Can Men and Women Really Be Just Friends?

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.

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  1. 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. 

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 34

    [email protected]: 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 36

    Thumbs up to Ruby at 37.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.)

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 41

    Most of my friends are women.  The men who are my friends are in relationships and I know them through friendships with the women who are their wives or girlfriends.  I never spend time with them alone as I feel it would be inappropriate and the women in their lives would agree.    
    I think that it is very difficult for straight men and women to be “just friends”.  I agree that one or the other will probably be attracted if not both.  While this adds a great little spice to the friendship it is also a recipe for someone getting hurt.  Whenever I have tried to have a friendship with an unattached (straight) man it has eventually become awkward.    
    Years ago I was dating a guy who told me that he thought it was okay for people in a relationship to still continue to see friends of the opposite sex casually, such as a lunch date.  I actually wasn’t too concerned about that because I didn’t feel threatened by any of his female friends.  So I told him that was fine with me and I said that I was sure he would have no problem with me going out to lunch with a guy friend from time to time.
    When I said that I could see him get that picture in his head of me having lunch with another man.  His whole body posture changed, I swear I could almost see the hair on the back of his neck rise up.  OMG it was so funny I had to stop myself from laughing out loud.  I said, “Hmm, I see that would be a problem.”  
    He said, “Yes it would… I won’t be going out to lunch with any women.”  
    I said, “Okay.”  We never spoke about it again, and we never spent time alone with friends of the opposite sex. 
    The only other instance where we had to have a discussion about other women and what might or might not be appropriate was when he was telling me about the kind of “joking” that was going on at work.  He worked almost exclusively with women and he was a tall, handsome, manly man.  To say he was popular with his coworkers would be an understatement.  When he related to me the bantering that was going on between him and the women he worked with, I told him I was not comfortable with the sexual innuendoes and teasing that was happening.  He told me that it was no big deal and that it was all in fun and just a way of passing time.
    I said, “How would you feel if it was me joking like that with a man I worked with?”
    Again I saw the light go on as he put the shoe on the other foot so to speak.  He said, “I wouldn’t like it.  It won’t happen again.”
    I said, “Okay.”

  12. 42

    @ Lia #43: if you and your boyfriend are both thin-skinned, then it works for you.  If one of you was not, then one of you probably wouldn’t get it.
    @ Androgynous @42: there’s probably a reason they say familiarity breeds contempt. 😉
    @ Those who say you can’t be friends with the opposite sex because they might hurt you, that just does not make any sense.  You’re basically living your life in fear of what might happen.  As if you’ve never been hurt by a friend of the same sex.  Vivir con miedo, es como vivir a medias.

