Should a Man in a Relationship Have Female Friends?
Should a man in a relationship have female friends? This is a question that has plagued men and women since the dawn of time. While it should be simple to answer, as we know, there is nothing simple about relationships. Men who have platonic female friends are often looked at in a different light. Both sexes seem to think it is strange when a man has a couple of female acquaintances, especially if he has more than his male mates. It can often cause jealousy and mistrust within a relationship but it doesn’t have to be like this. If men can work alongside women, live with them in a share house, or hang out with them in a group in a social setting, surely they can be friends when in a relationship, right?
Can Men and Women Be Friends?
If you believe Billy Crystal’s character in the movie When Harry Met Sally, the answer is no. In the classic rom-com, Crystal’s Harry Burns famously says, “Men and women can’t be friends… the sex part always gets in the way.” This is a view held by many people, including TV host, comedian, and author Steve Harvey, who tackles the subject in his book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment. But do you really want to take advice from Steve Harvey?
Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as clear-cut as yes or no. Everybody, including relationships specialists, has differing views on whether men and women can be just friends.
What do the Experts Say?
It seems the experts are divided on platonic friendships between men and women. Relationship expert Keya Murthy believes it is possible, telling Your Tango, “Yes, men and women can be just friends. I have men friends who I am just friends with. I know of women who have men friends and they are just friends with. In each of our cases, we have been friends for decades to reach this level of maturity in our relation, and we have achieved it.”
This is echoed by Dana Dorfman, Ph.D., psychotherapist and co-host of the podcast 2 Moms on the Couch. She believes men and women can be friends but admits that one or both will at least think about their friend in a sexual or romantic way. “I think it’s inevitable it will cross at least one person’s mind,” Dorfman told Refinery29. “Part of friendship is there being an emotional attraction to the other person. Whether it necessarily translates to a sexual relationship is another story, but I think it would be very difficult for it not to at least be a consideration.”
Wendy L. Patrick, Ph.D., a behavioral expert and the author of Red Flags, also chatted with Refinery29 and slightly disagreed with Dorfman, stating that men and women can just be friends, but romantic relationships often occur and can prove costly.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are friends with a female, you have to be mature about it and make sure you are mindful of the choices you make. So the experts believe it is possible to have a successful and platonic relationship with a female, but what about science?
What do the Studies Say?
Unfortunately, the studies done on platonic friendships between different sexes are not as positive. Science also seems to think this is a murky area. A study involving 88 platonic friends posed a number of questions about their romantic feelings towards their platonic friend. The study found that men were more attracted to their female friends, while females rarely felt this way. Men also seemed to think their female friends were attracted to them and were more likely to try and pursue a relationship, even though most females didn’t see them as anything more than a mate. This proves men are the ones more likely to fall for a female friend or misread the signs.
A further study of 249 couples (many who were married) found similar results. The majority of answers focused on friendships between men and women were negative, with males much more likely to find their female counterparts sexually attractive, especially the older they get. The data collected from these studies seems to point towards men and women having vastly different views on the subject. While both believe men and women can be just friends, it is obvious from the studies that men are attracted to their female friends more than females are to their male friends, which can cause problems.
So Can Men and Women be Friends?
If you take into account the advice from the experts and the studies that have been conducted, the answer to this question sits somewhere between yes and no. It all depends on the situation you are in and the type of relationship you have with your partner. There will be some of you whose partner is fine with you having female friends, while others might not be as enthused about the idea. If you are already in a relationship and have female friends, this is something you will need to talk to your partner about. Make sure they are aware and don’t spring it on them two years down the track. Make sure they understand you are just friends and be sure to reassure them of this. If your partner tells you it is her or your friend, then you must make that decision yourself, although being forced into a corner isn’t great for your relationship long-term.
It is often much easier to be friends with women during your youth. When you are single and in your 20s, having female friends can be great, especially when it comes to talking to them about relationships. They understand what females think and can offer advice that can help. They can also help you be more in touch with your feelings and make you a better person. While there is a chance you could develop feelings for this friend, it is not always a bad idea. The best relationships are built on friendships, so if you and your female friend do fall in love, it could be the start of something beautiful.
When you get into your 30s and older it becomes a little tricky. Most men are in long-term relationships or married, so suddenly becoming friends with a female can cause some issues. If it is an old friend you have known since before you met your partner, it shouldn’t cause too many issues. But if you find yourself getting friendly with a new co-worker or someone you have met recently, you have to be very careful you are friends for the right reasons and not because you are attracted to them.
Men also seem to be the ones who cause more problems as they tend to fall for their female friends or at least lust after them. If you do have female friends, be sure to keep them as just friends. If you start to develop feelings it might be best to stop hanging out with them so often and focus on your relationship with your partner. If you are single, be very certain that you want to date your friend and it isn’t just a physical attraction. There is no coming back if you make a move.
The Pros and Cons of Female Friends
Having female friends really comes down to you and where you are at in life. There is no clear-cut answer, but the general vibe is yes, you can be friends but with caveats. These will depend on your situation. But if you need a little more help deciding whether having a female friend is worth it, here are some of the pros and cons that come with having a platonic best mate of the opposite sex.
