Just friends?

My dad said I had to be a good friend to have any friends. So I have been, but where did they all go–the male friends, that is?

Is it possible for a boy and girl to be “just friends?” Such a question. So often asked. Controversial. Boys tend to say “no,” girls tend to say “yes.” In theory it’s certainly possible, but I’m beginning to see the reality that it doesn’t often happen, or maybe I just don’t know how to do it with my life.

I try making friends with young men. I don’t make friends with them because they’re male or because I simply want a friend, but because we honestly have similar interests and I’d love to know them. I befriend them with no intention of flirting or even dating them down the road, but time and time again . . . and again they leave just after apologizing about how they acted like a jerk around me. Really though, is it their fault it didn’t work? I so seriously doubt it. These are good guys—most definitely not jerks. So many fails and I’ve been on one side of all of them. Aren’t I the problem? What am I doing wrong? I try so hard to be genuine, kind, happy, encouraging, interesting, modest, and meek. Why do they almost all disappear?

I let them go, with understanding each time knowing they’re busy, sometimes they have a girlfriend, they have other closer friends than me already, they have sisters and they don’t need another one, but I’m tired of letting go. Does it really have to happen?

Maybe it’s impossible to answer any of these questions without knowing me or my situations. If anyone wants to give a stab at it though, I’d be grateful.


15 responses to “Just friends?

  1. you will have feelings for each others …maybe not in the same time, or with the same intensity! But it’s nice trying :)My best memories are with a guy friend!

    • Did you and your guy friend know in each situation that you weren’t romantically interested in each other from the beginning? Or did at least one of you make it quite clear? I’m just curious to know it can work out. I know a young woman who’s closest friends are her many male friends. She’s always had boy-friends, even when she was little. She has never had a boyfriend though.

      • I was a tomboy when I was younger… He first saw me as a little sister …And then I grew up! 🙂 Oh,we made it clear! I was crushing so often,because he was so hot! And he did for a while too :)) We made it clear ,but we decided to remain friends because we both messed up in our past relationships…And then it got awkward!But hey,we ‘ve been friends for 6 years! You learn so much about guys,and how they think! :)) But it depends on every girl and guy .I have a riend like yours too.And she never had mixed feelings 🙂

  2. 🙂 I started with a smiley face because I blog on this topic a lot. I once watched a video on this very topic in which the women all said yes and the men all said no. When the director ask the “friend” if he would date the woman they all said yes. Coming to the conclusion that no it is not possible due to the law of attraction. See a woman says yes because she can ignore the fact that the man is hopelessly into her. Either that or she is really naive or in denial. We men call this the friendzone.. This happens when a man has an interest in a woman but fails to make it known in time. She tags him as a friend an he stays around hoping to make it out into something more. Thus men hate this state of limbo, you should google the phrase friend zone an you will see what I mean. As soon a man with sense realizes that is where he landed, he will find away out. I personally cut the woman almost completely out of my life because she only serves to hinder father progress for me. Are you doing anything wrong? No not really, maybe a little naive for not noticing the feelings he may have for you. So no matter your intention a mans intention will always be to get with you or get something from you. No man I know is friends with a woman that is single an don’t think about the life he would have with her. So no men and woman can’t really be friends. Men are not napkins to cry on, or to ask about your potential love life. I am glad to realize they are good men, because in fact that’s where ALL the good men are lol stuck in someones friend zone hoping to get a shot at her one day when her loser boyfriend cheats on her. One more thing if you have a boyfriend in another woman’s friendzone make sure you end it, she will notice him then an try to take him away from you. I have witnessed this personally.

    • Hi, thanks for giving me your thoughts.

      I’ve seen that video you mentioned too, it was interesting.

      I think I’ve become friends with guys who are interested in me and when they found out I wasn’t romantically interested in them they left. I’ve also had it the other way around–where I’m interested in a young man and when he guessed I might be he told me he wasn’t interested in me. The majority of the time though they’re just in-between relationships with a girl and want my friendship until they find someone better for them. I really don’t think they were considering me as a girlfriend. Sure, I could be naive, but how would I know?

      Just to make it clear, I don’t use guy friends as a napkin to cry on and I’ve only asked one about my potential love life (he was asking me about his too).

      Friendzones… maybe they exist in this stage of our culture, but I wish they didn’t. It sounds like ‘friendship-obliteration.’ Friendship whether it be between two men, two women, or a man and woman is supposed to be a treasured and beautiful thing. Friendship between a guy and girl isn’t supposed to end in marriage, although I do think it’s an important prerequisite for marriage. So saying, I think a guy/girl would do good to have a few girl-friends/boy-friends and marry one of them.

