Can Men and Women Be ‘Just Friends’?


When_Harry_Met_Sally_206

I was recently at a dear friend’s wedding and one of our dinner conversations at the reception was the question of whether men and women could be “just friends.”

The topic came up because at the cocktail hour, we watched a young lady being continuously trailed by a young man. He got her drinks and fried calamari, helped her with her sweater and pulled her chair out for her. My boyfriend noticed and said, “Wow, that guy is working hard to get a date!” I replied that they were just friends, and had been since childhood.

Next, a couple seated next to us kept whispering and giggling over their entrees. I assumed they were dating. Then someone mentioned that they weren’t an item, they were just friends.

I saw two friendly co-workers at the bar flirting like mad. I saw a very touchy-feely couple who proclaimed to have been friends, and nothing more, for the better part of 10 years.

And then a very lovely young lady got up to toast the newlyweds. It was clear from her speech that she was from the groom’s side. There was much huffing and the eye-rolling from all the bride’s sisters. I asked one sister about it. Her response? “She can’t be trusted. She’s been friends with (the groom) for 15 years and they never dated.”

Hm. “Really … And?” I replied.

“Something’s really wrong here. Nobody that good-looking stays ‘just friends’ with any man!”

I don’t know what her logic was. But I do know this: even if a couple proclaims to be “just friends,” nobody believes it. And many of these “friends” act in ways that true friends do not. Have you ever canoodled with a friend? Me neither.

So, here’s the age-old question: can men and women stay just friends? Is it impossible? Is the flirting between friends somehow different from flirting with two people who are interested in each other?

While it appears to have a yes-no answer I think it’s more complex than that. In the movie When Harry Met Sally, for instance, the answer was a definite “no.” There’s no way, according to “Harry,” that two people of the opposite sex could have feelings limited only to friendship.

But there are countless examples of men and women having platonic friendships. So why does the idea persist that it isn’t possible? Is this stereotyping? Is it a nod to our most base behaviors? Is it just plain ignorance?

For me, it’s very hard to tell. I’ve had friends that are men that I have no romantic feelings for. But I’ve also had male friends that I had crushes on, and vice versa. I’ve seen friendships blossom into romances, but I’ve also seen wonderful friendships destroyed in the effort to become a relationship.

I’ve also seen the murkiest of scenarios: exes who are just friends. Many marry, raise kids together, and then separate and remain just friends, nothing more. However, I have a few exes that usually make it very clear that if they could date me again, they would. 

Sometimes long-term friends started out dating, as in the case of a boyfriend I had a few years back. His best friend was a woman he’d casually dated 20 years before. Now, I pride myself on not being a clingy jealous girlfriend, but the truth? Their long-term, post-relationship friendship turned me into a crazy jealous girlfriend. I can’t explain it because I later realized I had nothing to worry about. 

So what is going on here? Can we be just friends, or is there always a romantic under current? What experiences have you had or seen that informed your opinion? Please do share!






60 Comments

  1. It is indeed a complicated question. I tend to lean toward the answer that it cannot stay just friends without someone getting burned (speaking from experience). However, I know of a few male friends that I have that are completely platonic and more like brothers than “just friends.” That little phrase usually means there was an attraction that was either suppressed or not felt mutually but they don’t want to leave the other’s life. If, as the article stated, someone was truly just good friends, then there wouldn’t be any flirting or questionable attention. If they are truly “just friends” I would think they’d act more like siblings. Just my thoughts on it.

  2. Chad-988613 August 30, 2013

    Thank you Cate for the article!

    Can men and women be just friends?

    This is a topic I’ve long considered and had lengthy discussions with others about. Some of my research on the topic has included: various books, websites, videos, studying JP II’s theology of the body, studying Jason Evert’s books/videos, etc. That being said, I am not an expert! I am only one man with his thoughts. Yet, while my thoughts will be accepted by some and rejected by others, I ask you to consider if what I will say contains truth?! Ok, to the point on the question of “can men & women be just friends?” When this question is asked the common (not universal) response from women is ‘yes’ men and women can be “just friends.” Or women will say “I know of a few male friends that I have that are completely platonic and more like brothers”. When men are asked this question, the common (not universal) response is ‘no’ men and women cannot be “just friends.” There are several reasons for this difference of response I think. For one, women commonly are more socially astute and are often more naturally emotive. So therefore it stands to reason that women’s need is very often times stronger for social interaction than men’s. Therefore women very often take advantage of more opportunities for social interaction which can (and does) lead to more friendships and acquaintances (with both women and men).

    I am just getting warmed up here people, hang in there with me. Ok, so while the above point was from a social/psychological point of view, it is important to understand it from the spiritual viewpoint. Thus I reference Genesis Chapter 2-verses 7 & 18. “The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so became a living being”; “The Lord God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him”. So thus God made woman. Yet not long after this, original sin entered the picture. Once this occurred, men have never looked at women the same. What is my point? Men and women are made for each other. We are not just made for each other to exchange pleasantries. No men and women were made to share so very much more than that. We were made to share all that makes us men and women within the sacred bond of husband/wife. And until God helps make it clear through the peace of the Holy Spirit who our husband/wife is, (if we are called to this vocation) each friend we have of the opposite sex, is a either a question mark or exclamation point in answer to the question. Ok, ladies if you have ‘guy friends’ do you know why you are just friends? If you are honest -you would either like it to develop into more or you have made it clear that it can be nothing more. Please know however (with rare exception) that the man is hoping one day that you will open that door so you both can be more than friends. This theory has been thoroughly tested. Each time it is tested it reaffirms why men and women cannot be just friends.

    There have been and will continue to be various polls, articles, books, and yes of course movies on the subject. It no doubt is a fascinating topic with universal appeal. Nevertheless, be careful not to be swayed by the subjective manifestations of fallen people and feelings. Join me in looking to the objective truth of God’s word and His holy church for the answer to this question.

    • Robert-3483 August 31, 2013

      Did you reference Church Doctor and Gentleman Saint’s writings on the topic of different friendships, that were written for a married woman, St. Jane Frances De Chantel?

