Does male-female friendship exist?

Published February 14, 2007 by axinia

   by Escape

That is one of the questions that preoccupied the pretty heads of the western society in the last centuries: can men and women be simply good friends, or is there always some potential “love story”, or trivial sexual interest behind? The opinion seems to be rather clear: such friendship does not exist! –  desperate women moan , magazines cry  and hypnotizing TV whispers to us . It seems they have no idea that the majority of the world population, i.e. the entire Asia and Arab countries know and respect this phenomenon as „brother-sister relationship”.

Eternal bound

In the eastern part of the world the role of the woman has always been somewhat larger and more meaningful than in the West: the beauty and the importance of a “sister” is one of the society’s building elements. From times immemorial there is a special tradition of the Raksha-Bandan ceremony in India: the tying of a rakhi, or holy thread by the sister on the wrist of her brother. The brother in return offers a gift to his sister and vows to look after her in this life.

It is not necessary that the rakhi can be given only to a brother by birth; any male can be “adopted” as a brother by tying a rakhi on the person, whether they are cousins or good friends. Indian history is replete with women asking for protection, through rakhi, from men who were neither their brothers, nor Hindus themselves.
      Since the rakhi-realtionship symbolizes purity, it excludes a love-affair or romantic feelings of erotic kind. Modern women in India often use it as indications, if they want to keep up a friendship, but want to avoid any romance. But what do the men gain out of it? Why should they want to exclude such a chance for a love-affair or flirting? The more Rakhi sisters a man has, the stronger he is, because the sisters support him thereby with their Shakti powers.


It is not about getting as many as possible girls for the “bed collection”, but about getting the nourishing love from sisters/Shaktis.

In India men are very proud of having Rakhi-sisters, and love to mention them now and then. If you are giving a rakhi to somobody in India, immediately dozens of strangers fall over you asking for one as well! They know for sure what it power it has…  

Alexander The Great and King Puru

 Maharani and children

One of the oldest legendary references to the festival of Rakhi goes back to 300 B.C. At this time Alexander the Great was invading India. Alexander was shaken by the fury of the Indian king Puru in his first attempt. Upset by this, Alexander’s wife, who had heard of the Rakhi festival, approached King Puru. King Puru accepted her as his sister and when the opportunity came during the war, he refrained from fighting Alexander. Thus the rakhi-connection was more important to the King Puru than the death of his enemy!


Why did I choose my rakhi-brothers?


“The reason why I chose all my Rakhi-brothers is because I wanted them to know how I love them. I wanted them to feel that someone particularly worries about them, in another way than a wife. In each case the reasons were different. The relationship with every of my Rakhi-brothers is absolutely unique and different from the others. I always feel the connection between my Rakhi brothers and me.


Whenever my Rakhi-brother is sad or anxious, I feel a strong desire to comfort him that he can enjoy his peace again. I chose some of my brothers, because I felt that they need the love and support of a sister. Some seemed a bit serious, and a tender touch of a loving sister would dissolve the tension. I selected others because of the large mercy, which they showed me in times, where I needed them. Every one of them returned my love thousand times and in 1000 small things” – shares one Sahaja Yogini.

It is exactly what is meant under male-female friendship. The friendship that is pure, joy-giving, supportive and colorful!

  by silvia31163



Western films about brother-sister relations

 The distributing house Amazon does not indicate western films, which can be associated with the term „brother sister relationship “. The only reference, which is to be found in the net, is a film about some pervert relationship in a psychologically ill family – is it the only way to make this topic attractive?! Thanks to the above mentioned tradition in India we come across captivating Bollywood films with the brother-sister (no matter biological or not) relation as motif; just to name a few: My brother Nikhil, Saaz, Phir Melenge.



