There’s a well known scene in the movie When Harry Met Sally where Billy Crystal’s character famously declares that men and women cannot be friends.
It appears that a number of folks have never seen that movie, and instead went out and created online “dating” websites that have the goal of friendship between men and women, no dirty bits involved. From an article in Daily Mail Online titled No Sex Please–the new trend in online dating that specialises in platonic connections
In fact, in recent years a growing number of dating sites have sprung up aimed at bringing together both men and women looking for an affectionate, cerebral connection with a member of the opposite gender — without a sexual element.
Readers of this blog know that I have long been suspicious of these sort of “trend” articles one sees reported in newspapers (Remember when straight women going to strip clubs was a “trend” according to the Washington Post?) This “trend” story is no different. The “growing number” of dating sites the article cites two, yes, two websites that appear to be devoted to you-can-looky-but-no-touchy relationships, platonicpartners.co.uk and nosexdating.co.uk. As a red blooded American, I’m happy to see that neither of those websites is located in the good ol’ US of A, where we still have sex with one another. Anyway, my point is, I don’t think two websites constitute a trend, especially when one of the websites (nosexdating.co.uk) was originally developed to find partners for disabled folks incapable of having sex.
As I was reading the article and scratching my head wondering why anyone would actively seek out a platonic relationship with someone they could, you know, be having sex with instead, I was reminded of a couple of conversations I’d had with women about sex. The first was during a bridal shower where in the middle of a boozy, giggly discussion of men and sex, the bride-to-be made this alarming (to me, and no doubt the groom-to-be, if he had been there to hear it) statement:
“If I never had sex again, I wouldn’t care.”
The second conversation happened way back when Star Jones (remember her?) was considered a celebrity and she was divorcing her husband, who was rumored to be gay. At the time, I was working with an older female attorney, herself divorced, and this is what she had to say:
“Why not stay married to a gay man? Sexual attraction fades. In the end, all you are is companions anyway. Does it even matter if he’s gay or not?”
So I guess these dating sites would appeal to my two friends, and there are probably lots more women (and men) who would prefer relationships sans sexytimes and just won’t admit it. I’m just not going to characterize these folks as “robustly heterosexual” (as the article in the Daily Mail bizarrely describes them). I’d call them “obviously asexual” or even “nervously heterosexual” as the man, Michael, profiled in the article admits. He doesn’t say he doesn’t want sex; rather, he confesses to being “awkward around women” which is quite a way from saying he’s only interested in platonic relationships. It sounds more like he’s just a drink or two (or three) away from getting freaky.
Maybe I’m as deluded as Meg Ryan in that scene from When Harry Met Sally but I like to think that I
have been friends with men in my life, and those friendships were similar to the relationships I had with my female friends, only there was less talk about my period and we never braided each other’s hair. I don’t think I would be satisfied with just taking long walks in the country with a guy, or fixing dinner with him, or cuddling (!) without it leading to something more, as one of the women in the article claims she desires. Isn’t the whole point of being intimate with someone is that there’s always that potential for, you know, intimacy?