Can Men and Women Really be “Just Friends?”

There is a scene in the movie “When Harry Met Sally,” where Harry (played by Billy Crystal) tells Sally (played by Meg Ryan) that Men and Women can never be friends. Sally, of course, is insulted that he would say such an awful thing and rejects the notion. Ironically, they end up being friends for years before sleeping together, which changes everything. If you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t spoil the ending for you.

Does Harry have a point? The writer of the movie, Nora Ephron, poses a question through this dialog that few people consider: Do intimate but purely platonic male-female friendships exist or are we just kidding ourselves?

I would assume that most people, especially women, agree with Sally and take for granted that they do exist. I, on the other hand, see some truth in what Harry is saying. While I am not so naïve as to believe that these types of friendship have never existed, I would be willing to bet that they are much less common that most people think.

Before I offend the entire readership of this blog, lets define “intimate but purely platonic friendships” for the sake of this article. I am not talking about friends who hang out occasionally or share laughs together at work. I am not even talking about people who count on each other in a time of need. I am talking about people who fit these three criteria:

1) They spend a lot of leisure time alone together, not just a few lunches every now and them.

2) They trust each other to the point where they share private information with each other that few other people know.

3) They share an emotional bond but neither is sexually attracted to the other.

This definition describes most “best friends” of the same sex, but how frequently does this definition describe a male-female relationship?

In my experience, I have seen many examples of women who enjoy keeping male friends around because they like being able to access a “man’s perspective” without the complications of sexual attraction. Some women actually prefer to have male friends because they can avoid the cattiness and social competitiveness that exists in some female friendships. Even though these women are perfectly happy with their intimate relationships with men, I wonder how many of their male “friends” would sleep with them given the opportunity.

On the other hand, I have also seen many examples of men who, after failing to get a favorable response from their advances toward a woman, continue their pursuit by befriending her. The befriended woman doesn’t realize that by carrying on the charade, she is slowly ripping his heart out.

I know a woman who used to take a guy friend shopping with her every week to tell her how she looked as she tried on dresses and swimsuits. She thought that he was just a really great friend who was sharing some great insight with her on how she looked to men.

He finally couldn’t take it anymore. One night after having some wine, he broke down. He told her that she had been slowly torturing him, he was secretly in love with her, and this so-called friendship was driving him crazy! She was completely blindsided. She never considered that he was sexually attracted to her. At least he had the courage to say something. Many men never do.

To all the women out there who are shaking your heads like Sally and are listing all the men that you have as friends as proof against this notion; I would just say that you might be surprised as to how many of these men are attracted to you.

You see, when men look for someone to be friends with, we look for someone with whom we can watch TV, play sports, go fishing, or have a barbecue. Men bond over activities. We tend not to talk about our emotions, ask each other for advice, and we certainly don’t go shopping with each other if we can avoid it. You might be thinking that these are the very things that are wrong with us (and you might be right) but this is the way we are.

On the other hand, many men mistakenly befriend the women that they are secretly in love with only to get hurt emotionally. Since sharing emotions with someone is not something that comes naturally for us, when we do share our emotions it takes an enormous amount of energy. Sharing our feelings leaves us feeling vulnerable, so we save this sacred gift for the woman we want deeply. Women often mistake this emotional exchange as an act of friendship, because that is what comes naturally for them.

To all the men out there who have spilled your guts out to some woman in the hopes that she will someday see that you are meant to be together: I’m sorry. Although I empathize with you, I must tell you—she’s never going to come around. While emotions come naturally for women, sharing activity doesn’t, so a woman tends to only share activity with the man she wants. I think you know what I’m talking about when I say, “share activity.” Basically, if you have a purely emotional relationship with a woman that you want, without any activity, you’re probably not the one.

“Swingers,” my favorite movie of all time, has a scene where Trent (played by Vince Vaughn) is trying to give some advice to his friend Mike (played by Jon Favreau). Mike made the mistake of getting emotional right away with a girl that he was interested in. Instead of being clear that he was interested in her, he spills his guts out to her about his ex. Trent warns him of ending up on the “friendship tip,” meaning that once she sees him as a friend, she will never see him as anything more.

This brings up an interesting view of how men get hurt in relationships. Everyone is familiar with a common way that women get hurt: a man sleeps with her and never calls. While women get hurt by sharing something that is sacred to them, their sexual activity, men get hurt by sharing what is sacred to us, our emotional energy. While I am not trying to make excuses for men, or convince anyone to feel sorry for us, I do think that people should be aware of how this works.

Understanding the fundamental differences between men and women can go a long way to promote communication between us. Men and women operate in completely different paradigms. I recommend reading a book by John Gray called “Women are From Venus, Men are From Mars.” It helps to explain the differences in thinking between the sexes. When it comes down to it, we really do seem to come from different planets!

A man who doesn’t know this information will just assume that women think the way he does. He might go around sleeping with them like it’s no big deal, leaving a wake of scarred women. On the other hand, a woman who doesn’t know this information will just assume that all men think the way she does. She might go around befriending men to make up for her boyfriend’s emotional void. She saves her sexual activity for her boyfriend and gets to express her emotions to her guy “friends.” While this seems perfectly acceptable by societal standards, she doesn’t realize what she is doing to these men.

When I was in college one of my favorite classes was on interpersonal communication. The class really opened my eyes to the different ways that people think. As you can imagine a class on human relationships tends to breed close friendships within the class. We formed a tight-knit group of friends and continued the discussions after class.

