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Seriously: Can a man, woman be ‘just friends’...without ‘benefits’?


Last week we had a nyama choma clinic. Yes, you read it well, a nyama choma clinic in Kitengela where I stumbled upon two very interesting relationship psychologists who see relationships like a profit and loss account.

But first things first, look, if various automobile makers hold regular car clinics, hospitals have week-long clinics to screen men for prostate cancer, why can’t we have a week-long clinic to screen the quality of nyama choma around Nairobi? I believe we are now on the same page, right?

While men and women can be friends, it is difficult for the relationship to be entirely platonic, warned Mike, the male psychologist. Our genetics simply drive our attraction to the opposite sex! The likelihood that at least one party is drawn to the other sexually is very high, regardless of whether or not anything ever comes of it. “This is the reason jealousy and infidelity exists; we are not wired to be a monogamous species,” he noted.

He was not done yet. “Men and women often think they are nothing but friends, when in reality one person’s mind or the other is thinking more. They may never share this information with their friend, but there is always that feeling that one of these days we’re going to get a little tipsy and make-out,” he stated. At this point I took a forlorn look at Rachel, the female psychologist, hoping she would allay the fears that were evidently permeating round the table, competing with the aroma of the nyama choma.

But alas, she did little to assure us. “I have many guy friends. They are my friends because they all started out as guys that wanted to date me or sleep with me. If you have an unattached female and male, I think sexual tension is always there. Typically the reasons they are “friends” is because one of them doesn’t want more. I mean, if you get along enough to hang out, have dinners, talk on the phone, that’s a big part of a relationship, right?” She asked, while sinking her teeth in the steak.

She also substantiated something that my boys have always suspected for long but we could not come to a conclusive agreement. “Men and women can only be friends when the woman dictates the friendship,” she stated. “She has to be sure to keep him at bay,” she added.

According to her, the woman’s inability to create proper distance barriers, limit the time spent together, and restriction of intimacy can cause the relationship to veer off into the nearby bush! We thought this was the show stopper from her, but we were wrong.

“Men and women cannot be friends with someone they are attracted to, and unfortunately, most men are attracted to almost every woman they meet. So the idea that they can be friends without thoughts of sex is ridiculous. Being friends in group activities is fine. I would get worried if your guy was off doing one-on-one stuff with a woman. That’s called a date and it will graduate into something else,” she said.

We roundly protested her assertion and sought to correct her view. We told her that she was wrong to assume that most men would ordinarily get attracted to women they encounter in our daily hustles. The truth cannot be further. “You make it look like men wake up in the morning sharpen their thing and go hunting like in the ages of hunters and gatherers,” I barked.

But she is not the type to take it lying down. “The only way a woman can be friends with another man when you are married is if the woman finds this man so unattractive, there would be no way he could ever worm his way into your pants”.

At this point my mind drifted to Tony Rebel’s reggae song “Just Friends”. Well, these are weighty issues that men and women must agree on the irreducible minimums or else… @tonymasikonde

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