      …”the highest grace does not lie in being without friendships, but in having no friendships which are not good, holy, and true.” (Intro to the Devout Life, PART III. Containing counsels concerning the practice of virtue: Of Real Friendship)

      http://catholic-lifetime-reading-plan.blogspot.com/2010/11/mixed-gender-friendships.html

    • Roman-947412 September 3, 2013

      Chad, while you are correct in man and woman’s complimentary nature as found in Genesis you are forgetting one thing: the writings of the New Testament (or “Christian Scriptures” if you’d rather call them that).

      Christ calls us to “Love your neighbor as yourself,” which, if we follow, will lead to greater union within the mystical body of Christ aka the Church. Loving your neighbor as yourself, at least to me, can be done in a Catholic-Christian/non-”romantic” sort of way too…I mean after all we are all “brothers and sisters in Christ.”

      I really think the answer to this question of “can men and women just be friends” all boils down to intent, attraction and most importantly DISCERNMENT. People are made to love but true love can manifest as brotherly/sisterly love in Christ or SPOUSAL love in Christ. Either way we are called to die to ourselves and serve others, which is to LOVE! :)

    • Cheryl-900360 September 3, 2013

      I think men and women can be friends as long as there is an understanding from both parties involved that there cannot be any deeper feelings toward each other. If there Is what we call ” harmless flirting” then that is an invitation to something more than just friends.

  3. Apple-294188 August 30, 2013

    I had a male friend of 10 years, had lots of goofy and serious moments which I really wouldn’t trade for anything, we were really so comfortable with each other that not once he nudged me hard as if i were a guy LOL so I never suspected anything special other than we were just really good friends until he phoned me one night…BOOM!! I believe at least one person develops special feelings toward the other but the problem is, it’s not always reciprocated. Thus, friendship never grows into something more.

    • Brunold L. September 3, 2013

      If you give it a chance to grow then it will grow. Recognize the goodness on the other side. Recognize the love, if it is true…it will overcome everything.

      The worst thing what girls and boys tend to do is to treat love as something casual and less important. Remember that the love that you should see in the other person should be like the love of God.

      Give it a honest try before you say no or come to any conclusions. God will guide you.

  4. Peter-449116 August 30, 2013

    One of my best friends is a lovely lady I have known for a quarter century now. We began dating (never physically intimate), but after awhile she made it clear that our relationship could never be romantic. That was tough to hear as one can imagine, but we remain friends to this day. Romantic love, unless reciprocated, is selfish and not love at all. Over time I realized that genuine love means putting that person’s happiness first, and letting the chips fall where they may. I have known her through a failed marriage and the birth of her son who’s now entering college. I am still attracted to her, but even If she wanted to begin dating again I wouldn’t- she’s a real slob!

  5. Dan-1002097 August 30, 2013

    Well, I for one, will surely be checking back on this thread often to see what people write in. It’s an important topic in the daily lives of all of us, I think, as can be attested to by anyone who has co-workers, schoolmates, regular customers, commuter train “buddies”, etc. etc. of the opposite gender that they also find attractive. I hope some new posts will address something Cate’s interesting article did not…what exactly are we talking about when we say “friends” in the case of the opposite gender, particularly when sexual attraction is involved?

    When a woman says to another woman that Harry is “her friend”, what do the women expect that to mean? Especially if Harry is by all accounts available to her a potential spouse? If your answer is simply to tie the relationship to sexual activity, then I remind you that in that sense we are all called to only be “just friends” right up to the moment the rice hits both of you coming out of the church ; )…and we all know there are more than just two sides to that coin….so something else we don’t talk about much is going on here! The word itself means entirely different things in different situations…at least as I see it anyway.

    I never much cared for the “When Harry met Sally” take on the boy-girl “friends” thing. I think Harry’s notorious assertion to Sally that it is impossible was unenlightened (sorry about the Buddist connotation, folks ;) and not reflective of real-life experience. The image heading Cate’s article is from the movie. Ironically, a year ago I myself had just such a Autumn walk on a pleasant trail with a woman with whom my friendship goes back two decades, strife and silence and ex’s included, and I cherish every moment of that special time with her…although it makes no sense now to either of us that we try to pull our widely separated and incompatible lives into one. I write her at meaningful times. We trade calls on Valentine’s, seeing each other through, I guess, until we both have Significant Others. You take the Gifts you get…and you take them for no more than what God lets them be…that’s what Harry simply did not get.

  6. no, in a word.

  7. Andy-896770 August 30, 2013

    What are you people thinking? Of course men and women can be just friends. There was one lovely young lady I met here on CM and eventually I started feeling serious about her. But then she decided she feels more called to religious life and also could not see me as more than a friend. So then we decided to stay in contact and now we’re just best platonic friends and I’m glad I know her.

    Now I ask you- if this is not just platonic friends what is this called? I do not see how it is impossible for a man and a woman to be just friends. If my logic is flawed, please tell me why I am wrong.

    • Maggie-897252 September 2, 2013

      I don’t think you are wrong, but the fact you felt serious about her before she called to religious life, your claim to be friend became null. You decided to be platonic friend after the fact. However, it’s not completely impossible to be just friend between man and woman. It depends on our feelings; is there or not? kind. I think most of us suppress the feelings due to varies reasons.

  8. I think a man and woman can be friends but they must both be on the same page about it—no hidden agendas. I have had a male best friend for the past 15 years and we have seen each other through many of life’s ups and downs. I have even been good friends with a few of his girlfriends and none of them have been jealous because neither of us act in a manner that would upset a significant other. A friendship is a type of love relationship and that entails respect for all parties. If you start “crushing” on your friend then you need to examine that and be honest with the other party about your feelings so that neither of you get hurt.

  9. Men and women should be able to be friends. To be a friend to someone is to value that person as a soul. It’s heartless and un-Christian to look at the opposite sex and say: “Are you marriage material or not,” and if the answer is “no”, to not even be friends with them. I fail to see how that course of action is any different from sexually objectifying the opposite sex, which we are repeatedly admonished against.

