People love to have the “Can men and women ever truly be friends” argument, and while it makes for a fun debate, it saddens me to think there are folks who really believe that heterosexuals of opposite genders are incapable of having a relationship with no romantic or sexual tension. For those of you sisters who don’t get it, I’d like to testify about the value of ‘the homeboy’.
I don’t think I’d know as much about how to be a date, a girlfriend or a lover had I not the benefit of spending time with men on a platonic level. It gives me the opportunity to get inside men’s heads and I constantly pick their brains to help me tighten up. Oftentimes, women want to make each other feel better, even if that means telling each other the exact opposite of what we need to hear. “Girl, I think when he told you he didn’t like you or find you attractive, that was his way of saying he was just scared of how special he thinks you are.” Homeboys, even those who are highly sensitive to your feelings, tend to understand those mixed messages a little bit better: “Yeah, I’m pretty sure he asked you to stop calling because he doesn’t want you calling.”
Broad, sweeping generalizations aside, it’s not that homegirls can’t give great dating advice or that we’re all incapable of being honest with our friends. And simply being a man with an opinion doesn’t make you a romance expert (paging Steve Harvey and the thousands of souls who have placed their hearts in his hands). But I personally feel the male perspective is a valuable thing to have if you are trying to date men. And even beyond the romantic advice, you can learn a lot about male behavior by being around men. Are brothers a monolith? Of course not. But there are some inherent and common differences between the genders and you shouldn’t only be privy to them with hair pulling and sheet twisting involved.
On the flip, I’ve tried to tell my guy friends the things I feel sisters need them to hear. I encourage them as best as I can to be respectful and honest in their dealings with women, in hopes that the ladies they come across won’t suffer some unnecessary romantic trauma or embarrassment. I have a ‘play brother’ three years my junior and he’s listened to war stories about my homegirls since I was a senior in high school. I always wrap up with “Can you please promise you won’t make anyone feel like this?” Now that we’re older, I look to him for his wise words and perspective as well. There’s never been anything romantic there, and it has nothing to do with age (trust me…I’ve never had a problem with tenderronis!). We just built a beautiful, valuable friendship.
I constantly hear women and men complain that the two genders can’t be friends if there was ever any sexual or romantic tension, or that invariably, one of the two parties is harboring some attraction. I just don’t find that to be true. For starters, I’ve always had male buddies and I’m not hardly a tomboy. I’ve even had great, long-term friendships with men who I once had romantic feelings for or who I may have, umm, you know…gotten to know on a more intimate level. I’d be lying if I said it was never awkward to ask a man I once got down with about how to proceed with the next gentlemen du jour, but it’s certainly not impossible. And sometimes, you connect with people for reasons that aren’t the ones you originally peeped. Love might not have been there romantically, but it might be a beautiful, wonderful thing platonically.
Not only are men friends great resources when you need some help with your romantic quandaries (or with lifting heavy boxes), they are pretty darn fun to have around. They are, well, people. They drink, eat, party, pray and do all the stuff we do. If you surround yourself only with sisterfriends and lovers, you are doing yourself a great disservice. Let the men in and find a different sort of love that’s no less important than the kind that comes with romance attached!