      Okay, so he could have in mind “I’d consider marrying her” with each of his girl-friends, but when he finds out one way or the other that she isn’t the one to be his wife, the friendship should still be intact.

      “Do you know what friendship is… it is to be brother and sister; two souls which touch without mingling, two fingers on one hand.” — Victor Hugo

      • I wish the world did work like that. In arab cultures single women don’t even talk to men at least its frowned upon. That is where the world came from. Also if you watch any movie you will notice that they do alot of the friend to relationship story arcs. We may want it to be possible, only thing I’m saying is I’ve never seen it happen successfully. Try as I may I always find that I would date the girl I want to be friends with. When I realize that’s not going to happen I have to move on, or risk seeing her with another man. If a man wants to be your friend, he wants to backdoor your heart. Feelings an attraction makes it impossible for it to happen. Some one will get hurt, an I speak from experience.

  3. I think there are multiple factors that make it incredibly difficult; it requires the maturity of both parties. And let’s be honest: young people today have been conditioned to handle relational issues with passive immaturity.

    One of my best female friends in college was the perpetual “catch.” I knew at least twenty guys that were interested in her romantically (on a college campus, the actual number likely approached three digits), and I vowed not to get to know her. I felt like a tool for even desiring to know her, considering her “following.”

    One day, my roommate had a conversation with her, and she asked why I was being distant. It hurt me that my distance mattered to her, so I responded in a letter, demonstrating my fears of befriending an attractive woman. For four days after sending the letter, I avoided her like the plague. At church the following Sunday, I caught her eye and was hoping to beeline away from her, but she stopped me. She told me how much she appreciated my honesty, and she would take genuine measures to guard my heart if I wanted to be friends. Our friendship was strengthened as a result of airing things out, and the issues never resurfaced through the remainder of college.

    This, Laurel, is the exception. More often than not…

    1) The guy would air his issues and not be her friend anyway, but internally judge her for not reciprocating.

    2) The girl would get scared or weirded and never address the issue, leaving him in will she / won’t she limbo as she gradually removes herself (something I’ve experienced a bajillion times).

    3) He would abandon the friendship once he had feelings for someone else, clearly demostrating his truer intent in the relationship.

    Worse, I strongly believe something biological is in play — something western culture has fought and deviated from so dramatically that we’re having to make up new rules as we go.

    Men are genetically inclined to want to find their wife.

    In our modern, androgynous world, where even the church encourages us to passively approach romance for the sake of “waiting,” the righteous bridegroom’s hands are tied. He is considered faithless if he makes his intentions known, yet assumes the guilt of not guarding her heart if he doesn’t. His actions are being judged not by his own character, but by the corruption of unrighteous men. He would feel condemned by the church and the world for wanting to marry rather than build friendships with twenty women first. And I don’t believe men are wired that way. I don’t see any scriptural support for it.

    My experiences gave generally mirrored yours, in that my female friends have abandoned me without explanation. More often than not, it’s because they’ve grown deeper feelings for another guy. That’s completely fine by me; I’m a mature adult. JUST TELL ME! These men owe you the same honesty, particularly if you’ve been up front from the beginning. You shouldn’t be left to believe that each friendship’s demise is entirely your fault — without explanation, what other conclusion can be drawn? After all, we are the only parties common to our own repeated abandonment!

    No easy answers here, and I want to be optimistic, because I know it’s possible to maintain healthy friendships with the opposite sex. But as a guy too ruined to live like the world, and too intentional to live according to the counsel of the American church, I’ve sort of given up on spreading myself thin. I want to explore a friendship with an amazing woman… with the hope of spending the rest of my life with her. I’m not embarrassed to say it, and it doesn’t demonstrate a lack of faith to seek it. God seemed to be fine with it for thousands of years.

    • Thanks Anthony. I was hoping you’d comment.

      I see #3 happening all around me with my friends, with my sister and with myself. I addressed my thoughts about it at the end of my reply to the previous commenter.

      I agree with what you’re saying about men being wired to find a wife. I completely see the crux of this situation: “He is considered faithless if he makes his intentions known, yet assumes the guilt of not guarding her heart if he doesn’t” and I know one young man who is especially wrestling with this right now.

      I’m not sure one of your sentences is very clear. You don’t think men are wired which way? To have a few or several friendships with women before getting married?

      “After all, we are the only parties common to our own repeated abandonment!” . . . exactly my observation. One young man did tell me he was not romantically interested in me before our friendship dramatically lessened. He’s a good guy and we’re still friendly with each other, but it’s nothing close.

