Since as long as we can remember, society has told us that men and women are supposed to be together. So can they really be just friends and nothing more?
I will start by saying that I am a girl who has grown up with a LOT of guy friends. I was always the girl playing soccer and football at recess instead of chasing my crush around the swing set.
I never understood why, when I got a little bit older, other girls were calling me mean names because I had so many “boyfriends.” I just knew these guys to be my friends and nothing more.
The psychology behind friendships between men and women
The truth is that after a couple of years, I finally realized that people just didn’t understand how I could be “just friends” with so many guys. They only viewed men and women being drawn to each other *genetically* in a romantic way.
I was once listening to the radio when Matthew Hussey, a Human Dynamic Coach specializing in helping women find love, was a guest speaker. A caller had asked a question about whether or not men and women can be just friends.
Answers you would never expect
His answers were quite surprising, but then again, they were exactly what I had expected all along. Basically, he informed the audience that psychologically, you only keep those of your preferred sexual gender around because you’re attracted to them.
Now, I mildly disagreed with this to start because one of my best friends is a guy and has been for a few years. I’m not attracted to him at all! But his explanations didn’t necessarily mean sexually attracted.
Men and women CAN just be friends – if they want
He claimed that men and women can be just friends if they so choose not to act on their attraction for each other. That being said, if a man and a woman are only friends, it’s because they both make an effort not to like the other as more than that. Now, this could be a conscious effort, but usually it’s subconscious.
How men and women remain as friends
There is a lot of hype behind “the friend zone” that talks about how guys never want to be just friends with a woman. However, you can say just the same for women wanting to date men. The truth is that in order for men and women to be just friends, they have to put in some work to keep the relationship platonic. Here’s what men and women have to do in order to be friends.
#1 Define the relationship early. Make sure that the both of you know that it’s just a friendship from the very beginning. By saying this early, you’ll avoid any confused feelings and the possibility of someone getting hurt down the road. You’ll also both be on the same page from the start, and your friendship will progress much more smoothly.
#2 Respect that definition. If you two have decided that you’re just friends, then you both have to respect that decision. You can’t start liking the other person and then get angry when they don’t reciprocate those feelings. They told you from the very start that the relationship was platonic.
#3 Never cross a line that you can’t go back from. When it comes to men and women being friends, there are a whole bunch of lines that can get crossed into a place that you just can’t bounce back from.
Never do or say something to the other person that can cross a line that you’ll never be able to get back over. Remaining just friends takes a lot of restraint in certain areas where you’d otherwise have freedom.
#4 Never hook up… no matter how drunk you are. People who are just friends simply can’t hook up with each other. While some people have done this and have come out of it just fine, it can cause major problems.
Girls, more so than guys, can have problems with hooking up with their male friends. Women typically associate sex with emotions more so than men, and when you sleep with one of your friends, you’re more likely to develop feelings for them. So no matter how many drinks you’ve had, don’t do it.
#5 Don’t joke about dating each other. The second either one of you says something about the two of you dating, even if it’s just a joke, it’ll put the thought into both of your heads and then imaginations will get to work.
You’ll start envisioning this person as your significant other, and that alone can be enough to spark an interest that you can’t go back from. So keep the joking about dating to nothing.
#6 Don’t pretend to be dating for the fun of it. I’ve had friends who would pretend to date their male friends just for the fun of it or because they wanted a guy to leave them alone at the bar.
The trouble with this is that one of you can take the “pretending” a little too seriously and do something to make the other person feel uncomfortable in that moment. That annoying person will leave you alone without your needing to pretend to date your friend
#7 Avoid spending too much one-on-one time together. Men and women being just friends works out much better if the two of you are in a group rather than spending all of your time alone together.
Alone time can conjure up feelings that you really can’t be having if you only want to remain friends. Group settings also take some of the suspicion out of your friendship and can help others to see that you’re really only friends.
#8 Don’t make too much physical contact, if any at all. Hugging, kissing on the cheeks, and even cuddling are huge no-nos for men and women who are just friends. Physical contact needs to stay at a minimum. Otherwise, you might go too far and regret doing something that can ruin the friendship.
#9 Avoid doing date-like activities. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with going to dinner with your friend. But if you’re thinking about going ice skating, to the movies, or doing anything in an intimate setting, you may want to reconsider.
Going on “dates” that you don’t categorize as dates might still ignite something within your friendship that you’re trying to keep at bay. It can also spark some suspicion amongst others if you’re always going on such date-like hangouts.
#10 Respect the feelings of each other’s significant others. The most important rule for men and women being just friends is that both of you HAVE to respect the feelings of each other’s significant other.
Now, I’m not saying that you can’t be friends if they aren’t cool with it. But you have to understand their side of the situation and respect their wishes. Of course, you should always find a happy medium in order to maintain the friendship, but just be sure that everyone remains content with the situation.
To make things clear, YES, men and women can be friends. However, there’s a lot more to men and women being JUST friends than you might think.