Can Men and Women Really Be Just Friends?


“When Harry Met Sally” posed the age-old question, and seemed to answer it: No. Men and women can’t just be friends. Attraction always gets in the way. But if you’re lucky, you can fall in love with your best friend.

This popular YouTube video
posits largely the same premise – men will always want to sleep with their platonic girlfriends.

And while I don’t trust college boys to teach any life lessons in platonic friendship, even science validates their claim that men will sleep with their friends. From this Psychology Today article:

“In a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Sapadin asked more than 150 professional men and women what they liked and disliked about their cross-sex friendships. Topping women’s list of dislikes: sexual tension. Men, on the other hand, more frequently replied that sexual attraction was a prime reason for initiating a friendship, and that it could even deepen a friendship. Either way, 62 percent of all subjects reported that sexual tension was present in their cross-sex friendships.”

Pretty predictable, but important for women to understand. If a guy is making an effort to hang out with you, it’s probably not just “as friends”. He’s merely accepting friendship, in lieu of dating you, because it beats the alternative. And what’s the alternative? Having no girl friends, and, therefore, no one to confide in. From the same article:

If a guy is making an effort to hang out with you, it’s probably not just “as friends”.

“Men rated cross-sex friendships as being much higher in overall quality, enjoyment and nurturance than their same-sex friendships. What they reported liking most was talking and relating to women–something they can’t do with their buddies. Meanwhile, women rated their same-sex friendships higher on all these counts. They expect more emotional rewards from friendship than men do, explained Sapadin, so they’re easily disappointed when they don’t receive them. “Women confide in women,” noted Blieszner. “Men confide in women.”

This all reinforces a principle extolled in my book, “Why He Disappeared”. Men don’t choose women because you’re taller, smarter, richer, funnier or more sophisticated. Men choose women because you listen to them, provide empathy and support and affection – none of which he really gets from his guy friends.

As for me, I do believe that men and women can be friends. Here are the ways in which I’ve made women friends:

1) I’ve hooked up with her already. Once we’ve gotten together, there’s no sexual tension. We either become boyfriend/girlfriend or lapse into regular friendship because we’re not mutually interested in each other.

While attraction itself is not a choice, acting on that attraction is.

2) I’m not remotely attracted to her. This keeps things simple. It’s easy to be friends with someone you’d never sleep with. Just keep in mind that men will sleep with women they’re barely even attracted to – especially when drunk, lonely, and horny.

3) I’m in a satisfying relationship. Now that I’m 100% taken, I can’t act on any crush or attraction, so I don’t even allow myself to go there emotionally. The problem is that you’re really not “allowed” to make new opposite-sex friends when you’re married – largely because of the perceived risk involved. It’s generally a good idea to avoid putting yourself in tempting situations, which is why I pretty much stopped making women friends once I got involved with my wife. Before that, however? I probably had a dozen friends that I’d fooled around with once or twice before. My wife has met most of them.

4) Finally, it IS possible for a man to be friends with a woman, but he has to be a very experienced, very evolved man. One who can say, “I’ve been down this road before, and it does not end well.” This is how I can be very attracted to someone, but not act on it. She may be a narcissist. She may be emotionally unstable. She may be trashy. She may be sad. While attraction itself is not a choice, acting on that attraction is. If you have maturity and self-control, you don’t act on your attractions and you can maintain platonic friendships.

Keep in mind that other variations of friends may be fraught with danger. The guy from work may have a big crush on you but can’t act on it. Your boyfriend’s best friend? Same thing. The guy you’ve known since childhood? He may be holding a torch for you for all these years.

So if you’re a woman reading this, check out those four bullet points. If the guy doesn’t fall under one of those categories, he probably secretly wants to sleep with you.

Check out the article here and share your thoughts below.

