can men and women be just friends?

i posted about this a while back.  it came up recently on Lindsey Nobles’ blog and created some good conversation.

so i’m totally going to copycat.

i’ll respond with my thoughts on the comments you make, so have at it.

can they?  why or why not?

18 comments on “can men and women be just friends?

  1. JBen says:

    I want really badly to say no (that has been my personal experience) but people I know have done it well.

    I think if you are going to do it you have to understand the temporary nature of it. If I am friends with a girl I have no intention of dating then she or I will eventually be dating someone else. Our friendship will change dramatically at that point.

    My own experience has led to a lot of pain and confusion. So with my fiance I was very up front about my intentions. She appreciated that.

    I have so many more thoughts on that but I’ll leave it here for now.

    • i was the girl that was always oblivious to the fact that guys wanted to date me. i thought they were all my buddies.

      i wasn’t the brightest bulb in the tract lighting.

  2. Jonathan B says:

    I’m a single guy with mostly female friends. And my take on it is kind of mixed.

    1) Never date or marry someone you couldn’t be friends with. Too many marriages are based on sexual attraction with no real bond to hold them. That creates extra vulnerability to a person you DO have foundation for a bond with.

    2) Your spouse should be your best friend. If they’re not suitable for that role, they’re probably not suitable for spouse either. That’s not saying you should marry your current best friend, but that the person you would marry should be moving into that role as you get to know them.

    3) Once you are married, you can’t allow another relationship (other than Jesus of course) to become closer than the relationship with your spouse. They should be your #1 human priority. If you’re telling your spouse-gendered friend something you wouldn’t tell your spouse, you need to stop and evaluate why you wouldn’t tell your spouse and what you need to do to fix that.

    4) One of my closest friends online is a married woman. I try to always remember to tell her to tell her husband hello for me. He’s not online much and there’s a lot of physical distance between us, so getting to know him well is not an option, but the act of constantly acknowledging his existence is good protection for my own thoughts, and also signals to both her and him that I remember that she’s married and have no desire to interfere with that.

    5) If your spouse has not demonstrated insane jelousy before, and is concerned about a new spouse-gendered friend you’ve made, pay attention. It doesn’t automatically mean she doubts YOU. It may well mean that the other woman is sending signals of her own intentions that you’re not equipped to pick up on. Or the other man, if you’re the wife. Take their concern seriously and ask them what you should be watching for to stay safe.

    For a man, this last often comes in the form of a woman with problems. Men are wired to want to solve problems, so we are attracted to try to help. But it can put you in a situation of establishing a dependency that’s very dangerous. You can short-circuit this by bringing the woman into contact with your wife, and letting your wife take the lead in advising her. Pastors in particular are well advised to have their wife present when counseling female parishioners in private.

    For a woman, it’s often a man with problems, but the wiring is more towards offering sympathy and comfort. Which again can establish dangerous dependencies. Putting them into contact with your husband can also be a good strategy there.

    • what seems strange to many of my friends now, is that most of my friends are guys, even though i’m married. they’re (mostly) craig’s friends too and he’s not threatened by it at all.

      he knows he’s the shiznit.

      it’s almost easier to have guy friends now that the expectations are completely different and there are none of those awkward questions that no one ever asks.

  3. Haha…Lindsey’s post made me decide to finally tackle the Ask Joy’s on this one as well. It’s in process. People love this question. Maybe I’ll do it in the form of a video and show everyone how Walter and I maintain our tumultuous friendship.

  4. I think men and women who AREN’T attracted to each other can be friends. LOL!

  5. Darcyjo says:

    For years, the vast majority of my friends were guys (I’m a veteran, and there were a lot of them around). Even now, I find it easier to make friends with men. But I have one iron-clad rule: if a guy has a significant other, a girlfriend, fiancee, wife, I do my best to make friends with them. If for some reason I can’t, I back away from the friendship. As a middle-aged widow, I can’t afford to have people think I’m overly interested in a married man.
    And if the day ever comes that I end up dating again, I will go out of my way to make sure my friends like and get along with my guy. If they have a bad feeling about him, I will back away very quickly…..I know and trust their judgment on people.

  6. reneamac says:

    I’m the kind of girl who has always had more guy friends than girl friends… mostly because I like sports and being able to actually say what I mean.

    I’ve also been that girl who was really clueless that my guy pals were interested. Unfortunately (for me) I’m a fast learner… I miss those days of ignorant bliss. 🙂

    At any rate, I think it’s easier for some than for others, and that’s okay. It’s important not to universalize our experiences in a When Harry Met Sally kind of way — not that we can’t to some degree learn to temper and develop our natural tendencies, learning from one another.

    An interesting sub-category of this topic includes being friends when your romantic feelings aren’t returned or when you can’t return the romantic interest of your friend. The best, well the only, book I’ve seen on this is Laura Smit’s Loves Me, Loves Me Not: The Ethics of Unrequited Love. While there are countless books (ad nausium) on our moral responsibilities whilst in romantic relationships, no one ever talks about how we can be others-oriented — Christ-like — in the situations in which feelings are not mutual, even though such situations occur rather frequently. Ultimately, I take a more nuanced position than Smit, but I think her book is invaluable, and I wish it were more widely read.

    At any rate… Is it possible? Yes. For some more than for others.

  7. nathan says:

    I have good friends that are women. It’s hard for me to imagine not having them in my life.

    However, I have also had friendships that have gotten blurry and, in a few cases, messed up due to either mutual attraction that didn’t last, feelings of loneliness that were acted upon, or just plain confusion about whether there is attraction or not.

    So, it isn’t always easy, and doesn’t always work out, but having friends of the opposite sex is still totally worth it in my view.

  8. Yes, unless she beats him in Words With Friends.

    Then they’re enemies.

  9. educlaytion says:

    As soon as I saw the tweet I was thinking Harry and Sally. And the boom. You all over that like Meg Ryan on rye. It’s possible for men and women to be friends, but there has to somehow be zero attraction on EITHER side. In my experience one party always starts to think funky thoughts. Then Harry was right.

  10. Randomlychad says:

    I’m ridiculously sheltered in this regard, and have almost nothing to say. If Paul was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, then I’m the introvert of the introverts. As such, I was painfully awkward and shy, and didn’t date until I was 19. Indeed, I married her, and here we are almost 21 years later!

    Best advice: keep no secrets. All friends should be someone your spouse knows. That way, it’s all in the open. That said, I have a personal policy to not spend any time alone with a member of the opposite sex who isn’t related to me. Keeps things from getting weird. (Words with Friends not withstanding). 😉

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