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Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend.They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, ‘Here comes one who will augment our loves.’ For in this love ‘to divide is not to take away.’ Sometimes prolonged companionship between members of the opposite sex, especially when it involves a lot of one-on-one time, will draw people into greater intimacy and spur their hearts toward marriage. Knightley in Jane Austen’s classic “Emma,” or Benedick and Beatrice in Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” Beautifully, it was these friends had occupied the “friend zone” so faithfully and maturely—for so long—that they were able to then recognize and pursue romantic interest in each other.Our culture likes to sexualize these, adding undertones of erotic intrigue. But all of us were born with an emotional and spiritual nature. But sex is a smaller piece in a larger puzzle of emotional intimacy and support that both sexes rely on for happiness.But Odysseus’s band of brothers in “The Odyssey,” David’s friendship with Jonathan in the Old Testament, Hrothgar’s companionship with Beowulf, Socrates’s friendship with Plato and his other followers—these still seem to hint at, and promote, a platonic amity that extends beyond the physical. When a single person is receiving a good deal of emotional and spiritual encouragement, they’ll still want sex.This sort of mature friendship touches on the soul, the intellect, and the feeling, proffering stability even in singleness or discontent.In today’s culture, however—in which, as Libresco notes, every gesture of friendship becomes a hint at potential foreplay—singles often miss out on the possibility of wholesome, fulfilling, emotionally-satiating friendship.Male friendships are often aloof and simplistic, because they fear the teasing or stereotypes that come with deeper connection.
But we must ask an important question here: is this the result of nurture, or of nature? As far back as we can see history, there have been instances of strong camaraderie between male friends.This is what Fiene is primarily criticizing, what the identifies as dangerous to the average male: the exclusive, one-on-one, male-female friendship.