It’s a debate that we have all heard at some point in our lives – whether or not men and women have the ability to be just friends, or whether these friendships are doomed to evolve into something more given time.
Looking back in history, the relationship between men and women used to be extremely closed off. There was a time where women were seen as nothing more than property, owned first by the male lead of the family, their fathers, and then given (for a good sum in many cases) to their future husbands to spend the rest of their lives under their care, protection, and rules. During these times, any interaction between men and women was limited, even forbidden.
As society has evolved many developed nations have now moved to a more open and free society, with women working towards equal rights and treatment in their respective countries. Despite this sense of freedom and equality, many still question the ability for men and women to maintain a platonic relationship.
The argument has been made that we are genetically programmed to be attracted to one another, thus dooming any attempt for men and women to remain just friends, their relationships only acting as a ticking time bomb until our genetic hard wiring takes over.
Hindu guru Osho was questioned about where he stands on the great debate, and his reply brought up some fascinating ideas. He compares the friendship between men and women to that of a friendship between a jailer and a prisoner, advising that they will both ultimately fail for the same reason.
He was quoted saying:
“Marriage is an ugly institution invented by men for the sole purpose of monopolizing women. Reducing women to ‘things’, men have proceeded to treat them like a commodity itself. The one thing men forget is that by doing so they reduce themselves to that status too, for communication to take place both the parties should be on the same plane.
Marriage is an institution based on lofty lies. The only time we can be sure of is NOW, and marriages ask for a promise of your whole life. It asks you to be together and love and respect an individual till your dying breath. Citing the lore that marriages are made in heaven, this institution overlooks the possibility that there might not even be a heaven. Thus we never try and look towards nature to find the actual solutions to our problems.
Biologically speaking, it’s completely natural to feel attracted to an attractive person. The fast heartbeats and flushed cheeks are simply a natural instinct. It’s a good enough feeling to make people believe that they would like to spend their lives with the person who caused it.”
Osho’s thoughts describe what he believes to be the reason that marriages so often ultimately fail – that the only constant in life is change, making it unrealistic for us to expect a single individual to be attracted to the same person throughout the course of their lifetime. The concept of marriage goes against this concept, requiring people to make a commitment to stay together throughout their lives. Those who fail to follow through on this commitment are often judged.
Osho went on to explain: