just friends?

ただの友達?

The idea that men and women can’t be friends seems outdated to me as a person living in the twenty-first century. After all, through the course of my life, most of my closest friends have been male. It’s something that seems as normal as owning a dog as a pet or eating rice every day.

男と女が友達になれないっていう考え方は、21世紀に生きている私にとって、時代遅れのように思えてしまう。実際に、私の人生で仲の良い友達は、ほとんど男の子。それは、ペットに犬を飼ったり、毎日ご飯を食べたりするのと同じくらい、普通のこと。

Despite that, I’ve been confronted with several situations in the past two years during which I lived in South Korea in which I’ve realized that that’s not normal for everyone. I have been told that it is weird for people of different genders to be friends as adults. It’s even stranger to these people that my different-gender friends that I have are not people that I’ve known since childhood or even in my youth, but men that I’ve met recently.

それでも、私が韓国で過ごしたこの2年間、それが全ての人にとって「普通のこと」ではないと気づく場面が何度かあった。大人になってから異性と友達でいるのは、おかしいと言われたことがある。そして子供の頃や若い頃からの知り合いではなく、最近知り合ったばかりの異性の友達がいることは、もっと変だと言われる。

But it wasn’t just that it wasn’t a part of these people’s experiences – it’s that they weren’t comfortable with it. This led to some of my friends lying to their girlfriends about my presence when we hung out together, even in groups, or cancelling plans out of fear that they would upset their girlfriends. Their girlfriends saw my friendships with their boyfriends in a sexual context. As a result, I felt like I was something that was being hidden, like our friendships were illicit and morally wrong. This is not limited to a cultural misunderstanding, as one of my Korean friends expressed distraught when one of her lifelong male friends told her that they would have to stop being friends once he was married.

けれど、それは彼らに異性の友人がいた経験がないから、というわけじゃなかった。ただとても抵抗があるらしい。。私が異性の友達と一緒に遊ぶ時、複数人で遊ぶとしても、何人かの友達は、私の存在を彼らの彼女に隠していたり、彼女を動揺させるかもしれないと考えて、私との予定を断ったりした。彼女たちは、私と彼らの友情を性的な関係だと感じていたみたい。そうしているうちに、私と彼らの友情関係が社会のルールに反していて、道徳的に間違っている、やましいことのように感じるようになった。これは文化的に違うだけで誤解されたわけではない。私の韓国人の女の子の友達は、ずっと仲の良かった男友達が結婚する時に友達関係を終わりしようと言われて、彼女は取り乱していた。

My question then is this – at what point do we dispose of our friends because of their genders? Is it during our teenage years when we have our first boyfriends and girlfriends? Is it after university when we are seen as “grown-ups