Sexual Tension

Now that we have had two full days of sun and seventy-degree weather, Spring Term has officially begun: Seniors can be seen lounging on the Great Lawn with Senior spring towels to protect their clothes from grass-stains, Uppers are often found crying in the Stacks, Lowers are attempting to infiltrate Ryley during study hours, and most Juniors can be observed frolicking on the Knoll. And members of every class can be spotted flirting all over campus. During Spring Term, sexual tension, defined in mathematical terms, is an increasing function, which is influenced by rising temperatures, disappearing skirts, with a sharp upward turn following college admissions letters. Notice, I said sexual tension – not activity, although it also escalates. (The sunlight contributes to an upsurge in student body happiness levels, which in turn create an atmosphere more conducive to social interaction. The growth in communication and happiness makes the campus more open to relationships. Also, the end of the year is in sight, thus students grow more carefree and less concerned about outward perceptions. So yes, there is an increase in sexual activity.) However, I am more interested in the tension than actual sexual activity. As more people pair off during the spring, students begin to search for their own sunbathing partner. This hunt often leads people to consider the possibility of kissing a friend, for aren’t most students attracted to all of their friends of the opposite sex on some level? And so this leads me to the eternal question: Can a girl and a boy ever truly be “just friends?” Or is sexual chemistry a necessity for a successful friendship? I had always assumed that my unusual childhood, with nine years spent at an all-girls school, had forever mutilated my ability to view a boy as anything but a prospective boyfriend. Though my freshman year boy-craziness subsided last year, I still find that every boy I meet is placed into one of three categories: kissable, possible, or (very rarely) never ever. However, when I was exercising with a close friend who has attended co-educational schools for her entire life, she admitted to making similar judgments. She also admitted that she only had about three guy friends whom she would never consider kissing; however, she had liked one of these boys for years, before reaching a wholly platonic level of friendship. I, myself, have only about four male friends whom I have never imagined kissing, even for a split-second. What does this say about friendships? Can a friendship ever truly be platonic if sexual tension exists? And if not, how can boys and girls ever have really “deep” relationships? How can their interactions ever transcend semi-superficial flirting and the occasional heartfelt conversation? I see these friendships everywhere at PA; sexual tension overflows from OWH Library, bursts out of Commons’ numerous doors, seeps from the Gelb Science Center, and floats around the lawns. However, I also see boys and girls who are great friends – just – friends…or are they? Here is the predicament: sexual tension, or at least some level of sexual chemistry, appears to be an essential component to friendship, at least in its early stages. It is much more probable that a student will befriend someone whom he or she is initially attracted to; therefore, sexual tension should almost always be present in close friendships. Perhaps we are only able to become close platonic friends with a member of the opposite sex when we have overused the tired mannerisms, expressions, and phrases so universal to flirting, or after enduring a unique bonding experience together. Or maybe most of us are too superficial. Friendships should never be based on appearances. However, sexual attraction does not always correlate to physical beauty, but instead is founded on more intangible factors such as pheromones and Oedipal preferences (i.e. a boy liking a girl because she resembles his mother). Yes, I do believe that boys and girls can be friends. However, as long as sexual chemistry remains a large element to a valuable friendship, they will never be “just” friends forever. Whether they kiss, or simply entertain the idea, their sexual compatibility will preside over the relationship – but this cloud of tension need not encroach upon the strength or depth of the friendship.