      I don’t normally outright say my intentions in a friendship–that seems so forced (but once, when I was getting to know one young man here in Boulder, I just mentioned in some conversation that I would only marry a Christian. He isn’t a Christian so even though he was interested in me before this, he then backed off–too far in my opinion–because he knew from my comment that I wouldn’t date him.

      Generally speaking, I thought that not flirting would suffice in not leading a man on. Do you think so? From the girl’s side I haven’t thought anything else was or should be expected. Men are supposed to lead the romantic relationship so if they don’t, it shouldn’t be expected to go anywhere. If the man does ask the woman out she is then expected to tell him if her intentions in knowing him are strictly on a friendship level. What do you wish the women you’ve know would have said to you?

      I do think the majority of our culture is amazingly immature at how they approach relationships–of any kind. But, not the guys I know. The young men I know are mature, maybe they just haven’t thought a lot about this particular subject. It’s hard for anyone to see past the morphed meaning of friendship. It seems like hardly anyone knows anymore what being a ‘friend’ really means.

      I don’t mean to make it sound like a guy–girl friendship is easy. I think it would always be at least slightly hard unless they both knew, right up front, that neither of them are interested in each other romantically. I’m guessing that assuredness doesn’t happen often though when the two people like each other enough to be friends–maybe this is the only realistic opportunity to be “just friends.” Maybe. I’ve found it’s
      easiest to be close friends with guys who are interested in, dating, or married to my sisters. This is a nice situation because neither he or I have to say what we intend with each other, it’s known that he likes my sister romantically and me as a sister and that I like him as a brother and not romantically. What’s so nice about this is that there’s absolutely no offense in the understanding, instead there’s joy at the opportunity of having a brother–sister relationship.

      I think guy–girl friendships are hard because we need to guard our hearts carefully, which is difficult, especially with a close friend of the opposite sex.

      Maybe I’m giving up on having several good boy-friends, but I hate giving up something good I know is possible to have.

      I’m thankful I do have, and am confident I will remain to have, two boy-friends who treat me completely as their sister (not to mention I also have my great brother-in-law). If you two are reading this, and I’m 99% sure you both will, thank you for being there.

      Maybe you already meant to explain this clearly, but do you think it’s a good and natural thing for young men and young women to be “just friends”? Or are you saying you think it’s a new idea in our androgynous culture that some desire this?

      (This is COMPLETELY unrelated, but I wanted to let you know I used the word “ironic” correctly two days in a row last week. I was elated and the first time I did it the guy I was talking to was very surprised at my excitement.)

      • Sorry for some lack in clarity… I had just woke up when I commented and still had some cobwebs intact. I need to stop doing that. 🙂

        I am beginning to support the idea that a large number of opposite sex friends is unhealthy. Some of this is due to my being more intentional in all my relationships –in my efforts to build trust and intimacy within my friend base, I can’t afford to spread myself thin, merely to hold on to more relationships.

        More germane to the conversation is this: reflecting upon my healthy friendships with girls, they were all established outside the 1-on-1. I think I more commonly made female friends in college because the context allowed for this. I had the luxury of understanding the female heart without building unintentional intimacy by favoring a particular girl. Thus, efforts to a spend an unusual amount of alone time or build romantic intimacy were obvious to everyone involved, and the appropriate clarifications were made.

        If a guy friend is requesting 1-on-1 time with you, it means one of two things: 1) he’s interested in furthering the relationship, or 2) he’s interested in one of your female friends (or sister) and desires your insight. Too cynical? Under what other circumstance would he not be just as well suited remaining in the group?

        A good sociologist would say that correlation does not determine causation, so I have to be careful not to immediately draw a direct line between our androgynous culture and the existence of opposite sex friendships. The historical correlation does however exist. I think the more accurate causation is the demise of local community.

        100 years ago (and beyond), extended families and villages raised up young people, and it wasn’t uncommon for men and women to have little 1-on-1 contact before marriage. Today, young men and women are privileged to have two active parents, rather off a core community to guard their hearts. In the 21st century, some would never be exposed to godliness among the opposite sex if we didn’t seek peer friendships. But I do think it’s a slippery slope, and Satan will look for opportunity to break hearts.

        So instead of asking whether boys and girls can be platonic friends, maybe we should be asking what Godly opportunity we might have to serve one another without opening a wide door to the enemy. We can’t live in a vacuum, and I’ll be the first to say I love women; my spirit is stirred by the chance to honor and protect the feminine heart. But not everything permissible is beneficial.

        • Thanks again, Anthony.

