Weekend Open Thread

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) โ€” he even paid my way, if I remember right โ€” 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 โ€” 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 [email protected].


  1. Most of my best friends are guys… : )

    But I just started dating my very best friend… : )))

    1. To be clear…there has been an ounce of strangeness in each of my friendships… I have avoided kisses/deflected love confessions/sat on my hands through moments of lust but really not a big deal and very natural.

      I think the come-and-go of sexual tension can be equated to a come-and-go of momentary jealousy among girlfriends – just the perils of being human/animal. We are designed to survive, compete & mate.

      Both people have to make a decision to be friends.

      1. Oh, ALSO, check this: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/strictly_platonic.html

        For Slate.com, Juliet Lapidos (& her platonic friend, Jeff) did a series of articles late last year on the same question.

        This all intrigues, me, clearly…And now I MUST do something other than constantly refresh DW.

      2. Super interesting, thanks lk

  2. I have two male, strictly platonic friends. One is from high school, and he just has different taste in women, “nerdy girls” I guess, and I don’t fit into that type.
    The other is someone I dated for couple months, but we were just more like friends. We never slept together. And today we’re still just platonic friends, without any sexual tension.

  3. Everyone’s different on it. My boyfriend has good friends who are guys and girls, but he generally gets along better with girls. One of his best friends is a girl, and it took me awhile to become comfortable with it (mainly because most of my guy friends have hit on me at some point, so I had trouble believing in the platonic friendship). But they are really great friends, and there doesn’t seem to be any sexual tension-that’s what can cause a problem.

    1. Instant Karma says:

      I really commend you for being able to grow comfortable with that. As you said, people are very different when it comes to ability to have platonic opposite sex friendships. Personally, I’m on the side where the majority of my close, platonic friends are straight men, and I am a straight woman. It always makes me happy to see someone who recognizes her significant other’s friendships as valid even if she hasn’t experienced the same kind of bond. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Here’s a question I’d like to pose to everyone, because it may soon become very relevant to my life: is it possible to have a close platonic friendship with someone after a longterm romantic and sexual relationship? I realize it wouldn’t be instantaneous, but I want to know if it is even a possibility.

    1. Maybe, if you were friends first, before the romantic/sexual relationship.

      I had a good friendship with my first ex … until his then-girlfriend got jealous. He had also confessed that he should have never broken up with me, so … it got complicated hahah.

      I don’t want to say it’s not possible, but it probably has to take two very relaxed people. With very understanding significant others.

    2. I think it can happen, but it takes time, understanding and a clear sense of boundaries. I’m still very good friends with almost all of my exes, including my ex-husband of 15 years. It’s also mandatory that you, your ex, and your respective significant others have a strong sense of self and are not easily threatened or jealous of the friendship.

      1. I’m good friends with two people who I’ve slept with in the past. They were both at my wedding, one of them with his wife. ๐Ÿ™‚ I work with them both though, so we were kinda forced to get over each other when we broke up, and hide it from everyone at work (cuz no one at work ever knew I dated either of those guys). So I think that helped. Just reread that, and to be clear, I didn’t date them at the same time. ๐Ÿ™‚ A few years apart, but still work with them both.

        Also my husband’s best man at his wedding was a woman. She’s his best friend; has been for years. I’ve never asked if they slept together, I don’t really want to know if they did. There’s definitely no sexual tension now, if there ever was.

    3. I think it can totally happen. I’m still good friends with one of my college exes and because we broke up in a really amicable and honest way, there has never been an issue about anything. He’s known the men I’ve dated since him, one because we all went to college together and the other because we were at a giant birthday party, and it’s always been nothing but support and positivity.

      I think it does take A LOT of honesty though. My fiance stayed very close with his college ex immediately after they broke up, never really taking distance to mourn the relationship or anything like that, and it created some weirdness when he eventually moved on. I’d always been very supportive of their friendship, but she was clearly not comfortable with him having another woman in his life and their friendship has seriously tapered off. She also has a weird way of not acknowledging our relationship and being weirdly possessive of him, including “I knew him first!” and lots of “remember when we loved each other” messages in facebook posts or their conversations, so that’s added to them not being nearly as communicative as they used to be.

      Anyways! Sorry for the long response but I had two different experiences I wanted to share, and I the point is that it can be done, but with lots of honesty and straightforwardness.

    4. As long as it didn’t end badly I would say it is possible. If you share a group of friends I think it would be likely to happen naturally.

    5. I think it really depends on the people involved. I know it’s not possible for me personally. I could go back to being friends with someone I had a very casual sexual relationship with (or no sex or intimacy at all) but definitely not someone with whom I’ve had a romantic, physical relationship with. Friendship has its own kind of intimacy, and for me, it would be too hard to sustain that after having the relationship history with someone.

    6. Yes, I actually am still good friends with someone I dated for three years and we broke up about a year ago. I think in order for it work you BOTH have to want it, because learning to be friends after what youve been through is extremely painful, hard and awkward. I don’t know if I would go through it again, bit it was definitely worth it to keep him around as a friend.

    7. Yes!

      It depends on how you left things – but if both of you want to be friends, you can be friends. One of my very closest friends is an ex-boyfriend of mine. I’ve had two long-term boyfriends since the time that we dated but he and I talk on the phone regularly and are great friends. It took about a year before I was willing to speak to him again but I’m glad we’re friends now (and that we don’t date now).

