14 Days of Love Day 7: The Stigma Behind Opposite Sex Friendships
February 7, 2019
The emotions and obstacles that come with friendship are already complex on their own, but society adding on external pressures can make the relationship even more confusing. Best friends that are of the opposite sex live in a world of inescapable stigma that can often make or break a relationship.
Seniors Alexandra Forry and Christopher Iriarte met in homeroom, on the first day of 7th grade at Palmetto Middle School.
“I had just moved to Pinecrest from Broward,” Forry said. “We sat relatively close to each other in class because we were arranged in alphabetical order.”
Throughout their five years of friendship, the pair have endured countless rumours about secretly dating.
“When we first became friends no one thought we were dating because she already had a boyfriend, who also happened to be one of my best friends at the time. People always thought that we were secretly together and that I was gonna steal Aly from her boyfriend,” Christopher Iriarte said. “People just assume you’re intimate with a person because you’re so close to them. Last year everyone thought that we were in love with each other.”
Rumours and raised brows about platonic relationships between two people of the opposite sex can create awkwardness and lead to a weakening of the relationship. The stigma surrounding such friendships often comes with the relationship itself. The external social pressures coming from parents or close friends can be especially hurtful.
“In the beginning my parents were definitely suspicious, I was going to Chris’s house after school every day and they thought I had a secret boyfriend,” Forry said. “ But over the years, Chris has become a part of my family and my parents call him their son. He even comes to family dinner every Wednesday.”
Junior Layaly Messarina and sophomore Mekhii Wilson met in 5th period photography on the first day of school this year.
“I don’t think this generation can handle boys and girls just being friends,” Wilson said. “There are certain things you can’t do when your best friend is a girl.”
Research from Professor Emma Renold at Cardiff University noted that children develop gender barriers and rules and this stays with them through the rest of their lives. After speaking with 125 children aged 10,11, and 12, a boy admitted to pretending to be his crush’s friend just to get closer to her.
“My mom and siblings make comments about our relationship all the time,” Iriarte said. “At first she seriously thought we were secretly dating, but it’s been five years so I think she’s given up hope.”
According to a survey by Bleske and Buss (2000), college students were tested to find that both sexes find self esteem boosts and respect in opposite sex friendships. Both sexes were also noted to find jealousy, confusion, and stress in their relationships.
“My parents still always ask me: why do you two hang out so much? Are you in love with him? Is he in love with you? Is he gay? Why haven’t you dated after 5 years?” Forry said. “It still manages to surprise them when I say no.”