Can Guys and Girls be Friends?

This has been an interesting question for a long time.  It was popularized by a viral Youtube video that asked that very question to college students in mixed friendships.  You can watch the video here.  The answer you ultimately get from the video is that girls seem to have no problem having friendships with guys (almost naively) while guys struggle with wanting more from the friendship.

I was determined to overrule this outcome when I started some friendships last year with some girls in my class.  I figured I had the upper hand with the insight I have on guy/girl relationships.  As I got closer to one of them, I even had a serious conversation with her and we talked about this type of relationship and how it needs to have proper boundaries and cautions.  We both agreed we were happy with just being friends.  I know that’s all I was looking for and I’m genuinely certain she felt the same.  We became close over the year.  We did things I probably shouldn’t have now that I’m looking back.  We had gone out to eat together several times since we had the same lunch hour.  We had gone on a couple hikes together as I was trying to help her lose some weight.  (I was also counseling her on her diet.)  We were carpooling to clinicals together.  I would often drive her car home while she slept in the passenger seat because she was working night shifts on top of full-time school.  We had experienced a lot together.  We had become REALLY CLOSE.  I knew a lot about her.  She knew a lot about me.  We even knew some things about each other that nobody else knew.  I was feeling really good about having a friend like this that I could be close to.  They seem to only come along every so often.

But, then there was the problem with my wife.  Understandably, she was not into this relationship.  She was really hurting–feeling like I was sharing my heart with another woman.  I continually denied it.  I always maintained that we were just friends.  But, as time went on, I was finding it harder to draw the line between the friendship feelings and the feelings of a crush.  I didn’t find myself very sexually attracted to her because of her weight issues.  But, she is pretty and has a nice smile and beautiful eyes.  I found myself wanting to be closer.  I was tempted by the thought of a kiss.

I knew it had come to far.  How did this happen to me?  I thought I was going to be able to manage these feelings.  After all, I should be able to push away my feelings, right?  So, I tried to do that.  It didn’t seem to be working.  I was becoming more infatuated with her than I was willing to allow and needed to do something.  But, I didn’t know what to do.  Well, I kind of did know what to do buy I didn’t want to do it.  I needed to back off of this relationship!

Thankfully, as I mentioned in my last post, I started reading a book on marriage and started to focus my attention on my wife instead.  My school situation also changed right about that time.  Instead of having clinicals with only me and her, I now have clinicals with five other students.  We no longer have the same schedule, the same lunch hour, and we don’t have time to study together like we used to.  So, providence has been good to me in that way.

We still see each other often.  We have class together two days a week.  We still carpool occasionally.  We see each other at clinicals a little bit on the three days we’re there.  We’re still friends.  But, I’ve been backing off a little in how I interact with her.  I’m intentionally touching her less, flirting less with her, and trying to keep my head focused on other things instead.  It’s helped a lot.  

Interestingly, although I believe she finds me attractive and enjoys my company, she has seemed to be able to manage this friendship better than me.  She seems able to just be friends.  I haven’t noticed any “crush-like” signals coming from her like I was giving her.  I don’t know how we spent so much time together and she was able to hold herself together when I was kind of emotionally unstable.  

My conclusion through this experiment is this:  I think girls might have the ability to be just friends with guys.  I don’t know how they do it.  I don’t understand it.  It’s an absolute mystery to me.  But, I think I’ve seen that they are somehow able.  Guys, on the other hand, I’m not so sure of.  In my experience, I don’t think it’s wise for me.  I’ve learned my lesson.  This friendship, although exciting and fun and free, has brought me pain I didn’t expect.  It really hurt.  I was tempted to want something I couldn’t have and it was very difficult.  I never want to go through that again.  For that reason, I’ve learned it’s better for me to keep my distance better.  I’m learning to keep better boundaries, to hold back my flirtation, and to be more careful.  It’s all fun and games until someone gets their heart torn out, right?  I’m learning that!