  13. 43
    Karl R

    Ruby asked: (#2)
    “As to point number 4, if you thought someone was a ‘narcissist’, ‘unstable’, ‘trashy’. or ‘sad’, why would you want to be friends with them?”
    In general, I don’t. In some cases, the personality flaw is minor enough that being friends is not an issue. Dating her, however, brings the flaw to the forefront. That includes a friend who has anger issues. She’s never blown up at me, but I didn’t envy her on-again / off-again boyfriend … even though she’s really hot.
    Or the reason may not be personality-related. I don’t date my coworkers (because office breakups are too complicated for my tastes), but I am still aware that a number of my coworkers are attractive women.
    nathan said: (#4)
    “Obviously, big age differences don’t always negate sexual attraction, but it clearly reduces the likelihood.”
    I’m going to have to disagree with that. I don’t think people stop finding men/women in their 20s attractive once they reach their 40s, 50s and 60s. I was never interested in dating women 20 years younger than me, but I certainly enjoy looking at many of them.
    Amy asked: (#3)
    “I just have to ask you and any guy reading about your 2nd point. That guys can really sleep with someone they’re BARELY EVEN ATTRACTED TO… is this really true?”
    It’s certainly true for some men. (I know a few.) I’m certainly capable of having sex with a woman who I only find to be of average physical attractiveness. (But I’m generally not motivated to unless I like her for other reasons also.)
    Evan said: (original post)
    “3) I’m in a satisfying relationship. […] It’s generally a good idea to avoid putting yourself in tempting situations,”
    The temptation isn’t a problem during a satisfying relationship. The problem arises when problems occur during that long-term relationship. A person’s incentive to resist the temptation decreases if there are significant relationship problems.
    Any relationship troubles are going to increase greatly infidelity is added to the situation.
    I am friends with members of the opposite sex. I find a number of them sexually attractive. Therefore, I try to ensure that I build habits so I’m not tempted if my wife and I hit a rough spot in our relationship.
    Rose said: (#9)
    “I don’t really see what the point is of trying to be friends with a woman you hurt or dumped. Especially if the guy hurt me, what does a friendship do for me?”
    A lot of this is going to depend on how badly each person got hurt, and how quickly they bounce back from it. While you’re hurting, space can definitely help you move on. Once you’ve moved on (which, admittedly, some people never do), the space is no longer necessary.
    About six years ago I was somewhat hurt when a relationship didn’t work out. I wasn’t badly hurt, because I’d never fully invested emotionally in the relationship (I’d had some misgivings too). But even after the breakup, she still had all the qualities that attracted me in the first place (bright, funny, common interests). Furthermore, I still trusted her.
    Rose said: (#34)
    “Even if it doesn’t feel like you still have feelings, you may not need to know that this person is marrying someone else.”
    That particular girlfriend of mine felt guilty that I’d been hurt, and she felt relieved when I found someone else. While she didn’t need to know that I found someone else, she certainly appreciated knowing that I’d moved on.
    There are lots of possible reasons (not all of them benign) for someone to let you know that he’d gotten married.
    Rose said: (#34)
    “It took me a few years to realize how bothered I was by the situation,”
    Men don’t read minds. I find it probable that he remained clueless longer than you did.
    Rose said: (#9)
    “I think by acting like nothing ever happened it’s rather insulting.”
    I’m not sure what you mean by that. My friendship with that woman is different than it was before (or during) our relationship. But there’s no “We used to date” drama when we’re around each other.
    Why do you care whether a man still finds you attractive? Is it an ego thing?
    Rose said: (#34)
    “It’s bad for friendships when romantic interest doesn’t work.”
    Lots of things are hard on friendships:
    Marriage, having kids, moving, long hours at work, time-consuming hobbies, etc.
    Are you going to avoid all of these things?
    Friends move in and out of our lives. If you date a friend and it doesn’t work, you may end up losing that friendship for the rest of your life. Or it may work, and you may end up marrying a good friend. Or it may not work, and you may end up with a different type of friendship than you started out with.
    Lia said:
    “I saw the light go on as he put the shoe on the other foot so to speak.”
    That’s a good way to self-check a situation. If I would be bothered if my wife did the same thing, I probably shouldn’t be doing it myself. In addition, my behavior with members of the opposite sex should be the same regardless of whether my wife is present. If it isn’t, maybe I need to alter my behavior.
    My wife and I are active in the dance community, and regularly dance with other men and women. It’s likely that we’re not bothered by things that would bother you and/or your boyfriend. It appears that you and your boyfriend have reached the agreement that is right for you, just like my wife and I have reached an agreement that is right for us.

