, I think you can expect some difficulties along the lines you describe. Not necessarily too severe, though. And there are ways which you can pre-emptively defuse tensions, e.g. by including this one special friend with other friends on appropriate occasions, so that everyone around you knows about your new friendship and has seen how it operates ...

Don't panic, don't over-analyse, do relax, do enjoy it. :group:

:namaste:
Kim
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Re: About platonic friendships between men and women

Postby manas » Sun Sep 08, 2013 7:35 pm

Kim OHara wrote:Hi, Manas,
Whenever and however you run counter to social expectations you have to deal with people's wrong assumptions, either by letting your words/action be misinterpreted or by (endlessly) explaining the truth of the situation. You have possibly had to do this in relation to your Buddhism, for instance.
The kind of platonic friendship you are talking about is relatively rare in Aussie society so yes, I think you can expect some difficulties along the lines you describe. Not necessarily too severe, though. And there are ways which you can pre-emptively defuse tensions, e.g. by including this one special friend with other friends on appropriate occasions, so that everyone around you knows about your new friendship and has seen how it operates ...

Don't panic, don't over-analyse, do relax, do enjoy it. :group:

:namaste:
Kim


Hi Kim,

I appreciate your insightful reply, but this is not personal problem at this stage, I am just musing, really. Because it occurred to me that, yes I made a female friend recently and I love her dearly, but really friendship is all it is, and probably ever will be, so it is going to happen sooner or later, that I meet another woman, with whom I will be able to explore a deeper relationship, if you know what I'm getting at. I'm just musing on this question in advance, I guess, it's not relevant yet. Just seeking some feedback. Because, it will happen I think, but when it does, I do not want to lose the pure friendship I have with my friend. I guess that answer is, find a partner who is mature-minded / hearted enough to know when jealousy is just to be witnessed, and let go of, as the irrational emotion it usually is.
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Re: About platonic friendships between men and women

Postby manas » Sun Sep 08, 2013 7:41 pm

JeffR wrote:
I've had some good friends, both male and female, in my life. But I am aware that in traditional societies, men generally mix with men, and women with women. In such societies, men don't go about befriending women, or vice versa. A man's personal dealings with women are limited to his wife, daughters, etc.

What do folks think about this?


I think it's pure nonsense. I have and have in the past been friends with many females.


Hi Jeff,

as a modern, western raised bloke of course I feel as you do, but I mentioned this because society in the time and place of the Buddha was actually like this, very traditional. And there are still many societies where men and woman don't befriend each other that much. Maybe this reduces the risks of infidelity, I'm not sure. I just don't think we can brush off that social standard as 'nonsense', I don't agree with it personally due to my slack western upbringing, but I don't dismiss it either. If we look at those traditional societies, they usually have far less divorce, casual sexual encounters, adultery etc, yes? So maybe their strictness has something good about it...I'm just musing here, throwing it open.
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Re: About platonic friendships between men and women

Postby JeffR » Sun Sep 08, 2013 9:12 pm

We may have different views based on being from different cultures, although I thought Aussie's were much more like progressive Americans. Then again, I am sometimes a bit more 'out there' than the average open minded Minnesotan. Contrary to the bisexual platonic relationships leading to infidelity, etc.; I'd say the opposite. Not only does having and respecting people of the opposite sex as friends reduce ones tendency to commit such acts, it leads to more respect as equals.

Those traditional societies where fraternizing with the opposite sex is verboten; women are mostly treated as possessions, sex objects, or worse (think Middle East and India). This was true in the society the Buddha lived in as well and it shows up in the Suttas, as in the extra precepts for bhikkunis and description of what constitutes sexual misconduct. Having female friends, without question, has helped me in viewing woman as fully equal human beings, even having grown up in the very sexist realm of '60's & '70's America and living in our society which is still sexist (although having made great strides in the past 40 years).

Of course, these platonic relationships can evolve into something romantic. My first serious romantic partner relationship evolved from a platonic relationship of 2+ years, there were no other relationships harmed in this evolution.