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  1. 21
    Sparkling Emerald

    I have decided that in this incarnation as a single person to not have a friend zone.   In my past incarnations as a single, I had several male friends, but in all but 2 cases, one or the other of us was attracted to the other.   It created an awkward dynamic.   I have plenty of female friends and I have all the friendship I need at this point in my life, the only thing missing is a very special man who is my friend AND lover.   I’m not knocking male/female platonic relationships, just saying “been there done that” and not going there again.   (The only exception would be gay men, and since I do community theater,   I do meet many gay men, so eventually, I might end up with a close gay male friend or two) Just putting in my 2 cents worth. 🙂

  2. 22

    A man saying that he can’t have women friends is like him saying that he has no use for women he isn’t sleeping with. And vice versa for women. I’d think it strange that a woman who wants to have a long-term relationship with a man can’t even connect with one on just a friendship level.

  3. 23
    Sparkling Emerald

    Evan – You said . . .
    @Rose — You’re making two patently false assumptions:
    1) That every guy who hooks up with you is hurting you. There are many women who enjoy fooling around and also agree that just because two people aren’t meant to be a couple, she shouldn’t have regrets about a few nights of fun. Stop playing the victim. And stop assuming that foreplay is a promise of a relationship.
    2) You’re also somehow concluding that your male friends should find you attractive. (“I don’t want to be friends with men who no longer find me attractive”) I think it’s obvious that men and women can have a much easier friendship if there’s NO sexual tension, but you seem to want your male friends to find you attractive although you don’t find them attractive. Got it.
    Evan,   As another reader commented, I’m not sure why you are jumping on Rose.  
      I don’t understand how her “assumption” about being hurt can be patently “false”.   First of all, it is HER experience, so she is not “assuming” anything – – she was there.   If she has sex with a man, and it doesn’t work out, and she feels hurt by it, then those are HER feelings, and she is IDENTIFYING her feelings, not “assuming” things.     Yes, there are women who enjoy no strings attached sex, and there are many like Rose who do not.   Doesn’t mean they are playing the “victim”.   Doesn’t mean the man intentionally hurt her, but if it hurts, it hurts.   Why shame a woman for how she feels. ?   Second of all she never concluded that her male friends should find her attractive, she said didn’t want to be with a man who NO LONGER finds her attractive.   To me, this indicates that the men who have hurt her, either at one time found her attractive, and no longer do,   or never found her attractive in the first place, but communicated to her otherwise. And by the way, there are still some men who lie about their feelings and commitment level to gain sex, and for most women that HURTS.   For women who are seeking a relationship, who thought that the sex was a celebration of a budding relationship and not just “a few nights of fun”, to be be dumped after “a few nights of fun” well, that HURTS.   You can jump on me for saying this, but since you are keen on telling women to deal with men “the way they are,” and not how you want them to be, I think turn about is fair play. Deal with women the way they ARE, not how you think they “should” be. Many women   ONLY want sex that part of a meaningful relationship, and feel USED to find out otherwise.   Many men don’t like that, because they want women to be easy free-spirits out for a few nights of fun and/or a friendship with benefits.   Well, my response to that is, that this is the way many women (perhaps most) ARE, even if men don’t like that.       

  4. 24

    I agree with Kiesh – I am just not seeing this dynamic in my own life of men as sex-obsessed beasts who will bang anything that moves and have ulterior motives for every interaction with women. Would some of my male friends sleep with me given the opportunity? I think so, but that is not why they are hanging out with me, they have other girls they see and aren’t creeps. Others would not. One of my closest friends is a straight, single guy who I’ve even traveled with by ourselves, and we’ve crashed at the other person’s place (on the couch) many times. This may seem odd, but we really haven’t had any tension. Another male friend (who now has a gf) I used to go to his hous ein the middle of the night to watch tv, and crash on his couch all the time, but there was zero romantic interest between either of us, we even talked about how we’d never date each other and it just wasn’t an issue.
    Again, I wonder if this is generational – I know plenty of people in their late 20s/early 30s who, like me, have completely platonic friendships that just develop naturally, you end up in the same group of friends and start hanging out, or you met in another non-sexual environment like work.   I would hope to continue these valuable friendships even after I am in a relationship/married, and that my future husband would also become friendly with them.

