I think I’ve been haunted by When Harry Met Sally. I saw it the summer after my freshman year of college. It’s not the scary late 80s fashion that has bothered me over the years, nor has it been the the famous orgasm scene. What has been underneath my skin since seeing that movie was the theory put forth by Billy Crystal stating that men and women couldn’t just be friends, because the sex thing was always there. I really didn’t want to believe that. But then wondered if it was true. And I still find myself questioning.
Last night I had a dream about quasi-hooking up with a male colleague. I enjoy talking with this guy in real life, but have never (consciously?) found him sexually attractive. Even in the light of having had this dream, I’m amused at the idea, but truly don’t want to go there in real life. Maybe I’m just repressing that latent thing Harry was telling Sally about.
Toward the end of my marriage, I was lonely and miserable. At the same time, I seemed to collect flirtatious, mostly married men as friends. It was a dangerous position to put myself into. I liked their attention, and they clearly liked having a woman to hang out with as “one of the guys”. I found myself in lots of situations where I wondered what exactly I would do if one of the guys went beyond the flirtation and made a full-on pass at me. I knew that morally I didn’t want to go there, or be any part of anything that would possibly inflict damage on a marriage. At the same time, I was so incredibly sad and wanting men to show me that I was still attractive. I fully understood this. And I wasn’t sure that my moral compass could win a fight against my reactive emotions and yearning body teamed up against it. It gave me good perspective on how people get caught up in affairs and even sympathy for them. Maybe Billy Crystal was right, and emotionally strained situations only make it more obvious that there is some kind of attraction hidden beneath male-female friendships.
Needing to release the pressure valve on this situation had a big impact on my finally getting separated for good and filing for divorce. I knew that I was a ticking time bomb, and then, when I finally could consider myself legitimately “available,” married male friends almost instantly became unattractive to me.
I threw myself headfirst into the world of dating, and once I had the freedom to be completely honest about whether I was attracted to someone, I found myself with guy friends in whom I was definitely not interested. Colleagues, guys in my fantasy football league, neighbors- lots of guys, lots of banter, but zero possibility of me feeling attracted to them. I can’t speak for how they feel about me, but looking at these guys, I can’t imagine Billy Crystal theory holds true.
It probably helps that I don’t have any doubt in my ability to knock down an awkward pass from a male friend at this point in my life, and I think I lacked that a decade ago. And man, I am grateful to have guy friends. They give me perspective that is really helpful in understanding the different lenses through which half the world sees things. I laugh about different things with my guy friends than I do with my girlfriends. There can be a latent, critical component to friendships with other women that I have never felt with guys. I don’t believe that the lack of criticism only exists because deep down those guys all want to bang me. But then again, I have also not always been the quickest to catch on.