How To Be (Platonic) Friends with a Guy
Posted by Katie Ostoich on August 9, 2012 at 8:13 PM
It’s been up for debate since before Harry met Sally: Can men and women really just be friends? Or does the “sex part” of it always get in the way. Even Chris Rock has said that all his female friends are simply women he hasn’t slept with yet. Well I don’t know about you, but I’m not that pessimistic. Of course men and women can be friends! It happens all the time to each and every one of us and it doesn’t seem like we’re all getting it on with everyone else. I think it’s completely unfair to say that all men want to sleep with all women (or vice-versa). I’ve definitely heard guys say, “she’s like my sister,” and absolutely mean it. But we’ve also all seen the lines blurred. Or crossed.
But, even if there is a level of sexual awareness between a guy and a girl, as one friend put it, physical attraction and friendship don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The former may try its mightiest to undermine the latter, but there’s no guarantee it will. You might actually be friends. And your friend might actually be really cute. So how do you stay in the friend zone? Ahh, that’s where the complication starts. Romantic interest, physical attraction and sometimes, the jealousy of significant others can threaten to sabotage a cross-gender friendship. Here are some ground rules you need to keep your friendship on the platonic level.
1. Really Think About Your Feelings
I know, we start right off the bat with some deep introspection. It’s rough. But it is so important to really examine exactly how you feel about this guy and how you think he feels about you. Be completely honest. If there is even an inkling of attraction, be wary. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you find yourself thinking about what a relationship would be like with him, or worse, thinking that your current relationship is worse than a potential fling with your friend?
- If you weren't in a relationship, if he was single, or if something else wasn't in the way, would you probably be romantically interested?
- Does he seem to be romantically interested in you? (Remember that actions speak louder than words. Trust your gut.)
- Do you really believe that this person is better suited to you as a friend than as a romantic partner? Why? (Your answer to this question is what makes all the difference, and what will keep the relationship platonic if and when boundaries ever become blurred.)
2. Define the Friendship from the Start
Ok, once you’ve decided this guy is great for the friend zone, but will never be boyfriend-material, you can move on to step two. This step includes communicating that all you two are and will ever be is friends. You don’t necessarily have to say this out loud and in person, but make it clear. If there’s ever a time when it’s confused, make it clear again. It is possible to be just friends as long as you have that understanding (and a commitment to the friendship as just that) from the start.
3. Include Your Significant Other
If you are in a relationship, talk about your friend with your guy. No, I’m not saying your guy should control anything about your life, especially who you can and can not talk to. I’m saying have respect and the decency to include your boyfriend in an area that might make him uncomfortable. Be completely transparent here. Talk about when and how often you see your friend. Discuss how and how much you communicate. Any insecurities or trust issues within a relationship will be magnified by a friendship with a guy. Your significant other needs to be completely comfortable with everything you do. Don’t believe me? Imagine your guy had a close girl friend. You get the picture now? Don't hide your friendship from your partner, but don't fuel any jealousy either by excessive one-on-one time with your friend or talking about your friend endlessly.
You can even take it a step further and actually include your significant other. If your friend has a girlfriend, go on a double date. Both guys like football? Send them to a bar to watch a game together. Jealousy is much less likely to be an issue if your significant other can get to know your friend.
4. Stay in Control
This step is basic common sense, ladies. Don’t do anything that would jeopardize or confuse the friendship. Just don’t! Don’t make sexual jokes. Don’t be flirty. Don’t be handsy. (Seriously, think of what your significant other would feel comfortable with. If you find the need to hug and touch them more, then maybe you're not just friends.) Don’t use a pet name or term of endearment. Don’t talk to him like he’s one of your girl BFFs. Pick coffee over lunch over dinner. Don’t do anything that blurs the line like going to a romantic restaurant or going to his cousin’s out of town wedding.
And if he does something that crosses the line, stop him. Press the pause button on your friendship until you feel comfortable again.
It’s important to remember to that in any friendship, the dynamics change over time. An acquaintance you don't really care for all that much today might be your best friend a year from now. It's possible you and your friend will develop deeper feelings after a long, platonic friendship. But acting on those feelings is a different story.
So what about it? Do you have male friends? How do you make it work? Have you ever crossed the line? Share your stories in the comments!