Episode 16: Can a guy and girl be just friends?

He says:

“No man can be friends with a woman whom he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her,” said a wise man called Harry Burns when he met Sally Albright.

“Yes, that’s right, they can’t be friends. Unless both of them are involved with other people, then they can,” Harry explained.

It’s been 17 years since he said that and yet women don’t seem to have really got the hang of what he means. They actually believe that the guy who calls every single day and goes out of his way to help her is “so sweet” and (wants to be) just friends.

Oh! Please! Men surely have better things to do than play guardian angel. Like it’s their new full-time job or mission statement for life.

Now, let’s consider for a minute the profile of these guys who do that.

a. He is single. Obviously, otherwise, he would be running around to get his own girl to like him.

b. He is not her type. Because, if he was, she would have seen through his desperate attempts to woo her.

c. He has friends who believe, or in some cases, KNOW that he likes her more than a friend.

d. He does not have another girl that he finds attractive as a friend. Because if he did, he would be doing that for her too.

e. He is the initiator… the guy who takes the effort to make conversation, at least most of the time.

Is that some sort of a co-incidence now that they somehow meet all those traits?

Fat chance. The truth is women like the attention they get, they don’t want to say `No’ to it or confront him because they don’t want to lose the benefits. Besides, till the guy has said it, you can always just be “friends”.

It is high time these do-gooder gentlemen woke up to see that if she hasn’t seen his love in all that he has done for her, she’s probably blind. Or plain dumb.

She says:

And men, of course, are assuming that women are really taken in by the `let’s be friends’ gag?

`Friendship,’ my poor misguided young male puppets, is sometimes just a convenient way for women to make cow-eyes at you over canteen Cokes, or three course dinners. You might think you have the upper hand, but you’re just being checked out to see if you are date worthy.

Because when a women is `just friends’ with a guy, she gets a sneak peek at how he really thinks, behaves and relates to other people. (Pssst. A word of advice. Act snotty with the waiter and you’re out in the cold.)

More important, being able to say, “we’re just good friends, ya” lets you off the hook, when nosy friends start prodding you for details, and your mother begins to plan a June wedding in her head.

In fact, Indian ingenuity has come up with an even better way of concealing a relationship that’s too young and unsteady to announce. The “He’s like my brother,” and `She’s like my sister’ story makes it so easy for all those totally unrelated siblings to watch sunsets hand-in-hand with nobody getting suspicious and tracing family trees. But, please remember, it doesn’t work this way with everybody. Of course, men and women can be friends. Otherwise, imagine what a warped world this would be.

Men need their women friends. For one, men have terrible taste when it comes to picking out clothes or solitaires for their girlfriends, and can always do with some female guidance. Besides, female company keeps men civilised. Look at what happened in William Golding’s “Lord Of the Flies”, where a bunch of boys abandoned on an island began to eat each other!

And yes, women need their male friends too. They give us a man’s perspective on life, making it easier to understand boyfriends. They are generally completely chilled out, which makes them easy to hang out with. And they’re useful at times when you need someone to carry your shopping, help you move furniture into a new house, or get rid of an over zealous admirer.

Boyfriends are nice to have around, but guy friends are essential.

Episode 15: Who’s more commitment-phobic?

He says:

Who’s scared of commitment?

Women. At least, initially.

And, only after women get over that phobia do men catch it.

Because, being all heart, men like to dive head over heels into romance. They love the courting period. The honeymoon phase when she dresses up for him gives him his space and does not ask too many questions. In fact, she doesn’t want to label it anything.

It can’t get any rosier than this with an unlimited supply of love, no strings attached.

You ditch your buddies to spend time with the girl and suddenly, you’re not one of the losers at the bar. The girl’s friends want to get to know you too and before you know it, you’re a stud. You like it when she actually blushes when her friends talk about you to her. You are always at your best because you’re trying to make her fall in love with you everyday. It’s easily the best phase of romance because it is unconditional love.

Fast forward: A few months later.

She stops dressing up, wants to know where you are every time she calls and why you didn’t take her call in the middle of the night, while you were sleeping. She thinks getting a gift from you is too routine and soon enough, you realise the futility of pampering her. You are taken for granted.

Her life completely starts revolving around yours. She loses touch with her friends because they are busy trying to keep their respective boyfriends on a leash. So much so that now you have to ditch her if you want to spend an evening with friends and if you don’t, you become a hen-pecked loser.

A serious relationship mostly spells the death of freedom for men. Maybe that’s why they turn commitment-phobic.

For the same reasons no one wants to go to prison.

She says:

The thing is men are a little like cell phones.

As soon as you settle for the best looking model in the market, a nicer one comes along. It even has many more features than your old model. And before you know it, you’re thinking of trading it/him in. Especially when the old one starts to malfunction (i.e. It stops bringing you flowers and starts walking around in sloppy old T-shirts).

