They say, universally, between HIM and HER there can be no friendship. It is also believed that friendship is possible ONLY between two males or two females. The friendship between a male and a female comes with “strings attached”. We know several relations between HIM and HER that got translated into husband and wife. We also know about relationships between HIM and HER that began as a friendship and then became kaput because one of them proposed, the other rejected, and dejection took criminal angel. What about a relationship between HIM and HER that begins as a friendship and remains as friendship for the rest of their lives? Well, on this friendship day, that’s the kind of story I am searching for.
A friendship between HIM and HER can be classified into following –
- Childhood (0 – 12 years)– Friendship at this stage is very raw and innocent. Playing together, exchange of toys and eating together is all that they want. They learn from the environment and try to imitate their parents and other elders in the family.
- Teenage (13 to 19 Years)– When they reach teenage, they begin to take note of physical and hormonal changes in their body. It is a phase when SHE is taught by her parents to stay away from HIM. Parent’s look at all her male friends suspiciously. At this stage friendship between HIM and HER becomes exploratory and experimenting in nature, with little scope of understanding of emotional and psychological needs of each other. Friendship at this stage is all about physical and biological needs.
- Adulthood (20 – 30 Years)– By this time, most of HIM and HER move out from the safe and protected zone of their parents, and get exposed to the cross-gender friendship where they need to make choices and take decisions. Often they find it difficult to handle rejections. They get overwhelmed by fame, success, and appreciation. Not only do they need to churn through peer pressure but also social expectations, such as marriage, etc. The friendship between HIM and HER at this phase either results in heartbreak, crime or marriage.
- Matured (Beyond 30 Years)– By the time they reach this stage of life, they have already gone through several rejections, heartbreaks, and experiences. Most of them get married. Either they are working professionals or homemakers. A new friendship between HIM and HER either booms at a workplace or they reconnect with their classmates or old friends. Based on the need of time, their marital status and their relation with their spouses, the friendship between HIM and HER either gives rise to an illicit relationship or a genuine friendship for life.
Spoilers of Friendship between HIM and HER
Peer Pressure – Among friends of the same gender, there is a self-developed interpretation of friendship between HIM and HER, which they believe has to have a romantic angle or else they are wasting their time and using each other for financial, materialistic and social advantages.
When Naveen and Nimisha became friends in their FIRST year of MBA, roommates and other classmates of Naveen began to tease HIM with HER name. They would often ask him – Do you just want to give her pick-drop and spend on her or you have plans to progress your relationship with her? Did you hold her hand? Did you kiss her? When are you going to propose to her? Remember, girls are often shy; she won’t propose to you, you have to propose. Did you sleep with her? Do you even know the size of her clothes? If you don’t want to do anything, then make her your sister. Ask her to tie you a RAKHI and introduce her to us, at least she will be of use to us.
On the other hand, roommates and friends of Nimisha would often tell her that she is a lucky girl to have Naveen in her life. You get pick-drop every day. He takes you to movies and dinner. He takes you for shopping. He is intelligent. He prepares your notes. He is such a handsome and cute guy. He is so adorable. If only we had such a boyfriend. Have you done anything with him? How does he kiss? How is he in bed? Please don’t hurt him, if you don’t want, introduce him to us. We are not staying in the hostel to do prayers.
When they were in the final semester, Naveen proposed to Nimisha. But she replied by saying, “Naveen, I always looked at you as a good friend. Can’t we remain just friends? We can be great friends, always”. Naveen couldn’t take this rejection. He began to stay aloof from her; while Nimisha remained caring till they completed their MBA. Did he want to propose to her? I am not sure.
It is a very tricky situation – to express or not to express. I know about several love stories that got lost in the whirlpool of time because neither HE nor SHE took initiatives to show their love. They were scared of losing a trusted friend. They were fearful of getting rejected. Is it possible to stay friendly with someone who has rejected your romantic proposal? I don’t know. I think it is certainly difficult to stay close with someone who has rejected you but at least we can let it go as just any other experience and not harm that person. That is possible.
Social Norms – Our society, at large, doesn’t approve friendship between HIM and HER. If it is not a blood relation, then it has to be a sexual affair, that’s what we have been taught since childhood.
When Nisha got engaged, she was advised by her mother to stay away from Anil, her college friend. “But Mummy, he is my good friend, you know that,” Nisha said. “I know what kind of friendship these college students have. Listen, it was acceptable when you were in college, not now. If your fiancé gets to know, they will cancel the engagement. At least care about the reputation of your father”, countered her mother.
The married life of Sumit and Simran, hit the rock when after marriage, Sumit disapproved her friendship with her male office colleagues. He had a problem with all her male friends whether they were from her college or her office.
