Damon Young defines “platonic love” and insists that such a relationship cannot exist between a heterosexual man and woman.
After reading Juliet Lapidos’ “In Hollywood, Friends Always Have Benefits” last week, Damon Young felt compelled to share a revised “Platonic Schmetonic” — the first chapter his book, Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm at Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Dating, Mating, and Fighting Crime
Enjoy, and try not to think about the fact that since Lapidos’ article is a response to the new romantic comedy, Friends With Benefits, this piece would actually be a preemptive response to a response.
We’ve heard the story before.
Boy and Girl are both attending annual Delta Sigma Theta kickball game/cancer fundraiser. Boy approaches Girl, and Girl is charmed by Boy’s proper use of eclecticism and pragmatic in a sentence. Boy and Girl exchange numbers, and after a month or so of weekly coffeehouse outings and a trip to a Pottery Barn outlet, they become…friends. Not lovers, not even the awkward friends with benefits, but best friends forever, serving as each other’s de facto permanent back-up weekend companion, but never, ever crossing that line.
Sure, they’ve both seen Chasing Amy, and they’re both aware that most people don’t think that they—two like-aged, attractive, available, and un-asexual people—can stay strictly platonic friends if they stay close to each other. But they’re different and they prove their differentness by staying true friends, forever.
Everyone has heard this story before. Everyone has also heard stories about the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and light beer that doesn’t taste like cat urine, and just like each of these whimsical and completely fabricated ideas, platonic friendships between men and women do not and cannot exist.
Before I continue, I want to make clear that I do believe men and women can be close friends. It’s not impossible or even improbable. In fact, I have several female friends; women I speak to and see on a regular basis. The main point I want to convey is that there are several reasons why the term platonic just doesn’t fit.
A : relating to or based on platonic love; also : experiencing or professing platonic love
B : of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex
If we’re to believe the Merriam-Webster definition of platonic—and, since the last person who disputed Merriam and Webster got thrown from a helicopter into the Grand Canyon, we better believe Merriam and Webster—like-aged men and women just don’t meet each other in situations where physical desire is completely transcended. We don’t actively seek friends of the opposite sex, especially not ones who are close to our age. Millions of years of life on this planet have shown us we’re always on the prowl for potential mating partners. Someone (usually the male) has to make the first move, and 99% of the time, when we do a cold approach on a woman we don’t know, friendship is about the last thing on our minds; approximately 796 spots below other common initial thoughts such as “I wonder if she can cook,” “Can she teach our kids how to use Google Plus,” and “Is that a thong?”
A friendship may happen, but it definitely wasn’t the initial plan. Since that’s the case, it would be disingenuous to call any future relationship platonic. I mean, if you’re headed for the McDonald’s drive-thru and you accidently smash your finger in your driver-side door, stopping at the emergency room doesn’t make you any less hungry, does it? (Don’t answer that question.)
With sets of friends where one of them does admit to some romantic attraction but attempts to suppress it for the sake of the friendship or some other limp-dicked bullshit, their relationship, platonically at least, is doomed. Even an inkling of suppressed physical desire has its way of eventually showing itself and both parties are usually aware of its presence, despite how they attempt to deny its existence.
It comes out in the subtle way certain requests made from a woman to her “platonic” male friend might be accompanied with her voice going up an octave. It also comes out when that same male friend jumps at the opportunity to help her move her 700 pound refrigerator Saturday morning, even though if one of his male friends made that same request, he’d respond with some variant of “I’m too damn hungover from last night,” “I’m so hungover that I cant remember how I hurt my back last night,” or “I would, but I’m so hungover that I cant find my sweats.”
Plus, even if you claim to be in the 0.1% of people where there’s absolutely no romantic feeling harbored by either side in your platonic relationship, you have to figure in “The Champ’s Law of Averages and Percentages,” which states:
If you willingly spend more than 20% of your free time with someone of the opposite sex, there’s at least a 50% chance that at least one of you will develop sexual feelings, or already has developed them but keeps quiet out of fear that they would be unrequited.