I made an especially strong connection with an attractive girl in our group. We would take long walks and spend hours on the phone discussing what we were learning and sharing our beliefs with each other. Even though she had a boyfriend, I was absolutely convinced that we were meant to be together. At the time, I felt like she was the only person in the world who completely understood me.

The more we talked, the more I was hooked. This went on for the rest of the semester. It started to get really ugly when she began to bring up her relationship and ask me for advice. We could both agree that he was a jerk and that they shouldn’t be together but she continued to stay with him. As we talked I felt like we were on the same page, but when we hung up I was no better off than before.

When I look back on the situation, I realize that she had no incentive to leave him. All her needs were being met. He was fulfilling her physical needs and I was fulfilling her emotional needs. I was incorrectly projecting my own paradigm on her and thinking that we were on the same page.

When I finally figured out what was going on, it was a huge relief. While I still hung out with her from time to time in the group, I stopped spending the intense, emotional, one-on-one time with her that was killing me. In fact, I wasn’t even angry at her anymore. I was able to see past the situation and realize that she really wasn’t even my type.

These types of stories are very common, in fact, I know many men who have been in the same situation. These experiences foster the impression that nice guys really do finish last. Some men get hardened by these experiences and decide that the only way to get the girl is to be a jerk.

I am not advocating the “jerk” mentality, but I am suggesting that there is a duality that exists between nice guys and jerks. The “nice guy” mentality hurts men, and the “jerk” mentality hurts women. The answer, as in most dualistic situations, is not somewhere in between, but above. Men should be advised to take the emotional part of relationships slowly. Just as women are often advised to hold off until they get physical, men should hold off until they get emotional. I am not saying that men should never open up, because that would sort of be the “jerk” mentality. I am simply suggesting to ease into it.

Taking it slow has several advantages. First of all, it creates a little mystery. Women like the challenge of finding out who a man really is and if he tells her all at once the mystery is over. Second, a man who plays all his cards at once, by law of attraction, comes off as desperate. By trying so hard, he is simply reaffirming the fact that he doesn’t have her. Law of Attraction states that a person gets more of what he thinks about, so as he is dwelling on not having her, he continues to experience that result. Third, he is protecting himself from ending up on the “friendship tip.”

Most of all, men need to learn how to be tough. If a woman isn’t interested in you, move on. If you are interested in a woman, be clear about your intentions. Don’t try to sneak into a relationship by befriending her first. This just leads to confusion and heartache down the road.

To women, I would just suggest being aware of this phenomenon. Most men aren’t looking for a woman to go shopping with. This especially applies to exes. A lot of women have the idealistic view that no matter what happens in their relationship, they will always be “friends” with their partner. They break up, enter a new relationship, but keep in touch with their ex.

Many people will disagree, but can’t think of anything positive that comes out of maintaining an intimate friendship with an ex after you move on to a new relationship. There are a million reasons why this might not be practical, such as kids or shared property, but holding on to an ex tends to only complicate things.

First of all, in most cases men have no reason to remain emotionally close with an ex except to keep the door open. We don’t like to spend emotional energy, and only do so for someone we want to be with. With exes, the emotional energy spent is multiplied exponentially and the man has even less reason to remain close unless he has other intentions. This at best is unfair to her new partner.

Secondly, remaining close with an ex only increases doubt and mistrust in the mind of a new partner. This is especially true for men. We know how other men think, so we can see right through the ex’s attempts to be “friends” with her. This can be extremely painful for us because we know what is going on, but she is oblivious.

Lastly, it diminishes his sense of manhood when his partner spends excessive time with an ex. We feel best about our relationships when our partners make us feel useful and powerful. While we have come a long ways since men went out and killed the food while women stayed home to cook it, we still instinctively have strong feelings about being able to provide for our partners. Spending time with her ex makes us feel like the ex is fulfilling her needs instead of us.

Remember the woman who used to take the guy shopping with her? She revealed that story to me after a long conversation on this topic. At first, she reacted like Sally. She started naming off all the men that she considered friends; but after explaining my theories to her, a light went off in her head. She realized that of these friendships had ended after they made an advance on her. Learning why this was happening was a huge relief. Now she makes sure that her intentions are clear when entering relationships with men, therefore avoiding confusion.

In this article I have used a very dualistic tone, making it sound like every man thinks a certain way and every woman thinks another. Relativistic people will point out that there are not only exceptions to every rule, but often many shades of gray between black and white. Of coarse examples exist of intimate but purely platonic male-female friendships. Again, I am just suggesting that they are less common than people think.

While I understand that a relativistic perspective is an important part of critical thinking; I find that the best way to understand a situation is to start by looking at it dualistically. After I identify the two opposing forces at work, I then use relativistic thinking to help me understand the gray areas in between.

The most obvious exception is the gay and lesbian community. I can only write from a heterosexual perspective, but it would be interesting to know if any of these principles apply to the homosexual world. (Comments, anyone?)

Maybe men and women will never understand each other. Maybe women will continue to think that they can be “just friends” with men and men will continue to think that these friendships will turn into romances. One thing I know for sure is that not understanding each other helps keep us attracted to one another. The excitement in a relationship comes from continually learning about each other and growing together. Someone once said, “If two people agree on everything, then one of you is unnecessary.” It wouldn’t be as fun if we all were the same.