  14. 44

    @ Karl R
    Just to clarify… If I was active in a dance community I would not be bothered by my partner dancing with other women nor would I hesitate to dance with other men.  I really don’t equate dancing with the kind of raunchy sexual innuendo and teasing that was going on.  Of course maybe I am missing some important aspect of dancing. 🙂 
    I wasn’t threatened by him wanting to have lunch with a female friends either but the fact that HE would object to me doing the same with a male friend (an objection he hadn’t really been aware of himself until he really thought about it) made it seem right for us not to spend time alone with friends of the opposite sex.  When I was eighteen I had a boyfriend that had one standard for me and one for himself.  I don’t want to repeat that kind of relationship, I don’t find that appropriate or fair.
    As far as the “joking” that was going on between him and his coworkers it was raunchy enough and escalating to the point where hearing about it felt uncomfortable.  In my relationships I always try to remember that the other person is always doing their best and try not to be critical.  I knew he didn’t think it was inappropriate or he wouldn’t have been doing it.  I didn’t get angry or snippy, I simply asked how he would feel if the exact same conversations were happening between me and another man.
    Now perhaps I was wrong in this, (my being wrong happens frequently much to my dismay) but it felt like that was disrespectful of me and our relationship.  I am not saying that is what it was disrespectful, only that it FELT that way.  I NEVER allowed anyone to be critical of him in my presence (much to his mother’s dismay).  And I didn’t criticize him to others.  I never engaged flirting or sexual banter with other men because it would have felt wrong to me and it would have felt like I was disrespecting him and our relationship.   
    I am not saying that it is wrong that others do that or that they are not loyal to their significant other if they do do that, but for me it doesn’t feel good.

  15. 45

    Its difficult to be friends with someone you have some attraction towards but it is more likely women will have problems it. 
    A lot of women seem to create these fantasies and have expectations for the guy they are attracted to. When they get their bubble gets burst they end up resenting the guy for it.
    As a guy on the otherhand, its pretty easy to seperate those feelings. You have been taught all your life to take rejection with a grain of salt and move on to the next woman.

  16. 46

    I don’t really feel attracted to my person anymore. I do still feel hurt. I don’t feel like he maintained a real friendship with me, but only confuses me by staying in contact. I feel rejection is hurtful, and the whole situation was confusing. But it’s not helping me anymore to try to figure it out.
    I do think I’m going to have to start getting tougher and dealing with rejection if I want my life to go in the right direction, but I’ve also seen the same guy react really badly when I rejected him. I’m not sure men are really better at it. I’ve seen him whine to other women when rejected. I don’t know.
    I’m not an expert and I do not have the answers.
    I just hope my next love interest goes a little better. I hope I’ve learned enough from the situation to have more success the next round!
    I’ve dwelled too much on him. That much I do know. Sometimes you just have to accept that you will not get all the answers.
    Would all the men agree that if you like a girl you make sure she knows it? Active pursuit or written off?