  10. Jenny-632094 August 30, 2013

    I don’t know about this one…Friends that you see every once in awhile or hang out with in a group? Sure..but best friends? I think too often it is not platonic for both parties, and someone usually gets hurt if it doesn’t develop into something Romantic.. And if it were to continue as a completely platonic relationship, I think at some point the intimacy of the friendship would have to be sacrificed some once each person was married. I think once you are married, emotional intimacy with the opposite sex should be reserved solely for your spouse.

  11. Bob-179105 August 30, 2013

    I have made 2 true, life-time friends, whom are ladies, on this site. One gal, whom is going out with a gentleman calls me her “Kindred-spirit.” I have seen her probably 20 times in the 12 years, since we 1st met on this awesome site. I always seek and get good sound dating advice from her. The other gal was my very first Internet friend. While we haven’t been in contact for awhile, both of us know that we are there for the other and have shown this in both our times of need. So, I firmly believe that a man can be friends with a woman and vice versa.

  12. I believe that it is truly possible for men and women to be friends. Many of my closest friends are men. But does that mean that they’ve never had romantic feelings for me? Or me for them? No. So I have to be very careful not to lead them on in a direction I don’t want to go. And I trust them to do the same with me.

    Feeling attracted to someone is natural. Not acting on it takes control, discipline. The ability to control ourselves is God’s gift to us, so that we don’t end up in situations that aren’t positive for us in the long run. Being able to listen, to accept that gift, or even discern the direction we’re intended to go, is the tough part.

    It does seem that more often, men would like to pursue something more than women. The explanations could be numerous. Maybe society explains away men’s urges as normal animal instincts, which leaves women to have all the self-control necessary to keep us from having unwanted heartaches, diseases, and pregnancies. There’s a lot of room for debate on that, I’d guess.

    As for me, I’m grateful for the men in my life, whether they’re controlling their romantic feelings or if they have only platonic feelings. They add a richer dimension to my life, and I hope I offer the same to them. Plus they’re just plain fun.

    Thoughts?

    • Chad-988613 August 31, 2013

      CatherineRose,

      Thoughts? I do have thoughts regarding your post…

      Do you realize that within the first two questions you ask, you admit that men and women can’t be just friends? Nevertheless, you go on to justify your reasons for having male friends.
      Allow me to introduce some reality into this for you. Your subjective feelings and thoughts cannot take away from the objective truth of this topic. Just because we think something or want something to be a certain way, does not make it so. You stated you have some friends who “add a richer dimension to my life, and I hope I offer the same to them”. This may be the case but doesn’t change the reality that they are only “just friends” because you either deny your feelings for them (or them for you) or you have made it clear there can be nothing more. Do you know if you’ve made it clear there can be nothing more than friendship, that they wait for the day that you may change your mind? Either way it shows once again that men and women can’t be just friends. Please envision your relationship with your future husband… are you ok with him emotionally investing himself (this is what friendships entail) with other women? Or do you really think he will be just fine with you emotionally investing yourself with other men? Or a question more to the present, could your current mindset regarding male friends have an adverse effect on attracting a Godly man into your life?

      • From your perspective, Chad, how would you address Christ and the saints having friends of the opposite sex?
        I do want to acknowledge that having friends of the opposite sex is something to consider in a marriage. There is a deep level of trust needed for this, but I think that’s a great quality to have in a relationship, knowing you can trust someone that explicitly. Earning that trust takes time and is only earned with gentle consistency, I believe.

  13. Another blog that includes a secular movie w/o values, next.

  14. Miles-814 August 31, 2013

    Can they be friends? Yes. But, always with a romantic under-curremt at minimum.

  15. NIETZCHE SAYS “A woman may very well form a friendship with a man, but for this to endure, it must be assisted by a little physical antipathy.”

    That being said, I have seen a girl or two break out of that dreaded “friends zone”.

  16. Pat-5351 August 31, 2013

    This is easy: between two heterosexuals? No, usually not.

    Scratch most every “just friends” situation for the whole truth, and you find out somewhere in there is attraction, at some point, by someone, for someone.

    Sure a very few are honorable enough to put a rein on their attraction and remain in contact (the poster above who is friends with the young lady with the religious vocation), and sure, even attraction fades over time, perhaps through familiarity (poster above who finds his good friend messy). But that does not mean it was not/is not/hasn’t been there for one of the persons.

    I know all kinds of “we have been friends for years” that at their start, someone felt something more. And more often then not, someone is pining away, on some level, at some point.

    I also think there are male/female friendships where one of the persons is homosexual (whether you as their friend know it or not). That makes sense because sexual attraction is not part of the equation for 1/2 the pair.

    I think there can be very rare “we are like brother and sister” friendships, that truly are like brother and sister, and always have been, perhaps they have grown up together, were childhood friends in all innocence, and it stayed that way, because when sex attraction entered into their lives, they were already programmed to think of each as kin, but I think that is pretty rare.

    If you have someone of the opposite sex that is your great friend, and that really is all that it is, to me, it’s really kind of insulting, because it means they think you are great in every other way, but are not sexually attracted to you. I myself don’t find that very complimentary! LOL

  17. Carol-799486 August 31, 2013

    For me friendship is the best foundation for love. But it takes two people who has the same idea, same believe, same faith and same hope for it to work. When two souls are alike they get attracted to each other whether they are friends or not. It makes no difference when faith says so, so shall it be done at heaven’s court. :)

  18. Robert-3483 August 31, 2013

    I had this question growing up protestant. For this reason, I near completely avoided most communication with women near my age if the Sacrament of Marriage was not likely, but since becoming catholic, the answer is available via St. Francis de Sales, Gentleman Saint and Church Doctor, in “Introduction to the Devout Life”. For examples he mentions a number of saints through history, including that of Jesus Christ.

    The fruit of which so far, is that I am a godfather to children in two different families that I have no biological relation to. One child was across the United States at the time I was requested to be godfather. The second child, which I was called just 2-3 weeks ago, is all the way in Australia.