Good reading by other authors:
Guidelines for Platonic Friendships

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95 Comments

  1. g August 16, 2010 at 2:00 am #

    This is not good news my friend. You better wean yourself off this relatioship. I wonder whether you are single or in another relationship. If you are single, I would get girl friend as soon as possible. You need to face up her being upset. It is her being upset and you are not responsible for that. I assume you told her how you feel abou ther, if not, you certainly should. You are obviously getting rather depressed about this. It is also possible that you are dealing with childhood feelings of seperation from the mother and it might not be at all about your “friend”. The only way to find out is to fall in love with someone else. My experience is that unsatisfied desire can lead to fixation and it is better to detach and open up to other women. This can be a most healing experience. Don’t worry too much about how she reacts to this, and anyway, it is none of her business. You are in no obligation to tell her. However, if you are actually in a permanent relationship already, then you are in deeper shit than I thought. In this case, you have to resolve this first!

  2. Red Red August 26, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

    ok….first of all loved your article and view on things…and everyone’s opinions. i’ve always felt girls and boys and be best friends because i have one well….read below because now i’m not so sure.

    I have a male best friend. He’s an AMAZING person, i’ve never met a guy like him before. Ex’s of mine have thought we dated before and are jealous of our friendship…We tell each other EVERYTHING..things I never need to know about (due to gross out factor) he’ll tell me. I love our friendship. He knows me better than anyone and vice versus. He knows all of my family really well and they all love him and vice versus.

    Right now we’re both young (i’m 22 and he’s 25) and single and enjoying it..we share a bed when we sleep over at our each other’s house and cuddle sometimes when we’re watching a movie..that’s just how our friendship has always been..we’ve always been extremely affectionate with each other…hugs, cuddling, kiss on the cheek..whatever. we’re just super comfortable with each other and we’ve always told each other I love you, as friends of course. we’ve never had sex and he’s never made a pass at me at all, just affection because, at least myself, am a very nurturing type of person.

    But recently everyone, my family, my other friends, strangers all assume we’re dating because they all believe that men and women can’t just be friends…everyone cracks jokes like “oh you two are going to vegas this weekend? don’t get drunk and married..although you two might as well get it over with because you’ll end up married eventually anyways.”

    Soooo to get to the point…a few months ago we hadn’t seen each other in a couple months and i went to a birthday party at some club for one of our friends and we hung out and got really drunk and you know he kissed me (not make out) but that’s not unusual for us..we’ve once again always been affectionate..and we get to house later to sleep and we’re cuddling and he starts drunkenly rambling about how “he’s so glad im in his life and that he’s so happy im here with him right now. and how he loves me so much and how he doesn’t really trust anyone but he trusts me completely and would do anything in the world for me. and I’m his family in California (since his family lives in Ohio, where he’s from) and that he’s mad at himself for letting me date my ex boyfriend for so long (it was a VERRRRRY bad relationship to which he was my shoulder to cry on most times…) because i’m such an amazingly good person..” and so on.. so the next day we laugh and i tell him what he was saying because he asks me and he’s just like “aww i guess i love you hahaha”…so we drop and continue on with life…

    well now when he gets drunk (not every single time but often) he texts me the same types of things ..how much he loves me and how he’s so happy im in his life and yada yada…(i text him when i’m drunk too that i love him and am so happy he’s my best friend…it goes both ways) which he never used to do…yes tell me in person but not while he’s out with other people….

    my best friend, is good looking, and a fun awesome person and gets ANY girl he wants when he’s out. and I am not his type of girl he likes…i’m the only girl he has never tried to have sex with let alone his only TRUE 100% strictly friend that is a girl, if that makes sense, and his CLOSEST friend…so i’m just confused as to if he possibly loves me more than a friend deep down but is “sewing his wild-oats” if you want to call it that or what? (Men’s opinions please…)

    i only started to question this friendship because i told this story to my closest girl friends and another one of my guy friends and they “planted the seed” in my head that the only reason they can see it that he “keeps me around” is because he does truely love me more than a friend…

    I don’t know what to think …i’d love to hear anyone’s opinions :] thanks for listening!

  3. g August 26, 2010 at 5:12 pm #

    Perhaps you love him but he doesn’t love you?

  4. Steve August 26, 2010 at 7:26 pm #

    Of course he is in love with you, especially if he’s telling you everything…

  5. Drawn in.... August 27, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    @Red Red..

    You need to keep reading some of the comments, started by this great article. They describe viewpoints of kinds of “love & sponge” friends that you seem to find yourself in.

    I say he may love you and may be to immature (relationship wise) to want more from those other girls you say he could always have. You know, noncommittal in his feelings towards you cause boys dont look at whole package. The “dont settle till you explore the sea” mantra. Thats possibly why he never had the guts to want you and say its only you. Fear of not getting something elusive that he thinks you dont have. Dont let my opinion hurt you, but you both have crossed the “simply friends” line so just give up that explination and face some reality. Twenty something young men dont sleep and kiss a girl in her bed and not at least think about sex. Just a thought.

    Crazy as this sounds, and you can tell I’m a guy, but its like that movie “Kick Ass”. The young dude pretended he was something he was not and the audiance all knew what he was thinking….or maybe I just rented it recently and it came to mind. Whatever. Worth comparing to your sleeping and kissing and dont mean anything comments though.

