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*robyn*
BRONZE Member since Oct 2004

*robyn*

member
Location: canadian in canada

Total posts: 111
Posted:i'm reading a fantastic book at the moment.

buddhism and friendship by subhuti...i highly reccomend it.

there's a small part in the book that talks about the decline of friendships. and how "human relationships are weaker now than in the past - more distant, more transitory, and more fragile"

one of the many factors mentioned was the rise of the sexual revolution. and this made me think. so i thought i'd put it up for discussion.

does sex compete with friendship as an express of human relatedness?

does sex provide an easy substitute for deeper forms of personal intamacy?

do emotional intamacy and sexual desire get crossed all too easily?

do we feel it's rude or disloyal to our partner/spouse to invest too much time or emotion into non-sexual intimate friendships? and thus becoming a "unit" instead of an individual.

is romantic love now the most important human bond with people pinning all their hopes and dreams on it? and if they don't find it, feel their life has not been fulfilled?

hmmmmmm......


my state of mind creates my world

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_Clare_
BRONZE Member since Oct 2002

_Clare_

Still wiggling
Location: Belfast

Total posts: 5967
Posted:1. Yes. And it always has. We are essentially primal creatures, responding to base instinct - and the instinct to mate is stronger than the instinct to form bonds.

2. In some cases sex can be a much deeper expression of personal intimacy than anything that can be spoken - but to an extent you're right, many people just use sex as a diversion from bad conversation.

3. Yes, but I think this is a particularly female thing. Women, whether they admit it or not, do tend to tie sex and emotion much closer than men (not all men, but most).

4. Unfortunately yes, but that is a factor of our society and own personal insecurities, which everyone deals with in their own way (I went off on a big personal rant there, but deleted it because there was no point).

5.Again, yes, and that dependancy is something that has been created through society and what we are told is the norm. It is sad and it causes many people alot of pain.

Just my own little opinion

biggrin


Getting to the other side smile

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Wild Child
SILVER Member since Sep 2004

Wild Child

Star Trekker
Location: Cheshire

Total posts: 1733
Posted:ditto to all of that Firepoise and to add a little, i think this affects women far more than men. Men's relationship with sex (as distinct from attitude) is much as it's always been - they continue to have lasting friendships with other men and since the sexual revolution have gained by being able to have close friendships with women.

not wanting to generalise too much, but women DO want a steady relationship, it enables them to have friendships both male and female in a non-sexual/threatening way which are pretty difficult when you're single - the old 'When Sally met Harry' question

I doubt there'sa woman alive who hasn't been thru (or is in) the phase of sleeping around to gain affection, often whilst trumpeting her independence and right to do so. The danger about today's society is she's praised for doing what is actually harmful to her emotional well-being.

again, just my opinion


'The last rays of crimson on the spindle tree as the cerise fruit splits and reveals its orange seeds in a gloriously clashing colour scheme no-one would ever dare to wear'
Euonymous Europeus

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JauntyJames
SILVER Member since Dec 2004

JauntyJames

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Hampshire College, MA, USA

Total posts: 3533
Posted:see, this is an advantage to the internet. it allows you to form strong freindships without sex ever entering into it. tee hee, i'm such a geek

-James

"How do you know if you're happy or sad without a mask? Or angry? Or ready for dessert?"

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Wild Child
SILVER Member since Sep 2004

Wild Child

Star Trekker
Location: Cheshire

Total posts: 1733
Posted:Man, you're so right! ubblol And when you do meet ppl from HoP, it's just not an issue cos you're already friends - joy!

'The last rays of crimson on the spindle tree as the cerise fruit splits and reveals its orange seeds in a gloriously clashing colour scheme no-one would ever dare to wear'
Euonymous Europeus

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*robyn*
BRONZE Member since Oct 2004

*robyn*

member
Location: canadian in canada

Total posts: 111
Posted:i enjoy all your opinions. thank you. it's given me more to ponder.....

my state of mind creates my world

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_Clare_
BRONZE Member since Oct 2002

_Clare_

Still wiggling
Location: Belfast

Total posts: 5967
Posted:rolleyes biggrin

"I doubt there'sa woman alive who hasn't been thru (or is in) the phase of sleeping around to gain affection, often whilst trumpeting her independence and right to do so. The danger about today's society is she's praised for doing what is actually harmful to her emotional well-being."

