Just friends

When it comes to connections between men and women, one question perpetually surfaces: can men and women just be friends?  Popular culture would have you believe the answer is no, unless one or both of you is in a committed relationship or of a different sexual orientation. The entire plot of When Harry Met Sally is based on this quandary. There are studies devoted to figuring it out once and for all. I’m here to tell you from personal experience and that of people I’ve known that it is possible to have a healthy platonic relationship with a member of the opposite sex. Here’s a few pointers for doing just that:

  • Be clear about your expectations.  Are you open to friendship or are you secretly hoping this guy will turn out to be your Happily Ever After?  Whichever it is, be honest, first and foremost with yourself. Don’t muddy the waters of a new friendship with clouded motives.

  • Communicate. If something feels weird or you’re not sure what’s going on, talk to him about it, but don’t overthink every little thing. The way he laughed at your joke doesn’t suddenly mean he’s into you. If you really think something has changed, communication is key. Clear the air!

  • If you’re single and one of you does develop romantic feelings, it’s not the end of the world.  It can even be the start of a new one!  But you do need to think long and hard whether you want to take your friendship down this road, because you can’t always come back from it.

  • If you’re in a romantic relationship, talk to your significant other about the friendship and be clear what the boundaries are. If the friendship predates the relationship, you don’t have to choose one over the other, but you may have to double-check that everyone is on the same page about those boundaries.

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Just like your friendships with your gal pals, friendships between men and women have their issues, but if you can pull it off you’ll get some awesome perks:

  • A different perspective: men and women tend to see things differently. Take advantage of this opportunity to see how the other side views the world.

  • Improved romantic relationships: you’ll have more empathy and understanding of how a guy thinks, so you’ll avoid a lot of misunderstandings.

  • Solid advice: it can be annoying when you want someone to listen and he just wants to be the fix-it man, but if you have an open mind and listen to what he has to say, he might just say exactly what you need to hear.

If you’ve never had a friendship with a guy (since you were a kid, that is), I challenge you to open your mind to the possibility. Be brave, have fun, and go for it!  You never know what you’re missing until you find it.