No wonder commitment is so difficult. For women.

Which makes you wonder why every other man you know seems to be whining about how his girlfriend is getting obsessive.

Take a case study. An average man will walk around for weeks with a face as long as a horse, begging for an introduction to some girl he’s probably just heard about.

Once he meets her, he goes overboard, gushing about how wonderful she is, sending her flowers, ringing her up twenty times a day, introducing her to all his friends and insisting on meeting all her pals.

If she stays cold and aloof, that’s wonderful. He’ll climb every mountain, search every stream, and follow every rainbow till she gives in. But, if she’s stupid enough to admit she likes him, puts his number on speed dial and starts treating him like a boyfriend, that’s the end of the relationship. (Ever wondered why `playing hard to get’ is every woman’s favourite game?)

But just as things start working out, he’s walking around with that hangdog expression again, complaining about being “tied down” and calling himself a hen pecked loser.

A guy like that’s a loser all right, but it has nothing to do with the `hen’.

And it’s exactly at that point his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend starts her market research again.

Something every woman is forced to keep doing till she finds The One. And, the thing is, he may not really be the richest, or the smartest, or the funniest man she’s ever met.

But if he’s grown up enough to realise that freedom is just a state of mind, and that he’s found a relationship he’s happy enough to stay in, that makes him an irreplaceable model. One that never gets outdated.

And that’s something even Nokia can’t top.

Episode 14: Diamonds, girl’s best friends?

He says:

Which girl will actually go on record and agree `Diamonds are a girl’s best friend’? It’s another thing that she will feel on top of the world when you get her that stone. And proverbs do not happen for no reason unless there’s some universal truth attributed to it over the ages. Whether they agree or not, women do have sophisticated, exquisite (read expensive), classy taste. Some are good at concealing it, some aren’t as smart.

But seriously, there is nothing wrong about it really. It’s completely ok to admit you have classy, sophisticated, exquisite taste. After all, if they did not have a refined sensibility, why would they go out with men in the first place? A man, on the other hand, does not really need a diamond for a best friend. He will be equally happy if you buy him a beer or better still, if you just give it to him in any other kind. The kinder the better, actually (wink wink). Yes, it is much easier for a woman to please a man than it is for a man to please a woman. Men are happy with the simplest of things.

Whether it is a thoughtful SMS in the middle of the night or even when they are pulled up for coming late or returning her call late. They feel good to be wanted. To be loved. The smallest of gestures are enough to make him happy. The question, however, still remains as to why do men move heaven and earth to please the woman? Because, men remember that wonderful credit card campaign: One five-star dinner: 1,000 bucks. A diamond: 10,000 bucks. The smile on her face when you give that to her: Priceless.

She says:

That’s a totally untrue — not to mention appalling — statement to make. Diamonds are certainly not a girl’s best friend.

There’s also platinum. And antique gold jewellery studded with rubies and emeralds. Oh, and we mustn’t leave out designer crystal necklaces. Or… gasp… shoes. Stylish sneakers for the day. Strappy red stilettos for the night. Handbags for lunching. Evening bags for clubbing. That 12th pair of must-have pink Capris…

To reduce it to diamonds just seems so insincere.

Yeah. Yeah. I know that at this point I’m supposed to sigh endearingly and say the material world just doesn’t matter. And a woman is only interested in the heart that beats under that Tommy Hilfiger shirt, not the wallet that accompanies it. Gag.

But honestly, a man who believes that probably reads Mills and Boon romances in his spare time, even as he waits patiently for a `demure rose’ to flutter her eyelashes at him across a cappuccino bar someday.

The thing is every Rose, Renee and Reenaa sipping a low-fat caramel macchiato in a coffee shop is waiting too. But they’re looking for the `complete man’ and any old thing with a warm heart and last season’s trousers just won’t cut it.

That’s what happens when you have sophisticated, exquisite (read expensive), classy taste. (By the way, the Bluebeards among us needn’t start popping open their Moet Chandon just yet. A nice guy with a skinny bank account is still far more attractive than a shallow, mean or nasty man with a yacht.)

Sure, women are materialistic. And most men, I must admit, aren’t. Give a guy a two-paragraph limerick for his birthday and he’ll be thrilled to bits. Try passing that off on a woman and you won’t remember what happened after her Prada handbag crashed through the roof of your skull.

The good news? Today’s girls aren’t really waiting for you to wrestle open your wallet and start buying solitaires. They buy their own diamonds. And platinum. And cars. (Mostly because they don’t trust your taste).

You just need to stand around looking stylish and reasonably rich. Now that’s not too much to ask, is it?

(A fortnightly column on the battle of the sexes.)

Sho-Buzz

February 2006
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