      1. I think it is possible, and agree that it’s more likely if you were friends first. I am good friends with my first serious boyfriend (at 17; now we’re 30/31) and second serious boyfriend (at 19). Regarding the first guy-we were best friends first for a couple of years before we dated. We dated for a little over a year, broke up, and then went back to being friends after a little space. When we went back to being friends, our relationship was much better. I think we were never meant to be more than friends, but the line between friendship and romance was blurry for me at that age, and we never slept together. Not only that, but he’s friends with ALL of his exes; in fact, one of my good friends is a woman he dated after me for five years (she has since married someone else). The three of us used to hang out all the time. He’s just an atypical guy who is like one of my best girlfriends…and no, he’s not gay. Just proof that stereotypes don’t always apply. =)

        Regarding the second guy, we dated for nearly two years after knowing each other only a few weeks through work. Our relationship was serious, and we did sleep together. It took longer to be just friends with him because we needed more time and space to become just friends; old habits die hard. It took a while to relate to each other as friends instead of SOs. But, he’s one of the most loyal friends I’ve ever had; he’d throw himself in front of a bus for me. Or really any one of his friends-he’s just a good guy like that. I’m friends with his long-term gf, too.

        Come to think of it, in my group of friends, we’ve dated each other quite a bit, though mostly when we were younger. Former SOs never stopped being a part of the group of friends, mostly because almost all break-ups have been amicable. I suppose we might be an anomoly; I’m not sure if it’s common for large groups of friends to be so flexible about relationships. And it’s not to say none of us have had acrimonious breakups; it’s just that usually, those kinds of exes never really became a solid part of our group of friends in the first place. I really enjoy how our group keeps expanding and spreading out as the years go on and we all pair off, marry, and move forward. Anyone else have a similar experience to share?

      2. fallonthecity says:

        I have a similar group of friends, although none of us are married yet. We tend to retain SO’s in our little group — even though not all the breakups are amicable, as people get over it, we draw them back in and it’s only been awkward a handful of times. It’s actually a really great dynamic, and I’m interested to see how it evolves over time.

        To be honest, the weirdest part is when there’s a new SO who doesn’t know us and has a hard time accepting the friendships. They always come around to enjoy being a part of the group (at least on some level), but sometimes at first there’s tension that makes everything a little less fun.

  5. My best friend is a guy. We met when we were 17 at a summer program. We clicked immediately, and probably spent the majority of the time playing catch & talking for hours. We’ve never lived in the same area (except for the 6 weeks of the program), so most of our relationship is through lengthy emails and marathon phone calls. We’ve talked each other through breakups, told each other our deepest, most embarrassing secrets … he’s like a brother to me, but closer. The only problems we ever had were with significant others not being able to deal with our relationship (trying to explain why you spent 4 hours on the phone with another guy can be strange).

    He swears I had a crush on him; I swear he had a crush on me. But in real life, I don’t think we were ever attracted to each other in *that* way (he’s not my type at all, but I was definitely his hahahah). When I met my boyfriend, he insisted on meeting him to make sure he was good enough for me (my boyfriend has been approved). He told me that whenever it comes to the time that I may be getting engaged, to make sure to tell my boyfriend to call him, so he can give ring advice. And next year, he’s getting married to the most wonderful girl …

    Let me stop. I’m gushing. I love him! He’s my best friend. It’s possible … and fantastic.

  6. I have several platonic male friends. At this point, they’re all in relationships, as am I, but that wasn’t always the case. One I became friends with in high school, in that sort of “well, we hang out with the same people, so I guess we’re friends” sort of way, and we actually became much closer friends after we’d gone off to different universities. When we were both single, we were platonic and uninterested in each other. Two others I became friends with in university, and there was some sexual tension. But none of us are hookup kind of people, and we didn’t want relationships with each other, so we managed to stay good friends and just ignore the attraction – which wasn’t always easy. Now, one of them has pretty well disappeared from my life since he got a girlfriend, which makes me sad. Those are the only 3 platonic male friends that I have that meet the criteria of being straight, and neither of us being in a relationship at some point during the friendship.

    1. Yes, like you mentioned, some opposite sex friendships end when one or both starts dating someone seriously. That could be a combination of not enough time for everyone, and maybe some lingering attraction or embarrassment over old feelings.

      The guy friends that I have kept treat me as one of the guys, or else as like a sister. Anything else is awkward.

  7. Most of my best friends, and current roommates are dudes, but I am only 22. I think that things become more difficult the older you get. I know no one my parents age has a best friend of the opposite sex. I have yet to figure out if it’s just their generation’s way or something that happens when you get older….

    I recently went to a small party and my boyfriends parents house and you better believe by the end of the evening, there was a 50/50 divide. Women talking about “women stuff” men talking about sport and business and home repair. (I was interested in neither, sadly.)

    1. Fairhaired Child says:

      I can’t really vouch for both of my parents well, but I know that my mother is friends with mostly men and its strictly friendships (granted most of them are in realtionships etc ) though she does have the occasional guy crushing on her. She’s extremely atheletic though and is an avid cyclist, so she goes on 100 mile bike rides “for fun”. So most of the time when she’s riding long distance like that its usually male riders who do it more for fun as well – and she hangs out with them/talks regularly/emails etc. She has a guy friend who is from Canada that she met on a bike ride in Georgia and they talk on the phone and email, and plan future rides together – strictly friends. Oh did I mention we live in MD? Crazy how she meets all these interesting people (men). Plus I think women just drive my mom crazy with drama so she stays away from them mostly lol. More bragging about my mom – in two months she’s riden 14 centuries and she just flew out yesterday to go to Alaska to ride 8 days straight 100+ miles each day. She’s crazy right?

      My Dad also was very friendly with the opposite sex – granted a lot of them probably crushed on him (but i really dont know for sure). He was just really a friendly person, who enjoyed company of women, so he could totally hold his own with the gossip mill.

  8. moonflowers says:

    Being in a male-dominated field, I made far more male friends than female ones while in college. I’ve had the whole spectrum: the secretly-wants-more-but-pretends-to-be-platonic guy friend, the indecisive-iffy guy friend, the was-interested-at-first-but-isn’t-anymore guy friend, and the neither-of-us-ever-even-considered-dating guy friend. I like the last category best – minimum of drama and craziness!

