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But for some reason, a strong bond between female friends is accepted, whereas whenever men are involved, sexual overtones get added in

I hear this a lot. ‘Let men just be friends!’ And I’m all for it. Men should be free to show affection, vulnerability, and closeness in their friendships just the way women are. It is so uncommon (in western society, at least), that some people find it jarring and immediately jump to the idea that the relationship must be romantic/sexual, because men are only supposed to act that way with their romantic/sexual partners.

On the other hand, have you ever heard a queer woman tell a story of the many times her partner was determinedly referred to as her friend in various scenarios, at a dinner date, holding hands walking down the street, shopping for a bed in IKEA? It’s funny isn’t it? If you want readers to believe your two female characters are falling in love, you better beat them over the head with it. But the lines between friendship and romance may be more blurry than we realise.

So let’s try an exercise. Imagine one of your characters is a woman, the other still a man, and no other aspect of the relationship has changed. Do you think readers would be able to discern the platonic nature? Might the reader still expect this friendship to evolve into romance later, because that’s just what happens in stories?

The common perception of shippersshippers is that they’re squealing schoolgirls who just want to see boys kiss. But there is a significant audience of LGBT folk who simply ship because it feels natural and normal for two same sex characters with a strong bond to fall in love, just as it will feel natural and normal to a straight audience for a male-female friendship to tend that way. The difference is, we don't get to see a whole lot of it in media. Shipping is our representation. Sometimes it's the representation all we have.

The other difference is in the reaction to that assumption. If someone was to ask a man and woman with a close friendship if they are a couple, they will probably just deny it while laughing it off. When it’s two men with a close friendship, there’s discomfort. There’s offense. There’s this whole ‘Let men just be friends without it being gay!’ thing. Well, what's wrong if it had been gay? It’s so subtly homophobic, but significant nonetheless. You can deconstruct the toxic masculinity of denying men close friendships without throwing queer men under the bus.

So my advice is to look at this similar question and do exactly what you would do if your philia pair was a guy and a girl. Don’t make jokes to brush it off. Don't worry about shippers. People are still going to ship them no matter what, and that’s valid. There’s no need to be put off by it.

But for some reason, a strong bond between female friends is accepted, whereas whenever men are involved, sexual overtones get added in

I hear this a lot. ‘Let men just be friends!’ And I’m all for it. Men should be free to show affection, vulnerability, and closeness in their friendships just the way women are. It is so uncommon (in western society, at least), that some people find it jarring and immediately jump to the idea that the relationship must be romantic/sexual, because men are only supposed to act that way with their romantic/sexual partners.

On the other hand, have you ever heard a queer woman tell a story of the many times her partner was determinedly referred to as her friend in various scenarios, at a dinner date, holding hands walking down the street, shopping for a bed in IKEA? It’s funny isn’t it? If you want readers to believe your two female characters are falling in love, you better beat them over the head with it. But the lines between friendship and romance may be more blurry than we realise.

So let’s try an exercise. Imagine one of your characters is a woman, the other still a man, and no other aspect of the relationship has changed. Do you think readers would be able to discern the platonic nature? Might the reader still expect this friendship to evolve into romance later, because that’s just what happens in stories?

The common perception of shippers is that they’re squealing schoolgirls who just want to see boys kiss. But there is a significant audience of LGBT folk who simply ship because it feels natural and normal for two same sex characters with a strong bond to fall in love, just as it will feel natural and normal to a straight audience for a male-female friendship to tend that way. The difference is, we don't get to see a whole lot of it in media. Shipping is our representation. Sometimes it's the representation all we have.

The other difference is in the reaction to that assumption. If someone was to ask a man and woman with a close friendship if they are a couple, they will probably just deny it while laughing it off. When it’s two men with a close friendship, there’s discomfort. There’s offense. There’s this whole ‘Let men just be friends without it being gay!’ thing. Well, what's wrong if it had been gay? It’s so subtly homophobic, but significant nonetheless. You can deconstruct the toxic masculinity of denying men close friendships without throwing queer men under the bus.

So my advice is to look at this similar question and do exactly what you would do if your philia pair was a guy and a girl. Don’t make jokes to brush it off. Don't worry about shippers. People are still going to ship them no matter what, and that’s valid. There’s no need to be put off by it.

But for some reason, a strong bond between female friends is accepted, whereas whenever men are involved, sexual overtones get added in

I hear this a lot. ‘Let men just be friends!’ And I’m all for it. Men should be free to show affection, vulnerability, and closeness in their friendships just the way women are. It is so uncommon (in western society, at least), that some people find it jarring and immediately jump to the idea that the relationship must be romantic/sexual, because men are only supposed to act that way with their romantic/sexual partners.