I'm not too sure about this bit.
I know women who don't sleep around and don't need that affection. However I know women who do - and for the reasons stated.

For many women attempting to gain acceptance and affection by sleeping around is very damaging, but for some, who have become comfortable with the person they are, it is not damaging at all, but an expression of self. Therefore, with reference to the initial point, a woman can sleep around without damaging herself and still form an emotional attachment to the men/women she sleeps with. But it must be very emotionally draining.


Getting to the other side smile

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JauntyJames
SILVER Member since Dec 2004

JauntyJames

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Hampshire College, MA, USA

Total posts: 3533
Posted:i'm a little confused about the difference between damaging and draining. it seems to me that if the drainage has lasting affects, that's the same thing as damaging

-James

"How do you know if you're happy or sad without a mask? Or angry? Or ready for dessert?"

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_Clare_
BRONZE Member since Oct 2002

_Clare_

Still wiggling
Location: Belfast

Total posts: 5967
Posted:Well, to me damaging implies long-lasting. Draining you can get over.

Getting to the other side smile

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Mr_Chutney
SILVER Member since Apr 2003

Mr_Chutney

Tosser
Location: Herefordshire

Total posts: 1711
Posted:Hmmm- funnily my relationships have generally spouted from long term friendships and all bar the first have ended messily and retrospectively shouldn't really have happened. I'd make the assertion that all too often people get close as friends, end up as lovers and partners, but realise that they aren't close 'like that' (don't ask me to define 'that'- if I could I'd be writing books or something)... There is a crucial difference to being a close friend and being a boyfriend/girlfriend as I see it...

Strangely enough I'm in a most complicated position now- I met my lady in the US when over there summer '04. Shes from the US, I'm a brit born bred and resident. We kept in touch via the net and phone and she came over at christams- we're 'on'! What was nice was having known and 'been' wink together but then platonically getting to know eachother very well has given us a really rounded relationship- when she was over recently it was just a more complete togetherness, rather than being with someone different to the one on the phone or msn- very comfortable...

ANYWAY (hears the distant sound of violins and the eyes start to well up... oh PLEASE!)

christ, how self indulgent...

humous and toast anyone?


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*robyn*
BRONZE Member since Oct 2004

*robyn*

member
Location: canadian in canada

Total posts: 111
Posted:there is a definite difference between close friend and sexual relationship. and it's too bad that it seems the line gets crossed and squished and erased in today's society.

my state of mind creates my world

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nearly_all_gone
SILVER Member since Aug 2004

nearly_all_gone

Pooh-Bah
Location: Southampton

Total posts: 1626
Posted:I find it much harder to maintain close friendships than a relationship. But luckily I consider my girlfriend to be my best friend too (puke wink ).

I can understand why the modern era has lead to less close friendships. The world is obsessed with sex, probably more than is healthy (thinking of cosmetic surgery - I want to look nice so men/women will [censored] me - monumental rise of eating disorders etc etc), and, as with most of the problems since the industrial revolution, I reckon you can link ift back to the increased leisure time industrialisation has brought upon the masses. If you had to work 15 hours a day just to survive, you wouldn't worry too much about what handbag you've got or which pair of trainers. And you couldn't afford them anyway. And they wouldn't have been invented.

I think humans have come too far from what it's always meant to be human. The decline in friendships could be seen as the loss of a tribal mindset - we don't need to rely upon one guy to bake the bread, another to make boats etc because now we can get the things we need from a faceless person at the supermarket (well, not boats...). Friendship is a bonding instinct which aids survival by allowing humans to club together and use the coillective strengths for the "greater good" of the whole. Modern society has taken that away.