  17. 47

    Thanks for writing this article.  What I love about your words is that you focus on what TO do, what to focus on, and not what NOT to do.
    When I was about 15, I moved to a new area in my city.  I had a long walk from school, and suddenly new people to walk home with.  
    This is when I realized that a guy being my “friend” never actually liked me as a friend.  
    I’d start to wonder what they would do, watch, and by the third day of walking home, they’d invite me to their house, or accidently walk me to mine.  
    I wasn’t interested in anything more than hanging with the guy, and being 15 I was still quite a tom boy.  
    I didn’t flirt, or tell him he was cool even.  
    Again, later being 19, I found a new place to live on my own which was rented by guys.  
    One of them dated me, the other two had crushes on me.  
    Again, people thought of me as a free spirit.  
    I just didn’t want the same things as other people regarding marriage.  I wanted relationship with commitment, and later even marriage, yet just not the same way as everyone else seemed to want…
    My first and only real boyfriend, was my best friend.  We’d been friends since high school, he’d come visit me after seeing his girlfriend.  
    She hated me.  She spread rumors about me.  I never made a move on him, nor  did I tell him anything bad about her.  I gave up on our friendship.
    Then a year later we met and started dating.  
    Recently, after a three year negative and heart wrenching, relationship where my boyfriend not once, slept with his ex, but twice, then, after I set my boundaries, and many many conversations, and lists of what we wanted, positive things we loved about each other, decided to stay together, and then I found out he was going out with the new girl at work, who was just his friend.  He wanted to learn to ice climb, and she could teach him.  He didn’t want to learn with me, he wanted to go out and drink with her, and then because they were such good “buddies”.  (She pretended to be one of the guys all the time to get free drinks etc…), he walked her home, and kissed her in front of our entire staff.  
    I gave up, they dated, but were just “friends” for six months.  
    I have not seen anyone who has ever had a “just friendship friend of the opposite sex”.  
    I have seen guys with friends, who had crushes on them, guys who have had crushes on the girl who had the hot boyfriend, and when she was bored, or lonely she went to the “friend” to hang out because she knew that he would be there…
    My last experience was the all too crazy one.  A guy who I met online.  
    I am pretty, quirky, down to earth, realistic, positive, and easy to get along with.  I have read dating books, and studied human behaviors… but still can’t get a guy to fall in love with me, connect, or feel good enough to be with me for life.
    I feel it is my language, that I don’t tell a guy that he’s the man, or how much I like him…
    I start every relationship the same.  Dating.  I date, we flirt, they like me, they want to go on several more dates, they want to sleep with me, and while making out, I end the evening say within the first three dates, depending on where it is going… with I will sleep with you when we are exclusive.
    Sometimes they agree, and say during mad passion, they want the same thing, and want to be exclusive with me… and find some other reason, (usually mothers who do not like me), 
    But this one, we met, he planned, we spent a few hours talking on the phone, we did something cool, and memorable, and I brought up a few questions while flirting of what I found attractive, including morals, respect etc… 
    By a month he was calling to see me weekly, go places, we’d go for walks, to the park, play, skip, eat out, and a couple of times we’d stay at his house and watch movies, make food and make out.  We even went out of town together a couple of times, and shared events, and my birthday.  I waited almost two months to sleep with him.  I told him that I wouldn’t be interested in wasting my time if he didn’t want to get to know me, meaning that he needed to find out what made me excited and happy… etc.  We got along great, we hugged when we saw each other, we talked about important things, and wants in our lives… which were similar… but when we slept together, something happened.  He said he couldn’t be in an exclusive relationship because his ex the mother of his child, threatened him with having any rights to see his daughter, and had taken her away several times without telling him.
    By then we’d invested some few months together, and I told him I didn’t want to waste my time, so we decided we would just date and see where it went from there with out sleeping together.  
    It became harder and harder because we spent a lot of time together.  He’d get jealous of me continuing to date other guys, and it seemed like he got insecure of my feelings for him, but he told me he couldn’t be exclusive… so I said no sex.  
    Then his ex wanted him back, they got back together for two weeks, after he and I had our first arguement.  We were planning a trip together with his daughter.  He bailed.  I got upset at the lack of respect, and told him so.
    He called me, apologized for being so hard on me, and for what he’d put me through, and told me it was over with her.
    Then we saw each other less, but weekly.  For dinner, movies, coffee, talk discussion of boundaries, etc.  
    One day we had seen each other almost every day that week, I had slept over at his house, we held hands, kissed, and after saying that I didn’t want to hear about his ex other than that she dropped off his daughter, he told me that he only found me sexually attractive.  He was only “hanging out with me that whole time”, and that there was nothing more.  