On the other hand, have you ever heard a queer woman tell a story of the many times her partner was determinedly referred to as her friend in various scenarios, at a dinner date, holding hands walking down the street, shopping for a bed in IKEA? It’s funny isn’t it? If you want readers to believe your two female characters are falling in love, you better beat them over the head with it. But the lines between friendship and romance may be more blurry than we realise.

So let’s try an exercise. Imagine one of your characters is a woman, the other still a man, and no other aspect of the relationship has changed. Do you think readers would be able to discern the platonic nature? Might the reader still expect this friendship to evolve into romance later, because that’s just what happens in stories?

The common perception of shippers is that they’re squealing schoolgirls who just want to see boys kiss. But there is a significant audience of LGBT folk who simply ship because it feels natural and normal for two same sex characters with a strong bond to fall in love, just as it will feel natural and normal to a straight audience for a male-female friendship to tend that way. The difference is, we don't get to see a whole lot of it in media. Shipping is our representation. Sometimes it's the representation all we have.

The other difference is in the reaction to that assumption. If someone was to ask a man and woman with a close friendship if they are a couple, they will probably just deny it while laughing it off. When it’s two men with a close friendship, there’s discomfort. There’s offense. There’s this whole ‘Let men just be friends without it being gay!’ thing. Well, what's wrong if it had been gay? It’s so subtly homophobic, but significant nonetheless. You can deconstruct the toxic masculinity of denying men close friendships without throwing queer men under the bus.

So my advice is to look at this similar question and do exactly what you would do if your philia pair was a guy and a girl. Don’t make jokes to brush it off. Don't worry about shippers. People are still going to ship them no matter what, and that’s valid. There’s no need to be put off by it.

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But for some reason, a strong bond between female friends is accepted, whereas whenever men are involved, sexual overtones get added in

I hear this a lot. ‘Let men just be friends!’ And I’m all for it. Men should be free to show affection, vulnerability, and closeness in their friendships just the way women are. It is so uncommon (in western society, at least), that some people find it jarring and immediately jump to the idea that the relationship must be romantic/sexual, because men are only supposed to act that way with their romantic/sexual partners.

On the other hand, have you ever heard a queer woman tell a story of the many times her partner was determinedly referred to as her friend in various scenarios, at a dinner date, holding hands walking down the street, shopping for a bed in IKEA? It’s funny isn’t it? If you want readers to believe your two female characters are falling in love, you better beat them over the head with it. But the lines between friendship and romance may be more blurry than we realise.

So let’s try an exercise. Imagine one of your characters is a woman, the other still a man, and no other aspect of the relationship has changed. Do you think readers would be able to discern the platonic nature? Might the reader still expect this friendship to evolve into romance later, because that’s just what happens in stories?

The common perception of shippers is that they’re squealing schoolgirls who just want to see boys kiss. But there is a significant audience of LGBT folk who simply ship because it feels natural and normal for two same sex characters with a strong bond to fall in love, just as it will feel natural and normal to a straight audience for a male-female friendship to tend that way. The difference is, we don't get to see a whole lot of it on the screenin media. Shipping is our representation. Sometimes it's the representation all we have.

The other difference is in the reaction to that assumption. If someone was to ask a man and woman with a close friendship if they are a couple, they will probably just deny it while laughing it off. When it’s two men with a close friendship, there’s discomfort. There’s offense. There’s this whole ‘Let men just be friends without it being gay!’ thing. Well, what's wrong if it had been gay? It’s so subtly homophobic, but significant nonetheless. You can deconstruct the toxic masculinity of denying men close friendships without throwing queer men under the bus.

So my advice is to look at this similar question and do exactly what you would do if your philia pair was a guy and a girl. Don’t make jokes to brush it off. Don't worry about shippers. People are still going to ship them no matter what, and that’s valid. There’s no need to be put off by it.

But for some reason, a strong bond between female friends is accepted, whereas whenever men are involved, sexual overtones get added in

I hear this a lot. ‘Let men just be friends!’ And I’m all for it. Men should be free to show affection, vulnerability, and closeness in their friendships just the way women are. It is so uncommon (in western society, at least), that some people find it jarring and immediately jump to the idea that the relationship must be romantic/sexual, because men are only supposed to act that way with their romantic/sexual partners.

On the other hand, have you ever heard a queer woman tell a story of the many times her partner was determinedly referred to as her friend in various scenarios, at a dinner date, holding hands walking down the street, shopping for a bed in IKEA? It’s funny isn’t it? If you want readers to believe your two female characters are falling in love, you better beat them over the head with it. But the lines between friendship and romance may be more blurry than we realise.