    Having seen the whole spectrum, it’s totally possible to have male friends who are purely platonic. They see me as “one of the guys,” but also as someone who they can safely discuss gender and girl issues with. Since some of these guy friends also social dance, they like having a follow friend, since it gives them a no-pressure partner to learn how to lead a new dance step with.

    1. SpaceySteph says:

      Like you, my college classmates and now my coworkers are mostly male… so my friendship pool is mostly male. I have alot of male friends but I wouldn’t say we’re extremely CLOSE. We hang out, we do things in groups, but we don’t really have heart to hearts that often. I agree that you have a whole spectrum of relationships- some you would get with, some who would get with you, some who are totally platonic. At the beginning when we all started working there, we were all kinda feeling out the group, trying to see if they’re friend material or more then friend material… there were a couple guys who I thought “hmm maybe I could be with him” and a couple I thought “nah I could never be with him” but eventually it all settles down and, for the most part, we ended up platonic friends.

      When I broke up with my ex, I went through a kinda messed up slutty time… during that time I did have a drunken hookup with one male friend/coworker. But after that night we didn’t mention it to any of our other friends (although some who were at the party kinda know) or talk about it, and have gone back to being friends. I was single and he was single so its not like we did anything wrong, but neither of us wants it to go any further… we’re better as friends.

      Also my current boyfriend and I met on a co-ed softball team… we were just friends, and I had another boyfriend when we met. A few months after things ended with my ex, we started dating and have been together over a year now.

      So basically… you can be friends with a guy, or you can hook up with a guy friend, or you can fall in love with a guy friend. It all can happen.

  9. ReginaRey says:

    I’ve never been friends with a guy without there being SOME sort of attraction or romantic vibe, on at least one person’s part. I do think it’s possible in some cases, but I think it’s less-than-common. I’d love to hear others’ stories, though!

    Also, for those who are interested…I submitted a few articles to the Frisky (I figured…why not, what with the content right now) and one was published today! Check it out, DW friends! Oh, and by the way…that would be my real name on the article. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hopefully there will be a few more in the coming weeks!

    1. Oooh! Great article.

      I have been noticing this same change in my own internal dialogue and have been so excited to notice that literally everyone around me is perfect and perfectly beautiful.

      It is fantastic. I’m in love with everyone : )

    2. Rachelgrace53 says:

      I would never have known that was you… I absolutely loved that article!

      1. Rachelgrace53 says:

        Wait… that sounds bad for some reason. I’m happy to find out it was you AND I loved it already. lol

    3. Thanks for sharing! I probably would’ve missed it otherwise – I just don’t get through The Frisky quite as much as I used to.

    4. Ooh I read that and totally loved it! Great job!

      p.s. I didn’t know you could submit articles to TF…..interesting (maniacal laugh)

    5. fallonthecity says:

      Keep posting links to your published articles over here, RR! I really related to this one, and would like to read any others of yours they put up… but I hardly ever visit TF anymore because it takes ages to skim through the zillions of celebrity gossip posts to find the gems.

      1. ReginaRey says:

        Sure, will do! I actually have a more permanent writing gig in the works that I’ll share once my first article is published. Thank you (and all of you!) for your support! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. One of my best friends is a guy and it’s always been strictly platonic. We met late in our senior year of high school, completely clicked when we lived on the same floor our freshman year of college, and have been best friends ever since. I’ve never experienced any sexual/romantic tension and we’ve been friends for over 8 years, through all kinds of relationships, personal and professional ups & downs, you name it. I have close girl-friends too, but I’ve always had a good amount of guy friends and I love that one of my best friends is a man. Nice to have some variety, you know?

    Anyways, in my experience it’s totally doable and none of our partners have ever had an issue with it. We’re always just very friendly and honest with new romantic interests and make sure they’re as comfortable as possible with our friendship while also making it clear that we’re in each other’s lives for good. Our friendship hasn’t suffered due to relationships and I don’t think it ever will. I’m engaged now and my fiance knows him and likes him just as much as I do, and he always dates girls that I end up becoming fast friends with so hopefully it will never be an issue!

    1. I have to say, I wish I had your track record. My relationship with my BF (first serious boyfriend mentioned above) DID get affected while I was married. My husband wasn’t comfortable with my having two friends I’d previously dated. Ironically enough, he left me for a high school friend of his just recently. Never again will I let my friendships be affected by my relationships. I regret all the lost time in my friendship. I’m glad we’re still friends, and that I can have him in my life again the way I want. I hope it’s never an issue for you!

  11. I am happy to count many guys among my close friends. I absolutely think it’s possible to have a platonic relationship, with this clarification: the relationship is a thing shared between the two of you. That doesn’t mean neither of you has never secretly (or openly) entertained thoughts or crushes for the other. It’s just that you’ve decided the friendship is more important, more interesting, than hooking up even just once.
    I hate hearing the worn-out theory that it’s physically impossible for any guy to put sex out of his mind or take it off the table entirely. That may be true for some people, but men and women are all basically people who can think and behave reasonably and respectfully, regardless of ‘biological imperative’ blah blah blah.

    Anyway, I’ll add that on more than a few occasions, a guy friend has confessed that he ‘once’ had a crush on me. Though this makes me a little sad, because it makes the platonic friendship seem less ‘true’, that’s just me being a purist. It’s normal and natural to find the people you spend time with and like attractive, and to wonder what it would be like to be with them. That doesn’t affect the genuine reality of your friendship, though, it just reflects being human and having feelings that sometimes take us by surprise and need to be processed thoughtfully.