    Anyway, there is always two sides too every story though, so maybe the same thoughts can be said of you in this. Search yourself a bit before you demand answers from him. Good luck in your struggle to understand what you have and what you want. I hope you dont loose a good thing, if it is one. But remember, if you have both been truly honest, there would be no confusion in all this. Honesty is often mistaken for openness. You can be very open but still hide truths inside. It is that last little bit of truth that defines if someone is really being honest …..put that in your pipe and smoke THAT thought for awhile! :)

  6. g August 27, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    Well, perhaps it is not love like between a man and a woman but more like between children or siblings. Is rather sweet – but aren’t you both a little old for that? On the other hand, why shouldn’t it be possible to have such a friendship between a boy and a girl. Perhaps you are both scared to find out whether it is love? I have no idea but what I do know is the following: you are not just friends, neither of you! Well, this is what I think, but I might be wrong, of course. I thought what Red Red said was quite good. I am not sure at all whether your friend ever had sex in his life. If this was true, and he is playing the field all the time and behaving they way you discribe it towards you – he would not be in love but just playing games. Anyhow, being friend of your family and all the rest, it possibly rather the other way around. He is scared and can only talk straight when drunk, and so are you. I think it is about time to grow up a little and stop playing brother and sister.

  7. g September 5, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    I have been thinking about the word “just” and think that one cannot “just” be friends with a woman but one can be friends with her, even if one is attracted to her. I guess it has to do with how strong the feelings are and whether one can rise to being a friend rather than a lover. I think I would personally prefer to be friend but I would think that I want to clarify how I feel but accept that the woman I like/love is aware that I am not “just” a friend but a friend. It is about accepting friendship where more is not possible, for which reasons ever. One would have to be quite sincer about this and be able to work out mentally that this is perfectly alright. I think the suffering of men (or women) in such situations only comes from the little word “just” in it. So, if one removes the “just” one can be friend with the woman one would like to be intimate with but can’t really because she doesn’t want it for which reasons ever. One shouldn’t be unhappy about this because the unhappiness is a form of selfishness one can transcend by accepting friendship as a real alternative. I guess if the selfishness can’t be overcome the suffering stays and the little word “just” qualifies exactly this. In such a case it is better to end the suffering and break up the contact.

  8. Red Red September 9, 2010 at 10:29 am #

    Thanks Everyone for your comments/opinions on my “situation” if you can call it that.

    In the mean time I’m not going to worry about our friendship. I’m just going to keep living the life :D I guess whatever happens will happen for a reason. I appreciate the feedback especially from Drawn in and G. You have pointed out some good perspectives for me to think about.

  9. Hannah November 21, 2010 at 5:19 am #

    enjoyed reading this write-up on whether men & women can really be friends … thanks, Brian

  10. SK March 1, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    Hey Red Red- ur friend must be a lil gay…to tell ya if he is hiding his feelings..When someone shares bed and lives toger, there are feelings as a part of nature which is obvious and would arouse in a pair of opposite sex..
    .and well the Article posted by BRAIN LEE is a real cool one. And all his points are very well Marutured and written.
    Hats off and u spoke the truth out.

    Women are complex and men are despos.. :-)
    But women mostly cant bear a female company where they usualy prefer a male for various reasons. But not a good act by women thou!
    They got to spend more time with their femin company…and stop confusing guys!!

  11. Phil March 6, 2011 at 7:56 am #

    New poster, very late to the discussion. I was in the exact same position in college. Was best friends with a girl for two years and gradually fell in love with her. Girls can definitely be friends with men, not the other way around if the man is even slightly interested at the get-go. And I highly, highly agree with your point…just like women shouldn’t get physically involved too fast, men shouldn’t get emotionally involved too fast.

    I’m married now to a woman I’m utterly crazy about for the last 5 years running. And now I have women friends with no friction, though I do keep an eye on myself in case I’m starting to develop feelings. But, there hasn’t been even a spark with other women. My wife is the woman I confide my secrets in the most.

    Phil

  12. Melanie P March 7, 2011 at 7:14 am #

    I am a great believer in whatever happens will happen for a reason and I think you are absolutely right to just keep living the life. I have never had a problem having male friends who are just friends; it is other people who seem to have the problem.
    Good luck.

  13. Laura April 11, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

    Wow, this is so brilliantly written! I had so many “Ah ha!” moments it’s insane. I might be deluding myself – but don’t think so for many reasons – about actually having a couple of guy friend exceptions lol, but I do think so. If I’m wrong, I hope I find that out soon and there remains a happy solution for all! But seriously, thanks for this article. I couldn’t get enough of it! Wow, unreal.

  14. Brian Lee April 24, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

    Thanks, Laura!

  15. James Hemphill June 20, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    I came to that conclusion in college myself. My quote was “Men and women cannot be friends unless they are both not physically attracted to one another.”

  16. Greatful June 21, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    You wrote a very well detailed and so to the point article. I wish more men and women read this. Personally, I have to share this with a couple of my women friend who seem not to understand that there are uniques differences between men and women and the way a man views friendship is not the same as a woman view friendships. Sure two people of the opposite sex can be freinds but not on a intimate level or emotional level like you so brilliantly pointed out.

  17. Myrna Mctiernan July 19, 2011 at 7:19 am #

    nice website..great information! I’ll check back soon!

  18. Customized Fat Loss July 19, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    I have a best friends who’s a female and we’re not attracted to each other. And I’m straight. It really depends how you got to know each other. We were friends since we were young, I see her as a little sister.

  19. Killer B August 9, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

    This article in a nutshell:

    Men are sexual extroverts and emotional introverts.
    Women are emotional extroverts and sexual introverts.