    I have written about this topic multiple times on CM. So here is my canned response with all the references to Church teaching that I could find for this varied situation.
    http://catholic-lifetime-reading-plan.blogspot.com/2010/11/mixed-gender-friendships.html

    • Robert-3483 September 1, 2013

      Either to seek or to shun society is a fault in one striving to lead a devout life in the world. To shun society implies indifference and contempt for one’s neighbours; and to seek it savours of idleness and uselessness. We are told to love one’s neighbour as one’s self. In token that we love him, we must not avoid being with him, and the test of loving one’s self is to be happy when alone. Think first on thyself, says Saint Bernard, and then on other men. So that, if nothing obliges you to mix in society either at home or abroad, retire within yourself, and hold converse with your own heart. But if friends come to you, or there is fitting cause for you to go forth into society, then, my child, by all means go, and meet your neighbour with a kindly glance and a kindly heart. – “Intro to the Devout Life: Society and Solitude” by Church Doctor and Gentleman St. Francis de Sales

      It is a blessed thing to love on earth as we hope to love in Heaven, and to begin that friendship here which is to endure for ever there. Jesus Christ loved John, Lazarus, Martha, and Magdalene with specially tender friendships, as we are told in Holy Scripture. We know that St Paul dearly loved St Mark, St Petronilla, Bishop Stachys (Romans 16:9), Timothy, Thecla, St Claudia and Pope Linus (2 Tim 4:21). St Ambrose loved St Monica because of her many virtues, and that she in return loved him as an Angel of God.
      Saint Paul reproaching the derangement of the Gentiles, accuses them of being people without affection, that is to say who had no friendship (Romans 1:31). Make yourself affable to the congregation of the poor, humble your soul to the elderly, and bow your head to a great man (Ecclus 4:7). St. Thomas the Universal Doctor, states that friendship is part of the virtue of justice.1
      There are some who will tell you that you should avoid all special affection or friendship, as likely to engross the heart, distract the mind, excite jealousy, and what not. But they are confusing things.

      Sin, including acts of silent omission, damages or destroys fraternal communion (CCC 1469). Of the difference between true and false friendship:
      * Worldly friendship ordinarily produces a grand cluster of honeyed words, a cajolery of small passionate endearments from beauty, grace, and sensual qualities.
      * Sacred friendship has a simple and frank language, praising the virtue and grace of God, the unique foundation on which it subsists.

      Laypeople, through the grace of Jesus Christ, require sacred friendships to ensure and assist each other with the many obstacles that they must overcome in the world (Introduction to the Devout Life: Real Friendship). Better are the wounds of a friend, than the deceitful kisses of an enemy (Proverbs 27:6).
      We must have congenial friends as members of the Body of Christ. The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you, nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable (1 Cor 12:21). For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another (Rom 12:4-5). Therefore, the highest grace does not lie in being without friendships, but in having no friendships which are not good, holy, and true. “Marriage, when rightly understood, is a very real and holy friendship.” (Introduction to the Devout Life: On Friendship – Evil & Frivolous Friendship) To a married woman seeking holiness, St. Jane Frances De Chantel, this advice was written 400 years ago by a bishop, now known as the Gentleman Saint and a Doctor of the Church.

      References:
      Introduction to the Devout Life by Church Doctor and Gentleman Saint Francis de Sales
      On Friendship: Evil and Frivolous Friendship
      Frisky Friendships [ämitiés folâtres] / Frivolous Attachments / Amourettes
      Of Real Friendship
      Of the Difference between True and False Friendship
      Remedies against Evil Friendships
      Further Advice concerning Intimacies
      Of Society and Solitude
      Footnotes:
      1The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas – Question 114. The friendliness which is called affability

  19. Theresa-989320 September 1, 2013

    I don’t think this question has a simple answer. I have MANY friends who are guys, but it is nothing like my friends who are girls.
    Here are some of the insights I have had with my “healthy girl-guy friendships:”
    1. We have similar interests and do activities together. We know we can count on each other and that we will have fun in the process. However we don’t call each other every night asking personal advice. (Personal advice is requested and/or given on occasion.)
    2. I can trust these guy friends to protect me if a someone tried to attack me or if I was in danger, but they won’t be checking on me every week to “make sure I was ok.”
    3. When we go out, it is in a group. We all talk together. One on one time is avoided because it usually leads to someone thinking the relationship is going further, i.e. towards romance.
    4. Keeping some physical respectful distance. We can dance (but no tango for me), we can side hug (or briefly hug) but no cuddling on the couch during the movie or holding hands as we walk.
    5. We can joke around, without flirting on a romantic level. I usually look to see if they have similar comments for my friends who are girls who are also there in the group.
    6. I tell them some secrets, but not like the secrets I tell girls! LOL
    7. They are guys! So I treat them a little like they were my brothers or even more like they are men whom I can respect, whom I can assists and enjoy their stories and jokes and hear how their day went, and can occasionally cheer them up. But by guy friends and I DO draw lines in all of those areas. They will treat me like a lady or I will leave the party and vise versa.

    These are NOT RULES that I abide by; they are only things I’ve noticed to help us both keep that recognition that we can have fun and be inspired together however if it comes up… “yes that person is attractive, but they are not the one for me.”

    Based on the article, I would feel safe in guessing that at least two of those “just friends” were a little more interested than “just friends” but they were not officially boyfriend and girlfriend yet . Yes, that is a stage too.

    Men and women have so much more to share than just sexuality. However, sexuality is a beautiful part of who we are. I remember saying one time…if X wasn’t who he was and I wasn’t who I was, I’d marry him in a heart beat. But I have no doubt that we wouldn’t work out.” I could recognize his goodness; without “needing” him sexually! I could appreciate him as a very attractive manly man without wanting to have sex with him. (I suppose the virtue is chastity – it is very freeing) As he became serious with one of my friends, we grew closer on some levels because I wanted their relationship to succeed and it was beautiful looking in at their relationship. However I was not going to be the third wheel and try to work it out between them during those times when things were rough.

    In short, yes we can definitely be friends. However, it is not like a guy-guy or girl-girl friendship. We must “define the relationship” occasionally. We think differently! (Yeah!) I don’t know what I would do without my awesome guy friends!!!