    1. “That may be true for some people, but men and women are all basically people who can think and behave reasonably and respectfully, regardless of โ€˜biological imperativeโ€™”

      Wow… I SO want to live on your planet! Have you read ANY of this past week’s posts? Not only don’t men and women behave reasonably anymore, they each have a hundred+ followers ready to defend their wrongdoings! Please… I’m not discarding your premise… I admire it VERY much. Let’s pledge to do whatever we can with OUR lives to make it a reality someday so maybe OUR kids can live to see that world.

  12. heidikins says:

    I have been friends-only with my BFF Josh since we were in junior high (we’re in our late 20’s now, so this puts our BFF relationship at something crazy-long, 15 years). We’ve never dated, hooked up, made out, snuggled, held hands, anything more than a hug. We’ve also been there for each other through good relationships, bad ones, deaths, heartache, happiness, new jobs, new locations, moves, the works. We go out to dinner regularly, he always insists on paying because, he says, it’s a respect issue. I have stopped fighting it. He meets all my boyfriends, they know up front that my best friend is a guy and I ask them to be okay with it because he means the world to me.

    Shrug. I dunno, I know I could never be in a romantic or even physical relationship with Josh. I also know that I couldn’t function very well without him in my life in a very real, best-friends-forever kind of way.


  13. I’ve only been able to be really good, platonic friends with men that were dating/married to my really good girlfriends, or with guys that were friends with my boyfriend and I met through him. All other male friendships have never worked due to sexual tension, lost many a good friend that way ๐Ÿ™

    1. This has been my experience too.

  14. I have a number of close guy friends. There are some I think are cute, and some that think I am. But at least for the close, long-time friends, I think we both value our friendship more than we would a hook-up. It’s like, sure, this person is attractive, but I still don’t want to do anything. Also, friends with guys can be easy in the case where you’re just seen as one of the bros.

  15. BoomChakaLaka says:

    One of my best friends is a guy. He’s straight and we’ve been friends for about 7 years. I love him to death. There has never been one moment where its been awkward because we aren’t attracted to each other…at least not in that sense. We also never talk about sex or anything remotely “sensitive.” Our relationship is honestly based on our genuine love for spending time with each other. Honestly, it would make sense for us to get married if we were attrated to each other, but as that isn’t the case, I’m happy having him as my buddy.

  16. I think its definitely possible. Its no different than being bi or gay and having same sex friends. There was a guy I was friends with for years and there was NO sexual tension or any thought of anything romantic. There’s a female friend of mine who I find very attractive but would never enter a relationship with (she’s straight anyway). There’s no tension between us either.

    Just because parts may fit doesn’t mean you want it

  17. The only people who admit that they can Just be friends with a guy/girl are the ones who are already submliminally thinking about them sexually, or the ones who haven’t started yet… but they will! Of course, they can’t admit that, as it tends to undermine their argument a bit. Women are much better at deluding themselves on this subject, so its almost always the guys who end up screwing up a “perfectly good friendship”. One need only go back to the script to know this situation doesn’t end well:

    Sally Albright: So, you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?
    Harry Burns: No. You pretty much want to nail ’em too.
    Sally Albright: What if THEY don’t want to have sex with YOU?
    Harry Burns: Doesn’t matter because the sex thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.

    1. Instant Karma says:

      Dave Jay, I have a question for you. Are you attracted to every single woman you meet? From what I’ve gathered, most people find at least a few traits blatantly unattractive when it comes to both personality and appearance.

      I want you to think about this friendship: one of my best friends and I joke that we’re brother and sister (where I’m the brother and he’s the sister, haha). I’m not going to go into the personality details that keep us from being attracted to each other, because those take a while to explain. However, physical descriptions are pretty easy to grasp, so I’m just going to focus on purely physical attraction.

      J = 5’6″ straight male. His current girlfriend is 4’10.” I’ve known him for almost a decade, and in that time, the tallest woman he’s ever been interested in was 5’3.” She stood out as the tall one.

      Instant Karma = 5’11” straight female. My current boyfriend of 2.5 years is 6’0″ (he and J get along really well, too, which is wonderful). Over the past five years, the height range of men I’ve dated with has been 5’11” to 6’6.”

      I can assure you that I am not interested in J. As for any attraction on his part, I am 8″ taller than the tallest woman he’s ever liked and he calls me his BROTHER. Does that sound like attraction to you? I certainly hope not! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Finally, I have to add that some people are going to be offended when you refuse to acknowledge the very existence of their friendships. You don’t have to invalidate other people’s experiences just because you have not personally had them yourself. It’s totally fine if you are incapable of having a platonic relationship with a straight female: that’s just the way you are. However, J and I are different, and that’s perfectly okay, too.

      1. And Instant Karma… I have an answer:

        The ultimate goal in any romantic relationship is to have that person be your absolute best friend. The one you trust 100% and you know will ALWAYS have your back. I wouldn’t take life vows with anyone who fell short of that. My wife is my best friend, and I am hers. In our case, that relationship developed parallel to an intentional romantic relationship.
        When that type of relationship develops incidentally… without romantic intention… you inevitablly realize that the person fulfills you in ways you cannot live without. Looks don’t matter, size doesn’t matter. The heart wants what it wants, and we all want to be loved. In the absence of other people that you find attractive, your heart will move you in that unintended direction.

        The hard part of establishing any relationship is the “friend” part, not the “sex” part, so when the friend part is already securely in place, the evolution to the sexual relationship seems almost minor. Sort of “Why not?” Hence begins the struggle between the heart and brain. More times than not, we can shut off our brain but not our heart.

        I think it’s great when both people suddently realize that they have the makings of a “great couple” based on their friendship and start to move in that direction together. I have seen several cases where a person has a wonderful close friend or roommate, but overlooks him/her to consistently date losers.. because they’re “hot”. I consider that to be self-sabotage and it puts that person outside the parameters of this experiment.