Central role in the Arab Patriarchate


In the Arab world of family relationship the central role is assured to the brother-sister bound. In the literature this relationship is shown in a romantic, poetical light, and seen as the continuation of the father-daughter relationship. The sisters see their brothers as heroes, and those brothers are ready to fight for the life and the honor of their sister every moment – the examples from history and literature are well-known. This kind of attitude strengthens the co-operation of a society, which consists of large families.

 by ViDa


Western model of blood brother-sister relationships


Brothers and sisters are the persons, who know each other at longest and often the best. But how deep and trustful is their bound in the West really? For somebody coming from the East it looks like these relationships are often not very well functioning: the members do not hold together and are pretty often in quarreled. And even if not, the warmth and mutual love are still missing. That leads to the fact that the blood sisters cannot be the supporting energy of their brothers.  It starts in the family that Shakti-power of a woman is not being recognized and respected from her childhood. No wonder a woman herself is unaware of her awesome powers!


What is really special about the brother-sister relationship is that they have under normal conditions a very close relationship to each other, know each other very well and, nevertheless, there is an incest-taboo. Such a relationship that should be probably the third important (after parents and marriage partners) in our life is often underestimated socially and personally! Therefore we do not feel that many – if not all – other people can be in fact our brothers and sisters.


The longing for sister-Shakti

And now comes the exposure of apparently so complicated male-female relationships of modern times: that is the supporting, nourishing, always loving Shakti of a woman, which a man is longing for! In his life a man meets several women, who are especially attractive and „close “ to him, but what really attracts him is the power that these women can give him. The potential, the Shakti…

  by GaryP


Shakti manifests itself as an emotional support, though it works much deeper and on many other levels. It is the sister, who always stands by her brother and affectionately accompanies his life. A beautiful song sings of this mystery: „Oh, sister, you are my earth; you are my living water that saved me from the thirst…“ The uniqueness of this male-female type of bound seem to be badly misinterpreted and misunderstood in the modern West.

A man will rather fall in love with a woman instead of seeing her as his potential energy, strength-giving Shakti/sister. In fact, a man wants to surround himself with as many women as possible because he is looking for the support of female powers! He goes on having one love-affair after another, until he finds HIS OWN SHAKTI (which is not easy when you are not connected to reality). As soon as his being recognizes his Shakti (feminine energy in a form of a woman meant for him), he will never want to leave her…


The most interesting thing many women confess they often see men rather as brothers! „Protectors, knights, strong brothers, good friends “- these are the roles such women feel very comfortable with.  Consciously or subconsciously women look for the helpfulness, security, reliability of the male energy.


It seems that for their healthy development human beings need to have such fraternal relationship with the other sex. We have more facets for brothers and sisters in our soul than the number of siblings we can physically possess.


Unfortunately many people do not see these connections, and so some man or some woman get into an intimate relationship and finally also partnership with someone, who is more a kind of brother or sister. This kind of relationship often brings disappointment, as is to be read in many women magazines.

Then the logical question comes up: how can I differentiate between this ONLY man, who is meant for me, of all men, who are like my brothers? BUt this is a question for another article.


Rakhi facts

• The sister-brother relationship highlighted by the Rakhi goes far beyond the mere personal protection of a female from a male. It also implies the basic element of an amicable and harmonious social life where all members of the society look upon themselves as brothers and sisters and as children of one common motherland.

• The Rakhi may also be tied on other special occasions to show solidarity and kinship (not necessarily only among brothers and sisters), as was done during the Indian independence movement.


LOVE, axinia


45 comments on “Does male-female friendship exist?

  • Shakti, This has to be your best one so far, Your insights into relationship as well as as our festivals are beautifully narrated.

    “It is exactly what is meant under male-female friendship. The friendship that is pure, joy-giving, supportive and colorful!” I loved this sentence! Can’t say better than this in words.

    Thank you so much for sharing and caring!

  • I love this topic, too! As all my articles, this one is also based on my deep personal experiences and gained knowledge.

    However: the female freindship is more or less known, but the aspect of male-female friendship is rather new for the western mentality. So it was my special intention and my heart desire to share this topic with my readers.

    May be it is the reason why it came up so well 🙂

  • wow I really loved this post! I can really relate to most you’ve said here.

    On the lighter side, its a popular joke that girls also use this when they want to thwart any fellow who is trying to flirt with her 😉

    Usually its a girl ties it to her elder brothers, but then after a while it didnt matter. Have celebrated many raksha-bandhans having lived in a joint family, my one elder sister + my cousin sisters tied me raksha bandhans. Your post brings many wonderful nostalgic memories 🙂

  • Btw this was one para I didnt relate that much to personally.