  20. Francis-990230 September 2, 2013

    I am a 90 yr old man and my best friend is a 57 yr. old woman.we formerly lived close to each other but now are far apart.Sometimes I feel like her father.She has a boy friend but we email every day and sometimes are on the phone together.She says that if I were 30 yrs younger,she would be my girl friend.I just want her to be happy so I guess it is according to the circumstances.I don’t think they can be just friends if they are in the same age group.

  21. John-221057 September 3, 2013

    Depends on the person(s) and everyone has a different take on this. My answer, however, is no. I am unable to view a woman as a friend whether or not there is physical attraction. In the end I am either interested in a woman romantically or I’m not. I love my best friends (who are men) like brothers, we’ve done it all together, and I could never have this kind of friendship with a female.

  22. Joe-786218 September 3, 2013

    Generally no. Yes it happens, but I agree with the poster above who said it’s the rare heterosexual friendship that did not start out with some attraction on the part of one or both parties. It’s been my experience that once the attraction part is shot down, it’s better to draw back than to maintain the friendship at a high level because the friendship will always have that element of unrequited attraction in it, at least for me it does if I’m the one who was attracted. I don’t like being in that state, I have to move on, the Lord can’t show me another woman if my eyes are still fixed on the last one. If she’s the one in that state, I believe the clean break is best for her too.

    Second, with respect to relationships to women I’m not attracted to: as a man, I do not like being yet another “girlfriend” of hers. Does not mean I shut out them out, it just means I will be polite and friendly with them in common public environments where we know each other, e.g., work, church, social dancing, mixers, etc., but I don’t let them get close to me, I have my best friends (both male) for that.

  23. Roman-947412 September 3, 2013

    I’m sorry but its definitely possible. My best friends are female and I wouldn’t date any of them, not because there is anything wrong with them or I don’t see them as physically and/or spiritually pretty, but because our relationship is that of “friend” and “friend-only.” I am not their type and/or they are not my type. In the one case where one of my closest friends had a crush on me it was odd that we never talked about it in the open but I tried to make it clear to her that I wasn’t interested in her in that way and eventually it stayed as a friendship and we grew even closer as friends!

    The thing was, somewhere down the line BOTH parties had to agree that this was going to be JUST a friendship. Once we both realized that then there was no tension whatsoever and we were free to love each other as friends and in a Catholic-Christian brother/sister/familial type of relationship.

    On the flip side, my ex started as a friend and is now not (by her current boyfriend’s choice). Because of my experiences there generally I think a harder question is can EXES be friends. I tend to think that yes its possible but its very rare. People tend to hold on to romantic feelings for their ex or they get re-fired up pretty quickly. If romantic feelings are present in either or both parties the friendship will not last; it will either blossom into a relationship or wither into nothingness if the feelings are not mutual (or there are some other major obstacles in the way).

  24. Roman-947412 September 3, 2013

    To add and/or perhaps clarify, of my three closest female friends:

    1- We did flirt for a VERY brief time and then we both decided it was not what either of us wanted and we were just experimenting with it. In that super short time we realized that we both see each other as siblings and our friendship should stay that way and grow from there.

    2- I was attracted to her at first but as I got to know her it faded for various (mostly religious) reasons. I still think she is a very beautiful woman but I would not pursue a relationship with her. I do not think she was ever attracted to me in that way but I could be wrong. Either way, we are wonderful and very close friends.

    3- She was attracted to ME and I did not see her that way. We were/are like two peas in a pod though i.e. I call her the St. Clare to my St. Francis (not that I am that holy but still, lol). I think she grew out of her attraction the more she realized that I saw her/treated her as a friend, but a close friend that I could not see myself being without. We supported each other through college and continue to through today, and its wonderful for both of us! :)

    So I guess of my 3 best friends I’ve had each situation where I believe platonic friendship can work: Attraction on the male’s end/not on the female’s end, attraction on the female’s end/not on the male’s end and little to no mutual attraction. In all 3 instances things have worked out for the best! :)

  25. Mary-862482 September 3, 2013

    Yes, they can be “just friends,” as long as they’re both happily married to other people, and their spouses are included with the friendship. (A husband and wife can be friends with another married couple.)

    They can also be “just friends” if they’re at a point in their life when dating is not an option. My widowed father, in his 80′s, is friends with several ladies in the neighborhood. They go to movies, dinner, concerts, etc. It’s companionship and no one is racing to the altar.

  26. Marco-807734 September 3, 2013

    It is ok for a a man and a woman to be close friends while they are both single. Once one of them gets married however, such a friendship is no longer possible and has the potential to seriously damage their sacred marriage. Anemotional bond is the basis of every deep relationship between man and women (however platonic) and is strictly reserved for spouses. I have seen marriages almost destroyed by friends who were too selfish to let go of their friendships.. Even if someone agreed on letting their spouse keep a “special” friend, this would eventually lead to sharing of marital secrets (especially when the marriage goes through turbulent phase) that stricly belong within the confines of sacred marriage.

    • Robert-3483 September 4, 2013

      St. Francis de Sales’ advice was for a married woman. If not an occasion of sin, the highest grace does not lie in being without friendships, but in having no friendships which are not good, holy, and true. “In the world all have not one aim, one mind, and therefore we must take to us congenial friends, nor is there any undue partiality in such attachments, which are but as the separation of good from evil, the sheep from the goats, the bee from the drone–a necessary separation.”

      “You may distinguish between worldly friendship and that which is good and holy, just as one distinguishes that poisonous honey from what is good–it is sweeter to the taste than ordinary honey, owing to the aconite infused;– and so worldly friendship is profuse in honeyed words, passionate endearments, commendations of beauty and sensual charms, while true friendship speaks a simple honest language, lauding nought save the Grace of God, its one only foundation.”

      Confession will keep you honest. It’s difficult to be a godparent to children you are not related to without being a friend to the parents. Since the parents are still the primary educators in the faith, I have fun reminding and supporting the parents, giving them catholic books like I did when they were single.

      http://catholic-lifetime-reading-plan.blogspot.com/2010/11/mixed-gender-friendships.html

  27. David-664747 September 3, 2013

    I think this rings true most of the time, “if you have to ask, the answer is no”.

