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” Is it a place of punishment for the lovelorn suitor, or a space for comfort and platonic companionship?In a recent piece for the Federalist, Hans Fiene treated it as the former.This is not just a bit of confirmation for stereotypes about sex-hungry males and naïve females; it is direct proof that two people can experience the exact same relationship in radically different ways.Men seem to see myriad opportunities for romance in their supposedly platonic opposite-sex friendships.
In today’s culture, however—in which, as Libresco notes, every gesture of friendship becomes a hint at potential foreplay—singles often miss out on the possibility of wholesome, fulfilling, emotionally-satiating friendship.Friendship formed the foundation of their future marriage. As Lewis writes on this very subject, When the two people who thus discover that they are on the same secret road are of different sexes, the friendship which arises between them will very easily pass—may pass in the first half-hour—into erotic love.Indeed, unless they are physically repulsive to each other or unless one or both already loves elsewhere, it is almost certain to do so sooner or later.They’ve been sold a bill of goods by Nicholas Sparks and his writing compatriots. It was a connection that transcended physicality and spoke to the soul of humankind.They’re made to believe that every interaction they have with a man is romantic, meant to culminate in wedded bliss. As Lewis puts it, friends are those companions who do not just share a common religion, study, profession, or recreation, but who also, often, share a “same truth.” They are those who say to us, “What? I thought I was the only one.” Companionship, writes Lewis, consists in “doing something together—hunting, studying, painting, or what you will.
Same-sex, “straight” friendships must remain relatively aloof and barbaric (if one is to read Fiene’s description of male friendship as literal), to set participants apart from rumors of same-sex attraction.