Kicking off our special series on Upcoming Summer Films please welcome guest writer:
This summer, Castle Rock Entertainment, along with Screen Gems and Zucker Productions is releasing the romantic comedy Friends with Benefits July 22nd 2011. Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis star as Dylan and Jamie: two friends dumped by their significant others. In the film they are both emotionally damaged and turn to each other for a strictly physical relationship. Alas, it’s not long before both characters want something more.1 This film is very similar to No Strings Attached, starring Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman, released in January 2011. Again, both characters seek a physical relationship but soon discover they want more emotionally. Both movies bring to mind one of the most debated questions of all time: Can men and women be friends?
When Nora Ephron penned When Harry Met Sally, little did she know that the witty, truthful dialogue would still be discussed two decades later. It has been haled “the greatest romantic comedy of all time” despite losing both Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. Ephron believes the film is still popular because the questions asked were honest and relevant.2
On The Early Show, Cosmopolitan’s editor-in-chief, Kate White, offered her answers. She said,
“Men and women can have a platonic relationship and Billy Crystal’s character, Harry Burns, was also right. Women are more likely to be friends with an attractive male with no sexual tension, she says, as opposed to a man who wouldn’t mind if he slept with his female friend even if she’s not a 100% his physical type.” 3
At one point or another, someone in a friendship may undoubtedly develop stronger feelings for their counterpart. They may not tell the friend how they feel and they may never seek a more romantic relationship, but the desire will be there.
Many relationships do start out as friendships. Some friendships fail once the romance begins. If friends are able to make the romance work, it may be due to the foundation established through the friendship. For the basis of any relationship it’s actually recommended to start with a solid friendship before introducing sex. Why? In a relationship you should trust your partner, feel emotionally safe, and share common beliefs, values, and morals in-order for it to be successful. If you have romantic feelings for your friend, why not pursue a relationship with someone who brings out those qualities?4 Sex should only be viewed as the cherry on top and seen as the most physical and emotional form of love you can give to your partner.
Friends when in Relationships
Once in a relationship, marriage or otherwise, is it possible to have friends of the opposite sex?
Having friends of the opposite sex when in a relationship is a very tricky situation. It’s not impossible, but it’s not very practical either. There is a very fine line, which cannot be crossed. If you spend quality time with a member of the opposite sex, emotional bonds can form. Also, a closer relationship with a friend will create distance (from the partner) and the start of an emotional affair. This can then lead to a physical affair.5
White goes on to state that couples need to keep things in check and set boundaries. You should be your partner’s confidante—not someone else’s of the opposite sex. She suggests men and women be more territorial (without being overbearing), ask questions, state how you feel if you deem something inappropriate, and make them feel special.
In the end, the question, “can men and women be friends?” still remains unresolved today. The debate will withstand the test of time and have the shelf life of a Twinkie. So in the mean time, make some popcorn, hop in your La-Z-Boy, and watch “the greatest romantic comedy of all time.”