*bitter*


What a wonderful miracle if only we could look through each other's eyes for an instant.
Thoreau

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Penguin Sven
SILVER Member since Jun 2004

Penguin Sven

member
Location: Australia,Vic

Total posts: 185
Posted:Written by: sparkey

see, this is an advantage to the internet. it allows you to form strong freindships without sex ever entering into it.



Advantage?


"glow bugs, to slow to resist eating, to bitter to eat more than one handfull in a sitting" toothpaste for dinner

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spritie
SILVER Member since Sep 2001

spritie

Pooh-Bah
Location: Galveston, TX

Total posts: 2014
Posted:I'm going to disagree with Firepoise and WildChild on most of these, but they are how I feel about things somewhat from a been there, done that perspective.

1) does sex compete with friendship? Absolutely not in my opinion. I am friends with mostly men (at least my best friends), and for the most part, I don't have sexual relationships with them. In fact, both the males and I are very comfortable and happy with that situation. Sure, they may have wished it was different at some point in the past, but now they are just very happy that we can (and do) discuss everything - from sex with others to religion to our families to what we want out of life. I think that's only healthy and it's great to be able to get perspectives from the "other" (non-female) point of view.

2) does sex provide an easy substitue for deeper forms of intimacy? Again, I have to say no (or at least not necessarily). If I am going to really enjoy sex with someone, I've already got an emotional attachment to them. The sex adds to the deeper form of intimacy, but in my opinion it can't take the place of it. But then, I don't need sex and men to make me feel good about myself so maybe that's why my opinions differ from many women.

3)Do emotional intimacy and sexual desire get crossed? Yes, they can. I also think that age (or being older) helps one to realize that they don't have to or really shouldn't. I've never had a one night stand (never really wanted to, but have had the opportunity to and declined). I think a younger women (read high school or even college age) doesn't know the difference between the two - emotional intimacy and sexual desire. Luckily, I was in a very stable relationship by the time sexual desires arouse in me (maybe I'm a late bloomer?), so to me, they are instinctually different. Like I said before, for me to really feel something sexually with a person, I need the emotional part to be established beforehand. Otherwise, there really is no point. I guess I've just been blessed with wonderful partners in the past.

4) Do I feel it's rude/disloyal my BF to invest in a non-sexual relationship with someone else? Absolutely not! I think it is the most healthy thing out there. Non-sexual relationships are what sustains a person in my opinion. I don't NEED sex from anyone, but I do need friends (and really good, close ones) that I can tell my fears, hopes, and dreams to. Why should my BF be the only one I can express such thoughts with? Every person is an individual. I think the major thing when dealing with a BF/GF and having strong emotional ties outside the relationship is complete and total honestly within all your relationships. However, I know several people that have problems with that and just don't want to hurt the other person. By not telling them something, that's what hurts. Honesty can be dealt with in a much healthier fashion than just avoiding the issue. I think that is where a lot of the hurt can come in.

5) do i feel my life has not been fulfilled because I'm not in a relationship at the moment or not happily married? Absolutely not! I love who I am and where I am at the moment. Do I need a boy to make me feel good about myself? Absolutely not! I am who I am, and I'm happy with that. I've got a wonderful, close group of friends that I can tell my worries to and get lots of positive feedback and support from. This group is both a mix of men and women. They know my joys and also when I need a really good hug or chat. I can snuggle down with them and have a tremendous evening or go out drinking and just shoot the [censored]. To me, I have a very strong emotional bond with these people, but no sexual desire at all. Am I pinning all my hopes and dreams on romantic love? Nope. I am an individual. If my individuality in a relationship disappears, that is when I become unhappy. I do not, and will not, base my life on the beliefs of someone else, and will not become dependent on them in any fashion. Maybe that's because I am very strong willed and have very strong opinions about life.