  5. 25

    I don’t think the friend zone is necessarily a bad thing. A long-term relationship (not to mention marriage) is a huge undertaking and I personally wouldn’t want to enter into it with just any guy I’m physically attracted to. So, if at least one of us thinks that a relationship between the two of us won’t work, or if one of us isn’t ready for a relationship, then we both are probably much better off not getting into one together! Doesn’t mean we can’t be buddies, occasionally catch up over FB, IM or meet for drinks, and come to each other for advice if needed. Plus, opposite-sex friends can help each other out (ahem) when they’re both in between relationships. Win-win. Bottom line, by “friendzoning” me, the man is doing me a favor IMO — he is saving me from getting into a relationship that won’t make me happy.
    I have always had at least as many male friends as I did female ones. Honestly I never bothered to find out if my guy friends are attracted to me on some level or not. Based on how many of my guy friends asked me out in the year following my divorce, and on how many of my current guy friends are people I used to date in the past, they probably are. They are also probably equally physically attracted to a number of other women. To me, only thing this says about them is that they are normal middle-aged men with little or no health problems, good for them! I find most of them attractive too! As long as everyone behaves like responsible adults, i.e. no one is cheating on their SOs or playing each other or leading each other on in any way, I do not see anything bad in this.

  6. 26

    Adorable YouTube video.   I had forgotten how cute students are, both male and female.   Of course they’re all attracted to each other – who wouldn’t be?
    From this side of the fence (not young anymore), I agree with Evan. It’s possible for men and women to just be friends if one or both parties are already in committed relationships (marriage or LTR), and if it’s implicitly clear that no boundaries are going to be crossed.  Then it’s a very relaxed, nice sort of friendship.
    I think it’s stereotyping too much to imply, as a few commenters did, that what women want in friendships is to talk about their feelings and emotions. Not all women want that, and even for those who do, they don’t want it all the time.

  7. 27

    The only guy friends I can say are truly platonic are the ones where:
    a.   he’s gay
    b.   he’s married
    c. we dated briefly and with little emotional investment.   On the other hand, those friendships often don’t really develop because I don’t find that I have a lot of platonic interest in people I didn’t have much romantic interest in.   If either party was really hurt, I agree with other posters– I have no interest in trying to be friends in that case because either I will get hurt or he will.   You don’t need to be friends with everyone!
    With guys where both of us are single and we never dated, either I’m secretly interested, or I suspect he’s secretly interested, or both.   You can never really know with those, and I always feel some degree of tension.   And the tension/potential is part of why I like those friendships :)– but never invest as much as I do in my girlfriends, because I don’t want to either side to get hurt from the frustration of not being more than friends.   

  8. 28

    I think Evan got it right, that men and women CAN be friends, especially depending on the dynamic. I have been known to be jealous in the past, but looking back on those circumstances with my exes, it is obvious a lot of that had to do with RED flag behavior on their part and I should have just left instead of seething with jealousy, which is death for a relationship. What I had not fully realized until I met my current boyfriend is that Trust is the single most important thing in a relationship. When you have trust in your partner it is an entirely different ballgame. I don’t sit around wondering who he’s talking to or where he is all the time. This is especially important for us because he’s a male nurse at a larger hospital. A whole lot of his close friends are women. And his best friend is a girl 2 years younger than us with a great body. When I came into his life he almost immediately introduced me to his bff and we have a great relationship! He had had plans at one point to travel to Europe with his guy friend and when they fell through he went with her for 2 weeks. This did not cause any problems at all in our relationship because I TRUST him. He has described his relationship with his bff to me and he said he did find her attractive when they first met, but he didn’t try and anything and she didn’t either and they just became good friends. He now even finds her a little less attractive since he’s been with me (I know this isn’t BS cause we have zero qualms talking about who we find attractive with eachother). But I mean, for all those women out there who are worried and constantly wondering what their men are doing when they aren’t there, you need to decide if you know he cares about you and you trust him or not. And then just STOP trying to control him. It will not only benefit your relationship, but it will benefit YOU! Its such a headache worrying all the time and being sad and wondering what is wrong with you, when it isn’t necessary at all. Either he’s worth your trust or not. Also, if its hard to decide if he is or isn’t, he ususally isn’t. That’s all the advice I’ve got regarding female friends for now =) Best of Luck!