Nice conversation, by the way.
-Jeff
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Re: About platonic friendships between men and women

Postby dagon » Mon Sep 09, 2013 12:50 am

Hi Mannas

You are right that in traditional societies most men and women only had dealings with members of the opposite who were family members. It is also true that in most traditional societies people had large extended families with whom they interacted.

We live in much more simplified family structures where if we followed traditional patterns we would have far more limited social engagement that those from traditional cultures would experience. When I moved to Australia I only had one female relative here, that being my wife. If I had followed the traditional social outlines I would have had a very limited social life apart from friendships with males. Luckily for me my wife was from an Aboriginal family and so I was given kinship so that I fit in culturally. I got used to having classificatory sisters cousins aunts ... and acting accordingly.

I found that I really liked the head-space of interacting with members of the opposite sex in this way - sexually off limits, close emotional connections with clearly defined boundaries. The important thing was boundaries; because the relationships created rights but they also created responsibilities, both defined and carried out within the boundaries. I really like having close women friends because I prefer the way that most women think over the way that most men think. I also think that women (including both those I have and have not been sexual partner) have been the most civilising influence on me.

Most of my co-workers are females, most are young attractive where the potential for stupid ideas to arise could be very high. This would be a major problem except that I adopt them as daughters, sisters cousins and so forth. I have very close relations with at least 6 of them, they often give me hugs and we will walk around holding hand ... but those stated and understood boundaries are those of father/daughter. I have to skite a bit - one of them I had talked into becoming a nurse and she has just finished her qualification and got a job in the hospital - I feel exactly the same happiness as when my biological daughters achieve in life.

I never have cheated in a relationship (stated with awareness of the precepts) and I am honest and open with my potential partners. I tell them the way things are with my friendships because if they cannot accept me that way then they need to be in a relationship with some one else. The problem there is that most women have experienced betrayal by their former partners.

So to answer your question, platonic relationship with ladies other than your partner can work. It requires honesty, trust, and most importantly a commitment to maintain the BOUNDARIES that have been set.

All the best for your future – hope you find the happiness that I have experienced.

metta
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Re: About platonic friendships between men and women

Postby dagon » Mon Sep 09, 2013 12:53 am

Hi Mannas

You are right that in traditional societies most men and women only had dealings with members of the opposite who were family members. It is also true that in most traditional societies people had large extended families with whom they interacted.

We live in much more simplified family structures where if we followed traditional patterns we would have far more limited social engagement that those from traditional cultures would experience. When I moved to Australia I only had one female relative here, that being my wife. If I had followed the traditional social outlines I would have had a very limited social life apart from friendships with males. Luckily for me my wife was from an Aboriginal family and so I was given kinship so that I fit in culturally. I got used to having classificatory sisters cousins aunts ... and acting accordingly.

I found that I really liked the head-space of interacting with members of the opposite sex in this way - sexually off limits, close emotional connections with clearly defined boundaries. The important thing was boundaries; because the relationships created rights but they also created responsibilities, both defined and carried out within the boundaries. I really like having close women friends because I prefer the way that most women think over the way that most men think. I also think that women (including both those I have and have not been sexual partner) have been the most civilising influence on me.

Most of my co-workers are females, most are young attractive where the potential for stupid ideas to arise could be very high. This would be a major problem except that I adopt them as daughters, sisters cousins and so forth. I have very close relations with at least 6 of them, they often give me hugs and we will walk around holding hand ... but those stated and understood boundaries are those of father/daughter. I have to skite a bit - one of them I had talked into becoming a nurse and she has just finished her qualification and got a job in the hospital - I feel exactly the same happiness as when my biological daughters achieve in life.

I never have cheated in a relationship (stated with awareness of the precepts) and I am honest and open with my potential partners. I tell them the way things are with my friendships because if they cannot accept me that way then they need to be in a relationship with some one else. The problem there is that most women have experienced betrayal by their former partners.

So to answer your question, platonic relationship with ladies other than your partner can work. It requires honesty, trust, and most importantly a commitment to maintain the BOUNDARIES that have been set.

All the best for your future – hope you find the happiness that I have experienced.

metta
paul
dagon
 
Posts: 297
Joined: Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:45 am


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