  20. Confused August 10, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    Hey everyone ive recently found myself in the above situation and have been having a lot of difficulty with it and hoping for some feedback/suggestions.

    I met my gf a few months ago and we have quickly fallen for each other adn have a connection like I have never experienced. When we started dating I actually had to go away for work for 1 month and we stayed in touch a lot everyday and I started to find out a lot about her including that most of her time was spent with her best friend, who is a guy. I commented that male and females never truely have a “best friend” relationship that is genuine without one having interest in the other and her reply was that he is just the male version of her and they have been best friends for years.

    Facts:
    They spend a lot of thier spare time together and regualry alone, including, shopping, getting hair and manicures, doing tax returns together, all social events are together, they work together, every saturday is “meow meow” day they have little pet name for each other that makes me feel sick when they say it to each other in front of me.

    They are very touchy feely, openly talk about loving each other (in a friendship way) kiss hug and always talking, they are basically the perfect couple to look at that do not have sex.

    A few years ago he has also told her he was in love with her but she said they didnt talk for a while after that and that its all worked now and its just a friendship.

    I have been extremely uncomfortable with the relationship they have and kept my mouth shut until the last few days where I have been trying to get feedback from friends and online opinions.

    We have had very heated discussions about it but I have managed to point out enough facts that she can see now that he is in love with her, and she was just so close to it that she couldnt see it.

    She has since admitted that she is completely emotionally dependant on him and feels she needs that love from him for support and her security blanket but she has also said she wants to break free from it as I am the one she wants to be with.

    I believe in male female friendships but not at this level and I find it extremely disrespectful to our relationship and do not believe a good long term relationship can be formed and progress while she is still spending time with the guy that is in love with her and she is emotionally dependant on, this is especially difficult as I work month on month off (away) and her time left behind is often spent with him alone and socially.

    She told him yesterday that they need to ease up and they cant call each other meow meow any more (I dont even know the truth of where that name came from, im told they both like cats hmm) she said it went well and he understands. My opinion: Of course he understands, he will do anything for her, he has stood by her for years and will do what ever she asks but this does not change that he is in love with her and she is emotionally dependant on him.

    So now she thinks its fine but wants to continue the friendship and thinks its completely fine that they spend alone time together still just not as often or as intimately as it has been for so long.

    Im not comfortable with this at all, in fact considering everything in this situation I am not comfortable with them in any manner, this is not a friendship, it is an emotional relationship and she admitts that. I believe you can only have one special person in your life (at this level) and this whole situation is completely wrong.

    Note: after talking to all my friends going back home this week they all said cut it away and that it is absolute bulls#*t but I dont want to, she means too much to me

    Thanks for taking the time to read this, i may have missed a few things feel free to ask anything and all opinions on the situation would be greatly appreciated.

  21. Jason August 20, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    @confused…

    The unrelated and cool thing about this thread is I found the article and commented a couple years ago and it sends me posts over time. Its like the blog topic that never dies. Alas, I checked “notify me of followups”, though it never occurred to me the posts would go on and be active for years to come. I appreciate it though.

    Especially to here of a person who actually wants to share logical opinions on the subject. I decided to reply because if you were being honest I sense there is a lot of emotion – both pain and likely anger – going on. Thats normal.

    However there is something that is unfortunately not normal going on. I thought hard about how to say this, but sense I am a stranger as well as a man, straightforward honesty wins today. What you have defined and opened your heart to emotionally is not a healthy relationship. So your relationship as you define it is not healthy. This is because she is not in the same relationship based on the assumed perimeters you have. Let me be clear with what I just said: it is not a normal loving comitment because she is not fully commited. This in fact is by far NOT abnormal.

    The question really comes down to what YOU want. And dont pull the “man, I love her, so I want what she wants, because love is unconditional.” Let me say right away that if you think these thoughts your right, love is unconditional. The caveat in a healthy and loving relationship is the reciprocation. If she does not walk away from her past and embrace her future/present relationship there can never be a healthy, ideal, i.e. normal, relationship.

    So, @confused, do you want to hold open the treasure chest of your heart and soul like a fine suit vest held open – but this will feel like your very ribs. And when the cold wind of reality blows on an open heart, it feels like the open would you just evisioned. It is only when another person holds open there heart and the two come together is it not a wound, but a glorious beginning. A beginning. Where different kinds of pain and joy, struggles and victories can flow, but you are not there.

    Your waiting for her to leave her last one. And your really alone, though she visits with sweet nothings on her lips and flowers in her hands, she is not embracing what your offering.

    Your a good man, in what you say about your thoughts and softer side allowing her to decide, but your friends are right. If all you really wanted was our opinions on that. Close your heart, your love will still remain, it probably is true. Be proud of that. Hurt should never be shame. Accept the hurt and allow yourself to move on, showing her how what you are giving her is meant for only one women. [at this point you might even read my old two posts to understand more!] All your logic and love seems real and accurate from what I am shown by your post. Teach her by freeing her. Its not poetic, its good advise. Make it clean.

    In time, maybe, let her come to you when – and if – she wants to. Thats love my friend. Hurts like a b***, but man…..when someone, probably not her, does reciprocate….mountains will move. The earth will shake. I promise.

  22. MP3 August 24, 2011 at 3:17 am #

    That was pleasure to see your posts, I’m looking forward to seeing the other soon, as well. I’m going to visit the blog again next week so I could read the remaining entries. Hope that’s okay…

  23. KO August 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    Men and penises. Women have vaginas. Once we look past new age feminist talk of acceptance of men and women being friends, we’ll understand what’s really going on. Women who fancy themselves on maintaining friendships with their ex boyfriends all often fill an emotional void that was or is no longer there.

