Harry and Sally were wrong. Anyone could have told you that, but is anyone going to tell Love Island’s Lucie how it works?
For those of you in University just getting your first taste of real freedom, it may seem inconceivable that you can be friends with a member of the ‘opposite’ sex. Why? Because you’re young, eager to start relationships and probably want to jump anyone good looking that glances your way! It’s only natural, it’s how most of us work. However, there are ways to handle your inter-sexual’ friendships so that you keep your friends.
For the purpose of simplicity let’s pretend we are female and assume the friend is male. (Sorry!)
Establish Boundaries From the Get Go
So you’ve made a male friend, you really get on really well and you’re not too sure if he’s aware that you have no intentions to date him. If you are clear that you want your friendship to stay platonic, sit him down and let him know that you only intend to see him as a valued friend. This puts any confusion over the status of your relationship to rest and remove any tension created by the ambiguity. Establishing goals and boundaries from the start of your friendship might even strengthen it. However, this may also lead to quite a sticky situation.
The Friend Zone
It’s common for us to pursue friendships and partnerships for self-gain. After all, it is in our best interests to look out for ourselves. While you may have made it clear to your guy-friend that you don’t want anything more than good company, they may not have made their own motives clear. Psychology Today called the friend zone ‘an area of mismatched romantic or sexual expectations between friends’. According to Bleske and Buss (2000) both sexes found the costs and benefits of friendship to be the same. It may be assumed by one side that the friendship might grow into a “friends with benefits” or a romantic relationship. When intentions are made clear by one party, this can often hurt the other as they’re feelings are not being reciprocated.
If you want to return those feelings, by all means go with what your heart is telling you. But if you feel your friendship may be turning into something else and you don’t want it, end it. They clearly don’t understand what you want or need.
Not Everything Revolves Around Sex
Shock horror! This is one of the main reasons people think guys and girls can’t be friends.
Let’s start with the most obvious thing. Guys and girls normally become friends with they are attracted to one another and want to know each other better. All friendships tend to form in this way, though not in a completely sexual way that may be apparent to us. You have a quality attractive to someone else, when you meet and discover that you share this same quality, it’s only natural to want to become closer. But do you have to act upon your sexual urges? No! You actually don’t have to. Sometimes, an emotional connection is all we need and you’re going to get that from a friend who cares about your well being, more than a friend who’s interested in your body.
You Don’t have to be Sexually Attracted to Each Other at All
Make a diverse group of friends with people who are in relationships, are attracted to different sexes and carry different energies. You’ll very quickly see how easy it is to maintain a healthy friendship with someone who is not the same sex as you without it getting complicated.
Make a Pact if You Must
If you don’t completely trust that the boundaries you’ve both put in place won’t be broken, make a pact. It might be the promise to stay in each other’s lives if it doesn’t work out. It may also be a promise to never tell a soul anything happened. Heck – sleeping with him once might just make you realise we’re better off as platonic friends.