Can Men and Women Be 'Just Friends'?

We Tried It 38

It's a famous conundrum - can men and women be friends? And it's not one of those easily answered questions. Both sides of the battle have good points: jealousy and sexual tension for the "men and women canNOT be friends," crowd, while the other group says, "Why not? Look at me and my friends of the opposite sex!"

And both sides are right. They're also both wrong.

Here's what I've learned about opposite-sex friendships.

The idea that men and women cannot be friends is something that's a bit outdated. When women were the homemakers while men went out and earned the bacon, members of the opposite sex had a harder time being friends. They'd interact in social settings, certainly, but beyond that, it was nearly impossible to have a "male friend" if you were a female and vice versa.

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Nowadays, you'll find men and women working together, hanging out together, doing projects together, and confiding in one another. It's a new era of sexual and social liberation for men and women, one in which opposite-sex friendships can exist.

To have an opposite-sex friendship, though, the boundaries have to be clearly set. I, for example, am friends and only friends with my guy pals. That means no sloppy drunk sex, no flirtation, nothing that can be misconstrued as sexual attraction.

By far, the biggest challenge for people in opposite-sex friendships is other people. It sounds silly, but it's true. Every opposite-sex friendship is eventually scrutinized by other people who believe that men and women cannot actually be just friends.

I've found my male friends to be invaluable - I couldn't replace them with any number of women. Men give me a different perspective, and they're helpful in finding solutions to difficult problems. Best of all, they bring so much less drama to the table. Every time I've had issue with a guy friend, I say so, we talk for a second, and we work it out - no backstabbing, no oblique Facebook statuses, just straight-up conversation. 

So Harry (from When Harry Met Sally), you're wrong. 

Do YOU have any friends of the opposite sex? Why or why not?

Image via Jesslee Cuizon/Flickr

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Kwiat2 Kwiat2

I used to think so but eventually one or the other starts developing feelings for the other. I think it's possible to keep those feelings at bay, and continue being friends, but it's awkward. If you are opposite sex and straight, and you enjoy each other's company, it's only natural to start feeling deeper feelings.

Since I got married I don't keep in touch with my old guy friends. And he doesn't have girlfriends, except for friends that we hang out with as couples. And that's what works for us.

PonyC... PonyChaser

Yes, I do. In fact, at this moment in time, I may have more male friends than female. I'm the Cubmaster of our Pack, and interact with a LOT of men - dads in our pack, grandpas who come to help out, and male leaders from other units, including our associated Troop. We talk, we laugh, we have a lot of good times. We have even gone on overnight campouts together - with and without our spouses present.

The key? You are an adult. Act like it. If you take your vows seriously, even if there IS an attraction, and sometimes it happens, you can acknowledge it (to yourself) and move on. But to completely discount another person simply because he is a male and you are female is asinine. You could be missing out on a very valuable and enriching experience.

AND... if you husband has a female friend, don't automatically jump to "girlfriend" or "cheating". You married him because you trust him. Now is the time to exercise that trust, and keep an open dialogue with him. The minute either one of you starts being secretive about that outside-the-marriage friendship is when problems can start.

TugBo... TugBoatMama

Most of my friends throughout my life have been male.I have had very few female friends. My hubs used to think the same as Harry when it came to my guy friends and thought that on some level all my male friends wanted to sleep with me.But he has changed his tune quite a bit seeing me interract with all his old buddies.

the4m... the4mutts

I do have male friends. But my SO makes it difficult to maintain these friendships. I have my male friends over to have a drink with US or have a bbq, and sometimes I'll go have lunch with a male friend. He insists that every one of them want to sleep with me. He gets broody and jealous when I talk to/about my friends. Even if I've invited them over with their kids, while my SO is here.

I won't stop having male friends, but this is one example of having someone scrutinize my opposite sex friendships

kebrowni kebrowni

I guess my husband and I have a pretty trusting relationship then. I have a handful of male friends, all that I've known for way longer than I've even known my husband. My ex was the jealous type and because of that I lost a lot of friends; if my husband had told me while dating that I couldn't hang out with said friends, he wouldn't be by husband. I like to have a diverse set of friends and that includes males. Also, I completely agree with PonyChaser.

nonmember avatar Brooke

I only have two close male friends and one is my cousin and the other is gay. I don't work and I don't go out to bars or anything, so I guess I just never have the environment to make friends of the opposite sex, but my husband and I are very trusting and not of the jealous type so I don't think it would be a problem with us.

Rebecca Peterson

My old male friends and I have nothing in common since I got married to my husband. I'm only "home" for a few weeks out of the year and it's hard to maintain friendships when one person doesn't try. He still talks to a few girls from before we were married, but I like to meet them before I judge the type. One kept trying to get him to cheat, so I commented on her lack of respect, another just talks and I'm okay with that. Same with him, he askes what we talk about and if he thinks something is out of line he'll comment on it, but for the most part we leave each other's friends out of the picture. We do have many friends that are couples and I hang out with the wives and he the husbands, but I still talk to the husbands and are friends with them, and he the wives. With how much we're separated, we HAVE to trust each other to honor our vows.

lizzig lizzig

most of my closest friends are male.  i grew up the only girl on a street of boys so i've always been able to relate to them better than girls.  my best friend & i have been friend since we were 10, we're both 37 now.  he's never been more than a brother to me & i a sis to him (in fact he even calls me sis).  we were born at the same hospital where our mothers met & became friends as we did 10 years later when we played twins in a community theater production.  he is uncle to my children & i am aunt to his.  i am friends with his wife as he is with my husband.

Greg Czarnota

Yes I do have friends of the opposite sex as does my wife, Jezzz this is the 21st century, in the most multi everything that can be. If you do not have at least one friend of the opposite sex you are socially backwards. As an aside we have three daughters who also have opposite sex friends as do their spouses, oh lets not get started on ethnic friends.

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