“Why not?” Sally asks.
Harry continues: “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.”
In this classic scene from When Harry Met Sally, Billy Crystal’s character asserts that physical attraction will always keep men and women from embracing true friendship. Harry sees friendship as a bond between two people that must exclude romantic feelings.
Can a man and woman be best friends?
Some people say the best relationship is one that allows you to act like lovers and best friends at the same time. But what does it mean to be “best friends” with a man?
I suppose that depends on what your definition of friendship is to begin with. I see friendship as a bond between two people who value each other for reasons that have nothing to do with romantic feelings. This definition does not suggest you cannot also be in love with your best friend.
Friendship is born when two people walk a shared path together. Each one expands their sense of self, their outlook on life, to include the other. They share their highs and lows. They team up to accomplish things. They have fun together, do work together, help each other, support each other, and bond throughout the process. It doesn’t matter if you’re venting about your day, painting your nails, moving furniture, or going to dinner–friendship is about sharing your life with someone else, the good and the bad.
While romantic chemistry might have sparked your relationship, the relationship will never be all it could be if you and your partner do not also develop a solid friendship. Friendship builds slowly, while feelings of attraction blossom fast.
Attraction is wild. It’s like a spark that ignites a fire. Friendship, on the other hand, is a slow burn. It’s all about companionship, loyalty and respect. Can a romantic connection really be complete without those traits?
But I need to point out one important distinction. Same-gender friendships are not the same as the kind of friendship between two romantic partners. Reaching for friendship does not mean lowering your standards to act like “one of the guys.”
When guys are buddies, they let their guard down and sometimes ignore rules of social etiquette. Respecting the romantic aspect of your relationship means doing your best to be your most attractive self whenever you spend time with your partner. It also means you retain your feminine elegance, which he finds so attractive.
Does that require a balancing act for you? You bet it does. That’s the very reason why so many couples fail to fuse friendship and attraction.
But it can be done. The key is to remember that a long-lasting fire has both sparks and a slow burn. To make the most of your relationship you need passion and companionship. Keep the passion alive by doing what you can to trip his attraction triggers. At the same time, weave in the best components of a solid friendship.
Even in the beginning stages of a romantic relationship, make an effort to include those qualities. You’ll know if the spark is there pretty quickly. If you want a truly vibrant, lasting connection, build the friendship as well.