As Solomon says everything comes around again, and like clockwork comes a thread a Twitter thread that makes its way before my eyes via Not the Bee. The topic is one of my old hobby horses to flog, that men and women can not and should not be friends. Had I a beleaguered manservant I would dictate this article to him whilst slamming my head against a sturdy oak table.
Two points I will refute. Starting at the bottom where The Bee writers added this gem of commentary,
“In this day and age, we’re told that there’s no difference between men and women. That’s a lie.”
Ironically I could not agree more, but for entirely different reasons. I don’t have friends who are women because I want them to be men. I have friends who are women because they are humans. They in their individual ways bring something to that specific friendship that no other friend does, and then in a group brings out things from other friends that again only they can. To Lewis!
“Those who cannot conceive Friendship as a substantive love but only as a disguise or elaboration of Eros betray the fact that they have never had a Friend. The rest of us know that though we can have erotic love and friendship for the same person yet in some ways nothing is less like a Friendship than a love-affair. Lovers are always talking to one another about their love; Friends hardly ever about their Friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest. Above all, Eros (while it lasts) is necessarily between two only. But two, far from being the necessary number for Friendship, is not even the best. And the reason for this is important.
… In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets… Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, ‘Here comes one who will augment our loves.’ For in this love ‘to divide is not to take away.” – C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
The second point is closely related in that my wife is not my best friend. From the Tweet thread:
“I have all the female friendship I need in my wife. If I’m going to a movie, concert, coffee shop, dinner, party, or event of any kind I’m going with my wife. Why would I commit my life to one woman and then spend my free time with other women?
I don’t want to do anything with them but I want to do everything with my wife. I married her because I love her and want to do everything with her. Imagine she’s at home caring for the kids and I’m out drinking beers with a woman from work…
That would never happen because I’d rather have a beer with my wife.” – Reeves Ghostwriter
If if this is true to Ghostwriters desires, ducky for him, but in the vast majority of cases it is an unrealistic expectation. I would consider it to be slightly more indecorous if he were out every day drinking with another woman after work than if he were out every day after work drinking with the lads. I see my best friend about three times a week and my friends who are women even less than that, it is kind of the point, friends are not your spouse they are someone else whose company you enjoy.
My best friend is my best friend, my wife is my wife. There is a vast difference in those relationships. As above my wife and I talk about our marriage endlessly, we evaluate it, we maintain it. My friends and I rarely diagnose our friendship. It is a different kind of relationship altogether. To make my wife my best friend is an impossible task for her and for me. The standard put forth in the tweet thread insists that we must share all interests. But no relationships work like that, it puts too much pressure on both members to be all to each other. A spouse can not and should not even attempt that, and the point of friendship is to find that other person who on a particular interest or a few says, “You too? I thought I was the only one.” Friendship is about the activity. Marriage is about the relationship. My own wife will sit with me for a pint, but after that she is done and wants to go home. My friends Hudson and Tessa are more than happy to sit for hours in a taproom for multiple rounds talking and watching people. This is partly why I am friends with them. My wife gets lost very quickly in a philosophical discussion and rabbit trails like there is no tomorrow. Amanda and Syme are trained philosophers they step into an area that my wife can not operate in. Gender does not matter.
Bless me, what are they teaching men these days. It’s all in Lewis. And he was indeed right so say, “Those who cannot conceive Friendship as a substantive love but only as a disguise or elaboration of Eros betray the fact that they have never had a Friend.” Too true.