I’m Interested In You. That Doesn’t Mean I’m Trying To Have Sex With You.
Megan Bruneau, M.A. RCC

Megan, I can’t love this enough! Though I’m in a different profession (I’m a musician, with a business background) I face the exact same issue: when I speak to a man, he immediately assumes I’m ready to bang him. So, I remain shy, aloof, even a little faux-cranky….and perpetually single as a result. But I have to admit that, similarly, when I speak to a man, I’ve grown to assume that this is exactly what he is after.

{sigh} It’s been years of this, and as a performing musician, I am approached by men regularly — usually under the guise of appreciating my performance or helping me carry my heavy gear out of the building, and often by married men. Or drunk men. Actually, they are often drunk married men. But the result is the same: if I find them interesting, or even wish to make a new friend, I have learned by experience that talking with them, showing interest in what they are saying likely will lead to a fairly quick proposition.

One aspect of this whole notion I wish to add, and please tell me if you’ve found this to be true, as well — and this is actually even more disheartening to me: in social situations, like the ones I live in through my work, it is often the women who are in the vicinity who make those assumptions. It was also often the women in my business successes who doubted that I was achieving whatever position or ‘seat at the table’ I’d managed to secure simply by virtue of my hard work, intelligence and business savvy. And it could be vicious: I was once pulled aside by a male boss who light-heartedly told me that a female business leader in town had called him and basically tried to get me fired over some inconsequential (read: trumped-up) social error she claimed I’d made in one of my leadership roles. It turns out, I had been elected to a community board seat she had wanted, but she had never gone through the steps required (by the organization) to be eligible or election. I had. Fortunately, my boss saw through it and knew my character enough to write off her accusations. And yes, I confronted her about it.

Whether it’s jealousy, sexism, or simply men who cannot imagine us as equally intelligent and consider us as friends first, these situations, for me anyway, tend to first make me question my own motives (which is ridiculous) and second to become frustrated that women cannot be taken just as we present ourselves: as interested, caring and enthusiastic conversation partners, colleagues, associates, friends — you know, all those things men assume about each other when they speak.

Was Harry right in “When Harry Met Sally?” Can women and men simply not engage in platonic exchanges?

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