      2. Instant Karma says:

        I definitely see what you’re saying. However, people approach their social lives differently. For example, I’m the kind of person who casts a wide social net; if you read my post, I mention seven very close male friends. In addition, I have five very close female friends (and beyond that, a range of other friends). Because I have a large companionate circle, I’m accustomed to having different friends play different “roles” in my life. Of the guys I list in my post, I turn toward P, K and M the most for advice when I have issues in my love life. I particularly go to I. (need to differentiate him from me, haha) and N for intellectual debates. The goofier side of me goes perfectly with J, P, and D, while I., K, M and N mix well with the darker, more sardonic part of my sense of humor. What I’m trying to say is this: no one person fills every single role in my life. However, if you consider the people I care about as an aggregate group, I have at least one person I can go to with anything.

        Now, don’t get me wrong — my boyfriend is fantastic! He’s an interesting, witty, and insanely intelligent man, and he’s romantic in the exact same way that I am (no to flowers and yes to articulating feelings). We care about each other deeply. We have a wonderful time when together, whether we’re talking about today’s paper over breakfast, or out at night with other friends. However, he isn’t the end all be all of my social world. I frankly don’t think any one person can be, as I alluded to earlier. My boyfriend and I are both very independent people. Many couples do everything together, only interacting with others through work or grad school; that’s just not us. The outside friendships we have are integral to our social happiness. They do not serve as replacements for each other, but rather as supplements to our lives.

        I know that a lot of people end up falling for their “platonic” friends, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. I think the key to having a friend stay platonic is to know that person well enough to understand that you are romantically incompatible. The transition from platonic to more doesn’t automatically occur just because you’re friends: a romantic relationship isn’t simply a strong friendship plus sex. There are practical factors that affect a relationship that do not matter in friendships. If you know these factors aren’t present, you’re not going to go for a romance. We take chances on new people because we like them and we hope their views on these “practical factors” are comparable to ours. When we learn these factors aren’t well enough aligned (some would call these dealbreakers), we end our relationships.

        As I said, few of these factors/dealbreakers pose a problem in friendships. I’ll start with a personal one: if you’re my friend, I don’t particularly care about how driven you are as long as you’re happy. However, I want a romantic partner who is approximately as ambitious as I am. In more general terms, people have particular passions that they expect their partners to share, but don’t necessarily require the same of their friends. Some people are clingy in romantic relationships while others are quite independent. Ultimately, I could go on and list hundreds of traits that require a good amount compatibility in relationships but not in friendships. If I then looked at this list, I’d see several distinct reasons why I would not want a relationship with each of my close male friends. These differences/dealbreakers/whatever you’d like to call them keep me from having any romantic interest in these seven people.

        The reason I know about these differences is because I know my friends extremely well. Over the years, I’ve learned that K, J (the guy I mentioned in my earlier post), D and P don’t share a particular passion that I have to the extent that I want in a partner. I’ve discovered that M plays the exact same romantic role in relationships that I do, and that’s a big turnoff for me. I. and I want entirely different things out of both relationships and life — and we’re absolutely not each other’s physical type, regardless. N isn’t my physical type either, but more importantly, he completely lacks the ability to calm me down when I get unnecessarily riled up about things (my boyfriend routinely has to say, “Honey, I know X humanitarian situation is really sad, but just relax for a second. I love you!” Empathy has its problems, lol). I’ve learned the hard way that the people I date must have that quality. Since I know that a relationship would never work with any of my seven close male friends, I have no interest in them (and I only do monogamous relationships, so hookups are out of the question).

        The friendships I have with my male friends are just like the ones I have with my female friends, aside from a couple conversational differences (I’m pretty sure none of my male friends care to hear about my recent Sephora purchase). We go to baseball games. We watch movies and eat ridiculous amounts of pizza. We try out new restaurants. We go on hikes and discuss books while climbing up rocks. We build nerdy electronics together. We send each other news articles and debate the politics in them. I’ve done all these things with my female friends, too (well, except for the electronics part — all of my electronics nerd friends are male). These friendships are no more threatening than the ones I have with the women I know. My boyfriend knows this. Additionally, even if these friendships weren’t 100% platonic — if one of the guys had a thing for me — it wouldn’t matter because my boyfriend knows that I love him and am not interested in my friends. We have a strong relationship; we trust each other.

  18. I have guy friends, but I’m not very close to them. Every single close guy friendship I’ve had with a straight guy has ended with me refusing to sleep with them and them never talking to me again. Oh I take that back, one guy didn’t try to sleep with me but he did right me scary obsessive notes and freak out if I even looked at another guy. I’ve given up on the idea of having a guy best friend.

  19. I thought I had some great guy friends, then my long-term relationship ended and they all hit on me one way or another. Male acquaintances, co-workers, and significant others of female friends are one thing. But close buds, unfortunately not in my personal experience. All power to those that can make a friendship like that work though! I think with enough honesty, lack of sexual tension, and maturity, it’s possible for some.

  20. The question isn’t whether Kare, Dave Jay, Marie or Convexed or I can have a relationship with a person of the opposite (maybe same) sex without that friendship becoming sexual, the question is can you have a relationship with a guy that doesn’t become sexual.

    Ask a million people, and you’ll get 100k different answers, and there is no right or wrong one, no matter how they track statatistically. In relationships It doesn’t matter what other people can or cannot do, it matters only what you do.

    So maybe this is a great jumping off spot for some introspection and self analysis. Instead of wondering what others do, instead of looking for validation for your behavior examine your behavior and motivations and ask… why is it so difficult for me to have non-sexual relationships… is it a healthly libido or is it a fear of commitment? Do I just enjoy sex, or am I using the intensity and ephemeral closeness that comes from sex to mask some other need…

    The commenters here could come up with a thousand explanations that would justify any position, but the only ones you need to consider are the ones that really make you angry, because generally we use anger to mask our fear, so if a response sets you off there’s probably a bid dose of truth in it that you need to consider.

    1. I don’t think there are that many answers to this question. If you read all of these posts (which represent people’s experiences… not their guesses), you will come to the conclusion that inevitably these relationships don’t end well. Not to say they can’t survive 5, 10, or 15 years before the true feelings surface, just that they are inevitably doomed unless one or the other partner is willing to live in complete denial for fear of screwing up a good thing. But, if you pare it down even further, you come to the singular cause for all of this, which is just a law of nature:


      1. That is so dumb. Maybe if a woman has such low self esteem that they need to be found attractive by every single guy, including their friends. Maybe if the guy feel so thretened by women that they have to reduce them to nothing but sex objects or think so little of women that they could be nothing more than girlfriends and couln’t possibly contribute to a conversation as an equal… That is a friendship destines to fail. But two mature adults can definitely be friends of the opposite sex without something sexual happening.

      2. moonflowers says:

        As long as people are willing to be open about their feelings and have a clear discussion (early on!) defining the relationship as friendship, I think it’s totally possible to overcome mild to moderate cases of attraction. Once you’ve had that “we’re just friends” convo, the feelings usually go away pretty quickly, at least in my experience. Nothing smothers a crush more than finding out that certain someone doesn’t like you back that way.

        If someone only ever approaches opposite-sex friendships with the unspoken goal of ending up in a relationship, though, I can see how having platonic friendships would be hard. But it’s totally possible to appreciate the good traits of someone of the opposite gender without feeling any sort of chemistry with them – the perfect setup for a platonic friendship.

      3. Mmmm…I think you’re forgetting that people can then be friends after they’ve dated and found out that isn’t the best relationship model for them. I’ve done it twice, and those two guys are still good friends of mine. And I’ve never wanted to be with them ever again…I think it’s kind of a been there, done that, no longer interested kinda deal. So I agree that most people end up attracted, but I don’t think that dooms the friendship.

  21. Fairhaired Child says:

    One of my best friends is a guy. We have NO sexual tension/feelings etc for each other mostly because we don’t fit each other’s “types”. I dont really have a type, but he’s a type I would not date (he’s a player, and acts any part depending on the girl etc etc). He likes tiny “poket sized” brunettes, and I’m only 2 inches shorter than him and def. more curvy and blonde curly hair. When we first started hanging out I had a hard time convincing him that we WERE close friends, because he had that whole mind set “guys cant be just friends with girls” and he still has that mindset for the most part, but adds “except with __insert my name__”. Now I’m more like a mom/sister figure.

    He also doesn’t/didn’t believe that two people of the opposite sex can sleep in the same bed together without SOMETHING sexual happening. But we have “sleepovers” frequently. But I’m a bed hog, so he actually got me my own bed in his apartment in his room (he has a big room). We’ve fallen asleep head to foot curled up on the couch while watching movies together etc. But still no sexual tension between us, I really baby him and we def. cuddle etc all the time but in the sense of like “older sister”/”mom” to young kid. I joke that he’s my 5 year old child (he’s actually a few months older than me).

    I also had a guy friend who I would do “sleepovers” with that we never did anything for 2 years together though I slept over frequently. He was more of a “comfort zone”/older brother figure for a while, that when I was upset/angry I could excape to his house, watch some Tudors and crash in his bed with him. We did eventually get sexual, but I dont think there was ever any tension between us before – we just decided one day that “hey why not ” and did the FWB thing for a while.

    I still maintain that guys and girls CAN be friends without tension – though its few and far between, and that they could also potentially stay in the same bed together and it not be “strange” or sexual.

  22. Demonpeach says:

    I think it depends purely on the two people involved.

    Personally I do have a purely platonic male friend – I’m currently living with him as roommates. He was good enough to share a place with me post divorce to help cut down on costs. There is no sexual tension whatsoever – and a little background: we did mess around when we were much younger (about 12 years ago) and we’re both early 30s. Our relationship now is as just friends – he’s actually like the older brother I never had. He babysits my cats and my puppy when I go out of town for work conferences. I make sure he eats and that the bills get paid on time.

    There is also another former roommate who is also like a brother, we’ve never done anything or even considered it – 1) I was seeing someone/married and 2) we are not each other’s type – physically or personality wise. He’s a great guy, but there is something just… wrong with ever trying to get involved with one another.

    Other male friends I have I generally get the impression that they are attracted to me, but the only reason they never act on it is because when they try to flirt I basically shut them down – I make it clear I’m not interested.

    However on the flip side of the coin, I’m fairly certain my ex-husband and I will never be able to have a ‘platonic’ relationship because of the way our marriage ended. Again, that’s just me personally… I’m sure every one will have a different experience.

  23. It’s easier to have platonic relationships with men now that I am married. My unavailability FORCES me to take the potential sexual attraction out of the potential spectrum of emotions I can feel for a guy. When I was playing the field, it just wasn’t possible – I was pretty shameless in throwing out the availability signals too and I aggravated the equally sexual response to them accordingly.

  24. *laugh* I have many platonic male friends. I have a few male friends that I know damned well are still hoping for some action (which they won’t get).

    It depends on the guy, the relationship, etc. I don’t think I’m much to look at, but somehow, others don’t agree. I apparently have the personality that guys can relate to and have a better time talking to than some other females. I guess the gun collection and movie collection helps ๐Ÿ™‚

    Either way – yes, opposite sex people CAN be platonic friends. Without it getting awkward.