Anyway, just my two cents. In a nutshell, I think emotional intimacy and sexual desire are two different entities and you do not (and should not) need sex to make you feel close to someone.


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NYC


NYC

NYC
Location: NYC, NY, USA

Total posts: 9232
Posted:Yeah... I'll just check the "I agree with Sprite" box.

I think some of my answers might be different than someone who isn't selecting mature relationships (either by choosing not to so they can 'just have fun' or by not knowing how to.)

For #3: I think that sometimes one can get caught up in sexual desires and forget to acknowledge emotional intimacy. Especially with the business of life gettting in the way. I think it's important to take the time to acknowledge both.

For #5 I might say that there ARE some expectations that I have for my friends. I like having a certain level of honesty and intimacy with someone. I do think I'd feel less fulfilled if I didn't have someone I could share my most intimate thoughts with. I can't quite bring myself to be as idealistic as Sprite on #5. I know I'm a happy guy when I'm alone, and happier with friends, and even happier when I have someone closer. But that's just the kind of guy I am. biggrin


Well, shall we go?
Yes, let's go.
[They do not move.]

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_Clare_
BRONZE Member since Oct 2002

_Clare_

Still wiggling
Location: Belfast

Total posts: 5967
Posted:Thanks for your views Spritie and NYC.
I just wanted to clarify, Robyn asked general questions and I responded as best I could with my observations of people in general.

I didn't offer my personal views on any of the questions, because as just one individual, I saw my personal opinion as irrelevant to what was a universal discussion (and also I would try to avoid offering my personal views on such an intimate subject to such a public forum).

But of course, we are all entitled to take the discussion down whichever path we choose.

Take care
hug


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*robyn*
BRONZE Member since Oct 2004

*robyn*

member
Location: canadian in canada

Total posts: 111
Posted:it's good to have personal points of view so that other can relate and so the generalizations can be made stronger or weaker. but i would agree with firepoise. generalizations (as bad or wrong as they can be) were what i was after.

there is a definite decline in friendship in this moderinzed society. i was just wondering if people believed sex to be a factor. one of the many factors i should say.


my state of mind creates my world

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spritie
SILVER Member since Sep 2001

spritie

Pooh-Bah
Location: Galveston, TX

Total posts: 2014
Posted:I'm sorry I didn't realize you were after generalizations. I thought you were intersted in how people felt about the questions you posed since it made you think.

Why do you think there is a decline of friendship? and what do you mean by friendship? My definition of friendship - having people that love you, that care about you, that are concerned when you don't say "hi" for a few days is what I define as friendship. It's also about being there for them when they need a shoulder to cry on or just another point of view. It's about supporting them through the thick and think and offering a smile when they are down. From that definition, I don't think friendship is on the decline at all. Just look at the people on this forum. Many of us have never met one another, but yet we still try to support each other through the thick and thin. I think technology has helped encourage friendships in many new ways.


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_Clare_
BRONZE Member since Oct 2002

_Clare_

Still wiggling
Location: Belfast

Total posts: 5967
Posted:I think the internet is also a huge factor.

We are losing the power of conversation because we spend so much time communicating through text - a format that can be changed and edited before our views our known.



Of course, we spend so much time communicating through text because such a large part of our lives are now spent at work and in front of a computer - rather than jobs which were more predominantly based on forming relationships with other people.



There is also a general dumbing down of the language - the Americanisation of the English language (and this is not intended to be a slur on America, surprisingly, but it is a recognised trend) and the dumbing down of the media plays a part in the breakdown of the complexity of our friendships (I believe).



