Can a man be friends with a woman he’s attracted to? I’m a Man. I have lived this question thoroughly.
The short answer is simply, Yes. Yes, Mature Men can be legitimate, authentic friends with the women they’re sexually attracted to. We can work respectfully alongside them, hang out with them, have lunch with them, talk sincere and impartial with them about their boyfriends and husbands and do pretty much anything else we’d do with any other friend. Mature Men can experience sexual attraction and still honor healthy boundaries with women.
Mature Men can do this.
On the other hand … Adolescent boys – and men perpetually stuck in adolescence – will have difficulty being honest friends with the women they’re attracted to. To be clear, this blog isn’t about a man’s ability to shift from an intimate relationship to a friendly one with a woman. That’s called a breakup and deserves different consideration.
The question I’m asking is, Can men be authentic friends with women they want to sleep with but haven’t and won’t because those women don’t seem interested in sleeping with them? (note: I say “don’t seem interested” because I’m pretty sure men are biologically programmed to never give up hope, no matter what a woman says or does.)
This blog is about men who, like adolescents new to the sexual experience, haven’t yet learned how to move their sexual energy in healthy ways when among attractive women; men at the mercy of attraction which complicates interactions.
Unfortunately, so many adult males are stuck in a perpetual adolescence. Some haven’t even matured that far. Anyone see similarities between toddlers and US Congressmen? Of course many grown men have learned how to be respectful human beings, as well as veritable mature men in various aspects of their lives (such as career and fatherhood), but fewer of us ever really learn how to be mature masculine Men in relationship to feminine Women with whom we experience strong sexual attractions.
Most men are stuck in perpetual adolescence because our culture feeds us immature ideas about what it means to be a man: real men win at all costs, make all the important rules, make lots of money, sleep with lots of women, have the biggest dick in the room, don’t cry or feel emotions or show weakness, etc. As a result, most adult men are profoundly confused about what it means to be a healthy mature man, whether they admit it or not – and of course most can’t admit it because that would be a mature thing to do. I have been confused for 20 years. And I never even knew it.
That said, here are “4 aspects of masculine immaturity” that prevent men from being honest friends with women they’re sexually attracted to:
1) Men have not learned how to be with their sexual energy without having to do something about it
Just like adolescent boys, most grown men in our culture don’t have a clue how to simply be with the powerful masculine sexual energy coursing through our bodies. So it owns us.
The basic story culture teaches me from birth is that I was born an uncontrollable ravenous shark in a pool filled with tasty guppies. I was then given two strong conflicting directives: (a) eating guppies is a measure of a man’s worth, and (b) try not to hurt any guppies. Then I was left on my own to unravel this dilemma while living inside a sexually charged body ready to pound the bottom out of a boat with every erection.
Since men can’t be vulnerable to work openly through the resulting confusion, we cope with the inner turmoil in countless ways unhealthy ways: we sex it, money it, game it, work it, porn it, drug and alcohol it, TV it, shame it, deny it or anger it into oblivion. By doing so, we live perpetually disoriented, and sometimes a detriment to ourselves, to the women we genuinely love and also to those we don’t.
For most of my life, whenever confronted with intense sexual experiences in my body, I would usually choose the easiest of shame, sex or masturbation as my main options for quickly dealing with it. No one ever taught me how to wield my sexual energy in intentional, respectful ways; how to direct it constructively. Most men never learn this.
As long as a man is owned by his sexual energy, he remains stuck in sexual adolescence. Unfortunately this kind of man is all too common in our world, which drives attractive, intelligent women on Facebook to post frustrated public denunciations like the recent one my FB friend wrote:
“If a man has a penis, he wants to sleep with you. Period. It doesn’t matter how old he is.”
But when a Man matures by learning how to be intentional with his sexual energy and not slave to it, he embodies the essence of what author Byron Katie wrote:
“Just because a man has an erection doesn’t mean he has to do anything with it.”
Then he can be friends with an attractive woman. If he chooses to. (Read the short blog “Breathing Into (Untimely) Sexual Energy” for a simple practice to begin working with this energy)
2) Men don’t know the difference between authentic love, romantic love and sexual energy
In his book, Intimate Communion, David Deida talks about the three separate elements of the intimate experience: love, romance, and polarity (sexual energy). Like adolescent teens confused about the rich new experiences happening in their bodies, most men still confuse sexual polarity with romantic love. With such an immature man, you can trace the entire path from lust to love along the contours of a petite woman’s aerodynamic ass. Those lust-love thoughts tempt me all the time in the presence of attractive women. They often insist I could love the woman attached to those long legs walking by. But I’m pretty sure such thoughts are just mental leakage from my lizard brain. I’ve learned not to trust them.
