“You’re already best friends, you might as well date!” “You can’t say that you don’t have feelings.” “You are leading him on..”
The answer is yes. They can be just friends, it’s possible. The media will have you believe everything is sexual or romantic but not everything is. Although sometimes it can be complicated.
I have been debating for a few weeks now whether or not to write this piece. At first I was fed up with everyone around me questioning my friendships or the friendships of people around me. But I decided it was time I needed to address the controversy. My parents sometimes questions why I am friends with so many guys but am not dating any of them. Other people like to ask me, “you’re always around the guys, how do you not have a boyfriend?” Then I start to feel bad because I know some people look at me and see that it is peculiar that I have so many guy friends and that perhaps I am having inappropriate friendships with them. The fact that people could even think that frustrates me even more. Those are all exaggerations and outlandish perceptions that people have, of course. I am not always ‘around the guys’ and I do have a ton of solid girl friends. I’m not at all anti girl friends. I do realize that I don’t have to defend or explain myself to everyone but I do think that this is something that could be beneficial to talk about.
Can girls and guys really just be friends? Well that is something not simply answered. Everyone goes through different experiences and have their own perspective as to why it would work out or why it would not. Sometimes there is sexual tension, sometimes the friendship turns into something more, sometimes one person ends up with feelings and the other doesn’t. But sometimes you really are just friends and nothing more.
At the beginning of writing this article, I was so fired up on the topic and had a very narrow view. I have always grown up hanging out with boys and I also seemed to have a guy best friend. My friends were my friends, and guys that I was interested in were probably not my close friends. But I was challenged with my thinking these past few weeks and some of my opinions have changed.
I am studying communication at University and half my classes revolve around building and maintaining different relationships. Studying relationships is very fascinating to me. I realize that not everything is black and white. The way that I may perceive a friendship may be different than the way that another person perceives it. We get stuck in our own thinking that has been molded by our upbringing, our culture, and our own personal experiences that we sometimes forget that we need to try to broaden our view. It can benefit ourselves to look outside of what we know and how we feel and see how it looks from another’s perspective.
Over the summer, I remember a really annoying situation that happened. I was at a church event with a lot of people and I was talking to one of my good friends. the conversation was about something really important and personal. Well people noticed that we were chatting and they assumed that we were dating. Usually I can laugh these things off. But this time someone decided to go to my parents and congratulate them on my upcoming wedding. My parents were confused because they knew that I wasn’t dating anyone and that a wedding was not coming my way any time soon. But it was awkward for them to have people come up and congratulate them. This led to my parents giving me a talk when I saw them later that day. I was furious. How dare someone come up to my parents and congratulate them on my wedding and just assume something so big and important. How embarrassing.
My parents had to remind me to be careful and even though they know that him and I were just friends, that people are always watching and talking and to be aware of the way you present yourself. So I decided out of my embarrassment and anger to listen to my parents and look at the situation from a different perspective. I wasn’t about to explain to people why we were talking that day for maybe “longer” than normal because it was none of their business. But I know that in my Ukrainian cultural background that people date to get married and sometimes it is a fast process and at a young age. Someone older may look at me talking to a boy for a long time and assume that we are together because that was the way things were for them growing up.
I don’t want to worry about what people think of me and I am out here living my life, don’t get me wrong. But I have learned a valuable lesson about understanding that other people might get the wrong impression. What is most important is knowing what the friendship means to the two people involved. A true friendship will have good communication. My favorite quote ever (because I am a communication major) is “lack of communication leaves too much to the imagination”. There will probably come a point in the friendship of a boy and girl where they will have to talk about what their friendship is and if there is room to grow into a romantic relationship. This is normal and healthy. And if you guys are good friends, it shouldn’t be too awkward to talk about. I have had this conversation with every good boy friend that I have had. And once you understand the dynamic of the friendship and where it’s headed, you will be at peace (hopefully).
Through just my own perspectives and challenges growing up, I could write this essay. But I decided that I wanted to get some outside perspective too. I started off by taking a poll on twitter asking this golden question. It didn’t give me much information because I don’t have a ton of followers but STILL, it’s something.
Looking at this poll, you can see that the idea is pretty split. I’m assuming people think that you can be friends with the opposite gender (of course) but you can’t get too close because feelings will start to arise and you’ll either start dating or someone will get hurt. I do agree that that happens quite a lot.
I decided to do some research on the topic as well. Just know that I am shocked that I actually went and did research for something other than school. But I had to for this article! But anyway, I read an article online by Lizette Borelli called “Platonic Love or Lust? The Science Behind Men and Women Being ‘Just Friends'” which touches on this subject. The article reviews some studies done by scientists that platonic friendships between men and women are growing but that men are more likely to catch feelings than a women, and that there is usually a low level of attraction between the two (medicaldaily.com). I highly recommend you go read this article! Basically the article sums up by saying that YES, men and women can be just friends but sometimes there are complications.
My first ever best guy friend was my neighbor. We met on the swings at the park next door to my house in kindergarten and our friendship took off after that. We had a very up and down relationship. But him and I are connected so deeply that we can go months without talking but we’ll always find ourselves back in each others lives at some point as if no time has passed. Scotty came out as gay in middle school. Obviously our friendship has always been platonic (for the most part except when he did confess his feelings for me at one point when we were children before he came out, I rejected him though #justfriends). But that’s not always the case. My other friendships have been with guys who are straight but have also been platonic.
I grew up with my neighbors being my really close friends (they are still some of my closest friends) so I will probably talk about them a lot in my blog posts. In high school, my neighbor best friends decided to transfer out of our school district and transfer to the new high school built in our town. They convinced me to transfer along with them. Well I basically only knew those three friends going into high school and that made things pretty rough the first half of freshman year. Everyone already had their friends and cliques lined up. I remember how Mel and I would sit at the all guy table at lunch because they were the only ones who welcomed us in. I mean of course what guys wouldn’t welcome in FRESH MEAT, especially with Mel being drop dead gorgeous. Mel and I were also in band class. None of the girls liked us or really tried to make an effort to befriend us so before we knew it, we befriended many of the guys in the class. This didn’t help our case with making friends with girls because girls will always look down on the new girls who immediately befriend the guys. It doesn’t look too good. But we were just in desperate need to make friends and the guys were easy to befriend. As the school year progressed, we did make more stable friends. But now that school has graduated, I still talk to a lot of the guys from high school but only one girl outside of my neighbors that I made friends with in high school.
There was one incident in high school that I became really close friends with a guy and he caught feelings and things went really bad for us. I decided to do running start which removed me from high school the last two years and removed me from that situation. This situation is very heavy to talk about and if I ever feel comfortable enough, maybe I’ll write about it in the future. But this was a situation that left me NOT wanting to be close with any guys for a long time.
Now I’m in college and I am still very close with guys. I am not trying to be annoying and say something like “OMG, I love hanging out with guys more than girls because it’s less drama.” Honestly, that’s not true. Most of the drama between girls revolves around a boy. Drama happens because of the type of people you are hanging out with, not because they are necessarily a boy or girl. But for me, I do really like being friends with guys for a number of reasons.
I have three really close guy friends that I call my best friends. Each of them have helped me a lot in my life, have been supportive, and mean a lot to me. But they are all platonic. One of those guys has a girl friend now too. It doesn’t always make sense to people when they see that or I tell them about it. And I do understand that. It’s frustrating to me because I know that it can appear to other people that I am just a flirtacious girl trying to get attention from as most boy as possible. But that’s not the case. I don’t even really know how to flirt to be honest, I’m usually just really sarcastic. I can be so close with guys because I am the opposite of being super flirtacious and pursue more of a brotherly/sister type of relationship with them. That’s not to say that I don’t ever flirt either. I’m just talking specifically about the guys who I am closest to.