    • Lisa-975977 September 3, 2013

      There’s a lot of wisdom in that quote. That’s probably the dividing line among the people posting here — only people who can’t experience the brotherly love of a Christian friendship with someone of the opposite sex (either because they are unwilling to be friends with someone they don’t have a romantic interest in or because their only experience of the opposite sex is being the target of someone with romantic interest in them) would ask the question. They ask because they are sceptical of its existence, kind of like how someone would ask the question, ‘does God exist?’ People who have good friends of the opposite sex and those who have experienced God in their lives don’t ask those questions.

  28. Lois-880877 September 3, 2013

    I do believe men and women can be friends. I have had some great men friends. I also have had men friends who we did blur the lines of friendship by kissing and hugging now and then but never really dating. I think it depends on how attracted you are to your friend if you will change the dynamics. Right now although I am looking for more I would welcome friendship. Can’t find much of either where I live currently.

  29. Liz-609023 September 3, 2013

    I would say, yes, women and men can be friends, even more so if you’re a devout Christian because you’ll know not to cross the line. What about some of our saints who had soul mates of the opposite sex like St Francis of Assisi, St Francois de Sales and St Theresa of Avila?They were only friends but the best of friends, and soul mate friendship still happens today. Personally, my last close male friendship came to an end because his marriage was in a mess and he didn’t want to make the matter worse by meeting up with me so there are downers in having a friendship with the opposite sex. I’d still say ‘yes’ though.

  30. Maria-92259 September 3, 2013

    I attended a school where I was exposed to having both female and male classmates.It helped a lot to befriend men without prejudice.I chose and keep a few male friends mostly because I can relate to their thinking,education,beliefs , manners and the way of conducting their life and emotions in a “healthy way”…everything okay ,unless there is a little bit of physical attraction … that surely messes up the whole equation.
    I personally support and like the friendship between a woman and a man,only,if they both are free and not in a committed relationship.In my case, If a male friend of mine gets a girlfriend or married , I mostly befriend them as “an item” because I promote and strongly believe in love and marriage…trough my life I’ve seen single people destroying marriages because they simply dislike their friend’s choice… sadly it poses a threat to pursuing a healthy and trusting love relationship and mostly ends in putting distance between friends.

  31. Julie-751075 September 3, 2013

    Given that I have several male friends with whom I’ve been just friends for decades, I would say absolutely YES! Not all men and women are attracted to each other romantically, so not all male-female relationships move beyond the friendship realm. I met a guy on a dating site, and we “dated’ for a few months, but in the end we realized that we weren’t going to be anything but good friends. We’ve now been friends for 7 years. Moreover, any man I’ve become romantically involved with has accepted that I have male and female friends and that they had nothing to fear from my male friends.

  32. Andy-516957 September 3, 2013

    For men, the answer is no, not really. As men generally initiate the relationship with a woman, they harbor desire for that woman, as a woman.
    If the relationship is initiated by the woman, she might have an ulterior motive as well for the relationship.
    I myself would love to fall in love “with my best friend” (a woman I hope to meet soon) and I think many men would also welcome that.
    As men we must seek (and in some cases, seek and seek and seek) and develop relationships with women. There might be some hurt feelings, I know I’ve had some.
    Men, ask your self: do I want to kiss her? If the answer is yes, and you’re in the “friend zone” CHANGE COURSE! And if you are married, drop her as a friend. (That way some single guy scan snap her up)
    To women: that guy that always answers when you call, is game to drive you whenever where ever, watches your purse when you go to the restroom, shares concert tickets etc etc: he is in love with you. Give him a chance or cut him loose. There are a lot of guys out there, that one knows you and loves you anyways.

  33. Chris-641830 September 3, 2013

    It most definitely is possible. I met one of my best friends in college, and I’ll admit, I was interested but held it back a bit. Eventually I told her about it, and she didn’t really reciprocate. Then, one night I invited her to a hockey game, since my former roommate and good friend had extra tickets and asked me if I knew anyone…

    After quite a bit, she’s engaged to said former roommate. I’m dating someone from this site, and we’re both so happy for each other.

    I think a lot of it is, how much are you willing to give yourself to the other person? If you’re good enough friends, be willing to be honest with them about your feelings, and however they answer, accept it. Don’t pin your hopes on this “friend,” that they may eventually come around, but go and seek other relationship potential, ask your friend to be a wingman/wingwoman/matchmaker. Your job is not to date this one person, your job is to get to Heaven, and you can do it by helping them find not what YOUR plan is for them, but what GOD’S plan for them is.

  34. King-648871 September 4, 2013

    Men & Women can be “just friends”, if they choose. Some will choose not to be “just friends”. It’s your choice. You choose to love as a brother or sister; or you choose to lust and disregard “brotherly love”.

    We choose to control, direct or redirect our feelings for someone. We can choose to Act on those feelings, which may be temporary or may build into to a greater love for the other person. Remember, feelings ebb and flow. Whether we get in the boat or not, stay in the river of feelings or row to the shore and ground ourselves is a choice.

    We can direct where our heart & feelings go. Let God’s will for us Guide our hearts.

    If the feelings are not mutual or one is married, eliminate the feelings (redirect the feelings), stop flirting and stop placing yourselves in vulnerable situations. When your emotions/feels are heightened, stay away, don’t drink, speak to someone else. Talk to her husband, or boyfriend. Mix and mingle in groups. Pray. Pray. & Pray for your heart’s new direction.
    Learn how to respect and honor the person. Lusting for her/him is not loving her as a friend/sister.
    LOVE is a COMMITMENT, and will take effort.

    Stay away from the edge. Flirting will put you in the sites of temptation.
    Do you Flirt because you are hopeful? Is she/he available to you? If not,
    Why Do you maintain desirous thought for the unattainable?
    There are plenty of incredible woman who are available? Redirect your energy.
    Why harbor feelings for the unavailable? It’s a waste of time. She may even have a friend for you.
    Why burn the bridge.
    My dear single friend made it very clear, no romantic possibilities.
    Ouch!
    I respectfully, think of her & treat her like my sister.

    I didn’t say it was easy, just do able.