    Then he said he’d met someone else.  He was seeing both of us at the same time. 
    A week later, I asked him to drop off my stuff, he could leave it at my door.  He got angry at me for simply asking him to take me home, not arguing with him, or convincing him to stay with me…and said I was losing out on being friends with him.  
    It took him two weeks to bring me my stuff, but had to do it when I was home, even though I insisted he could leave the stuff outside my door. She had “broken up with him because he wouldn’t sleep with him, ” he said, although I thought to myself yeah she listened to her instincts… he ended that one with a long, drawn out hug…  🙁
    He continued to call me every week, or message me online.  Not to have me back, but just to go out.  I told him, that if he wanted to date me, exclusively, that would be great, but that I wasn’t interested in being just friends, because I had feelings for him.  
    After another week he messaged me to “talk”.  WE went out for a couple of drinks, and skipped back home after him telling me he thought I was beautiful.  I said thank you, but you see, he had told me that his ex was beautiful, and all beautiful girls got everything they wanted.  And guys just did what ever they wanted when they demanded it…
    He tried to be positive when he spoke of her, but even his friends said she was mean, put him down and constantly made him feel bad for not serving her, and that she spoke in a mean way and was rude even to their daughter.  
    I had never been told I was beautiful.  So here he was telling me i was, and all I could think was I wish someone would see me as beautiful on the inside.
    We ended up in a fight that night, over him telling me I wasn’t trustworthy, (his fears of how he’d treated me), and then when I cried, he told me I was jealous, and dramatic because i was crying.  He then told me how he’d had his “slut” days, and then when I didn’t say anything mean back, he told me that’s why he could never be with me, because he couldn’t make me happy.
    End of story.  He felt that he couldn’t make me happy because I didn’t give him more than a thank you at the end of our dates, and an occasional you’re great, etc etc.
    I didn’t chase him, I didn’t even call him unless he called me… because I was too worried that he’d think I was needy.  Which i wasn’t.  I just liked him.  I let him be him, we had fun, and always ended with some passion, smiles, and hugs, and kisses… But he wasn’t feeling like he could make me happy.  
    After that, he called me to talk about our fight.  I wrote him an email telling him how he made me feel, all positive, that nobody could make any one happy, just happier, and since he hadn’t even asked what made me happy, I tried to tell him the things he did that made me happy.  I told him he could tell me too.  
    When we met to talk all i got was that he didn’t want a relationship.  I said, “with me”>  I get it.  I asked him if he’d read my email.  He said no.  
    When he dropped me off he said he just wanted it the way it used to be, where we had fun.  I got out of the truck, squeezed his hand, and replied with, ” I shared myself with you because  I had feelings for you, I want to share fun, and romance with someone who wants to be with me.”
    He said he’d call me the next day.  I said read  my email, you probably won’t want to.  
    So time went by, and he continued to contact me online.  flirty messages.  I became sick just before the holidays, and after new years, he messages me with, “hey friend”….  “I am concerned about you.  Give me a ring.”
    By then, I’m wondering why is he still calling me??????  I didn’t answer a few of his messages, I stayed offline for a while.  Then I realized that he told me to call him… it didn’t make sense.  
    I responded with if he was concerned he would have called.  He replied with something about his phone dying.  (Happened the night of our fight over a month before.  I had already given him my number by text after his phone died.)
    And I responded with you already told me that.  you have my email, and (my phone number by all the pictures I’d sent him of us by phone), and he knew where I lived.  
    I realized that maybe he was trying to get together to talk, and sent him another, (I”m too nice), message to say hope he’d had a nice Christmas.  
    I haven’t heard back from him, so I guess I learned how to lose a guy over and over and over again.  I was honest, up front, and repeated myself.  I only kept seeing him, because he’d tell me that he wanted to talk, or go for a walk… meaning he wanted to tell me something.  But nothing would come of it, so, I gave up.  I told him I had some not so great things happen to me and was dealing with them and needed a hug…I wish to be with people who want to share life with me, and truly care about me.  It wasn’t anything about him, but I did want to be around people who cared, not people who just said they did, but who didn’t even save my number, or memorize it, or come by the house (which is five minutes away) to see if I was ok.  
    It’s kind of like when you care about someone so much, because you are connected, even though he says you aren’t and wants someone else… 
    Guys and girls easily hook up and become friends, and friends with benefits, but if you want a serious long term relationship, you and he, as a team, come first.
    Thanks for all of your posts.  They do help make sense of things when it’s so hard to figure out what is happening in situations of love.