I find relief in my guy friendships. I know that by them being friends with me, they really truly care about me and don’t want to use me to just hook up or to gain something. Some guys will only talk to you if there is potential for something else such as a hook up or a relationship. Once they find out there probably isn’t, they’ll cut you off. The guys that I am friends with challenge me to be a better person, they encourage me in my walk with Christ, they make me laugh, and they are very important to me. They still talk to me even though I don’t get physically intimate with them in anyway. And I’m also not a very touchy feely person as it is, I like my personal bubble. And this is where you’re probably asking or perhaps screaming to me in your head, “THEN WHY DON’T YOU DATE ONE OF THEM?!” Ahh my dear, if you are thinking that, well the answer is not as simple as you may think.
There are a lot of reasons why a girl and a guy are not dating. For one, MAYBE THEY WILL DATE IN THE FUTURE, AND MAYBE NOT.
Reasons why a girl and guy are just friends and not dating:
- They are still young and don’t know what they want. A relationship can be a huge commitment and something that someone is not ready for just yet. THATS FINE. No need to rush. A relationship either leads to marriage or a breakup. Both scary and emotionally draining. You don’t need to rush into something. Figure yourself out.
- They really do feel like brother and sister. They connected really well but in a way that feels like a sibling relationship. You just don’t think about them in that light and it’s totally fine. Although, I would say you should try to refrain from calling anyone “like a brother or sister to me” because a lot of times it does turn into a relationship. Just take a look at Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber.
- Maybe one day they are meant to be together but the timing is not right just yet. Maybe you need some time to work and improve on yourselves before you get into a relationship. Maybe God has a plan that is going to have you wait for a while. Maybe school or work or other priorities need to be first in your life right now and a relationship can wait. But even so, that friendship you have right now is amazing.
- You’re getting over another heartbreak. People take different amounts of time to heal. You need to be emotionally ready for a relationship and not have someone still in the back of your mind.
- One of you wants to date but the other does not want to. But the friendship is more important to keep. Sometimes life kind of SUCKS. Anyone know the feeling of catching feelings for someone and not have them be reciprocated? I sure do. But you know what, you got to move on and decided what is best for the both of you. Sometimes maintaining that friendship is much more important than the potential of ruining it by trying to start a relationship.
- Sometimes you’re meant to only be friends for a period in your life to learn from one another. Being friends with the opposite gender can help you SO much before you take the next step in your life to a serious relationship. You get to learn some really important life lessons and get some good advice.
- A million other reasons! You alone know how you feel, what you want in life, and who you want to date. You don’t always need a specific reason or to explain yourself.
One thing I can’t stand is when people come to me and gossip about another person saying something about how a girl is leading a guy on by being just friends. I have had people say that about me and it’s just frustrating. If you know someone has feelings for you because they tell you and you give them false hope, that’s leading them on. But just by being friends, you are not leading someone on. If a guy wants to pursue you, he has to make that clear and ask you on dates and the whole shabang. If you are hanging out as friends and no specification of dating has been made, you are in no obligation to stop being friends in fear that you’re leading someone on because someone else OUTSIDE of your two way friendship is making you feel bad. Use your best judgment in the situation and have a talk with that friend if you are worried that they may be developing feelings.
I will say that your friendships should have a distinction between a romantic relationship. I believe that friends don’t get boyfriend privileges, boyfriends don’t get fiancé privileges, and fiancés sure as heck DO NOT get husband privileges. A friendship is a friendship. Just remember that. A time to have one with one another, do life together, and grow together.
One of my best friends inspired me to write this article and you know who you are. When he and I met, we just clicked. We are so similar, it’s insane. I gave him a lot of advice about a girl he was interested in the time and now he is in a happy relationship. Out of respect of that relationship, we don’t have the same dynamic as we had before. But our friendship still remains. But his relationship with his girlfriend is different than our friendship and everyone involved knows that. And one day when I am in a serious relationship, my relationship between my boyfriend/fiancé/or husband will be priority and be special and apart from my friendships with other guy friends. There has to be a distinguishing factor. Each relationship is different and has different boundaries so it won’t always look the same.
