Man? Woman? Friends? Impossible!

Or is it? I’ve never believed in wide sweeping generalizations like: “Men and women can’t be friends and only friends.” Nonetheless, it seems to be holding pretty true in my life. I have very few guy-friends—almost none that I feel close with. Any guy who does show interest in me just seems to be interested in sleeping with me. When they find out I have a boyfriend they no longer want to talk to me….sad, no? **

So, when I found a German “speaking partner” with whom I could practice my German, I was a bit bummed that he was male. All my female friends in Germany had this problem. How do you differentiate between “friends speaking German for the love of the German language” and “date”? How do you make it clear without being totally awkward? Well, I didn’t want to be biased, so I went ahead with our first meeting last week. It went great. Maxim is an intelligent guy from Karlsruhe; he’s studying engineering at UMass for the year as an exchange student. We talked comfortably for two hours.

But when I got an email the next day, “Hey, I’ll be in Murphy’s at 11. Come around and say hi?” I freaked out. My gut feeling was right. A guy and a girl can’t have coffee without it meaning more. The baseline: I felt uncomfortable. I love my boyfriend. Totally not cool. I emailed him and told him we shouldn’t see each other again because—I just don’t want to mix signals.

I don't understand the "friendzone": If you like her so much why is being her friend all that terrible?

To my surprise and utter joy he answered: “actually I have a girlfriend. I just like talking about Germany with an American who lived there once. No more intentions.” (yes, that was actually his answer, and yes, his English is really that good).

Today we met, and talked about relationships, German trains, Istanbul, our stressful weeks, and (actually) Murphy’s—(there’s some live band playing tonight. Maybe make a diversion from the senior bar night usual??). Our little conversation was totally platonic—even though it was just the two of us over coffee. I didn’t feel threatened. There were no ulterior motives. Neither of us had bad intentions—just a guy and a girl who enjoying a growing friendship. Something new and different, no?

**(and I don’t mean for this to be a gender commentary—I don’t know if it’s also hard for guys with girlfriends to make female friends. I’m not a boy so I wouldn’t know. Not to mention the complication of being gay/lesbian. Whooo, I just don’t know!)