  9. 29

    Funny marymary, I used to think they could when I was in my twenties and would argue with anyone who believed differently.   With the newfound wisdom of marriage and hitting 30 (:P), I have come to believe otherwise except for a few exceptions.   Not sure whether I have evolved or regressed, either.   I had many male friends in my 20s and I loved their company.   Girl friends are amazing but can be so complicated sometimes.   Being friends with guys is very….liberating for the lack of a better word.   I work in IT and especially at my first job it was much easier to make like-minded guy friends.   I had some very good female friends but none were techie nerds…I had to befriend the guys for that.   Those were some of the best years of my life.   Looking back though, a one-sided interest always developed when both of us were single or had become single and we were close.   In two cases, it was me.   It didn’t start that way, of course, but it almost always ended up that way.   I’m still friends with a few of these people today.   We realized that we could be friends because one of the parties had absolutely no attraction for the other and so nothing would ever happen.   In short, the “attractee” moved on.   Some I am sort of in touch with but due to a latent attraction or a lack of real “moving on”, I wouldn’t say we are friends.   They creep me out :S   A couple I have cut off contact with due to unsavoury things that happened.
    There were a few exceptions to this and those were as Evan and others have already mentioned: gay, in happy relationships or in one case an ex.   I never got as close to the ones in happy relationships…they had no need for my emotional support and rightly so.   We just enjoyed each other’s company and only hung out alone together when the girlfriend/wife was unavailable.   I no longer speak to the ex…we just went our separate ways eventually.
    The last exception was one where there was mutual attraction that built slowly and turned into marriage.   When we met we were both taken and that allowed the friendship to build respectfully.   We worked together and got to know each other without false pretences.   You learn so much about people by working with them: their ethics, the way they treat others and they way they allow themselves to be treated.   Subsequently, we both changed jobs, found ourselves single and in a life-changing conversation, decided to give it a shot.
    The long and short of it is that men and women can be friends but if both are single, something generally develops on at least one side.   If one of the two is gay, it can be a fantastic friendship.   If one or both are in happy relationships or married, they probably won’t seek that kind of friendship anyway.   I also think it has much to do with age.   Opposite sex friendships develop more easily in college and just after.   After that you have to go looking for them and if you’re in a committed relationship, why would you?
    Both my husband and I have opposite sex colleagues we really like and get along with.   I wouldn’t say they were close friends though.   We hang out with these people during work hours or shortly after and that’s it.   I will never again make the sort of guy friends I did in my 20s.
    I am sorry.   I’m sure the friendships are innocent but I can see why it leaves you with doubt.   If I were in your boyfriend’s shoes, I would reduce contact with these girls or see them mostly when I was with you to allay the exact fears you speak of: that you were the second choice.   Maybe he already does this, in which case I wouldn’t worry.   If he’s with you, it’s because he likes you and chooses to be but I agree that he is leaving himself open to temptation.   If at some point, one of these girls changes her mind for whatever reason…begins to see him differently, has gone through a bad breakup, etc, will he be strong enough to say no?   I really hope so.

    1. 29.1

      RW you have made the most sense so far. If you have a wonderful loving relationship why risk it by being alone with a person of the opposite sex, friend or not? I remember coming home and entering the front door to see my husband coming out of the bedroom putting on a shirt while a woman was sitting on my living room sofa.

      He say that she was a coworker (they had taken out residents camping and had just returned) and he was changing his shirt as he had spilled coffee on it.   Definitely looked bad. Although I don’t believe anything happened, I think I will always have a nagging doubt. This are the situations smart adults avoid if they truly value their relationships.

