Wednesday, September 10, 2014

When Harry Met Sally...and Changed Her Whole Life

For those of you who have never seen it, When Harry Met Sally is a movie that addresses the dynamic between men and women, and establishes that we can, in fact, not ever be friends with the opposite sex.

Billy Crystal explains to Meg Ryan in the beginning of the movie, "what I'm saying is - and this is not a come on in any way, shape, or form - is that men and women can't be friends, because the sex part always gets in the way." He goes on to explain to her that the men she thinks she is friends with, actually do want to have sex with her. And truth be told, that she probably wants to have sex with them too. While Meg Ryan argues that he is wrong, the two of them do, of course, end up falling in love with each other before the conclusion of the movie - sorry to ruin it for you, if you didn't see that coming.

Why do Harry and Sally end up falling in love with each other? Well, of course in part because it was a fictional movie, and that's what the audience wants. But also because the truth is, Billy Crystal is right; men and women (generally) can't be friends. Because in a friendship involving one man and one woman, at least one of those two people, is (usually) hiding how they really feel. And more often than not, both of those two people, would prefer to be having sex than being just friends.

I go back and forth, fairly often, on whether I agree or not with the basis of the movie. I mean, I'd like to believe that I don't secretly wish I was sleeping with all of my male friends. And I don't imagine that every one of them is harboring secret lust for me and just not mentioning it. But then when I really think about it...are these guys for whom I do not have feelings really my friends? Not really. They're my friends' boyfriends, so I hang out with them...but they're not really my friends. Initially I felt like I could make this long punch list of my guy friends, none of whom I have romantic feelings for...but then I started to think about it. These aren't my friends. These are guys I know, because they date my girlfriends, or because they're family friends, or something along those lines. Those guys don't count, because we're really not friends so much as casual acquaintances.

My real, true, honest to goodness, friends who are guys? Either I want to sleep with them, or they want to sleep with me, according to Billy Crystal. And when I really think about that (much shorter) list of guys, Billy Crystal is probably right. These are guys I am - or have been - attracted to, guys who get jealous or stop talking to me when I am in a relationship, guys I stop talking to when they are in a relationship, and guys I get jealous over. Jealousy really should be a key factor here - if I am jealous of someone else's girlfriend, it's because *duh* I want to be his girlfriend.

Last October, I wrote this blog about jealousy, and the fact that despite being otherwise pretty well put together, I had some jealous tendencies. I explained that I was in therapy and focusing on my own confidence and believed that I would eventually get over the hump, that I was working to eliminate those feelings of jealous insecurities.

And a year later, I am still the same jealous brat I was 12 months ago.

The difference is, I no longer believe that jealousy is directly related to a lack of confidence. I have spent the past year focused solely on myself, what I want, who I need in my life and who I don't, and have focused on building my own self confidence after it was so beat (for lack of a better word) out of me for three years. But, I still get jealous. And I hate feeling jealous. Feeling jealous makes me feel like I am a little bit crazy, and I hate feeling crazy. Feeling jealous also makes me feel insecure, and I hate feeling insecure. But feeling jealous also makes me feel out of control of my own emotion, and more than anything else I hate feeling out of control. And really, jealousy is just such an awkward feeling to have, and even more awkward to discuss with the people you are jealous of, or jealous over.

Of course, if you are jealous over a guy, there's your big clue - you're jealous because you don't want to be "just friends" with him, but rather want to sleep with him, or date him, or something in between. But something in between is certainly not platonic!

So truth be told, I think Billy Crystal was pretty spot on in his speech about sex getting in the way of any man and woman being strictly friends. It rarely happens. It even more rarely works. Because when it comes down to it, attraction, hormones, and sex will always trump platonic feelings, and that will complicate the relationship, and either you'll get together and fall in love like they always do in the movies, or you won't. But you probably won't be friends forever either.