not alone: just Friends? 10 comments

not alone series

This week’s prompt: Is it possible to be “just friends” with a guy?

It sounds like such a simple question, and it is so short, too! I’ve debated this very idea with friends (guys and girls) more times than I can even count, especially in the last few years. Do you want to know what I’ve come up with: absolutely no consensus whatsoever. In the absence of a consensus, I’ll share with you my thoughts and tales of my life thus far…

My short answer is this: if the guy is engaged or married it is possible to be just friends. If not, then the waters get muddy.

My longer answer: I have loads of guys who I am honestly and truthfully just friends with, period. No romantic anything. However, 90% of those guys are either dating one of my best friends, married to one of my best friends, or just plain married. Or they are priests (because, you know, Catholic!). I can honestly say that I’ve never had a thing for them and I’m almost 100% certain they’ve never had a thing for me.

But what about my not married guy friends? Yea, that’s what the water gets muddy. There are some friends of mine that there is zero romantic attraction. For whatever reason we just don’t click like that, we can be great friends, but that is it. Whether it is religion (or lack thereof), a difference in where our lives or going, or the fact that I hate their baseball team, there’s nothing romantic there and we can just be friends. Perhaps a more accurate description would be that we are more like siblings than anything else.

Then there are those guy friends that, well, aren’t just guy friends. On one side of the fence or the other there is some attraction, some desire to escape the so-called “friend-zone” and move into “relationship zone”. I’ve been on both sides of that fence and quite honestly, no matter which side you are on, it sucks. I’ve watched some of my best guy friends (the ones I’d been secretly…or not-so-secretly pining over) date, and then marry my best friend. I’ve been guy’s confidants when they cheated on their girlfriend or when they weren’t so sure about the relationship, you know, when everything in me wanted to scream this song in their face.

not alone just friendsI’ve been that person who confided in their best guy friend about every. single. jerk. that has come along, only to find out that the guy I’d been confided in wanted me…but I didn’t feel the same way. Let me tell you: being just friends with a guy is tricky. BUT…I believe it is possible, and dare I say it: I believe it is necessary.

How is it possible to just be friends with a guy? In a word: honesty. It starts with being honest with ourselves. With the guys I was pining over I had to learn to be honest with myself and how I was feeling about them. Then I had to decide to do something about it. Did that mean that I suddenly became their stalker? Nope, in most cases it meant distancing myself from them and forging deeper friendships with others. It meant that my friendship with that guy didn’t take up all of my free time, even though we were still friends.

When it comes to honesty, we also have to learn to be honest with each other. In college there was one guy in particular I was really sweet on and I will always admire how he pulled me aside and asked me how I felt about him. I couldn’t lie and when I ‘fessed up, I appreciated (and still appreciate) how honest he was with me about where he was at. His honesty allowed us to remain friends, despite the feelings that I had for him. (And eventually those feelings faded as we both realized that a relationship wouldn’t have worked out anyway.)

Furthermore, I believe that being “just friends” with guys is necessary. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the friendship and guidance of guys who have been my friend over the years. Their wisdom, the way they look at the world and problems, have all shaped me and made me who I am today. Being friends with a guy – and nothing more – may be difficult, but it is oh-so worth it.

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10 thoughts on “not alone: just Friends?

  • Jen @ Jumping in Puddles

    Yes, it’s so important to have guys in our lives… they help us understand their heart better, but also for men to understand the heart of a women a bit better. But, yes, not without boundaries! As women, it is so important for us to protect our hearts! As William said above, once we share bits and pieces of our hearts and become intimate in that way, the relationship changes. It just does. At some point, when the relationship moves on, someone will get a bit hurt.

    Hang out with guys in groups settings! If you have married guy friends, be sure you are friends with their wives, b/c if you aren’t, it’s just weird.

    Friendships are all about loving the other person… if you are opening up yourself to your guy friend when he realizes that he may have feelings for you, you talk about it but continue as you were. That is not loving your friend. That is being selfish. Ya know? Now I am rambling… I am a bit passionate about this topic!

