Can Men Have Female Friends In Relationships?

Stephen Hussey

Last week I wrote about some of the worst behaviours of women who sabotage relationships and drive men away.

Since then I’ve had a couple of people ask me about point no. 4, in which I basically said: “Don’t forbid your man from having friendships with other females.”

I remember writing that and immediately having the same worries some other readers had when they read it, which was “Yep…that’s right…sort of” and then proceeded to think of a bunch of questions whose answers could render his platonic friendship totally unacceptable.

Questions like: How close is he to that female friend? How often do they hang out? Do they spend time alone? How sexy is she? Is she single? What do they do together? Does she flirt with him?

One female friend read my previous article and said to me: “I just don’t know about that point. If my guy is hanging out with another woman, frankly I wonder why he would rather spend his free time with her and not me.”

And I have to say…I get it.

The idea of your boyfriend having platonic female friendships on the side of your actual relationship will always be tricky.

It’s one of those areas of life where we all want to be liberal and gender-neutral, but when faced with the reality of watching our partner spend ‘alone time’ with someone of another gender, we just can’t help but feel an instinctive jealousy.

When you think of your boyfriend sharing popcorn at the movies with another woman, or I imagine a girlfriend heading out in her adorable summer dress to relax in the park with another guy, it’s impossible to stop that primal knot of unease working through your stomach.

Although you don’t really believe every woman is out to seduce your partner, you also can’t help but feel a little rejected: Why would he choose to spend time with some other girl instead of you?

You get that feeling of:

  • I don’t feel respected
  • I feel like he doesn’t value me
  • Maybe he finds her more fun
  • Maybe he secretly wants her to be his girlfriend 
  • He must be attracted to her to want to hang out with her
  • She must be interested in him…at least a little bit

Are these irrational thoughts? Maybe and maybe not. This just isn’t a simple issue.

Unfortunately, there’s no set blueprint or rule for whether male/female friendships are ok when you’re in a relationship.

Of course, there are some people we just know are dangerous to spend time with, because they spell danger to our new relationship: old ex’s we have lingering feelings for,  that work colleague we have sexual chemistry with, or that friend who can’t stop flirting with us no matter how much we bat them away.

Matt has a great YouTube video on the question of male/female friendship, in which he advocates The Whiskey Test for whether a guy can ever be ‘just friends’ with another woman.

Basically, if you can both drink ten shots of whiskey and still not want to tear each other’s clothes off, you can safely be friends.

6 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before You Let Him Have Platonic Friendships

What really matters here is how you are made to feel whenever your guy hangs out with a female friend.

For example:

1. Does your guy go to an effort to make you feel safe and loved at all times, and never give you reason to doubt his loyalty?

2. Does he always put you first, and never actively choose other women over you?

3. Does he only hang out with women with whom he has no troubling romantic or sexual history that      would give you cause to worry?

4. Is he completely open and free when he talks about other women (i.e. does he tell you about the woman he was talking to at the party, or the ex he bumped into recently?)

5. Does he feel happy chatting to a girl on the phone while you’re in the room so you feel comfortable with it?

 6. Does he ask if you’re ok with him having a specific female friend?

If you can answer yes to these questions, then at least you know you’re with a guy who makes an effort to never exclude you or make you feel less than his priority.

If the answer to any of those is no, then you may have a right to be concerned about his female friendships (and vice versa, if you’re the one with guy friends and don’t do him the same courtesy).

These are just questions to think about.

To be frank, this is an issue for which I would never offer a concrete prescription because I just know that so many couples vary wildly in their rules for platonic friendships.

For some couples I’ve met, it’s no real biggie, and both partners trust each other so much that it’s unthinkable that their partner would cheat behind their back. They have friends with whom they see movies, drink cocktails, go to music concerts, and even whose house they sleep over.

For others, it’s considered a heinous betrayal to even speak to another woman or man and not immediately report back with a full transcript of the conversation and set of reliable witnesses to testify about what happened.

The friendship that turns one woman green with envy, another will shrug off and even happily encourage. I don’t think either is better – it’s about how it makes you both feel and whether it matches your own standard of loyalty you expect from a partner.