          I know what you mean about writing in the morning. I actually was online when you posted your comment, but I had JUST rolled out of bed so my thinking was very hazy too. I had to read it a second time later in the morning to comprehend it better. 🙂

          I like what you’re saying here as far as having friends in group settings and not one-on-one. It’s even good for dating–to an extent. Being alone just implies and invites intimateness. I think it would be good for me to work on not singling guys out when being friendly toward them. Maybe this is something that has pushed my friendships with guys away. I so much enjoy very small gatherings more than large groups.

          I also agree with why a young man would want one-on-one time with me. Actually, some of my best guy friends have been romantically interested in my sister.

          Guy and girl friendships are a slippery slope, but not a bad slope—in my opinion. Even though throughout history women have stuck together socially as have men, I think it’s fine for us to change our mindset as our culture changes. I don’t see inherent evil in changing this area of our social lives. More danger yes, but also more possibility for good. So we might be of different opinions on this point.

          I was going to write more to you, but I decided to post it as a separate comment so it’s more to everyone discussing this subject. Please read that for the rest of my thoughts.

  4. I think it’s definitely possible that guys and girls can just be friends. I had plenty of male friends in high school and college where I had no romantic interest in them at all. And, I’m sure they didn’t have any feelings for me either–they treated me like one of the guys (playing video games, getting my opinion about a crush they had, etc). So, I think it’s possible as long as both are on the same page about not wanting anything more down the road.

    Keep smiling,

      • That’s a good question. Well, I guess hang around the opposite sex who you know you aren’t physically attracted to and who wouldn’t be attracted to you.

        I never really had THE TALK because we just knew we were buddies. I’m so the wrong person to ask because I’m a solitary, sensitive type LOL. Basically, I’m a loner who doesn’t really share my feelings–probably why I get along with guys so well LOL.

        You can sort of tell when a guy starts liking you as more than a friend because then he’ll start demanding more of your time or acting jealous if you start talking about other guys. Right then and there, would probably be a good time for THE TALK. Or if you hear through the grapevine that so and so has a crush on you, then you should probably talk to him to say how you feel.

        Hope that helped.

        Keep smiling,

  5. In my thinking I’ve established that a man and woman can easily be friends when neither is romantically interested in the other, without much danger of heart breakage. That’s simple.

    I know these kinds of friendships are established and kept up all the time because I see it among my peers and my parents and their friends. All these friendships are kept up in a healthy, beneficial way. The curious thing is, it’s isn’t at all by some other people. I’m interested in knowing the big difference. Why do some people see the total plausibility, possibility, and goodness in platonic relationships and others don’t in the least?

    To me a friend is in a personality, not in their looks, not in whether they’re male or female, not in whether they are my age, 10 or 15 years younger or 50 years older. I see and care about the character, the interests, the beliefs, and values of the person when I make a friend.

    The slightly hard part in these friendships is knowing what the other person thinks about the relationship—there are clear ways to figure this out though. Even if one person in the relationship is interested in the other, and expresses that, the other person can make it clear the feelings aren’t reciprocated. I see no reason why this should end the friendship—and I know of many instances where it hasn’t.

    I’m back to my original belief of “yes, guys and girls can definitely be just friends with each other.” It would be great if those who don’t know how to have a friendship like this figure it out—then the other half the world would have the opportunity to have another good friend. It really isn’t that hard. I think it’s sad many (men in particular) simply don’t care for these friendships. They’re missing out. Even with a few good platonic friendships, there’s still ample opportunity for a man to be seeking a wife and for a woman to consider young men who come calling.

    Friendships make for a rich life. Why willingly give them up?

    I appreciate all this conversation with this post because I think I’ve come to understand my main difficulty in maintaining friendships with guys. The problem is that they often don’t want it—not because it’s me, but because I’m a girl they aren’t going to marry. I can’t change that. I have a suspicion as to why men act this way . . . they don’t want these friendships because all the young women they’ve attempted a friendship with (regardless of the intentions she expresses) have just wanted a shoulder to cry on, someone to spill her life story out to, and tell all about the problems she has in her love life. That’s not how friendships work. Just as my opening sentence to this blog post says, you’re supposed to be a good friend if you want to have friends. No one wants to be a napkin. But men, not all women treat male friends as napkins.

    I’m hoping to meet more young men (just as I’m hoping to meet more young women) who are happy to have more friends, whether it is a guy or girl. This is not because I want a lot of friends. Honestly, I don’t want a ton of friends because I put great investment into my friendships and I’m not capable of having many—Anthony’s term for this was “spreading myself thin.” That’s just not how I roll. A few deep, well connected friendships is what I’m hoping for. Of the few people I’ve met through the years who I think I could be very good friends with most of them happen to be young men. Of these only two seem to be interested in a friendship with me. It’s hard for me to give up what I can see working out so well.

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