Male-female friendships: something needs to change

I find myself constantly frustrated by the tendency of women at SPU to think that the only goal men hold in social interaction between the sexes is to gain eventual boyfriend/girlfriend status, and whatever further benefits extend from said relationship. Plainly stated, and at the risk of oversimplifying: men only want to be friends with women they want. Whether or not there is any truth to this claim, I’d like to suggest that the majority of men do think that way, and it should not be so.

While we men might initially want to run to our defense at these allegations, let us take a step back and examine whether women are legitimately correct if their beliefs about men are such as I’ve said. I’m sure that the men of SPU would like to declare that the supposed case is wrong, but I tend to see men act in a way that, unfortunately, fits the perceived stereotype. I find this personified in how, as stated before, many men tend to only want to become friends with a woman if he can identify her as a future prospect for dating/marriage. While it is important to examine where a current relationship may be headed, I feel that men are wrong in only putting effort into those friendships that they feel they could later manipulate into something more.

There is no way around the issue, no way to sugarcoat what needs to be said, so I will put it bluntly. Men: I pray that I need only address the minority on this issue, but I fear I speak to well beyond the minority of men. There is something seriously wrong in the way you perceive and take advantage of women, and you shame our gender! Say, for example, that a man makes a new female acquaintance. He soon thereafter judges as to how much effort he should put forth towards this new relationship, weighing in his mind the chances of possible advancement in the relationship. He will continue to think in such a way until he seems satisfied with a decision.

What comes next? Either A) He determines she’s perhaps worth the effort! Now, he, our man-example, will put out a tremendous amount of effort into seeing this woman as much as possible, spend as much time with her as etiquette allows, and attempt to woo her with his list-long collection of techniques; all while exerting an exorbitant amount of energy at staying clear of her radar of suspicion. If she were to discover his true intentions, all could be at risk.

Or B) He decides she is not worth any additional perseverance. Our man-example undertakes in a subtle way the task of seeming increasingly uninterested in anything that has to do with our female subject. This apparent dwindling of interest on the male’s part may upset and confuse the female, but in his eyes, whatever is best for him is best for everyone. As long as our man-example survives the experience with no obvious scars on his reputation, then the operation was not a complete loss. He will briefly mourn, dust off his hands, and move on: no harm done, right?

Now, how utterly disgusting, inconsiderate, shallow, and uncivilized does that sound? While that example was a clearly hyperbolic way of describing the ongoing male exploitation of the female, too often it stands close enough to reality, and it is sickening. If women are identifying us to be some sort of immature and solely sexually-driven conglomerate of individuals, then we are proving them right. I do not regard myself as some sort of higher being that is above the train of thought, or that I’ve never thought in the described way, but believe I can bring out these points with validity because I am able to safely state that I’ve identified the problem in my own life, and have eliminated it, as all males should take steps to do.

As for the women, I will say this much: when you refuse to identify what is going on in this sort of male-female conundrum, you are just as well condoning men’s behaviors. Do not overlook that this takes place, while simultaneously settling for second-rate relationships with men who appear innocent. Everyone’s situation is unique, but keep in mind that questioning all intention, and making it your priority to know where your male friends are coming from is a sure way of defeating the colossal mind game that’s played.

I plead with all women: realize that some of us men, albeit few, are out here and are not like what the majority are perceived to be. We who believe that social interaction with women should be cherished, and close friendships made without hidden intentions of ultimately furthering the relationship DO exist. We wait here, patiently, for the women who might have faith in us.

Finally, men, for the sake of decency, chivalry, and all that remains decorous inside of us, we must collectively rise up out of this abhorrent mindset, and just be content to treasure our friendships. Let us make an effort, so that we may become the majority, rather than the minority. We will become, as a whole, more highly regarded and respected among women, and create lasting relationships that we never intend to employ to serve our own selfishness.

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Title: Male-female friendships: something needs to change | Author: Richard Hajarizadeh | Section: Opinions | Published Date: 2005-11-30 | Internal ID: 4741