    I’ve experienced the girlfriend with male friends dilemma. I’ve found women with primarily male friends are attention seekers and only get that positive reinforcement from males. I can tell you that if your girlfriend is good looking, they want to be with her, physically and/or romantically. They will wait around for years in the friend zone for their moment of opportunity. If your girlfriend wore tight jeans, they would look at her ass. Why? Because they are a guy and will play the friend role until they can have it.

    I’ve found women who attempt to have a real man as a boyfriend, as they simultaneously keep their group of male friends, end up losing their man. The reason this occurs is because a real man smell a poacher a mile away. When the man explains the man’s true intentions to his girlfriend, the girlfriend will either 1) get rid off these guys or 2) tell you you’re being jealous or irrational. The latter option is where relationships fail when such opposite sex friends are introduced. The man, being a man, will not tolerate an immature women thinking otherwise. He may initially tolerate it but if the behavior doesn’t change, he will discount her and think she’s not marriage material. In the end, the real man she’s looking for leaves because she kept all the ones she really didn’t want in the first place.

    Anyone who disagrees my posting will either be a woman or new age emo male with a pot belly an skinny jeans.

  24. houstonia October 14, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

    Interesting article – I do wonder though about a few things:

    1) generational impact/age impact – I suspect that for people in their 20′s relationships/friendships cross boundaries more often than in the 30′s/40′s – but I do wonder if it catches up again to single people in their 40′s.

    2) like the author – gay/lesbian community – I suspect the rules are very different. also different for straight people with gay/lesbian friends

    3) personality disorders – always a cause for chaos and misunderstandings in relationships. :-(

    My story – 22 years ago – dated a guy – did not get intimate (almost) but fell head over heels in love with him – lost touch until a couple years ago when we found each other. He has a girlfriend and he has been “saved”.

    I spent the weekend visiting him – he never mentioned the girlfriend and only reluctantly brings her up – BUT if I push him on relationship definition he says he has a committed relationship with a little more – with her – and a committed/firm friendship with me. And that the two paths will never cross and will never interfere with each other. I should mention we live several states apart while the girlfriend is in the same city.

    The “girlfriend” doesn’t let him in her house/broke up with him/kicked him out/blah blah blah..

    So – I think.. there’s something in the original article that talks about emotional investment – and I think that’s prevalent here – he get some sense of the physical fulfillment (not much) with her. Emotional/spiritual fulfillment with me – and he can always look like the victim and he REALLY doesn’t have to commit or take responsibility for anything.

    I love him dearly, but I am still learning to accept the limitations of the relationship (ironically the same thing he says about his relationship with his girlfriend – that there are obvious limitations), and most importantly, I am trying to take the things I find attractive in him and find a man who really wants a relationship instead.

  25. free site of dating October 15, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

    wow this is like the most common question
    usually the answer is
    from guys perspective: no guys and girls can’t be friends
    from girls perspective: yes we can be ‘just’ friends

    my 2c

  26. Friendship Quotes April 11, 2012 at 8:52 am #

    This is a very interesting topic. I have mixed feelings on this. I have been friends with males and have had no inkling of any sexual thoughts but then with some others there is that sexual tension there.

  27. Brian Lee April 11, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    Great observation.

  28. RJ May 10, 2012 at 2:19 am #

    Hmmm… I’m struggling to find the answer I’m looking for for my own.. i dunno, social tendencies? lol. maybe it’s something men don’t like to discuss (especially somewhere like the internet) b/c they don’t want other people questioning their sexual orientation? :P Anyway, I’ve lately been wondering if my introverted personality has something to do with my most “intimate” (in the sense it’s used in this article) friendships are with women, not with men. (bear with me) It’s quite ironic actually, b/c the thing is, first off, most men — mostly straight men but males in general, really — I find uncomfortable to be around. Because in my mind I feel like about 75-90% of what I say is too “intimate”, I dunno it just feels.. unnatural to me. Female friendships I find complementary, which is often needed because of how emotionally distant I am…. like more so than the male stereotype would imply. lol. Same goes for introverted-ness in general, I find people who are introverted hard to be friends with, at least if they are as much so as I am… it’s kind of a stalemate situation because neither person is going to be “open” enough to initiate anything of enough substance to evolve into “friend” closeness.

    I always joke with people about it saying things like “I can’t talk to men” or “men confuse me sometimes” lol. And it seems like a total contradiction to say you’re an introvert, or that you find women easier to become closer friends with, or that you’re uncomfortable around men/with the idea of close male friendships, even more so if they’re heterosexual — and then turn around and say in many ways your personality is HYPER-masculinized, and you are straight as an arrow, and also become more open/outgoing around attractive women (subjectively! taste varies by individual, obviously)….but all of that is accurate for me!

    lol, there’s this stand-up bit, it’s called something along the lines of “the gayness of straight men and the straightness of gay men”, and it basically opens up with this joke about a friend asking the guy if he’s gay, and he replies by questioning why someone who showers in a locker room together with a bunch of dudes is asking if someone who works in a bakery surrounded by women, is gay. haha. that’s pretty much what a lot of it is like for me… sometimes I’ll find myself saying things that superficially sound somewhat..I dunno, effeminate? lol. Like I’ve made analytical comments about a woman’s lipstick colour, like “she’d look better with the darker red..” (hypothetical, don’t remember the exact context, haha); or “black suits her better? why’s she wearing yellow? who wears a yellow dress?” but I usually do this if it’s someone I think is very physically attractive! So I end up being very straightforward (often humourously self-deprecating) about it, so that people don’t start talking about how obvious it is I need to come out of the closet and that explains why I talk about women so much…ha. then again anyone who knows me well enough, at least to my knowledge, doesn’t second-guess me if I say I’m straight. :P