X (time percentage)* 2.5 = Y (chance percentage)
According to this equation, if you spend anywhere over 40% of your free time with a platonic friend, there’s anywhere from a 100 to 250% chance that someone wants to bed somebody.
“Well, what if a guy just isn’t attracted to a girl at all? Can’t they be friends then? I mean, I’m attractive and all, but I’m sure every guy out there doesn’t want to get me into bed.”
This question shows that the questioner fails to comprehend one of the first general rules you need to know about men: Generally speaking, we are very, very, very shallow. This doesn’t make us bad people, but let’s just say we’d all be very wise never to underestimate the sheer gluttonous monstrosity of our shallowness. This is important to know because it helps you understand the fact that very, very, very few unattached men are going to willingly spend a good amount of their free time with a like-aged woman that they’re not attracted to in any way.
You can’t blame this egregious shallowness on us, though. As I implied earlier, our survival as a species is partially predicated on the complex zygomorphic labyrinth men have to process when meeting a new woman. Basically, we’ll become extinct if we don’t actively attempt to maximize the time we spend around women we wouldn’t mind sleeping with, and if you’re looking for someone to be mad at about this, blame God.
Sorry ladies, but every male “friend” you have would bed you if the time and opportunity was right. I’m not saying they want to, but, if they’ve been single at any point during their relationship with you, you best believe they’ve at least thought about and considered it. Since that consideration doesn’t exactly mesh with transcending physical desire, they’re not really platonic.
Also, women are partially responsible for this phenomenon as well. Why? Well, just how we (men) have to find something remotely attractive about a woman to willingly spend free time with her, women don’t want to be bothered with straight men who find them (not women in general, just her in particular) completely repulsive. All that nonsense women talk about wanting to find a straight male friend who harbors absolutely no physical interest or attraction for them is just that…nonsense. The dozens of years most women have spent learning how to consciously and subconsciously use their femininity to converse with and coerce the opposite sex leaves many of them ill-equipped to be close with a guy who literally considers her to be like a sister…or brother. I’d show another one of my equations here, but I think we all need a bit more time to digest the first one.
“How about if we’re both in committed relationships, completely faithful to our significant others, and just enjoying each others friendship? That can’t work? ”
No. But, not so much in the sense that “it can’t work” as much as “it will never, ever happen.” Since we’ve already established that single men usually don’t attempt to befriend women for whom they harbor absolutely no attraction, the only way two people in separate romantic relationships can become truly platonic friends would be if they happened to first meet each other after they both were already in the relationship; an impossibility due to the fact that no man or woman I know is going to be okay with their significant other making new close friends of the opposite sex. I don’t care how open-minded or trustworthy they might be; it’s just one of those things you have to accept is never going to happen, like R. Kelly finally going to prison. We just haven’t evolved to that point as a species yet. Maybe in 2511, but not now.
You know, I’ve considered that maybe my platonic friend viewpoint is a bit jaded. This is most likely due to the fact that the one time I tried the very close strictly platonic friend thing, hurt feelings, nasty emails, and some very unplatonic things involving a staircase and a bottle of Moet all eventually occurred within a four year span. Thing is, all that experience did for me is reinforce what millions of years of evolution have taught us; men are simple, women are nuts, and neither of us are equipped for a close and truly platonic friendship. The day I’m shown proof of it occurring and succeeding will most likely be the same day I’ll show you the Loch Ness Monster footprints in my back yard.
 Makes the cut with Say Anything, When Harry Met Sally, and The Best Man on the list of ‘The four most awkward movies to watch while in college and sitting on the couch next to your unrequited crush” – The Champ.
 If you’re a Young Earth creationist—a person who staunchly believes that the Earth is only 5,000 years old—just substitute “hundreds” for “millions.” –T.C.
 Why? Well, there are myriad reasons for this, but my favorite is the fact that men are acutely aware of one of the tenets of “Bandwagon Attraction.” Basically, we know that our attractiveness score can potentially rise if we’re seen out with an attractive woman (even if we’re not romantically involved with her) because other women will figure that there must be something special about us to warrant her company. –T.C.