Can men and women really be friends?

It’s the age-old question. Debated amongst many.

I caught “When Harry Met Sally” on cable the other night (it was a Monday, the only night a week I am home by myself, sans boyfriend or work events).

I guess the movie “proves” that men and women can never be 100% friends – the potential for them to be more is always there, regardless of platonic behavior. The curiosity of what it would be like to date your friend ducks in and out of the edges of possibility, whether you intend to act on it or not.

It got me thinking about all of my past significant relationships. Every single one of them, including my marriage, started with friendship. My ex-husband and I were good friends for three years in college before we started dating our senior year. Neither one of had a crush on the other previously; we both agreed our feelings had been strictly platonic. And they were. But the potential for the chemistry to shift with the wind was always there, whether we knew it or not. My ex-cub and I were friends first too – but with some benefits (perhaps therein lies the…uh…rub).

With both those relationships, my sister had said, “It’s like ‘When Harry Met Sally!’” implying that those relationships were sure to last. It gave me comfort, and the assurance that relationships that begin with friendship are the best kind. You already know one another, and since you’re not trying to woo the other person you are free to be yourself.  So naturally a relationship that starts in that manner trumps a relationship that starts where romantic options are in plain sight, where you calculatedly reveal parts of yourself over time.

But does it? Does starting a relationship with friendship actually insure its longevity and strength?
I wrote a post supporting this theory just a few months ago. My ex-cub and I had just broken up and I was braving the dating trenches. I couldn’t figure out how I could enter into a relationship with someone where our agendas distorted our perception of one another. I believed that I’d have better luck falling in love with someone I already knew, or met in a platonic fashion. I thought I would need to discover that I loved them over time, the way it happened for Harry and Sally.
My boyfriend and I had an intense talk the other day, where we discussed deeper issues and what is important to us long term. Afterwards, it dawned on me that this kind of conversation might never have occurred had we been friends first. We would have assumed we knew those things about eachother already. But are those kinds of assumptions a short cut around really digging deep into what makes the other person tick? Are they detours around the hard work that inevitably makes your foundation stronger, and your love for one another heartier?
After our talk, I felt a newfound surge of love, one that felt more expansive and sustainable than what I had felt before. I realized that in this relationship, one in which we were not friends first, our friendship gets to grow alongside, or inside, our romantic one.

This time, no one can exclaim, “It’s like ‘When Harry Met Sally!’”

And I’m a lot more comfortable with that.


There’s this word called “subtext” that I first heard in a writing class, although it happens constantly in life – in our day to day conversations. Subtext is meaning or intention that lies beneath the surface; when we don’t say what we feel, but it’s kinda obvious to the person on the receiving end. And with the advent of texting, it’s become even more flagrant, especially in the dating world.

Here are some examples of incoming texts, where the dude thinks he’s keeping his true intentions – the subtext – well hidden. (P.S. the text below is always from a guy unless otherwise noted):

Text: Hi.
Subtext:  What are you doing?

Text:  You around later?
Subtext:  Wanna fuck?

Text: How things?
Subtext: I miss you.

Text:  In ur hood…grabbin beers with some buddies.
Subtext: I’m 19.

Text: Missed your call. Was in a meeting.
Subtext: I’m important and make lots of money and can take care of you so don’t worry.

Text: You hungry?
Subtext: I’m bored (Or: Wanna fuck?)

Text: oh hey! good to hear from you! how u been?

Subtext: I deleted your number from my phone and have no clue who’s texting me.

Subtext: Mom got a blackberry.

Text: Last night was hot!
Subtext: Now what?

Text: What’re you wearing?
Subtext: This flirting stage is getting old.

Text:  Ugh sorry Verizon sux.
Subtext: Stop texting me bitch.

Text:  How’s your day?
Subtext: I want to see you later and am hoping you’ll respond but I’m too much of a p*ssy to just come out and say it.

Text: Omw, in can.
Subtext: On my way, in cab.

Text: Cant wait to see you! Yay!!!
Subtext: I’m gay.

Text: I’m back in town.
Subtext: Wanna fuck?

I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point.
(Subtext: I’m trying to sound modest, but I what I really hope is that this post made you laugh.)

Jumping the Cougar (not in that way).

There’s been talk. About Cougars. Specifically, in reference to this blog. Many of you who meet me exclaim, “You’re too young to be a Cougar!” Your faces twist in confusion, but I detect a hint of anger in there too. What is that about exactly? Is the question really, “If you’re not over forty, like all Cougars are supposed to be, why in the world would you brand yourself as one?”
Good question. I’ll follow up with another: Why should the term Cougar be so rigid, defined as a woman over 40, with a derogatory connotation?
In response, I’d like to revisit one of my first posts (see link below), “Cougar versus Cougel.” I’m not a Cougar as pop culture defines it: “desperate over 40 with bad botox trolling bars for young men” kinda thing. I’m a Cougel; a Cougar redefined. It’s not really about age. It’s about “coming of age.” After you’ve figured a few things out, know yourself, and go after what you want. For some of us this happens at 25 and some at 45. It all depends on what you’ve been through up until that point and how it defines who you are. So what if you’re dating someone who is older than you, or younger? What’s the difference? Besides, shouldn’t it be up to you to define yourself, rather than leaving it up to society and the media?
We are all, whether we admit or not, obsessed with age. The older we get the more we become aware of and feel the passage of time and its implications. Minutes are measured in dog years. We realize we need to be more conscious and deliberate with our decisions. But is that such a bad thing?
Courtney Cox was a “Friend.” We all loved her. Then she got older, and she starred in “Cougartown.” Does that mean that she was selling out, settling? Some people felt she was casting herself in that role – her real life, evolved, older woman self. And once that happened, the whole “Cougar thing” became cemented in our culture.
But that show’s old news. It jumped the shark. For those of you who don’t know what that means, you’re showing your age (insert wink here… or go watch Happy Days reruns). In short, it means something hot has passed its prime, lost its luster, etc. So with that I decree (like I have any power, but it sounds good) the definition of Cougars hereby obsolete! Cougars, the way we once knew them – while not necessarily old in age – are old news. It’s time for an update. Or a remake!
Enter the Cougel. In her thirties, post divorce, with a solid network of family and friends. And Jewish parents who want what’s best for her. And all the good (love) and bad (guilt) that comes with it.
In summary, I believe (and I hope you do too), that this Cougel has jumped the Cougar.
I brace myself for some harsh comments, but I’m used to it. Cougels have thick skin…under all that fur.
PS. More on this subject in one of my first posts with some silly urban dictionary definitions: