Lately I’ve been thinking about being friends with the opposite gender. I originally wrote this piece talking about the merits of guy/girl friendships. I still fully believe in those things. But I’ve also realized that there are “rules” involved when you’re friends with someone of the opposite sex. For example, there seem to be regulations on what is and is not appropriate to do with a guy friend if one of you is in a relationship. Dinner? Kind of date-y. A movie? Questionable. Coffee is acceptable. I didn’t realize this until I was talking to my own friends about the subject. There’s just something about dinner alone that screams “date!” even if it’s not. I did some Google-ing and some asking around and got several confirmations that, yes, dinner does appear to be too date-y for opposite-gender friends. Unless your significant other is totally comfortable with it and knows the friend. And it’s clearly understood that you’re just friends. There’s a fine line between maintaining a good friendship and having respect for your partner’s level of comfort. It’s a delicate balance, to say the least.
To add to the complexity of it all, I read this article about guy/girl friendships. A university actually did a study about how opposite-gender friend pairs perceive each other. According to the study, the majority of opposite-sex friendships contain at least a low level of sexual attraction. I think you could debate this point, but it definitely makes the idea of male/female friendships interesting to consider. The study goes on to say, “Not only did men report more attraction to their female friends than women did to their male friends—they also overestimated the strength of their female friends’ attraction to them.”
So basically, sexual attraction was either present in the friendship or was misinterpreted as being present in the friendship. Usually by the guys. Sorry, dudes. This is part of the reason why opposite/gender friendships can get tricky. In my opinion, the moral of the story is this: don’t delete your guy friend’s number in a panic. Just be open and honest with him, and with your significant other if you have one. Make sure everyone’s on the same page, and be upfront about your intent to be just friends. If feelings develop, address them sooner rather than later.
Do you think guys and girls can truly be friends? Tweet me @lifewithlauren1 or find me at Life with Lauren.
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