    A man will rather fall in love with a woman instead of seeing her as his potential energy, strength-giving Shakti/sister.

    Hmmm… maybe because he gets obsessed with the idea of wanting to posess her and make her “his own”.

    As soon as his being recognizes his Shakti (feminine energy in a form of a woman meant for him), he will never want to leave her…

    Hmm in my own case, I had a hard time knowing whom to marry. I found something nice in almost every proposal I came across, and found not much reason to reject. It was just a chance incident that made me finally decide I want to really live with her. Ok I think its about time I write about the incident and I finally posted it as a comment now.

    I got a more conceptual idea about this feminine energy and that kind of thing only over the past year or so, probably learning from my wife 🙂

  • You are right, Sunjay, it is extremely difficult to find the perfect match – interstingly it is mostly not the person we like at the first site!

    Out of my – and many my friends – experience one need quite a level of spirituality and sensitivety to feel one one really needs(what kind of energy of eht opposite sex) and who posesses it.

    The huge number of divorces worldwide(exept Asia, but for the other reasons) shows us that the choice of a partner is mostly wrong (based on the wrong values, indications, instincts, whatever…)

    It must be one of the great mysteries of humanity – how to find the right partner!

  • Actually the term ‘shakti’ in itself means feminine power. In Hinduism, power is given a feminine connotation — It’s the goddess that animates. Wikipedia has an interesting write up on this.

    Coming to the question of finding the right partner, I always believed in the line “find your soul before your soulmate”. Unless you understand your own self, you are bound to make mistakes in choosing your partner.

    It’s like trying to fit a pen to a cap. Unless you know the size of pen, you’d end up trying the fit a wrong-sized cap.

    Lame example[:P] but given the time cruch it’s the best I could come up with [:D]

  • Thanks for this very valuable comment, BD – I really like it!
    But i feel there are still some hints how to find out “the right on”, and I am going to post an article on it soon.

  • I wholeheartedly agree with…

    one need quite a level of … sensitivety to feel one one really needs

    (I’ve left out ‘spirituality’ because for me that term is too abstract 😉 )

    And BD’s said…

    Unless you understand your own self…

    I too agree this is really key.

    From one of my quotes collection, Ayn Rand has said:

    To say ‘I love you’ one must know first how to say the ‘I’.

    About finding the right partner… will check out your future post… but just one point…

    I found that generally one may look for a partner based on some criteria… say common interest or way of thinking or so on. Just a random example, say one may like another for his/her in photography, or sense of humor, or so on. And the simple & obvious, yet forgotten thing is that this CRITERIA is not permanent… it is bound to change over time. A person may lose interest in photography. Or may start to lose sense of humor when in more serious circumsances or due to aging. THEN… this is the test of time, can the partner perceive this change, and ADAPT TO IT?

    Just a theory, that if one is living in past initial perceptions – if one is recalling past honeymoon days too much, then I feel this is an indication that love may be stagnating.

    True love I believe is a dynamic process that cannot be taken for granted, and has to be relearnt, rediscovered FRESHLY every single day.

    If the criteria is based on the changeless – if the person is able to see the Divine in the partner, or atleast sees the potential of discovering it, then the love is more likely to stand the test of time 🙂

    [Hmm ok wrote quite a lot… pls free to edit/delete if I’ve written too much!]

  • thank you ever so much, Sanja, for this input! – it make sence is all the criteria is very true.

    However I belive there is something behind it, some subtler but yet perceptable criteria – however it will take at least an article to explain 😉
    thanks for patience!

  • This is an interesting article. I wrote an entry a few days ago on how I wish I had a sister and how I have always tried to find a “sister relationship” among my friends. It was a difficult thing for me to articulate and I don’t think I did the best job expressing myself but I wrote it down anyways. Your entry adds some very interesting insights into what I was trying to say.

  • Indeed, I checked with the mastamalang site and found one wonderful post “sisters” which reflects as a mirrow (from a male side) the topic. Can no keep myself form quotating his words:

    “I look at my friends and most, if not all of them have sisters. And almost all of them have very close bonds with them. They fight together, they cry together but more often than none, they care for each other. I am not saying that that a brother would care less for his sibling. But the love that a sister gives to its older or younger brother is far different from that of a brother…at least from what I noticed from my observations. I truly believe that the love between a brother and sister is something that cannot be compared to anything else in this world. It is an honour and privilege to have a sister.

    Sisters tend to bring a family closer together. They are that link that bond a family together. The relationship that a brother and sister bring to a family is unlike any other. The love they have for one another, in my opinion, cannot be compared to that of any other. They are inherently a blessed entity that bring blessings with them where ever they go.
    Through my experiences I have noticed that those who have sisters have a greater respect for women. They are less likely to hurt women physically or emotionally. They are less likely to break another girl’s heart. Again, this is all based on my experiences. That is why I tell all my friends that they are so incredibly lucky that they have a sister(s) in their family. Sometimes I feel that they really don’t know how blessed they are.”

    thank you, Master Malang!

  • Sisters are real Treasures!
    Sister is “An adorable art,
    Princess in heart
    Cute in expressions
    Smart in thoughts

    Mom gave this gift,
    Born in the same womb,
    brought up by same hands
    A friend at home;”

    But Girl Guy Friendhip does exist. It can, I would say, othre than any other friendship(guy-guy, girl-girl) a Guy -Girl Friendship is much better, you can find all ingrdients in that. The feel, the tenderness all those you can find with any other.Ofcouse after a Girl’s marriage the sustainity of the friendship depends upon her husband, same case with the Guy… So it depends on the Spoude factor.But leavin all these behing it is there.

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  • when I watch couples in the west: very often the find each other by “falling in love” instead of “rising in love”

    When we are falling in love we don’t see the reality, we just see what we want to see – so we cheat ourselves.

    My wife is Indian. In India it is the duty of the family members (mostly fathers or brothers) to seek the right partner. For them it is easier to see if the young people are matching.

    In the west people (mostly man) see in the other person a maybe-partner so the are always flirting…
    the innocent brother-sister relationship, as it was in the childhood, has gone….

    but it can be re-discovered…

    Since 16 years I am meditating in the way of Sahaja Yoga. At the very beginning I discovered that between Sahaja Yogis there is a real natural pure brother-sister relationship.

    When we find our peace and our own inner beauty, we see it also in others.

    I want to encourage specially man to try it because it is most beautiful to have a pure relationship to our sisters


  • Well,I’ve come through your blog for the first time and so glad to have discovered it!Though you are from Russia,it seems your knowledge on Indian culture is better than any average Indian.
    Sure,the relationship is so innocent,fun-filled and a pure one,with no naughty intents in mind.Having this kind of relationship is always different.It gives a different power in male,backed up by a woman’s power,which you have mentioned.
    I experience a sense of spirituality in this,and the adage is proved true ‘Behind every successful man,there is a women’ because of such a power.The best line I found in the post was,
    “No wonder a woman herself is unaware of her awesome powers!”
    On a lighter note,this relation also helps girls in India to stay beware of flirts by offering them a plain Rakhi![:D]
    Keep up the good work!

  • Dear Ameya, lots of thanks for your valuble comment!

    unfortunately I do not have much time now to write such articles 😦 But i will do my best and I have at least two interesting topis to write: “the secret of Russian Women” and “Mother as architype”), hope to write them soon.
    If you like my work, you can visit it is my other blog which i update alsmost every day! see you!!

  • Wow, what a wonderful post. THANK YOU!!!

    While reading current papers, it looks as if the human being is just an animal, but the article
    “Does male-female friendship exist?” cleans up that mess.
    Yes, male-female friendship exists!
    Plus it exists without any obligations or the restrictions.
    Let’s remind the meanings of a word love.
    1) We know the Love as the sexual relationships.
    That’s true and that’s beautiful, but that’s just one face of the love.
    2) We know the love as the brotherhood too.
    However, these both loves reveal just a little about the love. There is the divine love – the crown of the love.
    3) Agape

    Our attitude towards the love reveals the level of our spirituality.