  10. 30

    I just realized I may not have added everything regarding female friends… Trust is key, but what it really means is that I don’t have to worry about who my boyfriend is friends with.  We are both  flirtatious people who prefer people of both sexes that we are friends with to be attractive. It isn’t a conscious effort on our part, but we usually wind up with relatively attractive friends. But just because I have an attractive male friend does NOT mean that I am going to cheat on my boyfriend! That’s just indicative of a crappy person. It doesn’t matter how attractive any friends are or how unattractive. If you have a cheater for a boyfriend he’s probably more likely to be banging the ugly chick that you aren’t even worried about! IMHO there are just way too many factors and too many different circumstances to make the broad statement that attraction will get in the way of every male/female relationship. It depends on who you are. I definitely don’t think it depends on whether or not you’re married though! In my mind, either your man is legit or he isn’t, I don’t care if you’re dating, engaged, or married… it doesn’t make it harder for a guy (or girl) who is going to cheat to do it! Attraction does break up some friendships, it has happened to me, but its silly to assume it happens with everyone.

  11. 31

    @Sparkling Emerald and referring to Rose- “Deal with women the way they ARE, not how you think they “should” be. Many women ONLY want sex that part of a meaningful relationship, and feel USED to find out otherwise.” – I totally agree. There are ALL sorts of people out there. I am fine having casual sex if that is what I know it is going in. But if I have been dating someone and have had intimate moments with them and have made it obvious that I care and they reciprocate and then after sleeping together a few times they tell me they aren’t that into me.. that would hurt, maybe not a whole lot, but enough that I wouldn’t want to see them, esp since I still have feelings for them. Its also embarassing cause it probably means he wasn’t feeling any chemistry. On a side note, I have done all of those things to a guy before, so it isn’t just the guys. And my reasons were that I REALLY liked him, but the sex was awful and it took me about a month  to realize we had  very different beliefs.  

  12. 32

    I personally feel that if set boundaries (as the female) and say that I don’t want to cross the friendship line unless you are sure you want a relationship with me. We had known each other for years. Grew up together. He had always wanted to cross the line. I knew what was at stake. It’s bad for friendships when romantic interest doesn’t work. I know he was very attracted. Most people who knew us said I’m his first love. Wasn’t just a “hookup”, nothing sexual happened.
    I’m not going to go into everything that happened. I am trying to move on & forgive. It took me a few years to realize how bothered  I was by the situation, but I’m now trying to explore my own feelings about it to move on.  Even after the situation I tried  to stay in contact with him, because I couldn’t believe what had happened and because it is really hard to end a friendship where your lives are intertwined.   It also happened really abruptly. (We are classmates from a really small town). Even if it doesn’t feel like you still have feelings, you may not need to know that this person is marrying someone else. It’s not something you need to hear during a period of loss (death of parent, job loss). He knew my dad died (sent flowers). And yet felt the need to notify me personally before he married within a year of my dad’s death, even though all contact had pretty much ceased.  Since marrying he’s friend requested me. I communicated that there will be no more contact. Not everything is innocent,and if he feels its purely innocent at this point… I find that insulting.
    I don’t think you understand what my situation is. But anyone I’ve shared my story with says I don’t deserve what happened.   And his actions are confusing. For me personally I’ve finally learned to accept that I will never understand, and trying to wastes my time.
    It’s not a clear cut situation, but I believe that saying friends with a man serves the man more than the woman. I think a lot of it was/ is ego. For the chick, it bring up old hurts at the worst time.
    And it’s probably preferable for me if my male friends aren’t attracted to me. I would honestly prefer it that way. It doesn’t sound like that is how it works though.=)  
    I don’t want to be friends with someone when that means it works in his interest, but is damaging to me. And that’s okay. It’s the right move. He’s not my guy, and he no longer deserves my friendship just because it serves him.
    I try to take what I can use from your blog so far, I’ve been considering if I should buy products. I feel that teaching woment that if the man isn’t stepping up (MOVE ON) is a good move, and I believe that is what you advise. It helps to hear that. I’ve struggled to put it into practice in my life (at least with this situation), but that’s what led me here. Sometimes we repress stuff because we are unable to deal with it when it happens, and then the hurt impacts our decisions or ability to move on.
    I don’t think that either of the points you gleamed from my “tale” relate to me. But it makes me skeptical of purchasing products from someone who snaps at people who bring up another side to think about.