So, guys…  have you ever had a close friendship with a girl that you never developed feelings for?  If so, how did you do it?

Girls…  can you explain your unique ability to be in close friendships with guys if that’s a reality?

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15 Responses to Can Guys and Girls be Friends?

  1. Amy says:

    As a girl, I’m going to be straight forward with you guys. Sometimes girls will flirt with you because it makes them feel awesome when someone likes them. We usually don’t like you back but we will still flirt with you and get your poor man hopes up. It makes our day more enjoyable. Sorry!

    • Hi Amy! Thanks for your insight. I’ve been learning that. My friend really seemed like she liked me “more than friends” at times. But, I came to realize that she was not just that way with me. She has a need and desire to be wanted–like you said. No apology necessary–we’re all a little broken, right!?

  2. James says:

    Your situation is exactly why I, a male, do not believe a man and woman can be “just friends”. I’m sorry but it just doesn’t work. I’m speaking in general of course, every rule has exceptions.

    Think about it, you’re friends with someone generally because you like them. If your friend is of a gender you are not sexually attracted to or emotionally attracted to, or is a relative, etc., then no problem. You like each other and it stops there for the most part.

    So what do you think happens when you’re friends with someone you are not related to, who is of a gender you do find attractive? At least one of you eventually will develop feelings desiring something more, it’s inevitable. This is simply how things work and arguing against it is to argue against human nature.

    That said, I wish I was wrong… not too long ago I found myself forced to let go of the sweetest woman in the world, whom I had been very good friends with for a year and a half now. Though I tried my best not to, in the end I came to have some feelings for her.

    I knew that she had a boyfriend and didn’t really want anything more from me, but to make her feel good. To my surprise I found my eyes full of tears. So for both our sake the friendship had to come to an end… it hurt both of us, and I believe that in the long run it was for the best. But still….. I still wish things could be how they once were.

    • Hey James! I couldn’t relate more. This girl I’m giving up is so kind, fun, and we have a kindred spirit. But, it’s not worth the pain! Take care and thanks for the comment.

      • Horica says:

        This might be a little late for response. But i need to tell this to you. Your kindred spirit comment infuriates me! For your friend whom you met recently, how do you know she’s your kindred spirit? Think of your wife whom she lives through hot and cold with you for all these years and never fall for someone else. She sacrifice alot for you and your children.Love is not just about passionate kisses and romantic pathway full of roses. Always know that one day when you have nothing left -the great kiss/sex ,money, youth -the person who will stay besides you is your true soulmate. Passion doesnt last forever, bt true love does. You cant be in love with two. It doesnt wrk that way. I say all this from experience i witnessed, your wife never hit u, scream at u, angered from jealousy, or do anythig to harm your feelings, but lok what you want to do to her?

      • Horica, thank you for your brutally honest comment. You have every right to be infuriated. We live in a society of unfaithfulness and people get hurt pretty bad. I made the mistake of getting too close to this girl. By they way, it wasn’t all that recently that we met. We’ve been close for about a year. Looking back now, I realize my mistake but I ended up where I ended up as a result. Now I’m paying the price. I want my wife. That’s who I’m choosing. But, it’s really hard to work out this other situation. We are still in school together and work together. I can’t change that. I am changing how I interact with her and that has been working. You’re right! My wife is amazing and I will always appreciate how she’s stuck by my side even through this.

  3. Amy says:

    I appreciate what you and James are doing by giving up those girls, but, if you two really do have a kindred spirit, why give her up? It doesn’t happen very often. I know that you said you were married. But, is it worth being married to someone who isn’t your kindred spirit? I haven’t read all your posts, but most of them. It seems like your looking for something that your marriage no longer provides. Life is short. Sounds to me like you and your friend have a wonderful relationship. It’s hard to find caring partners these days. Maybe it’s time to let your wife go…just a thought. I think this world needs a little more happiness in it. Why do something that makes us unhappy?