  35. Michael-994817 September 4, 2013

    I have just been relieved of a “just friends” relationship that went horribly bad. The only way is to take sex out of the equation. I have heard this is possible, but I can’t see it from my house.

  36. Michael-339056 September 4, 2013

    My experience is yes they can. Lord knows I have been in enough relationships like that. I am one of those guys that can’t seem to get out of the “friends zone”.

  37. Mike-795165 September 5, 2013

    Of course men and women can be just friends. I have many female friends I would not consider soulmate material, but they are interesting and exciting people who I get along well with and who I respect. Of course there are a few who I am particularly crazy about but its not a secret agenda. They know how I feel but don’t feel the same way. Its really sad to be put into the friend zone so often but because I respect their feelings we remain friends and can do things together.

    I think that the key factor in friendship vs relationship is attraction. I have many female friends who I get along with but I’m not attracted to. For those who doubt it is possible, it is a very different type of chemistry. For example, many people who get along as friends have very similar personalities, though I personally am most attracted to women with opposite personalities because we complete each other.

    Lastly, what does “canoodleing” mean? I am a native English speaker and I don’t know this word!

  38. Chuck-49484 September 7, 2013

    I’m living proof that it is in fact possible, and I have had and continue to have multiple female friends. There has never been “romantic confusion” in ANY case.

    I will say that one commonality is the fact that none of us are each other’s “romantic type.”

    I have had a couple of girlfriends that were somewhat uncomfortable about it, so I’ve had to work them through those (rare) issues.

    My impression is that everyone is making something quite simple overly complicated.

    Just my $0.02

    Cheers…….

  39. Dominic-981542 September 8, 2013

    NO & YES. .Yes male & female can be just friends , . . just friends involves sex , If you mean can a male & female live together with out sex . . the answer is Yes , they must be more then just friends to be able to . . They must be a greater friend to what a true friend is . . . . in Harry met sally film . . is a worldly film to sell to the public who’s interest are in there fleshly passions for love of sex more then there fellow human beings .
    When God opens our minds to realize sex was never a part of his plan but the cause of all our problems . . We then have the right reasons as to why we need God , & infinite love of him . . brings us to understanding the most misunderstood Catholic Church .

    Joseph & Mary is a good ex sample of Male & Female living together above being just friends .

  40. Moire-630682 October 15, 2013

    I would say the majority of my close friends are men, and I truly don’t believe there’s any sexual attraction between either party. In fact, many of them are either married, engaged, or in a relationship. While every now and then I do wonder what it would be like to date one of them (the single ones, of course), I quickly laugh it off simply because I know them too well! They’re wonderful people, but they’re not the right guys for me. I can appreciate that many of them are handsome, but physical attraction isn’t an indicator of true romantic attraction. In fact, I have no problem telling them how I admire them (they have great eyes, they’re incredibly funny, or they’re excellent listeners), and that their girlfriend/fiancee is a very lucky woman; on the other hand, many of them have told me I am beautiful, and that the man I end up with will be extremely lucky to have me. These are genuine compliments and there are no hidden agendas behind either of them, and the fact that both parties know that makes it that much more meaningful.

    In short, I am on this site (and a few others) looking for the man who is right for me. That, coupled with the fact that I have been friends with these men for many, many years, should be enough to convince anyone that there is nothing “going on” between me and any of my male friends. I love my female and male friends equally, but they bring their different, complementary gifts to the table, and I can appreciate the self-giving friendship of both sexes without any qualms. Life without my male friends would be considerably duller – they’ve enriched my life greatly and I thank God for them! :)

  41. Rheba A. November 9, 2013

    Only if they are both 100% clear that it will never turn into anything other than a kind of platonic brother-sister relationship. Usually if one of the two says friends its clear sign to remove yourself from them if what you are seeking is a relationship leading to vows at the alter. Women are more likely to sincerely want to be platonic friends, at least that has been my observation for years. Usually when a man suggests being friends he is letting the woman down easy and most of the time he does this so he can keep her on the back-burner in between dating the women he really wants to be with. Again, that’s just what I’ve seen among single adults in urban centers in North America but I could be wrong. There are always exceptions.

  42. Brian-448300 November 10, 2013

    It depends on how close the friendship is. There always is the romantic under current between men and women if the friendship is extremely 1 on 1 as two guys to be known as bromance. Men are more honest and logic and dealing with what the opposite gender was intended for. I’ve noticed in my life when ever a man does feel nothing more than a friendship between a female. The female always tends to crave for male attention, (Which is a matter of flirting or romantic under current.) Every time a male with all sincerity toward nothing more than friendship between him and the female, the female will always vanish. Men are honest when they say they can’t be just friends. Women are often in major DENIAL when they say they can just be friends, because on the other hand, women are extremely impulsive in craving fishing for that male attention. Every woman I’ve been just friends with always vanishes from me. They vanish from me because they don’t want to admit how dissapointed they are that it can’t be more which they don’t realize yet, and they can’t get any more.

    The point is whenever a man really and honestly is nothing more than just friends with a woman. The woman starts wondering why she can’t get male attention from that guy. Then she just vanishes with no explanation at all.

    Well I have the full explanation to this. That’s because men are more honest about their feelings of pursuing. Women are more discrete about what they like to pursue and claim that man feels like a brother, but on the other hand once she is asked out. Although she’ll decline it. Why was she extremely flattered? If that woman wanted nothing more than a friendship, she wouldn’t be consistently fishing for that male attention also to be known as similar to romantic under current just as in what is in the man as well.
    The reason for that is, men and women were not meant to invent there own friendship. The genders just have different ways in expressing it. I’ve noticed women’s actions contradict their words. The true fact is God intended for men and women to fall in love the way it was meant to be for Adam and Eve.

    I personally don’t try to mess around with inventing my own friendship between me and a woman. I try to follow God’s will. However I’ve noticed men are true and honest with women, and they don’t try to get female attention unless it’s for dating. Women on the other hand don’t try be anything more than friends but on the other hand they can’t stop fishing for that special male attention, and they vanish when they can’t get it. It’s what women don’t say is what they really want.