  13. 33

    @ Tom10 #16, actually on second thought I agree with you. If Girl from the Midwest’s boyfriend treats her well and everything is fine between them, there’s no point worrying about what might happen if the stars align a certain way. Now that I’ve thought of it, in my case, with the guy that wasn’t over his female friend, I didn’t dwell on that issue at all. I didn’t give it a minute of thought, until it walked up to me and stared me in the face. At that point, him not being over her resulted in his substandard treatment of me, which, combined with other factors, was reason enough to get out.
    To the whole discussion started by Rose’s comment, yes I, too, would NOT want to be friends with a man that hurt me. I’m sure no one here would! But I’m not sure what Rose means when she says a man hurt her. I can only count one or two men that have really hurt *me*, and they most definitely do not want to be friends, so to me that’s not even an issue. Want to make one thing clear — not wanting to be in a relationship with me is not the same to me as hurting me. I don’t expect every man that comes into my life to want to stay with me forever. No woman is that awesome, not even I! lol
    Also, I too am guilty of “dumping”(?) people after a few nights of fun, if by dumping you mean realizing that we won’t work as a couple and telling the person so. I’d say I’m on friendly terms with almost all of them. Maybe because they realize that my intentions were good and I had both their and my best interests in mind. We’ve all already been in bad relationships or marriages, why fall into that trap again just because you happened to have sex once or twice with the person.
    Wanted to comment on people saying that they already have enough friends and don’t need more. As an older person (heh heh) I’ve made and lost many many friends in my life. I’ve lost friends each time I relocated, I lost friends after our kids grew up and no longer wanted to play together. I’m still shedding friends as a result of my divorce. Old friends that I’ve known since I came into this country, suddenly decide to disappear from my life. And that’s normal. Life goes on, people change; people that had common interests, suddenly don’t anymore. My point is, one can never say “I have enough friends and I won’t need anymore as long as I live”, because you don’t know how many you’ll have tomorrow. And, regardless of what I just said, if you meet a new person that you click with in a lot of ways and you both realize you want to spend time and do things together as friends, what, are you going to tell them that your friend positions are currently all filled up and you don’t accept any new candidates at this time? that’s just silly. There’s always room for one more, in my opinion. Of course no one goes around looking for new friendships, but they still happen to us anyway. Why turn them down?

  14. 34

    Rose@34: I agree that the guy behaved in a thoughtless and hurtful  manner. I don’t have anything to do with men I’ve had a romance with. They are always reaching out to me on FB or whatever, but I’m just “no way” about it. Sometimes they’re being passive aggressive, trying to punish me for breaking up with them (these are usually the nasty or insensitive ones, which is why I broke up with them), and they want to flaunt a new relationship or some kind of success or status or something. Sometimes they’re just emotionally clueless and don’t realize that I feel hurt because they stepped over the friendship line and it didn’t work out. (I don’t ever initiate with guy friends–it always comes from them.)
    Here’s how I deal with some different scenarios in the guy-friend arena. If I get the impression that a guy  friend is immature and wants to cross the friendship line because he’s merely curious or  horny while he’s waiting for something better, then I don’t think much of him as a friend anymore, and keep my distance. If I think he’s really wanting to explore a relationship with me I spell out the risk for him in advance–I say that I don’t maintain contact with ex-boyfriends, so he’d better be sure he wants to see if a LT thing will work here. “After we have sex you can’t go back to being my brother,” is how  I explain that one. (This scenario has only happened once, though.) Then there are guy friends that I can be F-buddies with, but they usually aren’t great friends, and eventually we go our separate ways.

  15. 35

    I have to agree with Rose, Sparkling Emerald, and Anita, that trying to be friends with someone you dated who hurt you, is not a good idea. If you dated briefly and casually, and decide that a friendship makes more sense, nothing wrong with that, but if you’re dumped after an actual relationship by someone who then says they still want to be “friends”, that isn’t in a woman’s best interests, and can actually be bad for her self-esteem. In my experience, men say that, but it usually goes out the window once the guy meets someone else, or he is hoping you’ll stick around just in case he changes his mind. You may be civil, but it’s hard to actually be friends. Eventually maybe, it can work, but only after both parties have truly moved on to other things.
    I, too, have had exes try to come back into my life, sometimes years later. And I wonder how much of it has to do with their own feelings of guilt or shame rather than a desire for any kind of real friendship.

