Thinking Platonic

Speaking of snarkiness…please forgive me my snarkiness in my latest post.I was a little appalled by the article I linked to my post, but I certainly didn’t intend to sound like I was attacking any of you fellows.

I was in conversation with an older woman I know a few months ago, and I don’t remember what we were talking about exactly, but she said something that stuck with me about modernity and male-female relationships. She said: “There’s just a lot of anger. Women are angry with men, and men are angry with women,” and it’s not over anything they’ve done to one another, it’s just the result of a lot of confusion. And while I can’t put my finger on the root cause of it (though I’m convinced the “emancipation” of women, the rise of promiscuity, and now the surge in homosexuality all have something to do with it–oh yeah, and that whole original sin thing…), I’m convinced that she’s right. I am also convinced that the solution begins with each individual. The only way to stop anger is by ceasing, first of all, to be angry. And the only way to heal wounds caused by anger is to set about that process in your own relationships. Both of which things are a lot easier said than done.

So to couch my earlier post in kinder terms: Guys, don’t be frightened off too easily by us girls. A couple of you posted comments on some earlier posts about how important it is for girls to be open, to smile, and of course you’re right. Some of us are better at that than others. But just remember, you’re not the only ones who are afraid. We’re just afraid of different things. Men (I’m told) are afraid of rejection. Women are afraid of…multiple things, but I think a good label to put on all of it is “being invaded.” So it’s a tricky field to play, and I guess it requires us both taking a deep breath and…seeing what happens. So while we girls smile and try to be open, we need you guys to come forward and say what you want. I can’t promise you won’t be rejected, but I can promise that you’ll be respected for trying. (As long as your attempt is respectful, of course.)

But beyond all that, let’s not discount good old-fashioned friendship of the “Platonic” variety. (Or, as I prefer, “Aristotelian.”) Maybe before jumping on the romance bandwagon, we should be learning to be friends. Not “just friends” (I’ve always hated that term), but actually friends. Why do we brush this off? The popular perception seems to be that we have to get from 0 to 60 in three dates. So we end up dating far too many people, getting ourselves worked up about things that don’t really matter, and feeding that cycle of anger. This goes on in our Christian/Catholic circles just as much as it does in the “secular” world, even if the hook-up culture is (thankfully) not such an issue for us. What’s wrong with friendship? Here’s a rallying cry for it–friendships between men and men, women and women, and women and men. This does not mean that I’m going to treat my guy friends the way I treat my girl friends, or even that I’ll be as close to them as I am to my closest girl friends. I’m not, and I won’t be. There have to be certain boundaries (back to that original sin thing again), but that doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t be friends. The point of friendship is simply to be and grow together. What does Aristotle say about friends? That they share their lives. Then we Christians have a great, solid basis for deep friendships–we have Christ, and the life we share is His life…shared with men and women, young and old.  And I truly believe that in chaste friendships we can begin to establish the trust between men and women that can break down the anger and set to work healing, not just us as individuals, but our society–especially our generation–too.

 

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