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I believe in many types of friendships. Each one unique and different, but all with the same goal: to make us happier, stronger, more fulfilled people. In When Harry Met Sally, Billy Crystal talks about how men and women cannot be friends. I have never agreed with that sentiment. For as long as I can remember, one of my best friends has been a guy, and at times the strength of my friendships with men has surpassed that of my friendships with women. And no, in case you’re wondering, never have these relationships been a basis for anything more than platonic friendship.

Let me tell you about this friend of mine. I have known him since I was 9. We grew up as neighbors for a long time. He is super handsome. Smart. Witty. Kind. Insightful. Patient. As close to the “perfect” man as possible.

And I could not be less attracted to him. I understand why women would be, and I get that his wife is an incredibly lucky woman, but for me, he is just my friend. But with an opposite-sex best friend come benefits. And not the kind you’re thinking of.

My friend and I have always been able to discuss the opposite sex and relationships with complete openness. Because, like with any good friend, there is no judgment, just unconditional love and acceptance and the desire to see the other one find happiness. We can give each other insight into the mind of the opposite sex, speak freely about when the other person is showing their craziness, and guide them to a place of total rational thought. Well… as rational as you can get any person to behave and think when love is the topic at hand. When my marriage was struggling and I needed advice, he was there for me. He listened. He spoke honestly and thoughtfully, not only about what I was going through but about what my spouse might have been feeling, because he could see the male perspective. As I have gone on to date, he has again been there to be the voice of reason and the male perspective that I need.

And it’s not just being able to discuss matters of the heart, though, that makes this friendship one of the most special in my life. There is something about the relationships between men and women that are different than a woman-to-woman relationship. Occasionally, women can find themselves acting competitively, even when we don’t realize we are doing it. It might not ever be intentional, but sometimes it’s difficult not to envy our female friends for fitting into those skinny jeans or getting yet another raise. But with opposite-sex friendships, most of that kind of competition doesn’t exist. I say that my friend is like the brother I got to choose (not that I wouldn’t have chosen the brothers I was given), but it’s more than just a brother-type relationship. Like with any friendship, we are there because we choose to be, not because we have to be. And like the best relationships, being there because it’s where you want to be, not because you’re expected¬†to be, is what’s most important.

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