  16. 36

    Thumbs up to Ruby at 37.

  17. 37
    Sparkling Emerald

    Goldie # 35, not sure if you were referring to me, or someone else, but what I said was   “I have plenty of female friends and I have all the friendship I need at this point in my life”   I’m not sure who said ” “I have enough friends and I won’t need anymore as long as I live”, or if anyone said that, or anything resembling that.   And if you gleaned from my comment that not seeking friendships with males means I never want another friend at all in my life, ever, ever, ever, then that is silly.   And I think I explained quite clearly why I will limit my friendships to females or gay males.   To me it’s not worth wrestling off unwanted sexual advances from men “friends” on the miniscule chance that a real platonic relationship could happen.     I make friends with women quite easily.   If i were to find myself with no women friends, I would seek out more women friends. Even my gay women friends don’t make unwanted advances, most of my male friends do.

  18. 38

    Cheers Ruby, Sparkling Emerald and Anita.P.S. I still like men.
    Sorry for my first sentence (that makes no sense) Can we just go ahead and blame Monday even though it was  Friday.
    It’s clearly emotionally charged for me, and I know it’s not the point of the post. Just offering a perspective from personal experience.
    I don’t keep touch with exes either, except for this person who I thought cared about me (at least as someone who shared childhood and history together). It’s been really difficult to stop contact because it just feels like more loss. It is  a loss, which is why  it didn’t happen sooner.  I didn’t have more loss on the agenda. Finally cutting off someone from Mayberry (lol) isn’t fun. (But I’m glad I did.)

  19. 39

    That is one of my favorite dialogues from one of my favorite movies, When Harry Met Sally.   RIP Nora Ephron.   
    @EMK, it sounds like you’ve got a system down that works for you.   I laud you because I think that a lot of people go into marriage with the idea that nothing needs to change in regards to their relationships with the opposite sex.   That seems incredibly naive to me and I think it’s important you build certain boundaries into your life so when your marriage goes through one of the inevitable low ebbs that you aren’t set up for temptation with your opposite sex friends.
    The only flaw that I see in your system is being friends with old girlfriends.   According to several commenters here, ex-boyfriends sometimes function as a “friend with benefits.”   I would tend to think that would be less likely to happen if you are married and these women are ethical people whom you’ve stayed friends with, presumably, because you respect them.   However, it’s your system, not mine.
    When I was married, I really didn’t have any contact with old boyfriends so that wasn’t an issue.   My spouse was friends with many women and didn’t mind me having male friends, which I also did.   However, I was extremely careful to keep our discussions about business and never veered into personal territory, i.e. discussing our relationships.   Still, now that I’m divorced, I found out that my ex did have a sexual relationship with at least one of his female friends.   And even though I was very careful with my boundaries with my male friends, I think I might have offended some of my male friend’s wives because *they* weren’t comfortable with their husbands’ having female friends at all.   I feel somewhat embarrassed about the latter, but it is just further underlies the transient nature of opposite sex friendships if you plan on marrying again.   
    I agree with Goldie #35 that, the older you get, you can never have too many friends.   I think it is great to keep former boyfriends for networking and informational purposes.   However, for me, it’s been difficult to maintain close friendships with former boyfriends (with the exception of those overseas) because of feelings on one side or the other.   Once those feelings dissipate, I like it if they join my “tribe” (larger group of friends and acquaintances for networking or events) because there was always something I value that brought us together in the first place.   It’s great to maintain some of that without a lot distress from either party.   So far, I’ve partial successful doing that.   I suspect things will get easier with that as time goes by and I get wiser about the men I date.

  20. 40

    ANother category of male-female friendships ? Siblings, foster siblings or a man and woman (who may or may not be related by blood) having been raised together from childhood. Science has shown from anthropological studies that something about being raised together as children act as a repellent to the formation of sexual relationships. Probably natures way of preventing incest.

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