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Andy

The friend zone

Posted: Monday, Dec. 28, 2009

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Photo by Alison Henry

"According to Andy" is our weekly peek into the male psyche, written by various contributors. To become a contributor, contact Editor Alison Henry.

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A guy comes home after golfing with a good buddy who is getting divorced. His wife asks him how his friend is holding up. The husband says he’s fine. She asks if they talked about the recent split, his kids or the living situation, and the husband shrugs and shakes his head no. With an astonished look in her eye she asks, “How the hell did you spend four hours on a golf course and NOT talk about those things? Did you take separate golf carts?”

Guys tend to avoid sensitive topics like the plague, and there are certain things we just don’t talk about with each other. Conversations with most of my guy friends consist of sports, work and girls – pretty much in that order. And even when the conversation does turn to the topic of women, the reality of the rendezvous rarely mirrors the exaggerated story being told.

Women, on the other hand, seem to have a natural inclination toward the deeply personal, making their friendship a great benefit to men. I keep in touch with a few girls I met in college, and some have become pretty good friends of mine over the years. It’s funny to me how much more honest I am with my women friends as opposed to my guy friends or even a woman I’m dating, for that matter. (You try telling your girlfriend that you hate her cat, and her dad is scary.)

A recent tragedy left me in need of someone to really talk to. It wasn’t going to be my girlfriend, because our whole relationship has been based on this tough-guy image that I sold her and she fell for. And talking to the guys was absolutely out of the question.

Fortunately, my friend Randa and I ended up having a pretty deep conversation one afternoon at lunch. And she didn’t judge me or make fun of me – she just listened and offered advice. Being friends with Randa has given me the opportunity to feel comfortable talking about sensitive, embarrassing or private matters that otherwise get bottled up and swept under the rug. Our friendship has become such a wonderful outlet – and easily rivals that of anyone in my fantasy football league.

A buddy of mine used to tell me the same thing about having a sister. The female psyche is so incredibly complicated, and having the benefit of a friend who can provide insight on their own kind without being offended or judgmental is great. And I think Randa feels the same way. Sometimes my advice isn’t the answer she’s looking for, but she knows I’m going to be completely honest.

Some of the best wing people I have ever had the pleasure of going out with have been women. It’s no secret that the company of women makes other women feel comfortable and often makes the guy more approachable. I think the same works for girls. As long as you don’t have a guy hanging all over you, other guys like the fact that you can hang with the boys. Of course, this can sometimes lead to unwanted attention, so I’m quick to recognize Randa’s Rescue-Me-Because-This-Guy-Is-Creeping-Me-Out look.

So if you’re wondering why I don’t just date this incredibly attractive woman that I feel comfortable around and can easily confide in, I think we both just realize that our friendship is too important to gamble on a physical relationship. She is one of my favorite people, and no matter who I’m with or who she’s dating, being friends with her has really helped me get to know myself better and get in touch with my feelings. Her non-filtered female insight has helped my current and past relationships so much, and I’m just not willing to lose that to our own potential “relationship issues.”

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