It’s been over three decades since the rom-com When Harry Met Sally was released and the debate about whether men and women can be just friends is still raging on. I’m tired of everyone scrutinizing my friendships with men, making assumptions about our sexual history, and projecting their insecurities onto us. Just because you can’t compartmentalize your relationships doesn’t mean everyone else can’t.
- There’s such a thing as self-control. People who think people of the opposite sex can’t be friends seem to believe that sexual tension will always be present in these relationships. It’s natural to be to feel a tinge of sexual attraction to your friends sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you have to rip their clothes off and make sweet love to them. You’re completely in control of how you respond to your urges. As long as you can keep them in check when they pop up, there’s no reason why you can’t maintain a healthy platonic relationship with men or women.
- Not every attraction needs to be acted on. Do you eat everything you crave? When your boss makes you unbelievably angry and you fantasize about smacking them across the face, do you go through with it? No? This is because you understand that feelings can just be feelings. There have been times when I was attracted to a male friend, but I never once felt the need to tell them about it or try to turn what we had into romance. Eventually, these feelings passed and my friendships continued to thrive.
- Sometimes they’re not even remotely attracted to each other. My best friend is a guy and I’d sooner peel my skin back and shred it into confetti than so much as kiss him. And I know he feels the same way about me. We love each other and share a close bond, but that’s about it. We don’t see each other as potential partners. We’ve dated several people since we’ve been friends and some have been weirded out by our friendship, but they all eventually realized it was as platonic as it gets and will always be that way.
- Friendship requires sincere emotional investment. Women understand that friendships aren’t built overnight. It requires pouring time and effort into it to create those bonds that last a long-time. Generally, men aren’t as committed to their friendships as women are and this can create some issues when they befriend women. As long as both parties are willing to communicate openly, make compromises, and give almost as much as they get, they can have a very long and fulfilling friendship.
- You can learn new perspectives from the opposite sex. Men are women are socialized differently so they might have different viewpoints on certain things. Being friends with the opposite sex means access to that knowledge. It means being introduced to a way of seeing things that you might not have previously imagined. Just like your same-sex friends can teach you how to do some things, your opposite-sex friends can contribute helpful instructions to your life.
- It depends on your level of jealousy. At the end of the day, your ability to befriend a member of the opposite sex comes down to how jealous you are. If you’re the kind of person who gets jealous very easily, you’ll be less inclined to be friends with the opposite sex. Especially when you’re in a relationship because you wouldn’t be able to withstand your partner having a close male/female friend. But less jealous people won’t have this problem because they don’t imagine the worst when they see opposite-sex friends interacting.
- Friendships with the opposite sex can introduce you to a whole new world. There are things I enjoy doing with my male friends that I can’t do with my girls. I love sports, working out, and hiking, and my male friends are more open to doing these things than most of my girlies. In the same way, I’d rather go dancing, painting, or candle making with my female friends because they can actually enjoy the experience with me rather than sit there and complain throughout.
- Sex in the past doesn’t mean sex in the present. Even if a man and a woman used to do the dirty, they can move past that and build a solid friendship. If you started out as sexual partners but stopped for one reason or the other, the attraction will fade over time. The idea of getting back in bed together is going to seem super weird and totally out of the question. As long as both parties are not still open to the idea of having sex, a normal friendship can blossom.
- You can be affectionate in a purely platonic way. Yes, you can hug your friends of the opposite sex, cuddle with them, buy them gifts, take care of them, and show up for them without it having romantic or sexual connotations. We need to get past this idea that you can only be affectionate and show love to romantic partners. Friends are deserving of all the love and care we show to our significant others, just without the sex on the side.