Possibly one of the most debatable topics since the beginning of time, or at least since men and women were allowed to casually interact, is Can a man and a woman be “just friends?”
Short answer: No.
Long answer: Yes, but not really.
Here’s the deal. Straight (important identifier) guys and girls can’t be just friends right off the bat as two strangers meeting. There’s always a reason they become only friends, beyond simply meeting and liking the other’s company. I firmly believe there will always be a sexual component to their relationship (not necessarily physical, but a not-so-platonic appeal) unless they fall into one of the categories I’ve listed below. I’ve never seen a guy-girl friendship exist outside of one of these categories, so without further ado, here are the reasons why a male and female are sometimes able to be just friends:
1. One person is in a relationship with a friend or family member of the other
I wish I could just put “one or both parties is in a relationship” and end it there, but sadly, it’s not that simple. Many times, when someone befriends a person of the opposite sex who isn’t already mutual friends with their significant other, lines start getting blurry. It’s actually quite risky on the monogamy front to become true friends with the other gender except when everybody’s already friends. For instance, I consider my husband’s best friend a good friend of mine, and also consider many of my girlfriends’ husbands my friends. When the friendship is based on an existing friendship with their significant other, it’s smooth sailing.
2. They’ve worked through the initial attraction curiosity and concluded it’s just not there
If you’ve already been down the “more than friends” route and quickly realized it wouldn’t work, then you’re good to go. This hardly works if you’ve been in a full blown relationship with the person (another blog in the future will be called “Can You Be Friends with Your Ex?”), but applies to someone with whom you’ve maybe gone on a date, shared a kiss, or even just flirted a little to test the waters. If you’ve spent enough time around someone to realize that there are no sparks (a childhood friend, for example), things can easily turn into a friendship once it [quickly] becomes clear that you’re not meant for a romantic pairing. Still, you have to work through those initial curiosities.
3. They’re friends of convenience
This includes work friends, gym friends, or hobby friends. (Some of you might consider “gym friends” and “hobby friends” to be the same thing, but you’re nuts.) This even works for roommates or people in the same friend group. You might see this person regularly at a certain location or in certain scenarios, but outside of that, there’s not much communication. Or perhaps there’s some communication via group text, and a private text once in a while for logistical reasons, but that’s about it.
Friendships of convenience can still be true friendships– I fully considered coworkers my friends in the past, even if I never saw them outside my office. For friends of the opposite sex, this can totally work. But once you start texting, calling, or seeing each other outside of your normal place of interaction (or alone when you’re usually with a group of friends), grab some Airborne, because you’re very prone to catching the feels.
4. One party started out (or continues) wanting more
If you think you have a friend that doesn’t fit into any of the categories mentioned so far, you’re probably on the blind end of what I call the “frielationship.” One party would totally be open to being more than friends if they sensed that the other one would be open to it, but sadly, their attraction is unrequited. Thus, they deal with being just friends, and perhaps even lose their feelings altogether over time. They might let it go after awhile, but I guarantee you at the beginning, the attraction was there on at least one side of the friendship. What keeps this friendship strictly platonic is that the other side has zero, zip, zilch attraction to the other person. Womp womp.
5. They’re acquaintances, not real friends
It’s easy to be just friends with someone of the opposite sex if you’re not really friends. If you share mutual friends or frequent the same spots without ever making an effort to talk outside of random run-ins, then you’re acquaintances– not friends. Friends tell each other personal things. Friends initiate contact. Friends think about one another. Those things can easily attach you to someone of the opposite sex in a romantic fashion as you feel truly close to the person. But if you never do anything to build that closeness, then those feelings have less room to develop, making male-female acquaintances totally platonic.
And there you have it, folks. Can a guy and a girl be “just friends”? Maybe, but probably not.