  25. jessicaxmx says:

    I have been best friends with a male friend since I was 12, and I am now 22. We would go to church together and he eventually introduced me to my high school sweetheart. After 3 years together, we broke up and he was there for me then. It was funny cause my father always thought we would get together. But nothing ever happened, not even a single hook up. He was first person I fell asleep on the phone with, got drunk, high, and we even swam in the same damn swim lane in high school for all four years, which we still fight over who dominates it to this day. He has always been there for me through relationships without judgement and vice versa. Now that we have both gone off and done our own thing we have kept in touch over email and once in a while on the phone since our hours are completely different. So, yes it IS possible for the opposite sex to be best of friends, even through our frickin’ teenage hormone years and feelings of vulnerability becoming more than friends never crossed my mind, and it’s awesome.

  26. Emma Woodhouse says:

    Most of my friends are men, actually.

    One I met on my first day of college, we had the same major, we’re both writer geeks, and we’ve been friends ever since. He definitely carried a torch for me for a long time but never acted on it, and I was tragically in love with my Casanova of an ex-boyfriend all throughout college, so it never really happened. Now, we live in different states and talk online all the time, but I doubt we’ll ever be anything more than friends. The time has just sort of passed. I jokingly say he owes me a date from 10 years ago, haha.

    Probably my closest guy friend is married to my best girlfriend from college. We all moved to the same Southern city after college/grad school and we’ve remained very close. We call each other brother and sister. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think he liked both me and my friend for about a tenth of a second before it became clear she was much more suited to him, and there’s never really been any weirdness after that.

    Another of my good friends is the pianist at our church. We “dated” (bunny quotes because it’s sort of what we were doing, unbeknownst to him) for several months but he never really had feelings for me “that way.” I thought we connected so well and it broke my heart when he pushed me away because he didn’t know how to deal with it, but in all reality we work much better as friends and we’d have been a nightmare together romantically. He’s very unique and I don’t think I am at all what he is looking for…whenever he decides to look for it. But we’re actually pretty good friends now and that works well. We DO get each other and have a connection…but not that way.

    THEN, I have a very close guy friend whom I have strong feelings for (we were set up by my “brother” and his wife, actually), and he has acted very much like he had them for me, but he recently got back together with his ex to “try it out,” though he remains in regular contact (long phone calls and visits) with me and we continue to be very close. I am just sort of seeing what happens. That’s probably its own DW post right there, but I know her advice to be would be to MOA and if it’s meant to be it’ll be – so that’s what I’m trying to do! Heh.

    Yet another very sweet guy was my neighbor at an apartment I sublet last year. He has asked me out and we went on one date but I do not see compatibility or feel what he feels so I asked for us to remain friends. He has really been there for me throughout the past year as I’ve had several job changes and the emotional stuff with the other guy, and now he’s starting to act a bit more aggressive again, so we may need to have another talk. All that to say, it’s kind of working, but kind of not. I’d hate to lose the friendship over it and I hope that doesn’t happen, but he likes me so much and it’s obvious. I don’t want to lead him on and I see it being super weird if/when (hopefully when!) I start a relationship with another man.

    I also have a friend/neighbor who is a single, divorced guy – sweet as pie, very patient with me, couldn’t ask for more from him. He helped me get a contract job at his company and we play badminton and go fishing together and sometimes have meals together because we live so close. He may have thought about pursuing me for about 1.5 seconds when we first met (judging by a FB message he sent me early on) but as we got to know each other through commuting to work together it sort of became obvious that we’re not really compatible that way. He’s a good friend, though. I’m trying to set him up with one of my girlfriends.

    I went on a date last weekend and I think the dude was actually a little put off by the fact that I have so many male friends. Huh. Could be something to that…I think it’s just because I like to cook and often feed ’em, though. They just keep coming around!

  27. Instant Karma says:

    I know there’s a range of ability to have platonic opposite sex friendships (between people who are interested in the opposite sex, that is). Some are unable to have these friendships at all; some have many. I am on the latter side of the spectrum. I’m a straight woman, and the majority of my closest friends are men (although I luckily have some great girl friends too).

    P, J, I N, K, D and M (some of them have long names, so initials are easier) mean the world to me. My relationships with P, J, I and N have always been strictly platonic. I dated K and D in high school; I’m 24 now, so these “relationships” (I use that term very loosely because, you know, high school) were eight to nine years ago. M and I have the most surprising friendship, considering we spent the first three years of college having eye sex whenever we ran into each other, haha. We finally met (as in actually speaking vs. checking each other out from a distance) in a class our senior year. While we flirted for a bit, nothing ever happened. Some people make excellent friends but terrible romantic partners, and we realized very quickly this would be true for us. Needless to say, I’m really happy that a relationship never came to fruition. It wouldn’t have worked out, and I could have lost someone who has been a wonderful friend for almost four years. While the seven people I’ve mentioned are incredibly dear to my heart, I would never consider dating any of them. I’m an only child — I don’t even have any cousins — and these guys are like family to me.

    My incredible boyfriend of 2.5 years has met the five who are local, and he gets along really well with them. Even though he had never met P, who lives on the opposite coast, he didn’t bat an eyelash when I told him that P would be crashing on my couch while in town. Similarly, when one of my boyfriend’s female friends (he’d had a thing for her in high school, but that was years ago) stayed with him while in town, I had no problem with it. We know there’s nothing to worry about: we love and trust one another.

    I know that not everyone has had a close, non-awkward opposite sex friendship (once again, with the hetero/bi qualifier), and a lot of people think they can’t happen. This frustrates me: my close friends are incredibly important to me, and our friendships are not something to be “believed in” such as the tooth fairy. You don’t have to invalidate other people’s experiences just because you have not personally had them yourself. After all, I can’t perform a handstand, but that doesn’t mean that when I see someone else doing one, I assume he secretly has cables attached to his legs :).

  28. ele4phant says:

    A couple years ago, I would have said “Strictly platonic relationships are completely possible between men and women.” And then I dated my platonic male best friend for a year. So now, I’ve added a caveat “There may be sexual tension between male and female friends, but this tension doesn’t have to be the focus of the relationship if the friends decide to prioritize the friendship over any other possibilities.”