So let’s try an exercise. Imagine one of your characters is a woman, the other still a man, and no other aspect of the relationship has changed. Do you think readers would be able to discern the platonic nature? Might the reader still expect this friendship to evolve into romance later, because that’s just what happens in stories?

The common perception of shippers is that they’re squealing schoolgirls who just want to see boys kiss. But there is a significant audience of LGBT folk who simply ship because it feels natural and normal for two same sex characters with a strong bond to fall in love, just as it will feel natural and normal to a straight audience for a male-female friendship to tend that way. The difference is, we don't get to see a whole lot of it on the screen. Shipping is our representation. Sometimes it's the representation all we have.

The other difference is in the reaction to that assumption. If someone was to ask a man and woman with a close friendship if they are a couple, they will probably just deny it while laughing it off. When it’s two men with a close friendship, there’s discomfort. There’s offense. There’s this whole ‘Let men just be friends without it being gay!’ thing. Well, what's wrong if it had been gay? It’s so subtly homophobic, but significant nonetheless. You can deconstruct the toxic masculinity of denying men close friendships without throwing queer men under the bus.

So my advice is to look at this similar question and do exactly what you would do if your philia pair was a guy and a girl. Don’t make jokes to brush it off. Don't worry about shippers. People are still going to ship them no matter what, and that’s valid. There’s no need to be put off by it.

But for some reason, a strong bond between female friends is accepted, whereas whenever men are involved, sexual overtones get added in

I hear this a lot. ‘Let men just be friends!’ And I’m all for it. Men should be free to show affection, vulnerability, and closeness in their friendships just the way women are. It is so uncommon (in western society, at least), that some people find it jarring and immediately jump to the idea that the relationship must be romantic/sexual, because men are only supposed to act that way with their romantic/sexual partners.

On the other hand, have you ever heard a queer woman tell a story of the many times her partner was determinedly referred to as her friend in various scenarios, at a dinner date, holding hands walking down the street, shopping for a bed in IKEA? It’s funny isn’t it? If you want readers to believe your two female characters are falling in love, you better beat them over the head with it. But the lines between friendship and romance may be more blurry than we realise.

So let’s try an exercise. Imagine one of your characters is a woman, the other still a man, and no other aspect of the relationship has changed. Do you think readers would be able to discern the platonic nature? Might the reader still expect this friendship to evolve into romance later, because that’s just what happens in stories?

The common perception of shippers is that they’re squealing schoolgirls who just want to see boys kiss. But there is a significant audience of LGBT folk who simply ship because it feels natural and normal for two same sex characters with a strong bond to fall in love, just as it will feel natural and normal to a straight audience for a male-female friendship to tend that way. The difference is, we don't get to see a whole lot of it in media. Shipping is our representation. Sometimes it's the representation all we have.

The other difference is in the reaction to that assumption. If someone was to ask a man and woman with a close friendship if they are a couple, they will probably just deny it while laughing it off. When it’s two men with a close friendship, there’s discomfort. There’s offense. There’s this whole ‘Let men just be friends without it being gay!’ thing. Well, what's wrong if it had been gay? It’s so subtly homophobic, but significant nonetheless. You can deconstruct the toxic masculinity of denying men close friendships without throwing queer men under the bus.

So my advice is to look at this similar question and do exactly what you would do if your philia pair was a guy and a girl. Don’t make jokes to brush it off. Don't worry about shippers. People are still going to ship them no matter what, and that’s valid. There’s no need to be put off by it.

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But for some reason, a strong bond between female friends is accepted, whereas whenever men are involved, sexual overtones get added in

I hear this a lot. ‘Let men just be friends!’ And I’m all for it. Men should be free to show affection, vulnerability, and closeness in their friendships just the way women are. It is so uncommon (in western society, at least), that some people find it jarring and immediately jump to the idea that the relationship must be romantic/sexual, because men are only supposed to act that way with their romantic/sexual partners.

On the other hand, have you ever heard a queer woman tell a story of the many times her partner was determinedly referred to as her friend in various scenarios, at a dinner date, holding hands walking down the street, shopping for a bed in IKEA? It’s funny isn’t it? If you want readers to believe your two female characters are falling in love, you better beat them over the head with it. But the lines between friendship and romance may be more blurry than we realise.

So let’s try an exercise. Imagine one of your characters is femalea woman, the other still a man, and no other aspect of the relationship has changed. Do you think readers would be able to discern the platonic nature? Might the reader still expect this friendship to evolve into romance later, because that’s just what happens in stories?

The common perception of shippers is that they’re squealing schoolgirls who just want to see boys kiss. But there is a significant audience of LGBT folk who simply ship because it feels natural and normal for two same sex characters with a strong bond to fall in love, just as it will feel natural and normal to a straight audience for a male-female friendship to tend that way. The difference is, we don't get to see a whole lot of it on the screen. Shipping is our representation. Sometimes it's the representation all we have.