    Anyway, good post. 🙂

    • Amanda @ worthy of Agape

      Thanks! I definitely agree about hanging out in group settings. Also, of my married guy friends I’m always friends with their wives or it would get really awkward. When it comes to the married guys, I always hang out with them in public (lunch at a restaurant, meeting up for coffee, etc.). I feel like that dispels suspicion and yet allows us some space to have good, deep conversations. Some of my married male friends are really just like older, wiser brothers to me!

  • garden2day

    There is no quick answer for each person. I believe men and women can be friends only but both individuals must be committed to their boundaries and those boundary lines must be clearly established (that both understand and agree on–not easy when we don’t normally discuss such). I think too many play the “what if” game…”What if I was with this person, would we make a good couple?”

    Intentions from both parties play a part, too. It is possible to be friends only but it seems that many married people are not committed enough to stay away from danger because there is too much “fun” (in their eyes). I like the way you immersed yourself with others when you felt drawn to someone. You are a committed person–of course 🙂 -and that is what we should do. I wish we all knew our boundaries better and were more committed. 😀

  • William McKenna

    From the married male perspective (2 months has to count for something 😛 ) it seems to me that there is a difference between being friends with a woman and then being exclusive with that woman. For example, I have plenty of female friends in my graduate program but I don’t confide in them the way I confide to my wife. Once you begin to open up to someone and become intimate the relationship changes whether people like it or not. Therefore, I do think you can be just friends with someone of the opposite sex; however, even with friends of the same sex you have to be careful about how intimate you become. In that there is always a danger of trusting someone who doesn’t deserve it, or replacing one’s spouse with someone else on an emotional level. I could go on but that would tempt me to ramble.

    I utterly agree that co-ed friendships are necessary for character/virtue formation. I too would not be who I am today without the love and guidance of my female friends!

    • Amanda @ worthy of Agape

      Yes! There is a difference between being friends with someone of the opposite gender and confiding in them as you would confide in your significant other. There is, I believe, such a thing as emotional cheating. Physical lines may not be crossed, but when we begin to open up to someone in a deep, personal, and intimate way, we open the door to emotionally cheating on our significant other, and that is bad news. Thanks for your married guy thoughts, William! And congrats again 🙂

  • Theresa

    Verily Magazine just had a similar article, but from a married man’s perspective. I think it’s really fascinating how your thoughts contrast with his! Basically, as a single woman, you think it’s easier to be platonic friends with married men. And the author of the Verily piece thinks just the opposite: married people should stay away from opposite-sex friends! The study he cites backs up this difference… women are more likely to think things are platonic while men think there is a romantic connection going on. So interesting!

    • Amanda @ worthy of Agape

      That is interesting, I’ll have to check out that post! I hadn’t thought of things from the married guys’ perspective because they tend to give me such wisdom and insight that I don’t know what I’d do without them! BUT I’m also friends with their wives and don’t typically hang out with *just* the guy because that could get awkward!
      Part of it is that I think there is a mental “he’s married, don’t go there” block going on that just isn’t present with my single guy friends.

      • Lindsay

        I agree with you, Amanda! I think co-ed friendships can work as long as the people involved are good boundary setters! As a married woman, I know I wouldn’t ever really hang out with a member of the opposite gender for an extended period of time (I run into guys I’m friends with at work all the time, but only for a few minutes) as a way of showing respect to my husband, and as a way of not putting that temptation out there for myself so I don’t fall into that trap. I read the other article as well, and the guy makes some good points. They’re basically the same thing that I’m trying to say though: don’t put yourself in a situation where there are no boundaries and lots of temptation! If it makes any difference, I think I have more guy friends that are married than are not, but once again, we don’t really hang out alone together without our significant others.

        • Amanda @ worthy of Agape

          Ah, I LOVE that you are now commenting as a married woman! =) I, clearly, am coming at this from a different (unmarried) perspective, but I think you are right. As long as clear boundaries are set and your respect for your husband is first and foremost and the time alone with someone of the opposite gender isn’t extended, then friendships can and do work. Thanks for the comment, insight, and wisdom!