She Understands Women
The best thing about having a female as a friend is the fact that she is female. She understands women and this can be extremely helpful when it comes to your dating life. You will be able to ask her questions and discuss your lady problems with her and get the real answers. While chatting to your male mates is fine, they don’t have the intricate knowledge of a female friend. She can give you advice that is more than likely going to work. It is also a great way for you to work on being open and vulnerable with women. Men are often chastised for lacking emotion, but if you are regularly talking with your female friend about your feelings, be it to do with your relationship, family, or any other issues, it will help you grow as a man and become a better person. This can only improve your relationships with women moving forward.
She Can Be a Fantastic Wingwoman
If you are single and struggling to get a date, a female friend can be a great wingwoman. While you might think potential dates are going to think you two are together, when they discover you are just friends, they might be more inclined to talk with you, knowing you must be a decent guy if you can be friends with a woman. Your female friend can do the talking and make the introductions before quietly slipping away. They will most likely know what type of woman you like and be able to attract them.
She Can Be Your Fake Girlfriend
While you might be looking for a partner, not everyone you meet is going to be what you are looking for. When you have a woman as a friend, you can pretend to be together to deter possible suitors. This also works for her and means any unwanted attention she is getting can be stopped.
You Don’t Have To Worry About How You Look
You don’t need to impress your male friends with the way you dress and this also goes for your female friends. If you are just hanging at your place, sweatpants and an old t-shirt are fine. She has probably seen you in a worse state after a few beers anyway. This is more about being comfortable and not having to feel pressured to dress up or be someone you are not. You can act and dress as you would with the boys and not have to worry about her judging you.
She Can Help With Your Style
While you can get away with wearing your worst threads around her, a female friend can also come in handy when it comes to helping you look stylish. If you have a big date coming up or an event and are not sure what to wear, she can help you dress appropriately. It is almost like having your own personal stylist.
People Assume She Is Your Girlfriend
If you are wanting to stop any unwanted attention, this is great, but if you are out on the pull then being with your women friends can have a detrimental effect on your pulling powers. While it can work in your favor, it usually causes more problems. A lot of women won’t even give you the time of day if they see you with another member of the opposite sex, so you have to play your cards right when out with a female friend. Make it obvious that you aren’t together so as not to deter any potential sitors.
Your Other Mates Will Tease You Relentlessly
If you are one of the few in your male friendship group to have a female friend, expect to get roasted. Your mates will be the first to get stuck in about your relationship and how you really want more than just a friendship. Even if this isn’t the case and there are no sparks, your mates will probably keep on giving your shit. If you are cool with it and can take it with a grain of salt, then that’s great, but if it starts to become a problem or makes you feel uncomfortable, be sure to let your mates know. If they are real friends they will stop these shenanigans and be more accepting.
You Will Be the Resident Cameraman
Be prepared to take lots of photos. If you are hanging out with your female mate and she is with some of her other friends, you are going to be the cameraman for the night. You might end up spending half the night snapping away, trying to get the best angle for their Instagram pics and stories.
Your Partner May Get Jealous
Everyone experiences jealousy at some level, but if it starts to impact your relationship it is not a good thing. There are a number of ways this can manifest itself. If you are hanging out with your female friend often, your partner might start questioning you about the relationship and be wondering what is going on. This will have a negative effect on not only you but the relationship. This is something you need to talk about and find solutions to make your partner feel like she has no need to worry. In extreme cases, this could involve cutting off your female friend from your life. While this is the worst-case scenario, it might be the only way you can keep your current girlfriend.
If you have been friends before you met your partner, she is less likely to get super jealous. If you suddenly start hanging out with Julie from accounts, then she will no doubt be suspicious and wonder why this is happening. This type of jealousy is not good and requires you both to sit down and take things through.
The Potential To Fall In Love
This is the biggest con, although it could also be the biggest pro. If you spend a lot of time with your female friend, there is a chance you might start to fall for them. Now if she is single and feels the same, you’ve got it made. The best relationships begin as friendships, so you are well on your way to happiness. Complications arise when she doesn’t feel the same. This is even worse if she has a boyfriend. The same goes for you if you have a girlfriend. The worst thing you can do is put your current relationship in jeopardy. What if you tell her you love her and she says no, and then you have to deal with your actual girlfriend. Then there is the situation where you are both in relationships and attracted to each other, which can lead to cheating on your partners. It’s just messy. You really have to be careful when it comes to your feelings about your female friend. It is up to you to decide if telling her how you feel is worth risking your friendship or your current relationship.
At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong answer. Men and women can enjoy friendships that last a lifetime, just as long as everyone understands things are platonic. While feelings and emotions often make this tricky, as do partners, if everyone is open and honest there is no reason why you can have female friends. It all comes down to your current situation and if you are single or have a long-term partner. As long as everyone knows where they stand, we are all for platonic male and female relationships.
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