The other difference is in the reaction to that assumption. If someone was to ask a man and woman with a close friendship if they are a couple, they will probably just deny it while laughing it off. When it’s two men with a close friendship, there’s discomfort. There’s offense. There’s this whole ‘Let men just be friends without it being gay!’ thing. Well, what's wrong if it had been gay? It’s so subtly homophobic, but significant nonetheless. You can deconstruct the toxic masculinity of denying men close friendships without throwing gayqueer men under the bus.

So my advice is to look at this similar question and do exactly what you would do if your philia pair was a guy and a girl. Don’t make jokes to brush it off. Don't worry about shippers. People are still going to ship them no matter what, and that’s valid. There’s no need to be put off by it.

But for some reason, a strong bond between female friends is accepted, whereas whenever men are involved, sexual overtones get added in

I hear this a lot. ‘Let men just be friends!’ And I’m all for it. Men should be free to show affection, vulnerability, and closeness in their friendships just the way women are. It is so uncommon (in western society, at least), that some people find it jarring and immediately jump to the idea that the relationship must be romantic/sexual, because men are only supposed to act that way with their romantic/sexual partners.

So let’s try an exercise. Imagine one of your characters is female, and no other aspect of the relationship has changed. Do you think readers would be able to discern the platonic nature? Might the reader still expect this friendship to evolve into romance later, because that’s just what happens in stories?

The common perception of shippers is that they’re squealing schoolgirls who just want to see boys kiss. But there is a significant audience of LGBT folk who simply ship because it feels natural and normal for two same sex characters with a strong bond to fall in love, just as it will feel natural and normal to a straight audience for a male-female friendship to tend that way. The difference is, we don't get to see a whole lot of it on the screen. Shipping is our representation. Sometimes it's the representation all we have.

The other difference is in the reaction to that assumption. If someone was to ask a man and woman with a close friendship if they are a couple, they will probably just deny it while laughing it off. When it’s two men with a close friendship, there’s discomfort. There’s offense. There’s this whole ‘Let men just be friends without it being gay!’ thing. Well, what's wrong if it had been gay? It’s so subtly homophobic, but significant nonetheless. You can deconstruct the toxic masculinity of denying men close friendships without throwing gay men under the bus.

So my advice is to look at this similar question and do exactly what you would do if your philia pair was a guy and a girl. Don’t make jokes to brush it off. Don't worry about shippers. People are still going to ship them no matter what, and that’s valid. There’s no need to be put off by it.

But for some reason, a strong bond between female friends is accepted, whereas whenever men are involved, sexual overtones get added in

I hear this a lot. ‘Let men just be friends!’ And I’m all for it. Men should be free to show affection, vulnerability, and closeness in their friendships just the way women are. It is so uncommon (in western society, at least), that some people find it jarring and immediately jump to the idea that the relationship must be romantic/sexual, because men are only supposed to act that way with their romantic/sexual partners.

On the other hand, have you ever heard a queer woman tell a story of the many times her partner was determinedly referred to as her friend in various scenarios, at a dinner date, holding hands walking down the street, shopping for a bed in IKEA? It’s funny isn’t it? If you want readers to believe your two female characters are falling in love, you better beat them over the head with it. But the lines between friendship and romance may be more blurry than we realise.

So let’s try an exercise. Imagine one of your characters is a woman, the other still a man, and no other aspect of the relationship has changed. Do you think readers would be able to discern the platonic nature? Might the reader still expect this friendship to evolve into romance later, because that’s just what happens in stories?

The common perception of shippers is that they’re squealing schoolgirls who just want to see boys kiss. But there is a significant audience of LGBT folk who simply ship because it feels natural and normal for two same sex characters with a strong bond to fall in love, just as it will feel natural and normal to a straight audience for a male-female friendship to tend that way. The difference is, we don't get to see a whole lot of it on the screen. Shipping is our representation. Sometimes it's the representation all we have.

The other difference is in the reaction to that assumption. If someone was to ask a man and woman with a close friendship if they are a couple, they will probably just deny it while laughing it off. When it’s two men with a close friendship, there’s discomfort. There’s offense. There’s this whole ‘Let men just be friends without it being gay!’ thing. Well, what's wrong if it had been gay? It’s so subtly homophobic, but significant nonetheless. You can deconstruct the toxic masculinity of denying men close friendships without throwing queer men under the bus.

So my advice is to look at this similar question and do exactly what you would do if your philia pair was a guy and a girl. Don’t make jokes to brush it off. Don't worry about shippers. People are still going to ship them no matter what, and that’s valid. There’s no need to be put off by it.

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