© 2009, 2014 by Raymond Alexander Kukkee
“ Intimacy may become an expression of comfort and assurance of the comfort and safety available within a carefully planned, structured and controlled friendship.”
Close Friendships: from the Jaded Eye of the Observer
How about those two, are they just friends?
They say they are just friends, but to the skilled observer relationships of any kind can be substantially more complex than meets the eye. Are very close friends more likely to be lovers? Are they more likely to become jaded lovers? Are they kindred spirits? Are they the trendy quintessential friends with benefits? Is intimacy always involved in deep friendships? How about you? Do you believe men and women cannot be close friends without being sexually involved? A society steeped in sexuality may tend to popularize that conclusion, however illogical it may be.
In the eye of the ordinary observer, instantaneous evaluation of the activities of others is natural. Classic expectations of human relationships deeply ingrained in the mind of the observer may be subliminally exercised without justification. Why?
Entertainment value of Relationships
Perhaps casual and platonic relationships are simply not interesting enough to think about, so artificial, intriguing possibilities and scenarios are added by interweaving preconception and even personal sexual desire into observations of other relationships. Modern life continually demands entertainment from every aspect of society. Is the hasty and amusing, but erroneous inference of sex and naughty intimacy within all male/female relationships included ? That stretch in logic may be realistic, as sex is now commonly used to sell not only material goods but even the prepackaged judgement of other human beings.
Common sense suggests it is immature and prejudicial to instantly presume individuals of the opposite gender cannot be just friends. It is virtually impossible, as a given, to evaluate a relationship without consulting personal morals, values, and cultural teaching held within the mind of the observer himself.
The basis for conclusion may include prejudicial facts, both genuine or imagined . Projections of hypocritical personal values, religious beliefs, an immature attitude toward sexuality, gossip, or the entertaining value of blatant lies -may all be wantonly and recklessly included, the imagination having run wild.
Personal experience of the observer in successfully maintaining a platonic friendship or failing to do so may be a significant and influential factor in forming an opinion of relationships of others.
Typically, it is common for immature, giggling observers to prematurely judge, instantly assume wrong-doing and presuppose sexual activity of others. An unwarranted and erroneous conclusion may be instantly decided. Realistically, without knowing facts, the casual opinion held of any relationship is formed within the mind and the jaded eye of the observer.
The benefit of doubt, caution and controlled discretion should be exercised prior to the application of any pre-imagined or even sociologically- documented behavioral patterns to individual relationships. No preconceived data within the observing mind, whatever the source, may be reasonably applied as a singular definition of the activities conducted in the seclusion of personal relationships of others. When this caveat is ignored, both biased and judgmental conclusions are inevitable.
The view from inside the relationship can be and usually is substantially different from than those of associates, close friends, or casual observers.
The Private View from Inside
A long-term friendship between a man and a woman logically does not guarantee a sexual relationship, but it does include much common interest, maturity, and thoughtfulness. Mutual respect is a mandatory element of long-term relationships. In the majority, individuals fortunate enough to be participating in long-term friendships themselves are inevitably more likely to tolerate, and be more aware of and sensitive to, the complex nature of the relationships of others.
Within long-term friendships the expectation of trust is a dominant factor. In the extreme—and not surprisingly then, is that an unplanned conversion to an intimate relationship might be negatively perceived by one partner as a personal and destructive betrayal of trust. Latent and intense anger may result. Similarly, in total contradiction, the occurrence of such incidents may suddenly clarify and redefine the friendship as one of previously undeclared or undiscovered love.
Intimacy & Sanctuary
Intimacy between friends may occur after years of, platonic interaction, with expressions of love and passion surfacing where high-stress occupational hazards and unpredictable reactions occur with tragedy or high-drama events resulting in tighter bonding and heightened self-awareness in the relationship.
An urgent, perceived requirement for mutual sanctuary may result from occupational stress and fear. In a newer friendship, after a period of exploration, and upon gaining mutual trust, discussions of feelings, admission of fear, self-doubt, curiosity, and vulnerability may freely come to the fore. Subsequent disclosures of personal thought, past relationships, or other factors may significantly encourage trust and encourage intimacy. Intimacy may become an expression of comfort and assurance of the comfort and safety available within a carefully planned, structured, and controlled friendship.
Temptation and Influence
All humans are subject to temptation and influence. Boredom, curiosity, circumstantial use of recreational drugs and alcohol combined with blatant stimulation from the media or other sources may strongly influence the likelihood of, or even directly cause intimacy.
Casual observation of other individuals may encourage like actions. Personal values and the normally platonic interaction of a couple might, with mutual confidence, be pragmatically and willingly thrown to the wind for a short period of time. Association with friends in a party atmosphere may encourage intimate behavior where it was previously only a fleeting thought, but never acted upon.
Would the same intimacy within that friendship have occurred with less temptation and influence? With so many variables, the answer is clearly an unknown, but intimacy appears less probable without stimulation, reckless influence and increased temptation.
All of the preceding factors combined neither guarantee intimacy with a ‘friends with benefits’ arrangement, or guarantee or preclude celibacy. Mature individuals involved may realistically acknowledge the exciting prospect and possibility of sexual involvement, a potential adventure, but in a lifetime of friendship, neither initiate or allow intimacy. Why?
Does a temporary development of intimacy within a normally platonic long-term friendship between a man and a woman necessarily result in the demise of that relationship? Feelings of betrayal, feelings of personal guilt, loss of respect and diminished trust may superficially suggest the unique friendship is doomed. Ignored, feelings may indeed be destructive and ultimately shatter the friendship. The maturity, personal skill sets and underlying expectations of the individuals involved ultimately determine the outcome.
The Bottom Line
If individuals closely involved in relationships are mature and emotionally stable, they will come to understand why their occasions of intimacy occurred —or likewise did not, or will not occur. In doing so, they will offer mutual respect, define their individual feelings clearly, and mutually strive to keep both trust and the valuable friendship fully intact. Bottom line? Men and women, with much maturity and mutual respect, can be lifelong friends, having chosen to be intimate or not.
Is that Incoming I hear?
Tags: Intimacy, friendship,relationships, love, celibacy, temptation, entertainment