So…are you guys dating or what?
After a great time out with a male friend, this same question bombards you from all directions. No matter how hard you try to convince friends and family that your new friendship is completely platonic, nobody seems to believe you. Why is it so incredulous that a man and woman can maintain a friendship-- nothing more, nothing less-- a FRIENDSHIP?
In today’s day and age with the complications of technology and subsequent decline of face-to-face interaction, dating has developed into a complex beast. Mistrust is rampant and intimacy requires a soft approach after vetting through countless trial runs, while the motive of the other party remains a mystery. Thus, it’s no wonder a normal friendship between those of the opposite gender appears impossible to cultivate and even more far-fetched to maintain as merely platonic. All of these factors combined beg the question: can men and women be good friends without complications of sex and intimacy?
The short answer: yes, but with conditions.
It’s not uncommon for two people of opposite genders to develop feelings for one another as they spend more and more time in close proximity. This phenomenon can complicate a friendship, so it’s best to set expectations and boundaries from the very beginning. While it can be cringy and embarrassing to have a discussion about this topic, it becomes absolutely necessary to ensure you both maintain a healthy and stress-free friendship. Set aside some time to talk about how you each wish the friendship to proceed. While you get to know each other, make it clear from the start that you have no interest in dating and wish to simply remain friends. Voicing your stance right away helps to eliminate the possibility of misconstrued intentions and vague boundaries.
On the other hand, intimacy isn’t necessarily a step in the wrong direction. Intimacy isn’t reserved for couples, in fact most friendships are built on the close foundation intimacy provides. Feeling close, supported, and trusted are all key components of a strong friendship. But establishing those boundaries early to ensure your level of intimacy doesn’t cross into a different territory entirely remains important.
If you enjoy your friendship with a male friend and want to keep it that way, make what you both want clear and forget what anyone else thinks. Chances are your friends and family will come around and stop bothering you about it-- hopefully one day fairly soon.