    In conclusion both genders should romantically cooperate in a non-selfish way according to God’s will. They should commit to one another and stop being shy by inventing they’re own friendship. Romance means special precious friendship which should be exclusive the way God intended it to be for a true companionship.

  43. Robert C. December 21, 2013

    There are many kinds of infidelity, Not just the physical kind. When you give more of yourself to someone other than your significant other. I.E, thoughts ,feelings, time, ect. Than are you just friends or are you headed towards something else. Think about it.

  44. Paige-1015959 December 29, 2013

    A relationship between a man and a woman has a different dynamic, there is a possibility to create life! That being said, is the friendship mutually giving or is one person trying to “get.” Like marriage, I believe friendship, can last a life time if both persons are chaste and mutually giving. The dating or marital relationship must always be the primary friendship. That goes for same gender friends as well. If a married person is emotionally closer with a buddy at work or neighbor of the same gender, that is a concern as well. My answer is of course, God created us to live in community, but I believe it is only safe/possible if both parties are chaste.

  45. Bernie C. January 11, 2014

    Here’s my 2 cents…. LOL….
    Seriously though…. I believe a man and a woman can be truly friends only if there is no chemistry, no attraction and truly no interest from either party, towards each other. If one side or the other has a hidden crush or is attracted to the other one, then NO THEY CAN SUSTAIN A TRULY FRIENDS ONLY RELATIONSHIP!
    For example, I have a female friend who I’ve been friend’s with for over 20 years. It started off when I was 20 and she was 16, we never dated and kiss 1 time only (very awkwardly I might add). I met her at the mall and was interested in her, she was interested in me. But when I found out how old she was, I kept my distance, but stayed in contact over the phone. Mainly because I didn’t want to end up going to jail over “jail-bait”. She would call me from school at lunch time. We’d flirt over the phone with sexually indowhendos.
    Anyways long story short, we both lost interest and moved on.
    She or I would some how unconsciously end up contacting each other every 3 months like clock work… Not even realizing it, just turned out that way. This kept going on over the years. We both got into relationships didn’t see each other except for 1 a year for 2 hours at her house with her family. (which by now I’ve become a family friend). But as the years went on, I didn’t find myself attracted to her and she didn’t find herself attracted to me either. (Although there was this one time I had a thought in my head and confronted her about it. It was more so curiosity than anything. I asked her if she would ever be interested in trying to have sex with me? You got to realize I’m asking her at a point in time where I’m not asking because I’m lusting for her or because I have a crush or I’m attracted to her. I was asking just because of the “what-if”. Anyways, she answered honestly and tactfully… “If we were to do it, I think it would be weird. It would be like, that’s “____” on top of me. This isn’t natural.” ) And honestly after hearing that, I realized she was right. It would have been and felt weird. Kind of gross matter of fact. Not because of looks, but more so because I did realize right then and there it would be like having sex with my sister and this is when I realized we were totally and completely friends and nothing more. But this is only because we both knew neither of us had any attraction or interest in each other. And this opened up our communication barrier to where we could take to each other like we were siblings. Openly and honestly. BUT as our friendship continued on… at no time do I nor her have any goo-gaa towards each other whenever we’d meet up for lunch or something. We don’t flirt with each other, I don’t “pull her chair out for her”. I don’t do anything that I would do towards a woman that I was interested in.
    So reading the story above and what was depicted, I believe they could be friend’s, but only because the woman is not interested, but the man is interested. So by the woman’s side, he’s just a friend, but from the man’s side, I believe what’s going on in his mind is he’s hoping that one day when she’s down and needs a shoulder to cry on and is vulnerable and lends her an ear, that this one day could lead to some more to where she would change her mind and take him out of the friend zone. But of course, this would only happen if the woman turns to him out of vulnerability and sadness and she’s wanting some kind of “security” and “safety” that she may interpret during her weak state.
    So if this guy is thinking in this manner, which I believe he is due to how he flirt’s and acts attentive, then they are NOT TRULY “FRIEND’S ONLY”. Only because both sides are not feeling and believing in the same thing. They may say one thing out in public or even towards one another, but if one is having feelings for the other the they’re not “friend’s only”.

  46. Bernie C. January 11, 2014

    Moire-630682… just by reading what you said, you yourself had admitted men and women can not be “truly friend’s only”… You even admitted attraction and admiration for some of your male “friend’s”, this is not platonic friendship, it’s accepting you can’t have what your heart or lust is desiring so you accept not getting him (for whatever the reason are) and then you keep yourself in their presence because having their male presence is better than not having them around at all. Like what Brian-448300 posted… you’re just wanting the male presence of those you can’t have. This is not true “friend’s only”, there is an underlinement with the intentions.
    Even thought you may say to other or to yourself “they’re not the one for me… blah blah blah,” this is just your way of dealing with not being able to have what you want. And as for those guys making those statements (compliments) to you also… they are in the same boat. “they’re just trying to show what’s happening in their minds under the current line without stepping over that line due to consequences that would happen in their lives.
    So even though these circumstances you experience may be pleasant and feel good to you, it’s not “true friendship” you’re experiencing it’s the romancism you’re fantasizing about which is making you feel good.
    And by definition, romance is not platonic friendship.
    One more thing, before you go off with “not true” and “they talk to me like one of the guys or their sister, bit”
    The guys who make the compliments to you and then talk to you like one of the guys.. are only doing it because they’ve given up the hope that anything could come of it between you two, but that doesn’t mean the desire for you stopped on their end. It just means that they’ve accepted they can’t have you so then they proceed with being who they are and being themselves with no worry about repercussions of their actions causing them to lose out on an opportunity to hook up with a beautiful woman. it’s as simple as that… and believe me… some may come right out and admit it this to you others will deny because of fear of the truth getting out and them being rejected.

    MEN AND WOMEN CAN ONLY BE TRULY FRIENDS WITHOUT IT JEAPORDIZING EITHER’S RELATIONSHIP THEY’RE IN ONLY WHEN BOTH SIDES HAVE NO ATTRACTION, NO FEELINGS AND SEE THE ACT OF SEX WITH EACH OTHER BEING A BIG TURN OFF.

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