It’s the age-old question: Can men and women really be just friends? Or does one always end up catching feelings and eventually ruining the friendship? It turns out that it all comes down to how differently men and women think of friendships in the first place.
Remember Tumblr? It turns out it’s alive and well. In fact, Alara J. Rogers, a Tumblr user, took it upon herself to explain how men and women view friendship, and it went viral. Here’s her take.
The Tweet That Started It All
Before we even dive into what Alara J. Rogers (Tumblr user alarajrogers) had to say about this, it doesn’t take much to see why this would be controversial, and even offensive.
When Alara J. Rogers saw this, it sparked a realization for her, which she expanded on in a viral Tumblr post.
She Starts By Explaining How Men And Women Deal With Emotion Differently
Rogers’ very first thought was, “Oh my God, this actually explains so much.” All the times men didn’t take no for answer or struggled with rejection started because of this.
In the same way, all the times women felt used by someone they trusted and lost friendships with other men are also about to make sense.
How Women Think Of Friendship
Basically, women’s friendships focus on emotional support, so they’re used to offering and receiving it. This means that they’re used to offering support to both romantic partners and platonic friends.
To women, emotional support is simply the foundation of any relationship, both romantic and platonic.
What Makes A Romantic Partner Vs. A Friend?
The issue is that men and women don’t see friendship the same way. If you look one step deeper, it’s because men and women don’t express emotion the same way.
Women see emotion as part of the connection between anyone they know, while men only attribute it to their romantic partners or potential romantic partners.
She Blames The Patriarchy
It all stems from the same societal expectations. Women are told it’s okay to show emotion, and are expected to be emotionally available. Yet men are taught to hide their emotions because it would show weakness or lack of masculinity.
Yet women’s emotional support helps them survive better, so both should be able to do it.
The Damage Can Be Physical
You’re probably wondering: Why men would stay in these friendships with women that make them jealous and unhappy because they’re not romantic? Well, the answer would be that men don’t know where else to turn to for emotional support.
In this system, women have each other for support, but men only have women. However, this creates completely unbalanced and unequal relationships.
It Ends Up Hurting Both Parties
This is why friendships between men and women can be so difficult at times. Their expectations and needs are always different. Men end up reading too much into it, while women fear that they’re giving them a reason to.
It’s sad because a lot of good friendships fail because of this. When men leave because they feel rejected, women feel sad and betrayed by the loss of the friendship.
It Makes Everyone Feel Used
When a friendship is built on such a fragile, one-sided, and unclear foundation, it’s no surprise that it doesn’t end gently. Often, two people who once cared for one another end up resenting each other.
The woman resents him because she feels like the friendship was all a lie for sex, while the man resents that his support was not rewarded. Both feel used.
She Explains That This Turns Girlfriends Into Commodities
It’s not like men do this purposely or want to put that pressure on their girlfriends. It’s that this is only the kind of relationship in which they feel safe to be intimate and vulnerable. It’s the only emotionally vulnerable relationship that society doesn’t give them a hard time about.
Often, it ends up being a release for them for all the times they had to hold onto their emotions.
This Can Have Real Consequences
There are other ways to find physical or sexual release, but emotional release is hard to come by. The accumulation of holding onto negative emotion for so long ends up bottling up for years. Then, it releases in the worst ways possible.
This isn’t to say that those who commit such acts aren’t to be held accountable, but it does provide a glimpse into what could drive them over the edge.
This Is Still Fixable
Just because this is an issue that is rooted in the structure of society and the patriarchal system, that doesn’t mean that it’s a lost cause.
All we need to do is break the conditioning of toxic masculinity. We need to make men feel like it’s okay to be vulnerable, and that emotion is a strength, not a weakness.
But That’ll Require Men Supporting Men
Ironically, men can’t completely depend on the emotional support of other women to get through this. That was the whole root of the problem.
This is the time for them to start relying on each other and normalizing it. Once their relationships are built on healthy foundations, that’ll naturally domino effect into their friendships with women, too.