The “F-word”: What Does It Really Mean?

212_002 It was on date No. 3 that I succumbed to the weakness of the flesh. Hunky Marcos had invited me to join him for a run from Shoreline Park to East Beach. I’d been hopeful I could maintain his steady pace. I darted around a group of tourists who’d stopped in the middle of the boardwalk to take pictures. Bicyclists whizzed by. I gazed into the distance and spotted the volleyball courts—our destination—a sandy area planted with a series of poles and white nets; nets designed to catch low-flying balls, not wild salmon, halibut, or tuna.

“How ya doin’?” asked Marcos. His shirtless, long-legged form loped effortlessly beside me. I’ve always imagined myself an athlete. But obviously, I couldn’t match the physicality of my date, several years my junior, and a personal trainer to boot.

“I’m not feeling so good,” I replied. I could’ve puked.

“Let’s walk.”

“I’m such a wimp. I used to be a strong runner.”

“I enjoy your company. I don’t mind if we walk the rest of the way.”

Two weeks earlier, Marcos had contacted me via eHarmony. We’d quickly progressed through the dating site’s “scientifically” formulated questions and checklists—devised to ensure a “deeply compatible” match. At the end of our first date, Marcos walked me to my car, but not before he’d unlocked the door of his own and retrieved a dozen yellow roses from the back seat.

“Yellow symbolizes our friendship,” he said.

“They’re beautiful! Thank you.” We hugged goodbye.

After I’d arrived home, I received a text from Marcos:

I had fun tonight. I like you a lot, Rebecca. Do you like me as a man?


I sensed Marcos was eager to launch our yellow-rose-friendship into deeper waters. And me? I didn’t know if I liked him “as a man.” After all, we’d just met. Marcos had said his gift of sunny-hued roses meant we were friends. I was wary.

When it comes to the sexes, what does the f-word (“friends”) really mean? I invited single middle-aged men and women to offer their input:

“If a man tells his date he hopes they’ll be best friends, it’s a ploy to get his foot in the door to her affections. He’s made her feel safe. She begins to trust him. Soon after, when he presses for greater physical intimacy, she may assume he truly cares for her. Just watch how quickly their ‘best-friendship’ deteriorates after sex.” ~Phoebe

“When I meet a guy and chemistry is nonexistent, I’ll tell him we should be friends, which means I don’t want to see him again.” ~Maggie

If a man exhibits relationship potential—but I’m ambivalent about him—I’ll suggest we remain friends for a time. A platonic relationship allows us to focus on getting to know one another without the complications of sex. But, a man won’t allow himself to be strung along forever.” ~Sarah

“Men view women as prey, not as friends. The pursuit of pussy: a man’s genteel manners, the luxury car he drives, his stylish clothes, gifting flowers to his date, opening the door for her, or complimenting her dress, smile, or perfume, are part of the game of getting laid.” ~Stan

“A man is a wolf in FTD clothing.” ~Laura

“I want to know from the get-go if the sex is good. If it is, I’ll be his friend.” ~Marcia

Friends-with-benefits is a misnomer. There’s nothing very ‘friendly’ about this type of sex because it’s based on a lie. True friends don’t use each other.” ~Thomas

Couples in healthy relationships can become friends once their physical passion has subsided a bit. When it’s no longer all about sex, there’s room for authentic friendship to grow.” ~ Craig

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Marcos and I walked back to Shoreline Park where we’d left our cars. I faced him. Sunlight reflected off sweat and his broad shoulders glistened. I averted my eyes from his six-pack. His abs were distracting.

“I’ve had some time to think,” I said. “I’m physically attracted to you, and you’re a kind person. I’d like to be more than your friend, but I want to take things slowly so we don’t mess up.”

“I like you too, Rebecca, and I agree with you. When sex happens too soon it can spell doom to a new relationship.”

I sighed. I was relieved Marcos and I were on the same page. He wrapped his brawny arms around me and pressed me to his impressive chest. We waved enthusiastically as our cars exited the lot. That was three weeks ago. Marcos hasn’t made arrangements to see me since.

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Please share your views on male/female friendships by clicking on the comment arrow at the top of the page.

Thank you, dear reader!   ~Rebecca