  18. 48

    Maybe spend more time being selective.
    You say you  will sleep with them when you’re exclusive.  Are you sure YOU want to sleep with them and be exclusive after just three dates?
    Staying with someone after they have cheated on you several times isn’t having boundaries.  I’m afraid that the words that come out of your mouth mean nothing if you can’t follow it up with actions (ie kick him to the kerb).
    You say you don’t want to be just friends with someone, then carry on being just that.
    You continue to see someone who  isn’t over his ex.  You saying you won’t do that, and then doing it, is not the same as having boundaries.
    I got very confused reading your comment so I can only guess at what it must be like living it. 
    While men and women can be friends, this is all too jacked up.
    All kinds of men will come your way.  Men who aren’t over the ex.  Men who cheat.  Men who don’t seem to know what they want. Men who say they can’t make you happy. Men with mysteriously dying phones. Men who don’t want a relationship. Men whose mothers don’t like you (how old are y’all?). You don’t have to keep an open door policy to the lot of them.  And yes, good men who are ready for a relationship will come your way too, but not while you’re paying so much attention to all of the above.
    Mind you, are you sure you know what YOU want?  Cos until you do, this is kinda par for the course.

  19. 49

    Love your four point check! It totally makes sense. It’s also interesting to learn that men do not strike up friendships with women in the first instance, unless there is some degree of attraction on their part.

  20. 50

    I have a lot of male friends and nothing physical other than a hug ever transpired between us! We met on dating sites and I was just upfront with the “not taking it to another level” chat.  That said, they seem relieved to have someone to call up for a movie or walk or pizza w/o the dating hangover situation in an unspoken agreement.
    1) I don’t need sex that badly to jump a male FRIEND 2) I have a trustworthy male opinion when I need it.  This is SO worth it.
    Also not in my habit is to STAY FRIENDS with former lovers or boyfriends. Once for me the physical intimacy occurs, I just can’t backpaddle and be their friend again.  Doesn’t mean I don’t like them, I just can’t reverse the roles when there are some other people that just are friends w/o emotional attachment as in fmr lover.  Icky.

  21. 51

     I have a lot of male acquaintances due to shared hobbies but none that I would say are close friends…I tend to be close friends with women.  Some are attracted to me, while I don’t think the others are.  I am friends with a former semi-fwb (I say semi since we never actually slept with each other just fooled around) That somehow worked out itself..When  I was ready to cut him off, he started behaving better than ever. But I know that if I wanted to sleep with him he wouldn’t give  it a second thought.  That doesn’t bother me since now I only see him as a friend and nothing more. I told him this too and have kept in practice. I think it works for us because we hardly see each other so I never feel any sort of resurfaced attraction towards him. I think it would be an issue if he was a close friend who I saw regularly.
    I’m still in touch with some men I dated years ago but I don’t hang out with them since they don’t live in the area.  Looking back I don’t think if our break ups happened now I would have stayed in touch.  It was sort of forced through my habit of trying to make things ok and let bygones be bygones… But since they were so long ago, and I’ve moved past any feelings  I don’t feel any need to go back and  to cut them off now.  They were wrong for me but  I like them as acquaintances.
     On another note, I agree with Mary @50–boundaries are in what you do more than what you say. And  you don’t need to feel obligated to keep an open door policy. I wanted to stay in touch with my last ex since we were friends before going out, I was hoping we could still be friends after it ended.  I had told him I wanted to stay in touch but my actions said otherwise.  I realized despite having the space, I didn’t feel comfortable doing so.  So I  keep him out of my life now,, rather than trying to “make things work” and complicated, I rather place my feelings first. It really showed me that some people aren’t meant to stay in your life forever and some shouldn’t be allowed to  enter it all.  make sure you know what you want. Otherwise you’ll settle for anything and likely to be hurt.

