This thought came to mind as I was typing up my last entry on why men and women can’t be friends and I think it deserves an entry on its own. One of the things that really bother me about friendships is when one side of the friendship clearly benefits more than the other side of the friendship. And this would be true for same sex friendships but it seems to happen more often when it is those opposite sex friendships. And contrary to what women magazines will have you believe, it is no longer the case that men predominantly benefit from opposite sex friendships. Rather, women benefit from opposite sex friendships more now than ever before.
These are the types of friendships that could be properly labeled as “filler relationships.” You know, it’s like being in a relationship except there’s no commitment involved and it’s all in the guise of ‘friendship.’ Both of you commit to doing relationship-like activities with each other, have relationship-like conversations, but stops short at the sex part, because, well, you’re just friends. It’s the easiest way for a woman to have “boyfriend-like” privileges and benefits but with none of the responsibilities or liabilities attached. If you think about it from a woman’s perspective, this is a total gain and no loss type of relationship.
A woman can call up said “man friend” and have him do stuff for her all in the guise of “friends should help out each other” and the tasks can range from menial things to the more expensive and time-consuming things. You can easily imagine situations where having a man at a woman’s beck and call is clearly beneficial like at nightclubs, for instance. If the wrong guy approaches this woman, she’ll claim that her guy friend is her “date” when, in fact, he’s not. But when the right guy comes along, suddenly, he’s not a date but a friend that’s just tagging along for her safety and her safety only. The man friend here clearly doesn’t benefit from this situation–at all–other than being able to play the White Knight for her. I mean, I guess if that’s his thing and he’s okay with it (and make no mistake; no man with any level self-respect for himself would subject himself to such a menial position), then fine, more power to him! But otherwise? No. Women, please don’t use these nice men to your advantage. That’s wrong and you know it.
Having said all of that, I’m not saying that men don’t do it too. That is, get into filler relationships with women that they have no romantic interest in whatsoever other than to suck the person dry for all that she is worth. They do and traditionally, this has been an arena largely dominated by men but the tides have turned in just this recent decade with the dawn of social media and the hookup culture. Now, I’m speaking very loosely here because the hookup culture started becoming popular between the mid-90’s and early 2000’s. Some might even argue that the “hookup culture” has been around since the 70’s but nay, nay, I disagree. The idea may have been around since then but the actual practice of it didn’t start exploding out of nowhere until the dawn of social media but it had been building quickly since the mid-90’s and early 2000’s. Right around the time when the first social media platforms established their roots, that’s when the hookup culture fully solidified itself into the fabric of American society, in my opinion.
Nowadays, there are equally as much, if not, overwhelmingly more women purposefully going into “filler relationships” so they can reap the benefits of said relationships without any of the commitments of an actual relationship. You can just casually browse the websites “Thought Catalog” and “Elite Daily” and read any number of a bazillion articles written by women touting just this in as many different forms as possible. Ultimately, they all boil down to the same thing. It’s selfish, really, on both sides of the gender divide. And these things shouldn’t happen but invariably, they do happen. And they happen often. “But but but….I’m just watching out for myself and my interests!” one might exclaim. Well, you can watch out for your own interests without imposing on others. This is really a sorry excuse for using a man’s kindness and goodwill. Anyone that uses that as a defense is basically admitting to the world that you’re one selfish asshole and you have no problems with using people as a means to one’s own selfish gains.
Your male friend is not your emotional tampon. Don’t call him or message him to rant to him about all the bad boys and assholes that broke your heart. That’s what girlfriends are for. Your male friend is not someone you bring clothes shopping, jewelry shopping, or lingerie shopping with. That’s what girlfriends are for. Your male friend is not someone that you emotionally bond with. That’s what a boyfriend is for. Your male friend is not your bodyguard, your “pretend date,” or your slave at your beck and call whenever you need something to be done, no matter how small it is. He’s a person that deserves kindness and respect like any other. Treat him as such even if he insists on being okay with helping you or being okay with all the things that you want him to be. Do the right thing and set clear boundaries. You’re doing him and the friendship a great disservice if you allow him to help you and be whatever you want him to be.
All of these boundaries are important to maintain, if you insist on having male friends.
You, as a woman, may be thinking, “Well, what’s the harm in allowing my male friend to do these things for me if he’s giving it out for free? Friends can help each other, can’t they?” Besides, (you may rationalize to yourself), It’s not like I’m making him do it. I didn’t ask him to do it. He offered. So that should make it okay, right? ” Nope. It doesn’t. By allowing him to do these things for you, you’ve fundamentally changed the relationship with your guy friend to something more than a platonic one. This is officially the beginning of the end of the platonic friendship. I can guarantee you, he’ll be expressing romantic feelings for you soon after. And things will rapidly deteriorate from there. Then you’re gonna end up thinking that he’s the asshole for secretly wanting a relationship by “being your friend” and subsequently “falling in love” with you. Nay, nay. You played a role in it too. And all that you had to do to prevent this from happening is to maintain those boundaries I mentioned earlier. And there are many, by the way, but those are some of the most obvious ones.