Volume 91, Issue 77

Friday, February 13, 1998

chumping for joy


When friends become more

By Tina Chiu
Gazette Staff

Have you ever pictured yourself with a friend as more than just friends? Has a friend ever given you signals that they want something more than just a friendship? The phrase 'more than friends' has been used to describe the often blurred line between a platonic and an intimate relationship and is often accompanied by a raised eyebrow and a knowing smile. In a society where sheep are being cloned and life could potentially exist on Mars, the science of friendly relationships between women and men still remains a mystery.

Lorraine Davies, a Western sociology professor specializing in gender issues, strongly believes that a purely platonic friendship between members of the opposite sex is possible. "I don't see any reason why men and women can't have a deep, long-lasting relationship without sex," she says.

Although sex does not usually play a role in these types of friendships, attraction is very important. There is always some type of attraction, whether it is mental, emotional or physical, that draws us to certain people and repels us from others.

It is very possible for men and women to be just friends although these relationships might very often have started due to some type of attraction either from one side or both, says Susanne Perschbacher, a second-year biology student. "The attraction does not necessarily have to be a physical one," she adds.

Louis Le, a second-year business student, also believes in the existence of attraction between male and female friends. However, this attraction prevents the development of platonic friendships, he adds. "Men and women can never be just friends, because one side always expects more," Le says. "It's hard – there's always suspicion and doubt that the other side does want more.

"Normal friends, like acquaintances, are okay, but you can not get to be close friends."

Dick Henderson, a registered marriage and family therapist, is one half of a local counseling team. His wife of 36 years, Tricia, is his co-therapist. Together they specialize in intimate relationship therapy where they counsel couples struggling with their relationship.

Henderson pauses for a long moment before discussing his beliefs on the relationships between the sexes. "Of course it is possible to be platonic friends, but there are always sexual feelings between men and women."

It depends on how the person handles desires – the groundedness of a person, he adds. If the person is well-grounded, they can withhold their feelings. "They will still have longings though, but they can remain grounded by thinking 'well, he or she is just my friend'," he says. "Those who are not well-grounded, on the other hand, will act out on their feelings."

The mystery continues, but no matter how strange the situation, looking for more from a friend will always be better than getting more from your enemies.

To Contact The Focus Department: gazfocus@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998