The friendship between Sharad and his college friend, Rashmi created havoc in the married life of Sharad. Though they were wonderful friends and tried their best to involve their spouses, while Rashmi’s husband was supportive, they could do nothing to address the suspicious nature of Sharad’s wife. Whenever Sharad got late from office, she would call Rashmi to know her whereabouts. Eventually, a bond of friendship was killed prematurely.
Shweta and Rishi were working in the same team in an Insurance company in Mumbai. Over a period, they became good friends. The key to their friendship was their origin. Both of them belonged to the same town in Punjab. They were like buddies and had exchanged many of their childhood memories, career aspirations, and preferences in life, such as what they liked to eat, shopping, holidays, as well as craziest and naughtiest things they had done. Sometimes, when one of them visited their native, the other would send gifts to the family. After one year or so, when she was meeting his friends, she was shockingly surprised to know that everything that she had shared with him about herself, he had passed on to his buddies. Not only that, Rishi had told his friends that Shweta had slept with him. Well, as expected, that was an end of their friendship. Shweta felt let down and cheated in her friendship with Rishi. I think trustworthiness is a key in a relationship like friendship whether it is of the same gender or cross gender.
During their graduation, Sonali and Sameer were studying in same class. Sameer was not only intelligent and innocent but also good looking. Often he was the centre of gossip among his classmates. However, he had only one female friend, Sonali. They would often hang out together, study together and even sat together in the class. All this while Sonali was waiting for Sameer to propose but it didn’t happen. When they were in the final year of graduation, Sonali proposed to him, but he refused. She began to stalk him everywhere. She would send obscenely, threatening emails follow him on social media and write adult content, call him in nights and she would often continue to call until he answered her calls. She became friendly with his sister and began to visit his house. She also harmed his sister on several occasions and at last, he had no other option but to take the help of police.
Nisha and Vivek were neighbours. Nisha was THREE years younger than Vivek. They became friends during the time when Nisha was seeking career guidance after completing her 12th Grade. When she joined a college in the city, he would often pick her up from college. Over a period, they began to go out for a cup of coffee and movies. Nisha always considered Vivek as her good friend. One day he proposed to her, and she denied. He apologized for this later on. Things became normal between two of them. Another day, on the pretext of introducing her to his girlfriend, Vivek took her to the flat of his friend. She was raped by Vivek and his friends.
Finally, I happened to meet Anurag and Anjali. They had met each other during their admission in Mechanical Engineering at IIT-Delhi. Their friendship grew in following FOUR years of engineering and 25 years later; they are still good friends, in fact, great friends. Anjali and Anurag completed their MBA’s from IIM-B and IIM-C. They remained in touch during the time when the usage of the internet was very limited, and there was no Facebook, WhatsApp or other internet and mobile applications to stay in touch. Currently, both of them are married and working in multi-national organizations in leadership roles. Anjali has two kids, and Anurag has one kid. Their family bond well and it’s hard to identify who is whose friend. While Anurag is based out in Singapore; Anjali is in Mumbai. Whenever he travels to India, he meets Anjali and her family.
I asked them, “How did you manage to stay friends for so long? Didn’t you face any hurdles”?
“We did,” Anjali said, “but we were very honest and open in our communication. We would often chat and laugh out on comments of our friends about us. I won’t say that we never had arguments, fights, and misunderstandings but we came out of it strongly”.
“Ten years ago, when my father had bypass surgery, Anjali was working in Bangalore,” Anurag continued, “It was a difficult time for my family, I spoke to her, and the next thing she did was, took a flight and reached Delhi to be with my family and me. She has always been my strength”.
As Anurag was still talking, Anjali interrupted, “Anurag was there for my marriage. While my family was busy with shopping and guests, he took care of all other arrangements. Not only that, he sponsored our two-week honeymoon to New Zealand. Anurag has played a significant role in helping my husband in setting up his business”.
“Whichever geographical location we were and howsoever busy we were, we also took time to be part of important events in our lives – be it our marriage, birth of our kids, family emergency, etc. we stood with each other, and that’s what, I think makes our relation so unique”, Anurag said.
“My husband knows this very well,” Anjali continued, “Whenever he wants me to get convinced about any of his new business proposal involving high risk, he asks Anurag to talk to me. Not that I get convinced whenever Anurag discusses the project, but the fact that my husband accepts and appreciates our friendship, makes me feel happy”.
I have been fortunate enough to have few female friends, in fact, I always had. It will be unfair to say that I didn’t make mistakes in my relationships. Sometimes I too had misinterpreted the communication and body language of my female friends, but I have learned from each of my female friends. The friendship between HIM and HER is a unique relationship, and it certainly has its norms, and to do list. Some of my friendships with HER are as many as 10-12 years old, and I am looking forward to staying friends for life. More than anything else, I am privileged to have TRUST of not only my female friends but also of my wife. This friendship day, and always, I would like to say thanks to my female friends for their affection, care, and trust. It is an honour to share this life with you.
Pic Credit: Wiki