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My husband and his brothers regularly meet up for breakfast, or call each other on their commutes to see how they are doing, offering prayer or support.
This sort of camaraderie stretches far beyond the burping, scratching gamer-fest that Fiene describes in his article.
Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend.
They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, ‘Here comes one who will augment our loves.’ For in this love ‘to divide is not to take away.’ Sometimes prolonged companionship between members of the opposite sex, especially when it involves a lot of one-on-one time, will draw people into greater intimacy and spur their hearts toward marriage. Knightley in Jane Austen’s classic “Emma,” or Benedick and Beatrice in Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” Beautifully, it was these friends had occupied the “friend zone” so faithfully and maturely—for so long—that they were able to then recognize and pursue romantic interest in each other.
The women in these friendships, however, seem to have a completely different orientation—one that is actually platonic. To some extent, a single male will always be on the lookout for a spouse. But women, according to the , are often much happier in their friendships than men are. While I am not qualified to deny that men feel a deeper sexual pull to female friends, I also think our hypersexualized culture (and its accompanying messaging) fosters this attitude, and for two reasons.
But we must ask an important question here: is this the result of nurture, or of nature? As far back as we can see history, there have been instances of strong camaraderie between male friends.
Thus, both sexes miss out on the spiritual and emotional comforts that close, platonic friendship can provide. The Friends will still be doing something together, but something more inward, less widely shared and less easily defined; still hunters, but of some immaterial quarry; still collaborating, but in some work the world does not, or not yet, take account of; still travelling companions, but on a different kind of journey.
In addition, they actually make themselves less content (and less ready for actual marriage) than the single person who’s learned to enjoy the friendships he or she has. Hence we picture lovers face to face but Friends side by side; their eyes look ahead.” Lewis also importantly notes that friendship is not often—and even should not be—dyadic.
Indeed, unless they are physically repulsive to each other or unless one or both already loves elsewhere, it is almost certain to do so sooner or later.
This sort of mature friendship touches on the soul, the intellect, and the feeling, proffering stability even in singleness or discontent.
In today’s culture, however—in which, as Libresco notes, every gesture of friendship becomes a hint at potential foreplay—singles often miss out on the possibility of wholesome, fulfilling, emotionally-satiating friendship.
Same-sex, “straight” friendships must remain relatively aloof and barbaric (if one is to read Fiene’s description of male friendship as literal), to set participants apart from rumors of same-sex attraction.
Meanwhile, straight female friendship—especially among singles—has increasingly become fixated on the male eye and interest.
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This is what Fiene is primarily criticizing, what the identifies as dangerous to the average male: the exclusive, one-on-one, male-female friendship.