One of the most heartbreaking Modern Love stories I’ve ever read is in this week’s New York Times:
He wanted nothing, and I wanted the world. I lay in bed with my phone cradled to my ear, taking the news as one might receive a diagnosis of cancer. I stayed there all weekend, unable to move, paralyzed by the knowledge that now it was over. Even our friendship was too damaged to repair. This is what happens, I learned, when happily ever after does not happen.
I moved to New York City that spring. He met another girl he loved, one that probably knew him a little less well. They married two years ago, but I wasn’t invited. When I saw him after the fact, he told me not to take it personally, but we both knew that with another twist of fate, it could have been us up there at the altar.
I couldn’t help but take it personally; it’s always personal.
Some would find the ending a triumph; I found it devastating.
This was a timely piece for me, as this was on my mind over the weekend: can men and women just be friends? In an op-ed for The New York Times, William Deresiewicz writes:
There’s a history here, and it’s a surprisingly political one. Friendship between the sexes was more or less unknown in traditional society. Men and women occupied different spheres, and women were regarded as inferior in any case. A few epistolary friendships between monastics, a few relationships in literary and court circles, but beyond that, cross-sex friendship was as unthinkable in Western society as it still is in many cultures.
From his own personal experience, the author concludes:
Consult your own experience, but as I look around, I don’t see that platonic friendships are actually rare at all or worthy of a lot of winks and nudges. Which is why you don’t much hear the term anymore. Platonic friendships now are simply friendships.
The one portion I disagree with:
Friendship isn’t courtship. It doesn’t have a beginning, a middle and an end.
Friendships can begin and end as easily as romantic relationships. Your thoughts?
Related: a must-read on solitude and leadership, also by William Deresiewicz.