Is it possible for men and women to be just friends, or will that friendship eventually make way for a full-blooded relationship?.....
Your boyfriend has female friends. Lots of them. You've known of them since you became involved with him. They are ex-girlfriends, work colleagues, and old school friends. Some of them are married and in relationships, others divorced or single. He talks about them often to you, of meeting them for coffee, or unexpectedly bumping into them.
Do you need to be concerned?
Up until the last few decades, women and men lived in very different worlds, and only sought each other out with the intention of romantic involvement.
These days, they work and play together, opening the door for more interaction between the two sexes than ever before. They have also discovered that the relationships they have with one another need not only be romantic.
Is it possible for them to maintain a platonic friendship?
Let’s look at the arguments for and against such a friendship.
Against: friendships between men and women are impossible
For a man, physical attraction is often the catalyst in the pursuit of friendship with a woman. Men hope for more, and are not concerned about the friendship rising above a platonic level.
Women on the other hand can admire an attractive man from a distance, yet don’t necessarily feel capable of sustaining a friendship or relationship with him. Care and love for a male friend can however, later spark feelings of physical attraction.
The one thing that sets friendship apart from a romantic relationship is when one or both friends feel attracted to one another.
Women and men are often only friends because one of them, usually the woman, has made it clear that friendship is all they can offer.
How, if attraction is the basis for most men befriending women, is friendship possible?
For: women and men can be friends - if they don't act on their impulses
It is possible. That is, if the men and women involved are mature and do not act on their impulses.
People are sexual beings - attraction will always be there. Whether we are single or married, regardless of age, (except for that cute period in childhood where boys and girls hate each other) there is bound to be sexual tension between heterosexual men and women.
The impulses are there, but we don’t have to act on them. We can therefore have friendships with people of the opposite sex.
Friends in committed relationships
As single, available individuals, a friendship between a man and a woman can blossom into a beautiful relationship, and perhaps even result in marriage. Where either is involved in a committed relationship, on the other hand, it can potentially be harmful.
With daily strife and inevitable conflict that comes with a steady relationship or marriage, a man may find more pleasure in his friendship with a female colleague than in his relationship.
Many friendships like this have developed into full-fledged affairs and destroyed marriages
Affairs are not confined to sexual intercourse with someone other than your partner though. One can also cheat emotionally. Your partner is the one you should turn to, confide in and have an emotional connection with, much more so than your friend.
How do you preserve friendships without risking the relationship?
Where you and your significant other have friends of the opposite sex, there should be boundaries in place to prevent the friendship from interfering with your relationship. Here are some ideas on how to preserve your friendships without risking your relationship.
Consideration for your partner
You and your partner should each consider how the other feels about your friends. Perhaps your partner is not comfortable with your male friends. Introduce your friends to your partner and invite him along to your activities where possible. This will help to minimise possible jealousy. Do your best to make each other feel comfortable with your friendships.
Trust and openness
Maintain trust and openness in your relationship by letting your partner know that you are meeting a male colleague for lunch, or that you visited that old school friend you’ve been in touch with in the hospital.
Not everyone is comfortable with their partner having friends of the opposite sex. You can still hold onto your friendships and keep your partner happy by meeting as a group of friends instead of meeting one on one.
Set boundaries on your friendship
Set boundaries on your friendship. For instance, restrict your meetings to daytime and have lunch instead of dinner. Displays of affection such as hugs and kisses with a friend of the opposite sex should be the same as with a sibling.
Strengthen your romantic relationship
Make time for your partner every day. Laugh together and show affection for one another. Listen and take an active interest in what your partner is saying to you. Work at keeping the connection going between you two.
Show your partner how special they are to you by making them their favourite foods, hiding corny love notes around the house or cleaning their car.
You don’t have to give up your friends for your relationship. At the same time, your friendships should never supplant your relationship. With careful thought and boundaries in place, getting the best of both worlds is possible.