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Can men and women be “just” friends?

The age-old question begs: Can men and women be “just” friends?

For me the answer is a resounding “yes.” I’ve had and continue to have several successful platonic relationships with both single and married men.

But success is dependent on a wide variety of variables. This includes putting your cards on the table and showing your heart as John Legend so aptly puts it in his hit song “All Of Me.” 

So, let’s talk about the human heart and how that four-quartered chamber pumps us full of blood, life and feelings. Well, I’m 56, single, healthy and happy.

My life is full and filled with good people, good emotions and good deeds.  I loved my dad and we had a special bond as I’m the first-born child of a Holocaust survivor now deceased.   So, do I love men? You bet. And all kinds, too.

My ex-husband is Japanese, and believe you me, a white woman living with a Japanese man in Tokyo in 1983/84 was a really big deal. When we visited Beijing's Tiananmen Square, for example, we had throngs of people surround us in disbelief and curiosity. Those with any English at all ventured forth to question me as to where we were from and what we were doing together. Commonplace today, in the 80s, mixed marriages were in the minority; they were also considered taboo by the majority.

It was an interesting time in my life. I learned a lot about myself—the good, the bad, the great and the ugly. I also gained insights into how others see you when you’re in a relationship as opposed to being single. And in the end, I learned what it meant to be married to Mr. Wrong-For-Me.

You see, my husband really wasn’t my friend. In fact, once we returned to Canada, it became increasingly more clear that he was jealous of me. He even told me that I was greedy because I wanted to make money and simultaneously finish my Master’s degree in education.

Good relationships among others things are mutually supportive, kind and caring. In fact, the other person’s happiness and well being must mean as much to you as your own does. So, in May 1987, I reclaimed my heart, finished that Master’s degree and became once again, ardent champion of my life and career.

Now, let’s return to our conundrum. Can men and women be “just” friends?

For me, the basis of an intimate relationship is true friendship. And true friendship is based on common values, common ground, respect, trust, kindness, mutual support, open communication, an ability to agree to disagree and loyalty. And if the right ingredient pool is present, and if both sides are interested and willing, can these good friends grow their friendship to new heights?  Absolutely. The happiest, long-lasting relationships that I know of, all stem from friendships that bloomed in and over time.  

But rest assured with appropriate boundaries, platonic friendships between men and woman can flourish, especially when you’ve got a sport in common. I’m so looking forward to my next bike ride with Adam, ping pong with Yasha and squash with Larry. I’m very grateful for all my male buddies, the roles I play in their lives and vice versa.    

Still, would my healthy, happy heart like to meet my Mr. Right-For-Me? Totally. This patient, optimist knows that he’s out there, and when the time is right—our time will be.   

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