  22. 52

    Great advice Rochelle & the hard lesson I’ve learned from the whole situation. I honestly feel so much more empowered from what others have shared as well. That is absolutely why I stayed in touch, to make the best of the situation & let bygones be bygones & to make things ok. He has tried to see me but I refused (we have never “hooked up”, so I know he can’t expect that). I felt over it. It just flared up because I was going through painful stuff…. I didn’t forsee this risk of not blatently saying NO MORE CONTACT. 

  23. 53

    Marymary:  thank you.  I fully agree with you.  I set boundaries and expect them to be heard, and followed.  What I’ve learned is that people do not always hear or listen or respect your boundaries.    Or understand.   It’s learning how to put them forth that is the hard part.   This is where I saw a blog that Evan wrote and started reading.  It has helped immensely.
    With the ex who kept going back to his ex, I set the boundaries and left him. Yes it took two tries.  
    With the last relationship and all of my relationships I have waited to sleep with them.  i need to feel safe and do not want to waste my time befriending anyone just to have “someone” and another ” someone” who i probably wont remember, in and out of my life.  I want memories with one special person that i enjoy spending my time with where we can both be happy being with each other , being who we are.  
    The last one said he heard my boundaries, but then acted like he didn’t.  I mirrored him. I did not call him, or message him. I stopped having fun with him when he said he wanted to be friends. I stopped going out withhim and asked for my stuff back.  
    I know what I want and am not afraid to ask for it.  I am quite selective and don’t fall into relationships with just anyone.  Even though I gave the cheater too many chances, I definitely stood up for myself while he put me down and tried to make me feel like it was my fault he cheated.  
    It took me a while to learn what to do and after i left i suddenly realized that i wanted someone who could be my real friend.  
    I explain it like this:  not A friend, or any friend, chum, buddy, pal, aquaintence, but my best romantic friend, a different kind of friendship that is made by two people in love.  The love and respect come first. The courtship,  The finding out about each other, the life long curiousness about one another, the intimacy and connection, and understanding that comes from love. Pure love. Love with out restrictions. With no need to harm one another.  This is a relationship with friendship and I believe it can exist.  ( anyone know the 8 stages of a relationship?)
     I’m  loyal and I act with morals… but so far I have believed that what Men say is what they mean (women too) and have learned that they need to show it.  How to encourage this is where i spent my wasted time… It feels like I have to stand up for myself and maybe a lackof being able to be vulnerable causes this but at least I have learned.  🙂
    When my partner said he  just wanted to be friends after dating for five months, i calmly  thought for a minute, got up and said,”no thank you.”
     I asked for my stuff back and told him to call me only if and when he is interested in being exclusive and treating me with respect.  
    He would call.  I’d let it go to voice mail.  Then he’d text saying he wanted to talk.  I’d ask him what he wanted, or tell him no not unless he was interested in dating me exclusively. Again.  Finally,  after the final mssg. A month later he realized i was serious and meant what i said.  Friends aren’t interested, have feelings for, or sexual attraction to or hold hands and cuddle tell you that you are beautiful, stare into your eyes or kiss or talk about your future together… A friend doesn’t  pick you up and take you out for dinner and take you home.  I told him i wanted to have a man around that SHOWS he cares and wants to share his life with me.  Someone special is who i spend my time with and have fun adventures with.  
    Yes I was a little too innocent believing that all others hear and believe what you say is what you mean. Your actions must show what you say.   Yes a 34 year old man withdrew from our relationship because of fear or whatever,  tried to keep me around for his benefit as “friends”.  And finally when he messaged me to say he was concerned about me, I plainly told him for the 400th time that  he didn’t show it and I would like to spend my time with people who do.  He got it.    Thanks again.

  24. 54

    I have at present two male platonic friends, both never married. One is 41 and the other about 63. I love them both, both are into their spirituality, but still and all I can tell by little hints and other indicators that they wish I were interested in them romantically.
    Right or wrong I stick with them and just ignore the occasional signal. Luckily I seldom see them face to face, maybe 1-2x/year.
    My most successful platonic friends have been gay men but I no longer am in touch. Both were named Mike and one was super gay and the other was macho mostly.