Having lived many years in a man’s body, I can tell you it is fascinating to have witnessed my own experience of what felt like love for a woman essentially vanish in the afterglow of a powerful orgasm. It’s astonishing – and disturbing – just how quick sex can switch a male mind from the “ocean-deep loving” setting to the “kiddie-pool shallow” one.
Why do you think urgent flash-in-the-pan sex often leads to short-lasting flash-in-the-pan relationships?
When two people don’t give themselves breathing space, time, to discern what’s really happening between them, they can’t easily see that more often than not it’s everyday sexual polarity at play, not genuine romantic love. While genuine romantic love is fairly elusive, men can experience sexual polarity with different women … every … single … day. Polarity attraction happens. Constantly. In the grocery store. At the DMV. In our cars. At the bars. On a plane. In a rocket ship … to the stars.
We’re like polarized magnets walking around bumping into each other everywhere. Of course we’re going to feel the pull. But that doesn’t mean we have to act on it. Sadly, many immature men intentionally use this polarity-love confusion to manipulate women into sex. Such immature men help confuse the trust right out of women.
For us to become mature men, we must learn to distinguish this sexual polarity energy from both romantic love and our deeper authentic love. We must stop manipulating women into false romances fueled only by sexual energy. And we must gain some level of mastery around how we ultimately wield that sexual energy.
Otherwise it will own us and continue ruining potentially great friendships.
3) Most men do not fully respect the boundaries set by women, because they do not fully respect women
Adolescent boys and aging toddlers clearly make up most of culture’s rules. So we still don’t fully respect most feminine ways of being.
We place high value on immature masculine expressions of competition, rational thinking, control and domination, achievement for achievement’s sake, etcetera. We place far less value on the feminine gifts of consensus building, intuition and heart-centered thinking, holistic well-being, beauty for its own sake, emotions and vulnerability. This bias is so fundamental to our world that I don’t even need to offer examples to convince you (think politics, business, military and war spending, money-driven popular entertainment, billionaire sports athletes and broke school teachers, paternalistic religions … and on and on).
Until we silly men fully honor and understand that feminine wisdom is as essential as masculine wisdom to the healthy functioning of the world, we will not be able to fully respect the boundaries of our hot female friends. We will continue exploiting weakness in their defenses, whether with subtle manipulation or actual violence.
4) Men don’t know how to be authentically vulnerable
Most men don’t know how to be with awkward feelings and experiences without having to do something “manly” about them. We believe we are supposed to act on our feelings, even if that means forcibly suppressing or drowning them in addictions. We are compelled to take whatever action will get us most quickly away from our discomfort.
That’s why we usually hate it when women cry. We don’t know a middle way.
We do not know how to simply be with awkward truths, nor do we know how to express them without playing for an outcome. Because so much of our worth is tied to a woman’s approval, being vulnerable is particularly difficult in relationship to women.
Our fragile adolescent egos can’t risk feminine rejection of our authentic inner worlds. So we’ll be vulnerable and tell women how we feel, but we’ll do our best to control the scenario so that we either get what we want in the end or keep them far enough away that they can’t possibly reject us. Which is how adolescent boys behave.
It’s hard to create genuine friendships without being genuinely vulnerable. Even with other men.
Image a world where Men …
Imagine a world where Men could differentiate between sexual energy, romance and pure love; and where he could acknowledge this openly, without shame, to the women in his world who would appreciate his honesty.
Imagine a world where Men could breathe into their sexual energy and simply enjoy their own erections without always having to do something with them.
Imagine a world where Men fully respected Women and the wisdom they offer.
Imagine a world where Men knew how to be vulnerable with their deepest truths, their joys and their sorrows, and could easily share them with women (and men) without manipulating for an outcome in the sharing.
Wouldn’t the Men in such a world make for incredible masculine friends to women? … not to mention spine-tingling intimate partners, too!!
* special thanks to “J” and “I” who inspired this blog through their honest, raw facebook posts on the subject. (and to “I” in particular for helping me consider a bigger perspective)