But I think a final point in the loss of friendship must be the increasing suspicion and lack of trust which appears to have spread through the Western world (present even before Sept 11). Perhaps I am just being cynical, but I do think this is why people rely on sex more these days as a quick fix for their problems. With sex, you know what you're getting (in most cases biggrin), but a friendship requires work.



hug


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spritie
SILVER Member since Sep 2001

spritie

Pooh-Bah
Location: Galveston, TX

Total posts: 2014
Posted:I actually think the internet is a fabulous tool for creating new friendships. In the past, you were forced to only be friends with people that you could physically interact with. If they didn't like your opinions, you were sorta doomed to a life without close friendships. For instance, say you live in a small town. Maybe your views are very different from most of the citizens, maybe you made a huge,embarrasing mistake 4 years ago and no one wants to talk to you. What are you supposed to do? Live life without friends because you have no way to make new ones? Or, you can come to the internet, find people that you actually have something in common with, or don't know your huge feaux-peaux, and they can learn to accept and cherish you for who you are. I, personally, would much rather be friends with someone that accepts me for who I am and have something in common with than the person next door just because they live next door. I find it very hard to believe that any active member of this chat board hasn't developed a good friendship with someone else simply because of this board and the internet.

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_Clare_
BRONZE Member since Oct 2002

_Clare_

Still wiggling
Location: Belfast

Total posts: 5967
Posted:Lol, I've certainly used the internet to meet people I can then form relationships with... but I don't think any relationships are tested and true until they are experienced on a personal face-to-face level.

However, your suggestion of a person who fcuks up in a small town and is without friends... that's kinda my point exactly, except from the other side. smile

My suggestion would be that that fcuk up would force the person to truely get to know themselves and to be comfortable by themselves and in their own company. They would then be forced to try to rebuild those bridges and rebuild the friendships that have been lost. It is possible, it's just lots of hard work and knockbacks - but that strengthens you. What doesn't kill you... and all that. And it's what people had to do before the internet.

I think this 'toughening' is a valuable life 'lesson' or skill, which has been lost to the internet, and it's quick fix of giving people friends without the same groundwork.

(Or maybe this is just because I was raised in a Protestant home and was taught that in this life you have to work hard for things ubblol ubblol)


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Posted:I think it might be insightful to know what ideal past prior to the "sexual revolution" that Subhuti is writing about? In many Buddhist cultures there would have been no friendship between men and women on a basis of equality. And in fact, there still isn't in many places!

To many Buddhists outside the western world, the sexual revolution doesn't mean a thing!


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spritie
SILVER Member since Sep 2001

spritie

Pooh-Bah
Location: Galveston, TX

Total posts: 2014
Posted:Robyn, I'd also be interested in knowing why the author thinks friendships are declining, and what his defition of a friendship is.



Firepoise, I was also taught that you had to work hard for what you wanted in life. However, I also feel that friendships were meant to come and go. People come into your life for a reason, and they also leave for other reasons. Some stick around for many, many years, others come into it for maybe 6 months. I think each new person brings something of interest to me, and I usually learn something from them as well. Some friends of mine have drifted apart for one reason or another. I don't see that as a negative thing at all. I still cherish the time I did spend with them, and I know they did me. We just evolved into two very different people or moved very far away where it is difficult to visit even once every several years. I actually think it's really important to get a new perspective every once in a while, and there are honestly some friendships that I don't think are worth working for.


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_Clare_
BRONZE Member since Oct 2002

_Clare_

Still wiggling
Location: Belfast

Total posts: 5967
Posted:Patrick... good point biggrin

Perhaps Subhuti was talking about it from the point of view of western culture... it would be hard to see how it could apply anywhere else.

And Spritie... I can't really comment on your own personal experience, but I do agree with you that sometimes people drift away and apart over time and more often than not, with the benefit of perspective, that is for the best. biggrin

Life is full of colourful characters and new and wonderful things to do and see.