    It was great pleasure to read your article. It was so fine to sense you as my dearest sister and so to step into the heavenly realm…
    It was beneficial in earthly sense too. I knew zero about Indian culture prior reading your post. You have helped to visualize it in much more detail.
    Thank you

  • Axinia, I absolutely adore what you’ve written here. What a blinding revelation this post has become to me! Never before have I had words, or even a concept, to describe what I was looking for in my relationships with women, always becoming confused between simple friendship and carnal relations, in that classically, tragically Western way.

    From my earliest moments I yearned for a sister, and when a biological sister failed to appear I sought the same in my friendship relationships, overstepping boundaries in many cases to the detriment of that particular relationship.

    I can now face the future with a little more hope, a little more understanding, and will do my best to honour the Rakhi-sisters I am fortunate enough to share currently!

  • I really didnt particularly like this post nor did I understand it. It really seems as though ur completely hating on western society. If it’s so horrible then maybe u shouldn’t live here.

    Just kidding Axinia. It was great. Your great. Your posts are great and inspiring.

  • Dear amberwavesofgrain,

    there is nothing I hate in this life, I guess I don’t know this feeling 🙂

    I just love the beauty of human relationships and I fell I am able to appreciate the best part of it.

    Regarding living in the West, I can only say: exactly because it is so “horrible” I live here. Because I can change something. I really can.

    ….thanks! 🙂

  • To be honest. Men and women have different ways of thinking. Therefore I don’t think men and women can be just friends. Whenever a man and a woman meet it is for interest, because they like each other and want something serious later on. The majority of the times there can be problems. It is not the same having a problem with someone from the same sex than from the opposite. Problems are bigger if it is with someone from the opposite sex.

  • Wonderful post axinia. I found your site recently and it is impressive. I can only speak as a Westerner, but you are right about the women’s role being minimized and devalued. I think this destructively shapes the culture at large and makes it difficult to form these bonds. With the sexualized society and opportunistic expectations, many men and women do not know how to form positive platonic reciprocal bonds. The undercurrent is charged and one questions the other’s motive, interest, and what will happen next.

    I enjoy reading.

  • I dont think the concept of brothers, sisters and even parents (as we know it) is inherent in nature.
    When we look at the animal world, which we are also a part of, there are
    no such relationships. This might sound cruel for a civilized human being, but its its a fact.
    Its the society and human social life that brought in the concepts on father, mother, bothers and sisters, may be because we needed social security for our existence.
    I dont want to write more cos this is a very sensitive topic.

  • Kenney,

    I am not sure, but I believe it does exists in nature…BUt even if not – why should we call it unnatural, if the aminals do not have it?!? We are not animals, airn`t we? There shoudl be some important diffrences, the things that actually make us to human beings and let us construct a civilisation.

    You say it is a sinsitive topic – I would say it is better speak from experience. In my blogs I always speak from my experiences… I do feel men are my brothers (exept for my husband) and that is indeed a great feeling!

  • A platonic relationship can work if the persons are to much alike or to different. It’s not dangerous, so long as they don’t see each other as “compatible”. One can even acknoledge that the other is nice looking without being sexualy attracted. Repulsive is perhaps to strong a word, but yah, for sure appearance plays a part as well.

    There are some exceptions to the rules such as people you’ve grown up with. If you have developed a real brother sister bond than you know that there are just some lines that you don’t cross.

    Apart from marrige, these types of relationships in which there are no expectations are simply the purest and best in the world.


  • Hi ,
    I came across your blog through some search on google…I am an Indian, and I am surprised your knowledge and interest in Rakhi!!! Each word in it is soo very true and so well said!! Cheers!!! And incidentally today is Rakhi….and I also have 3 Rakhi brothers who in your words can be said as “adopted” brothers…:-)

  • Thank you so much for such an eloquent explanation of this portion of life. I was given the link to your blog by Anastasia. We, she and I, have become friends and this is very important, and helpful, in understanding our friendship.

    I live in America where I am surrounded by “western thought” or lack of it. Not to say that we have it all wrong here, but, we need to merge with the east to arrive at the complete “Truth of Being” together.

    I have seen your posts on eternal values and often wondered if you had blog. I am happy to have found you and I look forward to reading and sharing on your blog in the future.

    I will be attending my first SY gathering in Berkeley CA on Tuesday. I hope to find the same energy and awareness that I have found here and on Anastasia’s blog. Should I be so fortunate to find brothers and sisters, I will be eternally grateful.

