Tuesday, February 21, 2012

can men and women be just friends?

on december 1st, two guys at USU made a video entitled "why men and women can't be friends." the video starts with interviews of many girls on USU campus.  asking them if they think it is possible to be "just friends" with a guy.  they all say yes.  not only do they say yes, but they mean it! they answer without hesitation and with certainty.

as i watched the video, i thought, 'that's interesting, i don't agree with these girls at all.'  then they switch it up and ask a bunch of guys the same question.  some of them are ashamed to admit it, while some admit it outright, but they all say no.  the consensus among the guys is quite clear: men and women cannot be "just friends."

the final section of the video goes back to the girls that were first interviewed.  the interviewer asks each girl if she has a guy who she is "just friends" with. the girls respond: dave, trevor, and so forth. all of them have at least one guy friend that they can think of.  then the girls are asked if that guy is interested in them.

this highlights how girls think differently than guys.  the girls are aware that the guys are interested in them.  some of the girls even say that the guy would be very willing to "hook up" with them if they allowed it. the strange thing is, they don't see this as an issue influencing their friendship.  on the one hand you have the guys, who tend to develop crushes with these girls they spend time with, and on the other hand you have the girls, who think that there is no problem with being "just friends" with a guy, regardless of that guys feelings for her.

thus we have "the friend zone."

example (from the video):

"would he hook up with you if you wanted to hook up?"
"so he likes you."
"so what you're saying is men and women can't be friends."
"no. we can be friends."
"so you're just friends, but he likes you."
"so it's a one-sided friendship."

some girls may have no problem with this scenario.  but friendship involves openness and honesty.  it also involves giving and receiving.  in a "friendship" where one member wants to give and receive more than the other, we would have to admit that the friendship is unequal and flawed.  if you imagine, most of these kind of friendships are not very open.  a guy who likes a girl but sees that she doesn't feel similarly is relegated to the "friend zone" out of necessity.  he has few options.  either he continues to be "just friends" with her, therefore allowing him to continue to enjoy her company, or he confesses to her his feelings, therefore changing the nature of the relationship, and potentially losing the friendship all together.  what kind of friendship is it, where both parties cannot share their feelings without fear of compromising the friendship?

this scenario can also apply to girls who like guys who do not feel similarly.  however, girls are more likely than guys to be content with having "just friends" relationships.

the video ends with the interviewer talking to the camera: "as we can see after interviewing everyone in the library, it is impossible for men and women to be just friends.  And under no circumstances can it happen."

although i find the premise of the video fascinating, thought-provoking, and largely accurate, i do not agree with this conclusion.  when talking about relationships, there is never cut and dry rules for every situation.  when considering myself, i have many female friends that i am legitimately "just friends" with.  most of them are married or otherwise taken, which honestly wouldn't debunk the conclusion.  however, i am additionally friends with many girls that i know from my childhood and high school days that i am friends with.  i can think of several circumstances in which being "just friends" is quite possible.  in an effort to be more accurate, i would rephrase the conclusion to say, "in situations where a man sees a woman as a viable partner, it is impossible for him to be content being 'just friends' with her."  maybe still partially inaccurate, but it is a good start.

i attached the video below if you want to watch it.  and as always, share your thoughts and opinions below.

Monday, February 6, 2012


for today's post, i wanted to share a story of shyness.  this story made me reconsider how confident we are vs. how confident we may appear to be.  

in Dr. Broomhead's choir class, he has all of his students do something to get out of their comfort zone.  he shares a story (anonymously) every class period.  i think his reasoning is that we will be better singers if we don't worry about how we are perceived.

what i have come to realize is that by looking at someone, you cannot tell how comfortable they are.  you can't see the hidden anxieties and little quirks that people have.  what may be easy for you can be painfully uncomfortable for others.  

while reading this story, i want you to think about this person.  they have a really hard time trying to sit and eat with a stranger.  what makes he/she uncomfortable with the situation?  why is it any harder to do than sitting with friends or eating alone?  If you have your own shyness story, or if there is something funny that causes you anxiety, share it.  also give your comments on the story:

For my comfort zone assignment I decided to do something I have been wanting to do for a long time: eat with someone else at the Morris Center.  Every day after class, I eat dinner there.  I don't know many people, so I always eat alone.  When we started talking about getting out of our comfort zone, I realized that this would be the perfect opportunity to do what I already wanted to do.  

Tuesday after class, I was pumped up and ready to go.  I started making plans as I walked.  As I got my food, I was going to look for other people who were eating alone.  I didn't want to interrupt an important conversation, or make a date situation super awkward.  I figured the easiest thing would be to ask some other loner if I could eat with them.  As I approached the Morris Center, my stomach began to turn in anticipation.  My earlier excitement had abated, and I began to be fearful.

I got a tray and started to get some food, scanning the room for people that were eating alone.  There was a girl near the entrance, a guy with headphones near the fruit, and another guy who looked really serious all alone at one of the long tables.  I didn't want to sit with any of them!  I just wanted to sit alone!  

"I always sit alone!" I told myself.  "Why should today be any different?  Can't I do something less out of my comfort zone? Something I'm comfortable with?"

"No!" I told myself.  "If you do something you are comfortable with, you're not getting out of your comfort zone."

I knew I was right.  I argue with myself a lot, and I'm always right.  I decided to sit with the girl by the entrance--the least intimidating of my options.  I walked towards her---and right past her--and sat at the next table.  

I was furious with myself.  Why couldn't I do it?  I wanted to get up and move to her table, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.  How awkward would that be, to sit at the table next to her and then move to her table a few seconds later? What would I say, "Uh, excuse me, but I meant to sit at your table, and I accidentally sat at this one."  So instead of subjecting myself to that awkwardness, I spend the next 45 minutes (far longer than it usually takes me to eat) beating myself up about it.  Because of my inability to face my fears, I was angry at myself.  Wasn't I strong enough to talk to a stranger for a few minutes? What is the worst thing that could have happened? 

I imagined a worst-case scenario: I walk up and say, "Hey, do you mind if I join you?" Girl: "Yeah, I actually eat alone because I like being alone.  You better not sit here you weirdo.  If you try it, I'll move to another table."  How bad would that be?  I continued to think about it.  I guess there is another scenario that could be worse.  I walk up and ask the same question: "Hey, do you mind if I join you?" Girl: "No problem, go ahead.  But watch out--I'm a dangerous psychopath, I can read your mind, and I have several highly contagious diseases."  Though it seems unlikely, I imagine that could be a possible outcome...

In the end, the girl finished her meal and left.  After several more minutes of increasing frustration, I also left, thinking of something else I could do for my comfort zone assignment.

I could end the story at this point--I felt like I had gone quite a way out of my comfort zone just considering sitting with someone.  However, the very next day, I found myself walking to the Morris Center after class.

Long story short--I did the same thing, and again experienced the torment of determining who to sit with.  I actually walked two or three laps around the cafeteria before making up my mind.  When I decided to sit down, it was mostly because my arms were tired from holding my food-laden tray.  Besides, I was afraid that the staff would notice me wandering around and ask what I was doing.
I sat with this guy right by the entrance.  He was kind enough to allow me to sit with him.  We talked about his missionary service and swapped stories about our jobs. I ended up spending about 45 minutes at dinner (again, much longer than I am accustomed to) because I had such a great conversation with him.

In the end, I am glad I stepped outside of my comfort zone.  I'm not sure if I want to make it a habit--the idea is still terrifying--but I had a good experience, and despite my initial failure, I proved that I am capable of facing my fears.