Can Men and Women Really Be Friends?

Recently, I had to cut off a friendship with a man I have known for 10 years. I did it very deliberately and specifically told him why we could no longer be friends – as opposed to other methods such as always appearing to be too busy, or never answering calls/messages.

At the beginning of this month my sister passed away, and ten days later, a friend passed as well, both from cancer. Both were young, and their cancer took over their bodies very quickly. I felt as if I had been crying non-stop since I moved to Minnesota. So when this friend, Clueless, texted me about taking care of destroying old, useless MRI films for me, I told him what happened. This is how he responded:

“How old was he? How did he die?”

Now, let me rewind a little bit and tell you that I had told him when my sister was sick that it was imperative that I move back to MN as quickly as possible so I could say goodbye to her. His response was, “Well, WHEN is she going to die?” Up to that point he had been calling me to complain that he didn’t have any friends, and the people he had considered himself close to – me included – were all leaving the state and he wasn’t going to have anyone left. So when he started quizzing me about the friend who passed, I ended each short answer with, “Why?” After the second time I responded with “Why?”, he told me he felt as if I was fishing for condolences.

Fishing for condolences.

He told me that he was justified in demanding that I defend why these deaths affected me.

Let me go back even further to February 20, 2013. That was the day I had my third brain surgery (I’ve had 10 at the present date), and I was lying in my hospital bed, in horrible pain as the anesthesia was wearing off. I got a call from Clueless. He wasn’t calling to see how I was doing; instead, in his most whiny voice, he said, “This is day one without Nasty, it’s your job to keep me from calling her.” Nasty was his ex-girlfriend, whom he wasn’t currently seeing, who ended up giving a cable guy a BJ like she was living out a porn scene, and Clueless found out about it. Nasty was a very mousy woman with glasses and braces who called in sick at least twice a week at her workplace because she didn’t feel like going to work. The only reason Clueless was so attached to her was that she is a swallower. They had nothing in common, fought constantly, and she didn’t understand any of his cultural references because she was at least a decade younger than him. That day in the hospital I tried to follow his rantings, but he got pissed off when I dozed off, and hung up on me telling me that he was going to call back the next day and quiz me about what he said. And he certainly made good that promise.

Let me go back even further. In 2005, I joined an online socializing group. We would sign up to events listed on a calendar, hosted by other members of the group. It was a great way to meet new people and try new things. I hosted a few events myself including a dinner night at an Ethiopian restaurant. Cluless joined the group at around the same time. At the events, we would often gravitate towards each other, always laughing and sharing stories. We ended up dating. Now, the length of the dating varies according to whom you ask; we lasted about six months, but Clueless says it was only one month because the rest of the time he was trying to find someone better to date. He also had a list of 42 qualities he was looking for in a mate. I met all but two because at the time I had already lost all of my hair and so didn’t meet his minimum requirement of shoulder-length hair, and my bachelor’s degree came much later. At the time we were dating he wasn’t working and he was getting his food from the food bank, but was still convinced that he should buy an investment property. Clueless would often tell me that he was different from everyone else – he really, really didn’t want to work, and he wanted all of his income to be passive income. No, really. So when he told me he was going to have his mortgage broker cook the numbers so he could qualify to buy another property, we got into it. (By the way, #3 on his list was to have a girlfriend who would NEVER question and always tell him he was doing the right thing.) During the fight he told me I obviously didn’t know what I was talking about because I had never owned a home. It didn’t matter to him that I had already been in real estate for 12 years at that point; he had just gotten his real estate license six months prior, and that outweighed any experience I had. I told him that the crazy prices in the market weren’t going to last and that he shouldn’t count on a house becoming instant income, and he obviously couldn’t handle taking on another mortgage. (Incidentally, six months later the market crashed and his properties were sold at 1/3 of their high values. He is still kicking himself 9 years later.)

Anyway, it got ugly. We didn’t talk for a year and a half. When he contacted me again, it was to tell me that he didn’t know why we broke up. I reminded him. He said it wouldn’t have worked out anyway because it always weirded him out that I don’t have hair. Lemme just tell you that he’s a few inches shorter than me, is losing his hair, and doesn’t care for his teeth, so his rotting mouth smells like moth balls. He’s completely obsessed with appearances and it kills him that other men are taller than him, and he has spent thousands of dollars on hair products. He doesn’t see the merit in making an effort with his teeth.

Since reconnecting, Clueless and I have kept in touch and even had times where we could comfortably be friends. We’ve shared birthdays, movie nights and game nights. We did not, however, resume dating. I couldn’t view him the same after knowing that he respected me so little.

Besides the phone call I got on that day of surgery and his jerky attitude with my most recent losses, there have been other times that he has not acted in a caring manner. For example, whenever he wanted to socialize, he would insist I drive 60 miles round trip to his house, because he could not handle driving from his workplace to my house, which were only 2 miles apart, and for all but 8 months in the last 5 years I haven’t been able to drive more than 2 miles or be upright for more than 30 minutes, if at all. In other words, if I couldn’t get myself to his suburb, he wouldn’t waste his time with me. Also, during one of our conversations in the last year, he told me that women do not age well, only men, his mother included.

So when I told him that I was no longer interested in being friends, he became very defensive, telling me that he was a much better friend than me because he would always reach out to me (and say incredibly shitty things!). I blocked his email, phone and Facebook accounts.

It doesn’t help his case that after I left Phoenix he invited himself to my friend’s house under the guise that he was sad that I left and he ended up trying to force himself upon her so that she had to push him off of her and kick him out of the house. He was mad. I was tempted to bring that up when i was telling him to fuck off, but why drag her into it? He thinks he has some magic micro penis that is going to put girls under a spell if he just waives it around.

Maybe the problem isn’t whether men and women can be friends, but rather what kinds of patterns of behavior do we fall into because of our history. When I think about what I enjoy out of any friendship, it’s sharing adventures and quality time together, and there’s give and take, plus a fair amount of respect for both parties towards the other. Ultimately I have decided at this point, Clueless can kiss my fat ass.

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