Getting to the other side smile

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*robyn*
BRONZE Member since Oct 2004

*robyn*

member
Location: canadian in canada

Total posts: 111
Posted:i want to answer everything...but it's late and i need to go to bed. but i promise to get back tomorrow.....

my state of mind creates my world

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Bretch


Bretch

enthusiast
Location: Cork, Ireland at present

Total posts: 247
Posted:I haven't read all the above, but a quick note of my thoughts,

Where I live, I didn't know the name of my neighbours, my mum however (in the 1940's) knew EVERYone on her street. People, where I grew up, just don't talk to each other, when I stay somewhere where people do talk to complete strangers, it takes a little time to get used to it, and its kind of sad (I know thats a bit off topic and like "when I was a kid we left the front door wide open...." but I think it's kinda relevant... I think)

As for sex and friends, I love it when I meet a girl, and at a certain point, we both know that all we're gonna be is friends... then we chat away without any cares and is a better friendship if 'pulling' is still on the cards. I don't need it, but it's nice, and I do no way feel like I'm betraying my girl... 'cos I'm not. I just make sure she knows it.


I used to be indecisive, but I'm not so sure now.....

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*robyn*
BRONZE Member since Oct 2004

*robyn*

member
Location: canadian in canada

Total posts: 111
Posted:i don't know if i can answer any of your questions. the book should be read if you're interested. any london buddhist centre should carry it. i got mine in bethnal green.

the sexual revolution is just one factor to the decline of friendship. one of the more major issues was the industrial revolution. people started to become consumed with the pursuits of individual desires. you didn't need to rely on your neighbor any longer. someone already mentioned things along the same lines....boats....

and it's like what bretch just started, which is totally relevant, thanks! i don't know my neighbors. but i did when i was younger. humanity is in competition with each other now. we strive to get as much as we can and be independant. and of course this is a sweeping generalization.

and it's not just friendship that's suffering. the author just feels it's one of the more hurt relationships of the 20th century.

there is one whole chapter of the book dedicated to defining friendship. and i cannot possibly do justice to the book by trying to squish it down into a statement.

this book is really fantastic. it's made me think about many things. i can do nothing but recommend it.


my state of mind creates my world

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_Clare_
BRONZE Member since Oct 2002

_Clare_

Still wiggling
Location: Belfast

Total posts: 5967
Posted:Thanks for flagging it up Robyn.

Sounds really interesting and I'll try to track it down.

Can you say where the author came from and their background?


Getting to the other side smile

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*robyn*
BRONZE Member since Oct 2004

*robyn*

member
Location: canadian in canada

Total posts: 111
Posted:born alex kennedy in chatham england in 47. joined the western buddhist order (WBO) in 73. played a part in establishing the london buddhist centre (which i think is the bethnal green one) and a retreat in spain. he is a chairman of the college of public preceptors (which founded the WBO). he lives in birmingham but spends part of each year in india teaching and leading retreats. he has written 5 other books.

my state of mind creates my world

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_Clare_
BRONZE Member since Oct 2002

_Clare_

Still wiggling
Location: Belfast

Total posts: 5967
Posted:Ahha. Thanks for that.

So he is speaking from a Western perspective, as you suggested Patrick. I wonder if he has written anything contrasting Western life with his Indian retreats.


Getting to the other side smile

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_khan_
SILVER Member since Nov 2004

_khan_

old hand
Location: San Francisco, California, USA

Total posts: 768
Posted:Another really interesting thread!

I think the issue of the neighbors & the boats (pardon my shorthand summation of your thoughtful comments, nearly_all_gone & bretch) speaks more to the decline of community, rather than friendship. The two are related of course, but there is a distinction.

Just to introduce a different perspective on the sex/friendship thing: as a gay man, it's pretty much guaranteed that any of my relationships with women will be platonic, especially since many of my women friends are also gay! And, perhaps surprisingly, the possibility of sex or the desire for that particular kind of intimacy hasn't really come up between me and my gay male friends, though it happens all the time (so I've heard). I did have a phase when I was a stupid, stupid boy, of developing crushes on close straight-male friends. It was never going to happen though, and I knew that so never pushed it. I guess all I'm trying to say is that I'm not sure that gender is inherently a factor in the strain on male-female friendships. I wonder if the societal expectation that men & women who become close will eventually "hook up" influences the expectations of the persons involved?


taken out of context i must seem so strange
~ ani di franco

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