Can Men and Women Be Friends?


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Whenever I hear the question “Can men and women be friends?” from one of my favorite movies, When Harry Met Sally, I think of my friend Chad.  Here is our story that I wanted to share with you.

From the minute we sat across from each other in our dorm’s study lounge freshman year, I knew something in my life had changed.  He asked me one question and it led to a 6 hour conversation that had to be moved to the stairwell after being shushed numerous times by our fellow studiers.   At first we  started talking about classes, roommates, hometowns but soon moved onto our hopes, dreams and even heartbreaks.  We fell into step with each other immediately.  It was like I had always known him and it had just taken him a little while to show up.  It took me about two seconds to realize that I didn’t want to ever “not know him” again.

The crush was instant for me.  I had seen him around and never thought anything of him (cute, but blond….not my thing) but chemistry works in strange ways.  We started spending tons of time together weaving a world of laughter, conversations that challenged the best philosophical discussions ever spoken and created a space that felt more real than I had ever known.  It was clear to me that he was crazy about me and I was crazy about him.  So when the time came and went and we weren’t kissing, I was thinking “WTF?”

How could two people who have such chemistry, love, respect, appreciation for each other, not fall madly in love?  Right?

Alright, here is the kicker everybody.  We did.  Just not not the way you think.

Stay with me here. This is going to be good.

Chad was amazing.  Throughout college, he touched my life in a way that no else did.  He was the one who got me home and took care of me after the Ann’s Birthday Party Tequila Debacle of junior year.  He would work quotes from our favorite movies (When Harry Met Sally was our fave) into conversation in a room full of people, just so I would know he was there and was thinking about me.  He would find and play my favorite songs on the jukebox when we went out to pizza.  He would go out of his way in every way he could to see me happy.  So much so, that when I had to go home for awhile during my sophomore year for some medical problems he came to see me almost every weekend.  A time where I felt more alone than I had ever felt in my life.  When no one else got it….he did.

But he never felt “that” way for me.  He just didn’t and I hated it.  I didn’t understand and it drove me to crazy moments where I just would get mad at him or push him away because I just wanted him to love me in “that” way.  Why didn’t he see what I saw?  Why didn’t he know what I knew?

I started to doubt myself.  What was wrong with me?  Wasn’t I pretty enough?  Skinny enough?  Girly enough? Was my crazy hanging out?  What would I have to change to make him love me?

There was my problem.  He did love me.  He had always loved me, he just didn’t express it in the way that I thought he was supposed to.  I thought love with guys looked one way, felt one way, acted one way.  Romantic love where we walk across the campus holding hands, “watching” late night movies in our dorm rooms and sneaking hot make out sessions when my roommate was at the library.  THAT was love.

As I look back at the boyfriends I did hold hands and “watch” late night movies with most of the time their relationship was not as powerful and life-changing as Chad’s was.

Chad always went out of he way to make me happy and I forgot that was the basis to real love.  Whatever fairytale or movie moments that we have have been told or pushed to believe love is (which are crap people, total crap) in my humble opinion I think real love can be mostly broken down to this.  Don’t we love or want to be loved because it simply makes us feel good?  It confirms that we are loveable.  It makes us feel a little less crazy.  It supports us through the tough times and celebrates the good.  It challenges us to be better people.  Makes us see ourselves (good and bad) from a different perspective, so we can learn.  It simply makes our days better and this journey called life a little happier.

Chad openly offered me all of those things and more.  Funny thing is, that as much as I thought (and heart-breakingly told my poor friends over and over) if there was someone in that relationship whose love wavered it was me.  I was so caught up in my own fears and insecurities about “that” love  that I didn’t see what was making him happy.  So when he met his future wife I just stood on the sidelines upset that it wasn’t me and pushed him out of my life.  It has now been years since I heard from him.  I still miss him and When Harry Met Sally will never be quite the same.

So, I am not sure if men and women can be friends, but here is what I have learned that I can tell you.  Take it for what it’s worth.  When powerful connections and great love shows up in your life, you frickin’ grab it and ride it until it stops!  Even if it doesn’t look like what you thought it would.  Love, is love.  Don’t over analyze it, throw drama on it, pretend it is more than what it is, try to force into something it shouldn’t be, label it or complicate it.  It is a gift that is given to us and the only thing you should do is smile and return it.

Have you seen great love?  How did it show up in your life?  Talk to me about it.

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