  25. 55
    Karl R

    AS said: (#51)
    “It’s also interesting to learn that men do not strike up friendships with women in the first instance, unless there is some degree of attraction on their part.”
    I wouldn’t say that men don’t strike up friendships with women whom we’re not attracted to. In my own experience, I do occasionally strike up such friendships. I’m a lot less likely to initiate them, however.
    For the friendships where there is no attraction, there is always some mutual interest which connects us.
    AS said: (#51)
    “Looking back I don’t think if our break ups happened now I would have stayed in touch.  It was sort of forced through my habit of trying to make things ok and let bygones be bygones…”
    I think some people try to be friends after the fact because they want to “prove” that they’re mature enough to be friends with an ex. To me, that’s not a good enough reason. (It certainly doesn’t make it worth the effort.)
    If you share the same social circle, however, that’s a strong incentive to be civil to each other, to be friendly and even to remain friends (if both of you are so inclined). If you can’t do that, then one of you is going to have to abandon that social circle as part of the breakup.

  26. 56

    Karl R (#57) thank you for your comments, the point I was making was that it was interesting to learn from the study that:
    Men, on the other hand, more frequently replied that sexual attraction was a prime reason for initiating a friendship”

  27. 57
    David T

    @AS Note that there are not a lot of specifics about the study.  We are reading a second hand account from Psych today saying that this was the prime motivater “frequently”  That could mean 30% of the time.
    These were all ‘professional men’ and women with a small sample size and less than 2/3 reports sexual tension at all.  So about all you can say is amongst 75ish professional men, a significant fraction  initiate friendships because they are attracted.  Generalizing this to all men or all (or even most) male-female friendships is a major extrapolation.

  28. 58

    @marymary (#50)

    “And yes, good men who are ready for a relationship will come your way too, but not while you’re paying so much attention to all of the above.
    Mind you, are you sure you know what YOU want? Cos until you do, this is kinda par for the course.”

    Wow. So well put (especially the first statement)!

    Evan makes this point elsewhere – while you’re busy pursuing relationships of type X, you won’t be getting relationships of type Y.

    We get from people what we accept. We have to first “know ourselves” and be comfortable and confident in that, in our boundaries, and how we enforce them. Otherwise we are unable to remove from our lives those people who would provide the wrong kind of relationship (i.e. type X).

    @ AS #58
    “Men, on the other hand, more frequently replied that sexual attraction was a prime reason for initiating a friendship”

    Note the qualifier – “more frequently”…I assume they mean “men more frequently than women replied that sexual attraction was a prime reason for initiating a friendship”.

    In other words, it’s not been stated that sexual attraction was the prime reason for (many/most/some) men to initiate friendships, just that it was more common among men than women.

    Not that I’m trying to say that what Harry said to Sally isn’t true – actually I’ve quoted that scene many times myself. It’s just the conclusions made by this study aren’t that clear (or at least the wording is less than unambiguous).

    Otherwise, I second everything Evan has said – us guys (generally) will have sex with a woman whom we find even slightly attractive, given the opportunity/circumstance. Karl covered it well with the hamburger analogy! And that (from my experience, and observing coworkers and friends), we generally make friends with women whom we find attractive, in some way.

  29. 59

    I think it´s nearly impossible to be just friends after relationship. But I´m just talking about my own experiense. I quess if both of you have lost the sexual interest to one another, then it would be possible.

  30. 60
    Karmic Equation

    I agree with markdice 61 about friendship AFTER a relationship.

    However, I think men and women could be friends as long as no one has ever acted on the attraction.

    I think it’s safe for women to assume that if a straight man maintains a friendship with her, there is some level of attraction. I’m not sure if it’s true the other way around though: I don’t think men should assume a woman is attracted to him if she maintains a friendship with him.

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