    Please feel free to comment or email me if you would like.


  • Well, interesting to read about rakhi.

    However, about male-female friendship in the West you are completely wrong. You write it is “rather a new idea” here by us. Hardly. It goes back at least a thousand years. (First written evidence of it still extant is from the middle of the 12th century.) The culture of chivalry had it as its central idea. A man and a woman vowed each other eternal love, but without sex – exactly to raise their energies of love in a different and higher way. It was called, in French, fin’amor – “refined love”; and in Latin “amor purus”. The woman was thought to have special wisdom in love, and so the knight swore to serve her and asked in return that she might teach him the nature of love.

    A medieval German knight-poet tells us of this love potential: “…Man and woman become one as do the light of the sun and the name of day.”

    Of course, you have heard of the grail legend: The grail being tended by virgins, and the grail castle guarded by men and women living together in chastity. The grail is one of the central western symbols of love and power of love in human life.

    The only difference is that the metaphor of brother and sister is less used, so understandably you didn’t find much by searching for that. That doesn’t mean, however, that we know nothing about non-sexual love between members of the two sexes in the west.

    Monks and nuns, incidentally, do use the brother-sister wording; and in medieval times might write quite glowing, but unsexual, love letters to each other.
    St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the franciskan order, famously had a soul mate in St. Clare, who left her family to join him, and became the head of the female franciskans, named the Poor Clares after her.

    Legend has it that once, when Francis and Clare were together in the forest having lunch, their holy conversation became so elevated that a high flame showed above them, and people came running from the town because they thought the whole forest was on fire! F and C are often depicted as running towards each other with outstretched hands, he holding a white dove out to her, she a bunch of roses to him.

    So, in short, what you have written about Western culture is prejudiced and less knowledgeable than what you write about Indian tradition.

    I know you didn’t mean any harm, but it seems to me a case of seeing what you want to see: “The spiritually backward West.”

    Yes, some of us have bad relationships, but so do Easterners. I think everywhere you go in the world you will find both: a well of wisdom – and some people who live unwisely and make themselves unhappy. They just do it in different ways – opposite ways, actually: Unbalanced Westeners tend to isolate too much and not dare to commit totally – unbalanced Easterners tend to merge too much and swallow up each other emotionally.

    Also, the shape and names of the wisdom is different in each place. In the East, a central symbol is the lotus; in the West, a rose. But the rose has as deep a scent of truth, and joy, as the lotus.

    Each of us just picks the way that appeals most to him. That’s fine – but that doesn’t mean that those who follow other paths are unenlightened savages.

    So please, speak with a little more love and understanding of us Westerners, that would be nice. But then, if you get your ideas of us from gossip magazines and TV (which are the sources you cite about our view on male-female friendship), no wonder you get a warped idea. Suggestion: Read some books. And talk to some real life Westerners. Look better around you instead of just seeking persons who will confirm your prejudices – and you will see the blooming f/m-friendships you claim we don’t have.

    I myself owe some of the deepest love experiences of my life to such relations. I call them brothers, too.

    And well, you and I completely agree that this is a wonderful thing. So congratulations for having discovered it too. And I’m glad to hear that it exists in India as a tradition. As a matter of fact, know what? I used to worry that we in the West might be the only ones who had discovered this joy!

    Live and learn, as they say…

  • What is the difference between a close friendship and a close relation? Most of us believe that when friendship becomes stronger, it may turn into relationship. The truth is different. Think about the kind of talk you have with your friends. You are always very open about your failures and shortcomings. You are not shy of talking about your problem and asking friends to help. In a close friendship, you expect to know everything about each other.

    How about a relationship? Think about animals. They also show their best side to their mate. We human beings keep lot of secrets away from our partner. We do not want to tell about our failures and shortcomings. We also try to impress our partner when we are in romance. This difference between friendship and relationship is very deep. We calculate our moves in a relationship but are very open in a friendship. We are like a child in friendships but behave like an adult in relationships.

    If you remain inside your boundaries in a relationship and not try to change it into a close friendship, you will have longer relationships. Telling all does not help in relationships.

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