The feelings of attraction that begin to emerge during our adolescence can be all consuming. I wanted so much to have a love in my life as I grew into adulthood, but I was so painfully shy that I had to force myself to talk to women. My attempts to approach and engage with women were sometimes very awkward. I would often trip over my words or go completely blank. My social anxieties gradually abated as I continued to engage with women. I began to realize after some time that I really enjoyed women and that I felt much more comfortable relating to them.
Men and women have a tendency to exist within their own subcultures. A friend of mine who used to work as a bartender talked about how women came to the bar with their circle of girlfriends. Men usually came to the bars wanting to hook up, but those who tried to approach were often shot down. Most of the guys I know hang out with their guy friends. And women usually spend time with their girlfriends. Men and women complain about not having a love in their lives and that they don’t seem to be meeting anyone, and yet many are not doing anything constructive to change their situation.
I like to meet and spend time with interesting people. I talk with women I encounter along the way whenever the opportunity presents itself. Engaging with women in New York City can be difficult because many regard any man who approaches them in a public setting as a potential predator. There have been so many instances where I’ve met women and I could tell that they really liked me. Some have even spent hours meeting with me over coffee, but the underlying fears and sense of guardedness or the fact that they were too busy precluded the possibility of any kind of meaningful connection. It became quite obvious as I had the opportunity to get to know more women in the city that many have been deeply hurt. The stresses of living in the city make it that much more difficult for them to work through their fears, heal the hurts or tune in to their intuition.
Women that I encounter in other cities across the United States and countries in other parts of the world tend to be more open and engaging. I found women in Japan and China to be incredibly friendly and easy to talk with. Sri Lankan women often make eye contact and smile at me. India tends to be more conservative. A number of the women that I’ve approached while in India were initially standoffish, but would often let their guard down once they realized that I wasn’t a threat.
I’m intrigued by strong, intelligent and creative women. I’ll talk with any woman I encounter if I feel a sense of resonance. Many of the women that I’ve engaged with automatically assumed that I was romantically interested in them. It took a while for some of the women I met in India and Sri Lanka to get used to the fact that I was only interested in platonic friendship. A number of friendships have developed out of these connections.
Other women that I spent time with became very angry when I didn’t reciprocate their romantic interest. In some instances they completely stopped talking to me. Men and women who cut a person of the opposite gender off just because he or she doesn’t reciprocate their feelings are incredibly short sighted. Some of the women who didn’t reciprocate my love interest have turned out to be valuable friends. I have often realized sometime down the road that we were better off as friends anyway. Other relationships that had started out as friendships eventually led to romance. I’m also cognizant of the fact that my platonic girlfriends have friends that they can introduce me to.
South Asian societies have traditionally been very segregated. Men in much of India have very limited interaction with women outside of their own immediate families. The lack of normal healthy male to female interaction contributes to the misogynistic mindset, domestic and sexual violence, perversion and other forms of dysfunction that are so prevalent in present day Indian society. A large percentage of the Indian men that I’ve met have absolutely no sense of how to relate to women. Arranged marriages are still fairly common in this part of the world. Many of the single men and women I’ve gotten to know along the way were still waiting for their parents to select a life partner for them.
All men and women have both masculine and feminine attributes. Men who fail to develop their inner feminine are often lacking in sensitivity and that may prevent them from developing their capacity for compassion, empathy and intuition. Women who are not in touch with their inner masculine are less likely to develop the strength needed to fully assert themselves and stand on their own. Men who fail to develop their inner feminine and women who lack their inner masculine attributes are seriously out of balance. Spending time with friends of the opposite gender helps us to develop a healthy balance of internal masculine and feminine attributes.
Single men and women sometimes fall into a state of desperation in their search for love. Our state of desperation throws us way out of balance and that decreases our chances of finding the love that we truly need and desire.
I went through some very difficult periods of time when I wasn’t connecting with anyone on a romantic level. Having platonic girlfriends to spend time with made such a huge difference. Having these women in my life helped to alleviate the painful feelings of aloneness. The nurturance I received through our friendship helped to balance me energetically and emotionally. Having a grounded presence made it much easier for me to connect when I did meet someone that I truly resonated with.
There’s a huge disconnect between men and women. We’ve learned from a very early age to disconnect from our feelings and physical bodies and that causes us to shut down or disconnect from parts of ourselves. The disconnect between the genders is a reflection of how disconnected we have become from ourselves.
We have all heard the adage that says love is blind. Highly charged feelings and the accompanying projections experienced when we fall in love blind us in such a way that it that prevent us from seeing the object of our desire for who they truly are. Most of us have been hurt or taken advantage of somewhere along the way. We’ve become angry, frustrated, and fearful and feel suspicious of one other. Pain and trauma held within keeps us locked into a holding pattern that causes us to attract similar partners and reenact the same kinds of dramas.
We barely understand ourselves, let alone another human being. Men and women often feel as though they were relating to someone from a different species or another planet all together when they attempt to relate to a person from the opposite gender. Platonic friendships help to bridge the gender gap by creating a more neutral environment that can at times be more conducive for learning to relate to the other half of the human species. Being connected to people of the opposite gender will then begin to feel more like a normal and natural everyday occurrence.
Men often fall into the trap of getting hung up on a woman’s physical appearance and that prevents them from seeing a woman for who she truly is as an individual. Spending time with platonic women friends has helped me to get a better sense of the women I encounter along the way. I have a better sense of when a woman is being genuine. I can tell if she’s caring and compassionate, honest, sincere and if she comes from a place of integrity.
We all need to learn how to be a friend before we can ever become a good companion. My platonic girlfriends often open up to share what’s going on in their lives. I emphasize with their hurts, fears and disappointments. Gaining an understanding of what my friends have gone through in their lives and how they feel helps me avoid some of the pitfalls and mistakes that guys often make that damage relationships. It also helps me to develop the understanding and empathy that enables me to be a more caring and compassionate friend, romantic partner and possibly future husband.
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Ben Oofana is a healer who began his training with Horace Daukei, one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa Indian tribe. To learn more or to schedule a private session call (913) 927-4281