    • I honestly believe that true happiness comes from learning to love someone unconditionally. I believe that person could be almost anyone. My wife is an awesome girl and I want my love to be for her alone. I’m just finding myself in a bit of a struggle and a mid-life crisis. I’m finding that the more I love (a verb) my wife, the more happy we both are together.

      • lostjesus says:

        i am living the same dream/hell. but due to my lack of experience i ended up telling my wife im in love with someone else… that was good cause i did not like living a lie but since that happened everything has changed… i started to think more about my son and i even thought of going back to my wife but deep down i know nothing will ever be the same and now i am afraid of going back… her family already knows of my situation and i know they see me different now. i also understand that my wife will never trust me again… i guess we have lost the necessary foundations for a happy family right? i just don’t wanna regret of the decisions i am making…so for you … i hope you can have the courage to choose what makes you happy! life is short! i think you should do what makes you happy!!!!

      • Thank you for commenting. It’s tough! I’m sorry you had to go through this too! My wife knows too much about this too and she has lost a lot of trust in my–rightfully so I guess. I just hope she will honor my efforts to repair the damage my mistakes have caused. She’s been forgiving and I really appreciate her for that and love her even more as a result.

  4. Robert says:

    I recently read an extremely interesting study about this very subject. It was kind of long, but I can give you the shorter version. I’m interested in your thoughts. Paraphrased It stated that men were much more attracted to their female friends than vice versa. Men were also more likely than women to think that their opposite-sex friends were attracted to them—a clearly misguided belief. In fact, men’s estimates of how attractive they were to their female friends had virtually nothing to do with how these women actually felt, and almost everything to do with how the men themselves felt—basically, males assumed that any romantic attraction they experienced was mutual, and were blind to the actual level of romantic interest felt by their female friends.
    These results suggest that men, relative to women, have a particularly hard time being “just friends.”
    This is not just a bit of confirmation for stereotypes about sex-hungry males and naïve females; it is direct proof that two people can experience the exact same relationship in radically different ways. Men seem to see myriad opportunities for romance in their supposedly platonic opposite-sex friendships. The women in these friendships, however, seem to have a completely different orientation—one that is actually platonic.
    Taken together, these studies suggest that men and women have vastly different views of what it means to be “just friends”—and that these differing views have the potential to lead to trouble. Although women seem to be genuine in their belief that opposite-sex friendships are platonic, men seem unable to turn off their desire for something more.

    • Yes, I vaguely remember hearing something about that study. So interesting! And kind of confusing. Sometimes I think I’m finally starting to understand females, but then I get a glimpse of the fact that they are operating on completely different perspectives and motives than we are. Girls are sooo foreign at times. But, yes, you also raise a good point… We men tend to be easily deceived! Thanks for the well-thought-out comment. Very helpful to this discussion!

  5. roxi says:

    Reading your posts has brought tears to my eyes. I feel for you. I can see that you are a highly sensitive soul. You don’t want to hurt anyone. You don’t want to hurt your friend, you don’t want to hurt your wife. But, one of them will have be. You choose. You can’t have both. Your wife doesn’t deserve your fleeting heart.

    • Roxi, Thanks for the comment. I really appreciate that last line, “your wife doesn’t deserve your fleeting heart”. You’re right about that. I need to maybe take larger steps to work this all out. The problem is that we are in school together two days a week and in clinicals three days a week together. I guess I’ve tried to distance myself a little. I’m thinking maybe the only answer is to distance myself a lot. I might just have to tell her why so she can understand. Not sure yet.

  6. justanothergirl says:

    My best friend is a guy and we’ve been friends for nearly 12 years, and sometimes we both had slip ups along the years but thought our friendship was more important. Just a few days ago he made it very clear he wanted more and now my friendship is hanging on a thin thread. I use to think women and men could be just friends but now I’m seeing otherwise.

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