There have been times where I was always putting myself in the position as the “sister” and completely writing myself off from anything more to happen with a guy. Some guys would even start calling me “one of the bros”. THAT WAS THE WORST. As much as I am okay with just being your friend, please remember that I am a girl and I am not a guy. Then I would complain and people would tell me that I put myself in that position. Sometimes you do it to yourself. Just keep in mind the vibe you’re giving off. Don’t act like a sister to someone that you’re daydreaming about in class marrying. Be careful. I’m still learning how to do this. At this point I hope you’re laughing, make sure you don’t always take me too seriously.
My dad last week actually had a little talk with me about love. He was asking me if I was interested in any boys and I was like, nope! Just friends with guys. I got school on my mind. He told me that he understands that I love my guy friends just as I love my family and other friends. But that there may be love in the basement of some of my friendships. A connection waiting to form at the right time. I laughed and told him that was never going to happen. But he’s right. Sometimes friendships can form into other things, but sometimes they don’t.
And just to put this out here… If a girl and guy can just be friends and not fall into sexual temptation with one another before the time is right, I think that is a pretty good thing. Let them be friends.
So can girls and guys really just be friends? Of course they can. As with ANY friendship or relationship in life, you have to work on it and you have to know what you want. Most relationships come with complications. If you and that boy are on the same page, you can make it work. But for some people, a close friendship with the opposite sex that isn’t their boyfriend or spouse is not okay. They want to save BOTH that strong emotional intimacy with someone and physical intimacy for their future spouse. Everyone has different needs, wants, convictions, and goals when it comes to a relationship. Just be aware of what yours are.
There are people who just don’t feel the need to be close with the opposite gender and don’t understand how someone can be just friends with the opposite gender. Some people just don’t seem to click with the opposite gender as much as their same gender. There are some friendships that will unfortunately end in heartbreak because someone caught feelings and the feelings weren’t reciprocated. There are some people who will start off as friends and gag every time someone teases them about dating but in the end they will end up happily married and in love. You never know what could happen in life. It’s a scary thing. But are you going to lock yourself in your room forever and not experience things because you might get hurt or hurt someone?! NO. You have to go out there and live your life! Meet people. All your experiences mold you into a better version of yourself, even if sometimes those experiences are not quite pleasant.
But can we all stop being so annoying and trying to stick our noses into other people’s friendships and why they aren’t dating? Some teasing is fine, I love teasing. But there may be a lot of reasons why they aren’t dating at the moment. You don’t have to get to the point where you’re practically outraged that two people aren’t dating (yes, this has happened to me).
To be completely honest. My dream as a child has always been to become best friends with a boy and then one day fall in love with him and live happily ever after. I think it’s awesome when two best friends fall in love. You already have such a deep connection with that person and you know that you at least love them as a person. It just makes sense to be together. But God always has a plan. For some people that happens, for some people it doesn’t.
For the time being, I love being friends with both guys and girls equally. Guys are usually really funny, they are adventurous, they are more straight forward than girls usually, and they add spice to life. I just get along with guys a lot of the time, it’s part of my personality. I love building all these friendships and meeting new people while in college. I’m still fairly young. I’m not going to worry too much about who to date, I can only worry about today. I have a lot on my plate as it is with school and work. But if one day I do decide to date a friend or if I don’t, it’s all up in the air. You never know what could happen. So everyone listen up! Enjoy your friendships with both guys and girls. Enjoy every season because you will never be this young or have the same opportunities forever. Live it up!
My mom always tells me there is at least a 1% chance for any friendship or relationship to form. Don’t ever completely write off something from happening. You never know what the future holds. (;
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24