    If you want a great idea of how I relate to other straight men, check out the episode of family guy, where chris and meg work at that convenience store, and chris and the other guy behind the counter who works there, end up always talking and making meg do all the work… but (for anyone who hasn’t seen it and is reading this) all they talk about is a bunch of films, and comparing which ones had hotter actresses, better nude scenes, more female nudity, why one of the movies sucked because there wasn’t enough nudity, which actresses should be in more nudity and/or sex scenes in films… and then eventually they run out of conversation material and just awkwardly stand there in silence LOL. Pretty much the only thing I talk about with men, just like those two, is women! Whereas with women I talk about pretty much anything… the only downsides I find are 1) a lot of women get sick of you talking about how hot so-and-so is, unless they’re lesbian (for some reason I don’t know many of those though, haha); and 2) I actively avoid becoming friends with women I am physically attracted to, a majority of the time… like the article says “Don’t try to sneak into a relationship by befriending her first.” (usually for me though it’s more about sexual interest, not looking for a “relationship”, in the conventional definition. :P) I read another article recently where someone called it “getting over yourself.” haha! I ask myself “if I wasn’t into her sexually would I still pursue a friendship?” perhaps though, pursuing is the wrong word, because that’s the thing about being very introverted: I can’t be arsed to “pursue.” I just let things happen “naturally” — which is why I actually have a problem with the concept of dating someone who’s essentially a hot stranger you chatted up at a bar then asked out and she accepted… my personal theory about that is that it can often be the explanation, ultimately, for many failed or otherwise not-good relationships. But back to the “getting over yourself”: I will always be honest in answering that question, which is difficult when you don’t have a “control” to use to answer it, for instance, similar circumstances, with the only difference being I wasn’t into the girl, and we ended up friends. :P

    so the way I’ve always dealt with it I guess, I mean I don’t know if this is totally weird or if it’s very typical for straight men, but I never really have the issue of developing romantic and/or physical attraction to someone later on, basically if I am interested from the start, I’ll be interested long-term (hence the avoiding, lol and yes it can be a bit self-limiting friend-wise/socially, because sometimes I’ll underestimate the likelihood of friend-potential I guess out of fear of self-deception and denial :P); and conversely if I’m not interested to begin with, I’m not gonna “get feelings” for someone just by becoming “intimate” as far as emotionally-close (platonic) friends. So yeah it’s pretty absolute, so I can kind of make those decisions ahead of time, maybe that’s where I don’t have the difficulty a lot of men seem to with opposite-sex friendships and sexual tension?

    and also I guess I’m kind of shallow/superficial in the sense that fundamentally, a relationship would only differ from my platonic friendships in that there’d be a sexual factor…. I see the emotional closeness/bonding/whatever to be the same in either case, maybe it’s because “romantic” stuff kind of makes me nauseous. :) haha. I guess the exception would be I am in that way a little more open-minded with platonic stuff, because I’d be more likely to be friends with a girl who’s into sappy romantic crap (I have/have had female friends that are like that to some extent or another), than to be dating someone like that…lol actually I’d probably avoid dating someone like that at all costs because clingy-touchy-feely-ness kind of scares me. ;) as far as the nice guy-jerk duality, I dunno, I’ve always been contradictory there too. I think that’s kind of apparent by everything I’ve said here so far. I don’t befriend women with “ulterior motives”, but I tend to be shallow, however I’m able to recognize and acknowledge when I’d only be opening up emotionally if I had to as a means to an end, because of a (mostly-to-entirely) sexual interest; I have a lot of platonic female friends (many I’ve lost touch with simply because… high school, jr high, people losing touch with each other, bla bla) but I never really had that nice guy issue, at least not in a situation with any “good” (i,e closer than a friendly acquaintance) friend; and then despite the shallowness it’s the ones I’m also into emotionally who I actively try not to deceive (or deceive myself with, or both) with the “just friends” BS. I think along with introversion comes subtlety, and likely also that sense of mysteriousness. I have an appreciation for witty humor, and wittiness in general, so as far as flirtation I kind of universally humor people with innuendo. I’m just a bit less subtle about it when I actually mean it… That’s the thing, I thought the stereotype was men were the “rational” or “logical” or “pragmatic” (or whatever other word you want to use) ones, but I think the whole concept of deceiving yourself and/or another person about where you stand with them, how you feel, etc., to be kind of… not realistic at all? it’s also kind of the opposite of being straightforward/direct… if it were the opposite of the typical nice guy situation where a woman was interested in something very serious that I didn’t want, I’d probably say from the beginning, in order to prevent that scenario, “don’t let this go any further if you think you’re gonna get some sort of romantic involvement with me, I’m only interested in sex, if you want a friends with benefits thing that’s fine though.” but as far as flirtation, I tend to find many, many situations I see, to be like, “he’s trying way too hard”; “he’s being too direct, that’s why she’s creeped out”.. so the exact opposite — I’m constantly finding men to be TOO direct!

    anyway, that’s what I think, but I’m a living contradiction of so many things in regards to this topic, so I’m not sure how insightful any of this is. haha. at the very least now you can see where the stereotype about introversion and over-thinking comes from…. wonder if that serves an advantage (or maybe I’m secretly kind of cocky) ;) I mean look at the thought and strategy I’ve put into this, simply because this is where my mind goes when it has nothing better to think about. LOL.