  29. Open Thread Writer Here says:

    Hey all,
    I suggested the post and I really like reading what everyone has to say.

    One thing I’ve notice though is that many (if not most) have said something along the lines of “oh ya! my best friend is of the opposite sex and we are totally friends and have NEVER messed around except for back in the day when we had sex/made out/went on some dates/he liked me/etc”. This is exactly what I’ve experienced. Though it is def possible to be friends with a male, it seems that the friendship is usually more complicated due to unequal feelings (one feeling more strongly than the other) or the evolution of the friendship from friendship to relationship or the reverse.

    It is absolutely possible to be friends with someone of the opposing gender. It just seems that it is uncommon without some sort of complication that must be worked through.

    Anyway, thanks for all of your thoughts on the matter and have a nice weekend!!

  30. The vast majority of my friends are heterosexual men. This year I’ve lived with 4 of them, next year I’m living with 4 different ones and almost all my friends back home are guys too. Most have been 100% platonic, non-sexual and with no feelings.

    However; I’m dating one of them, have slept with another and kissed a few of them. I’ve been lucky enough to never have it become awkward in any way. Sure, sometimes I’ll feel a pang of lust for one of them – but I think it’s kind of similar to how I sometimes seem to genuinely hate my female friends (IE: it’s very intense but it always goes away within a few days at the most).

    I think it’s important to realise that just because you’re attracted to someone doesn’t mean you have to do something about it. I might feel attracted to the checkout boy – but that doesn’t mean I’m going to snog him there and then! Emotions come and go, just relax and don’t worry too much.

  31. Rachelgab says:

    My oldest, dearest friend is a guy. I feel too old for “best” friends. I can say it’s a different kind of friendship with him. We’ve known each other since we were 16 and never dated or hooked up and there is something kind of sacred about that. We really are just like family and I wouldn’t ever want to lose that. There was a time in the early days when I would have wanted something more with him but I am really glad that never happened. I absolutely believe that men and women can be strictly friends but I also believe that it’s hard for OTHER people, who haven’t been able to do that, believe it. Especially if the 2 people are attractive.

  32. bittergaymark says:

    It’s interesting that this can be such a problem and so true for so many. Meanwhile gay guys have friendships with all kinds of other gay guys that they never will get intimate with. At any rate, it’s very intriguing.

    1. Totally agree. Nobody ever questions whether a gay guy can be just friends with another gay guy or a lesbian can be platonic friends with another girl. Why is that? I always thought it went back to schoolyard politics. At some point in childhood most children pair off according to gender, guys with guys, girls with girls, and that dynamic just carried over. Very interesting.

  33. I miss having good guy friends. I had a ton of them when I lived in my home state, but now male friendship is mostly the husbands/SO’s of the girls that I’m friends with. And for whatever reason these girls tend to leave their husbands behind when we get together… might be because we’re currently in an absolute GLUT of weddings and babies, so showers or bachelorette’s have been the main focus of going out.

    Anyways, all that to say, I do believe it’s possible to have cross-sex platonic friendships. I’ve had a good few of them, and I can say that from my perspective there have never been any feelings, and I haven’t noticed sexual tension on either side… but I cannot, of course, speak for the guy in this situation.

  34. I think it’s possible to be platonic friends with someone of the opposite sex, as I mentioned earlier. I also think that often, the hurdle of whether or not to cross the boundary into romance has to be cleared-whether it be in a conversation or through an attempt at a relationship or even just thinking it through-for most people. But that absolutely doesn’t mean that line will inevitably be crossed; each pair of friends decides what will work for them. I’ve dated and then remained friends with two men. We’ve been platonic friends now for about a decade, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Having dated both of them, I realized we were better off as friends. But I believe it is possible to have a friend of the opposite sex and never date, if you decide that you value the friendship more or simply aren’t attracted to the other person. I believe in the existence of all kinds of “soul mates” or “kindred spirits,” and I don’t think that you have to have a romantic relationship with another person to experience the intesity of such a bond.

  35. I guess that’s just my way of agreeing with Open Thread Writer.

  36. I think it is easier for some than others. I have only a few platonic male friends. Three of them live out of state (and one of those is married), so there’s little chance for weirdness. Another is someone I met through a guy I was dating at the time, so when we met, we were off-limits to each other. Had that not been the case, who knows, but I am glad it worked out that way because we ended up being very close without the weird tension. But it took me a long time to let men into my life as “just friends,” I think due to my own trust issues.

    1. Stephanie says:

      wow i have a scenario very similar to one of yours! my closest male friend is someone i met through a guy i was dating. well, actually i met them at the same time but i didn’t become close to the friend until i went to an event with the guy i was dating. unfortunately, my story has a different ending. the off-limits thing did allow us to become very comfortable and close very quickly and easily but once me and his friend broke up, things changed. and by changed, i mean it turned out he’d been crushing on me for quite a while and had just not shown it. our friendship has suffered from this revelation since i have absolutely no romantic feelings for him

  37. For nearly thirty years, I had one of the best platonic friendships ever with a guy I thought of as my brother. He was always welcomed to my house,got on even better with my husband than he did with me, lived with us for weeks and months several times, hung out, had fun, worked together, did all sorts of great creative stuff, and often laughed about how lucky we were that we had never fancied each other….I always got on great with the women in his life. A couple of years ago, he got a new girlfriend, who before she even met me said he had to get rid of me as a friend.
    And, you won’t believe it, he has.
    he did contact me eventually to apologise, admit that she is a bit deranged,but he’s still vanished. So there you go. Right up until then, I would have been extolling the virtues of the truly platonic friendship;now,I find it pretty hard to trust anybody at all.

  38. Exactly. Everything was going great on the Titanic… until it sank. A lot of people here are still enjoying the cruise.

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