Can men and women be just friends? Some say ‘yes’, some say ‘no’, but if they can, what are the rules of opposite gender friendships you must follow?
Some people just get along better with members of the opposite sex. Perhaps you’re a women who has simply got along with boys better. Maybe you’re a guy and always connected with girls more easily because your family was full of females. Whatever the reason, friendships and gender don’t have to be segregated especially if you follow the rules of opposite gender friendships.
The problem is, many people believe that men and women can’t be friends without the lines becoming a little blurry and one person developing feelings for the other. Some think sex will always enter the equation and screw everything up.
What do you think?
It’s totally possible to have a friendship with someone of the opposite gender and for romantic feelings and sexual tension to never come into the equation. Okay, for some, this is a problem. In fact, it’s probably an issue for the majority except for close friendships.
Perhaps for those who have known each other years and been through a million and one experiences together, it’s completely doable to have this close connection without it ever becoming awkward.
The 10 most important rules of opposite gender friendships
However, I do think there are rules of opposite gender friendships which should be followed at all times by both sides. I’m not suggesting you write out a rule book and read it to each other regularly.
These are more of an unspoken set of guidelines that will help you keep your friendship on the right side of the line. Plus, they’ll avoid problems in the future.
#1 Keep everything strictly platonic. If you’re getting ready to go out and you find yourself wondering what your friend will think of your outfit – first, stop and check with yourself for a moment. Every interaction between you two should be totally platonic. There should be no thought about them in any other way.
#2 Keep an eye out for developing feelings. How would you feel if your friend suddenly found a partner and started a close relationship? Would you be happy for them or would you become a little jealous? That’s something you need to watch out for!
If you develop any type of romantic or sexual feeling towards your friend, take a step back and examine exactly what is going on. If one side of the friendship harbors attraction and the other one doesn’t, it can not only be hurtful for the one with feelings. But it can be the beginning of the end of the friendship.
#3 Respect each other’s feelings at all times. One of the most important rules of any friendship, opposite gender or otherwise, is to always respect the feelings of your friend. And it is even more important in opposite gender friendships.
Men and women sometimes don’t see things the same way. They might speak out of turn and not realize it, or be a little insensitive without knowing, but by always respecting your friend’s feelings, you’ll side-step any issues.
This is definitely one of the rules of opposite gender friendships you should keep at the forefront of your mind at all times, if you want your friendship to last.
#4 Nothing you say, do, or think should be a secret to anyone around you. If you’re keeping secrets between you, away from anyone else in your lives, why is that? Is it because you’re doing something that doesn’t fit in with the description of ‘just friends’?
This is even more damaging if one of you has a partner, or perhaps both of you have partners. Friends shouldn’t sneak around or hide things from other people in their lives.
#5 Know your boundaries and make sure you talk about them. Same gender friendships have boundaries. But opposite gender friendships have more. There is always the risk of sexual tension building up or feelings developing. It’s basic biology in some cases.
If you have boundaries within your friendship, you establish them and communicate them to one another. One of the main rules of opposite gender friendships is that you communicate and talk things through. Your friendship will flourish if you do this.
#6 Make sure your partner has met your friend and feels comfortable with them. If you have a partner, or if your friend has a partner, you should all meet and spend time together. It’s no good if you spend time together as friends and never include your partners.
While this doesn’t have to be all the time, occasionally is a good thing. This shows your partner, or their partner, there is nothing to hide. And nothing is going on, and you really do have a platonic, innocent friendship. Helping your partner understand your friendship will make your life far easier.
#7 Never allow things to become sexual. Number one in the rules of opposite gender friendships? Never let things become sexual. Sex has a way of complicating things and making everything difficult.
If you allow sex to creep into the equation, you’ll quickly notice that your friendship becomes awkward and the lines become blurry. Some friends can navigate the friends with benefits thing easily, but most can’t. It’s best to keep your pants on!
#8 Have other friends of the same gender. This one is up to you. But it’s a good idea to have friends the same gender as you. This gives you a balance. It also means that you keep the boundaries with your opposite gender friend intact. So, if you have a partner, they’re probably going to be more accepting of your friend if you have other friends in your life too.
#9 Don’t hide your dating life from your friend. If you’re dating or begin a full relationship, make sure that you include your friend and talk to them about it. By hiding your dating life from your friend, you start questioning your motives. As said, high up in the list of rules of opposite gender friendships – communication and no secrets!
#10 Understand what flirting looks like. If you’re a natural flirty person, make sure that your friend knows that and doesn’t misinterpret your natural flirtiness for something else. Be clear on what regular communication is and what flirting looks like. Make sure that you stay on the platonic side of the line.
Extra confusion in this department will cause your friend to think that you’re trying to tell them something different. This is when the lines become blurred. Everything gets super confusing!
Having a friend of the opposite gender is a real gift. It’s also a challenge if you don’t both approach it with the right mindset. If any feelings start to develop, question them and nip them in the bud pretty quickly if you want your friendship to stay the way it is. There isn’t always a Monica and Chandler ending to these things!
The rules of opposite gender friendships might look like a lot of hard work. They’re often unspoken rules which simply happen without much thought or effort, but make sure you’re following them even if you never talk about it with your friend.