This week’s weekend open thread topic comes from a reader, who wrote to me, asking: “Can a man and woman be strictly friends, without some extenuating factor (in a relationship, gay, not at all attracted to each other)? I know for myself, if there is a hint of attraction, it is VERY difficult because one ends up wanting more … even if that just means a single hookup. Just wondering what everyone else’s thoughts on the matter were. I love having guy friends, but it ends up being a lot of work to keep things from getting awkward and stressful if you are both available.”
It happens that my best friend is a guy, but he’s gay, so there isn’t the same tension that might exist if he were straight. I have another guy friend I’ve been close with for 15 years and he’s straight and we have a great friendship. We met in college, and he initially asked me out at a party but I told him I was only interested in a friendship. And you know what? He took me up on that. I did “go out” with him (to the play he asked me to) — he even paid my way, if I remember right — but it was and has always been strictly platonic (not even a one “single hookup.” We’ve been there for each other through numerous breakups, extended single periods, and lots of up and downs. And it’s all good. I know a mixed-gender hetero-friendship like that is rare, though, so I’m grateful we’ve made it work.
How about you? What are your personal experiences — good and bad? Have you managed to be close friends with someone of the opposite sex without it getting too weird?
* If you’ve got a suggestion for a future open thread topic, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.