The Highs And Lows Of Opposite-Sex Friendships In This Generation

by Sam Farmer

There is something wonderfully unique about every relationship between a male and a female.

It is especially remarkable when a flourishing, platonic friendship emerges between the sexes.

Friendships between men and women are inherently complicated. After all, we metaphorically hail from two different planets.

For as long as I can remember, I have always had more guy friends than girlfriends.

This isn’t to say I have never gotten along with girls. As a woman in my 20s, I am utterly grateful for having a solid group of intelligent, beautiful and fiercely loyal females to call my friends.

However, it took a long time for me to develop these relationships with people who lack a Y chromosome.

When I was younger, I bonded with boys over comic book heroes and sports.

As a teenager, I continued to bond with males over the same things, with the addition of music and a mutual love of getting high after class.

Many of the guys I grew up with are still my closest friends, confidants, partners-in-crime and, ultimately, the loves of my young life.

They have been there for me for my highs and lows. Likewise, my relationships with each of them have undergone their highs and lows.

In our 20s, the friendship dynamic with the opposite sex is even more complex.

From unwarranted jealousy to latent sexual tension, there are so many factors that can affect a coed friendship.

Furthermore, the general lack of security and pressures of maturity that exist in our 20s may convolute an otherwise comprehensible story of platonic camaraderie.

For the most part, our friendships with the opposite sex are an exclusive struggle of basic human instincts and powerful gender stereotypes. Here are the best and worst parts of such bonds:


Although a strong-willed feminist may chastise me for saying this, I believe it must be addressed.

Women tend to be emotional, irrational and downright crazy. I am not, however, suggesting men don’t possess the same characteristics.

At the end of the day, men just display feelings differently.

In the inevitable instances in which men and women fight, two elements collide and create a reaction that is occasionally catastrophic.

The cause of such an explosion may be the hypersensitivity that arises when a coed pair of friends is loose-lipped with insults. In other words, some things are just harder to hear from the opposite sex.

I have been that girl. I have yelled at a guy friend for giving me the brutally honest truth, even though I asked him for the brutally honest truth.

Is this fair? Of course not.

While a girlfriend may delve into your irrational behavior with you, a guy friend will call you out and you may not like it. This is the difference between, “Let’s be crazy bitches” and, “You’re being a crazy bitch.”

When I lived with one of best guy friends, we constantly fought about incredibly stupid things. Namely:

“Why did you charge eight shots of Jameson to my bar tab?” “Why are you being such a bitch?” “My bedroom window shouldn’t be used when you forgot your house key.” “Why are you being such an assh*le?” “What was our rule about having sex with people on the trampoline?”

Moreover, the best part about fighting with this guy friend was making up with him.

When the flames died down, our apologies were either quick and painless or mutually understood.

On the other hand, quarrels with other females may require a lengthy process of reconciliation following a sequence of passive-aggressive behavior.

Men and women are essentially two different species entangled in a turbulent emotional climate.

Even though the intermittent altercations you engage in with friends of the opposite sex may not make sense, they are still far better than any same-sex squabble.

Sex And Love

There is a semi-universal commandment suggesting you shouldn’t sleep with your friends.

However, men are men; women are women, and you and me baby ain’t nothin’ but mammals.

Furthermore, this perception that friends and sexual partners are mutually exclusive isn’t necessarily right or wrong.

I have crossed the indefinite boundaries in coed friendships. Evenings of binge-watching episodes of "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia" have turned into hilarious make-out sessions.

Innocent study dates in college have evolved into studying each other’s anatomy. Multiple drunken evenings with guy friends have ended with mornings more awkward than a one-night stand with a stranger.

Consequently, these actions have put various levels of strain on my relationships.

There are periods of time when I have avoided my guy friends after these incidents as a result of my own confusion.

While this generation seems to believe it has mastered the art of “friends with benefits,” there is no predictable outcome in the case of regulating our emotions.

Maybe the success of Jerry and Elaine’s weirdly platonic, sexual relationship in “Seinfeld” can be attributed to the fact they were more understanding of their situation than Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman in “No Strings Attached,” or Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis in the appropriately titled, “Friends with Benefits.”

Then again, the fictional Jerry and Elaine weren’t portrayed as Millennials in their 20s.

If we have learned anything from modern romantic comedies, it’s the reality of having a friends-with-benefits arrangement may be exceptionally fun, convenient and emotionally problematic.

Perhaps, the greatest threat that arises when sexual tension is present in friendships is jealousy.

My friends’ girlfriends have given them ultimatums, forbidding them from speaking to me due to their own insecurities.

Likewise, I have had boyfriends who were jealous of my guy friends and guy friends who despised my boyfriends.

This labyrinthine web of jealousy is tragically common.

Luckily, not every coed relationship is plagued with temptation, and not everyone succumbs to jealousy.

Some people may simply reap the benefits of having a member of the opposite sex in whom to confide, and with whom to share their distinct points of view in matters relating to sex and love.

In the end, all we can do is strive for a sense of security, trust and emotional understanding in the tempestuous times that define our 20s.

Having a friend of the opposite sex gives you a special perspective in a world of emotional obscurity.

Like any relationship, the hurdles we overcome in such friendships only strengthen bonds and provide us with a deeper appreciation for one another.

In any case, the friendship between a boy and girl, or a man and woman, is an extraordinary force of nature.

Over time, we are drawn together and pulled apart by a series of impenetrable circumstances.