  29. owlgnome June 15, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    Fabulous article by the way.
    So, what do you think it means when a (shy) 17 1/2 guy who is my friend tells me that he thinks we’re just friends (after I finely get up the guts to tell him that I like him and ask if he feels the same way or different.)?
    I only asked because I truly love him, more than friends, and was positive that he at least liked me a lot.
    So my initial thought when it happened was that he was just too timid and surprised to say if he was having feelings for me if he was. He didn’t even answer my question one way or another. I’m trying not to torture myself with it, and we’ve remained firends. But it seems like he’s given up… he used to be really good at replying to texts and emails, but now he isn’t. But when I see him in person he seems the same, just quieter.
    Aghhhh… I’m so confused! Ideas anyone?

  30. wecanbefriends June 27, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    I know men and women can be friends. I have a group of friends (guys and gal) that get along with each other just fine. Most of them did confess that they had feelings for the opposite sex, but they manage to overcome those feelings and stay friends with them. I think being friends with the opposite sex will only work when there is a netural agreement.

  31. Justanormalguy July 15, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    I always thought that a make/female close friendship was impossible without the guy wanting to have sex with the girl all the time. But I proved myself wrong last year – I became really close friends with this girl who’s cute and stuff, but for some reason I’m not sexually attracted to her. All my friends want to bang her but I like being just friends with her. Her boyfriend’s a pretty cool guy too. And on top of that she’s friends with my girlfriend. We share an emotional connection that I’ve never shared with a girl who I didn’t intend on getting in bed with. It’s sorta weird actually.

    Maybe I’m a closet homo and I don’t know it yet.

  32. OwlCitizen96 July 30, 2012 at 5:56 am #

    I agree totally with the article. It chilled my spine at the beginning when I saw how accurately it described my situation. I have found however, that it is possible to suppress the (possibly culturally constructed) urge to advance on females who you are friends with – especially if done for the sake of the girl as she may have a boyfriend or maybe just does not want to be in a relationship. From my experience, the earlier from the beginning of the friendship that this urge is suppressed, the easier it is to be around the girl-friend without longing for emotional connection.

    I loved a girl for three years without success and I now find it nearly impossible to be just friends without wanting to bring up feelings, but another girl who I liked more than a friend for a week or two I am now comfortably friends with, and may only every now and then have the thought to make an advance which I can easily suppress for rational reasons.

  33. Amboyace September 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    Absolutely spot on. It’s that emotional connection thing that complicates it.

    Apparently, if a woman wants to “just have fun”, the last thing in the world she wants to do is hook up with a sensitive guy she’s formed an emotional bond with. It’s dangerous, because she’s knows the “fun” is going to end at some point, and if she’s bonded with the dude, it’s gonna get ugly. That’s why the “player” types and booty calls are preferred. As long as SHE doesn’t get attached, she doesn’t have to worry about hurting the guy’s feelings, as he’s only really interested in one thing from her anyway.

    For a guy like me, who was raised in a religious background, and taught to respect women as more than just a piece to get over on (not meaning to sound pious, but that’s what Christianity teaches young men to think) it hits like a slap in the face.

  34. RJ December 11, 2012 at 12:22 am #

    @ “Justanormalguy”: >>I always thought that a make/female close friendship was impossible without the guy wanting to have sex with the girl all the time. But I proved myself wrong last year – I became really close friends with this girl who’s cute and stuff, but for some reason I’m not sexually attracted to her. All my friends want to bang her but I like being just friends with her. Her boyfriend’s a pretty cool guy too. And on top of that she’s friends with my girlfriend. We share an emotional connection that I’ve never shared with a girl who I didn’t intend on getting in bed with. It’s sorta weird actually.

    Maybe I’m a closet homo and I don’t know it yet.<<

    Don't look into that too much, I've noticed the same thing on multiple occasions "she's attractive but I'm not really even sexually attracted to her.." it's happened with women you'd see and instantly (male or female) know that she's usually one of the hot ones all the guys drool over (Megan Fox-style..) And I'd be like "okay, what's wrong with me? Am I gay?" haha.

    It's difficult for me to tease out because honestly I like intellect as much as the typical physical stuff, but I've also had that experience where I find myself wondering why I don't want to sleep with someone who's smart and who I'd have a really hard time calling unattractive.

    I have a kind of…intense sex drive, I think I've kind of always been like that. So oddly it's been kind of beneficial because I can pretty much recognize right away whether I'd want sex or not, and it prevents a hell of a lot of awkwardness.

    Sadly though no one ever really discusses the female end of this, i.e. when women can tell you aren't kind of secretly trying to get in their pants, they like feeling like…they don't have to be paranoid. And also they seem to think I seem confident. I usually just end up scratching my head "what kind of men are they used to talking to?" haha… I say "sadly" because I'm the one that ends up paranoid that I inadvertently brought a bunch of emotional crap upon myself I did not sign up for..I guess in the way this article describes it I'm the male version of a slut, LOL, I open up to girls almost too easily and then end up beating myself up for it and feeling kind of violated when it's used against me. :P

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