When Healthy Concern Turns To Dangerous Jealousy

That all being said, there are some behaviours, no matter who you are, that show an unhealthy level of destructive jealousy and intrusion into your partner’s life.

These might include:

  • You freaking out any time he gets a Facebook wall post/photo like from anyone with a female name.
  • You asking to check his phone messages (without any good reason to do so).
  • You getting weird if he talks to a woman in your presence, say, at a party, and you make it awkward for him by staring daggers or being passive-aggressive towards her.
  • You making him delete girl’s phone numbers (if you’re at the stage where this is necessary, you probably already have a bigger problem in the relationship).
  • You stop him having a friendly coffee with a friend who is in town that he hasn’t seen in ten years.

Now, even as I write that final bullet point I know already that will have its detractors.

Some will ask: Why does his old friend have to have coffee with him alone? Why can’t she just hang out with him in a group with his buddies? Shouldn’t he invite me along too?

My answer to all of these…yep, maybe, fair enough.

I can’t dictate your standards.

What matters again is that:

  • He makes you feel safe
  • He makes you a priority
  • He understands your standards and wants to meet them.

And make sure he doesn’t forget to mention how ugly she looks in that dress.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    *

Stephen Hussey helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

To Follow Steve On Twitter For More Updates Click Here

(Photo: Gettyimages)

9 Texts No Man Can Resist

51 Responses to Can Men Have Female Friends In Relationships?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Laura Guerro says:

    I haven’t had a romantic relationship in since 2014, but I know that I want to trust whoever comes along. Because I know how it feels being essentially penalized for someone else’s mistakes, although I’m not saying I was perfect either (that’s a tale for later). Since then, one of my best friends is married and I know their spouse and they know that I’d never hurt them. But, I digress. This is quite a hairy issue and I speak from experience.

  2. Terrence Evans says:

    No one has stated the obvious what if scenario. What if the reason why the boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t trust their significant other with their opposite sex friends is because that person has cheated with said friends?

  3. Steve says:

    Hi, I was going out was a lady for a year. I noticed a change in our relationship when she continuously stated I love you and you make me feel safe then asked for the key back. Then she gave me the key back to help her with her cats. So I got the key back and one weekend said her 11 year old son was staying with her. So I let her be and I had a wired vibe in my gut so I drove by the apt and found a suv parked in my spot. I was stupid and knocked on the door then walked in and found a guy in the apt. He claimed he went upstairs to tell her someone was here and she came down the staircase drunk and totally naked. I walked up to see if her son was in the apt no where to b found went in the bedroom and found this guy sitting clothed on the bed. So she claims he’s an old friend a best friend and nothing is going on. Each Saturday now he’s over at the apt and I’m put out to pasture. I’ve asked to meet him offered to make dinner for the three of us but she will not let me in too meet him since I found them together. To this day 5 Saturday’s later I find his suv there she says she loves me but I’m thrown out and he’s in. Is this woman nuts or just screwing this guy who she says nothing is going on due to him being her best friend. When I ask her if he stays over she says no but his vehicle is there. I am or was deeply in love with her but she also claims she hurts the ones she lives due to her being a victim of child abuse in which she claims the father molested her from 9-13 years of age.

  4. Shakil says:

    I just normal chat in facebook with my female friends. but my girlfriend can’t accept this. She says that man and woman can’t be just friend.Now what can I do? How can I understand her that I’ve no feelings on them? will you give me a solution?

  5. Juanita Gipson says:

    Shit I am confused. I married a man who has female friends that he has been friends with for most of his life. And I was OK with that until I learned about his young 25 year old friend with three small children. She happens to be unhappy in her marriage. Then he shows me the text messages one said and this is from her “come see me.” The next text message he showed me form her said “I got some stuff stuff stuff.” What ever that means. So immediately i was alarmed. All my senses were on fire. Come to find out he went to see this friend without me after I asked him not to be cause I felt uncomfortable with it. So I asked him more about her he admits she and him use to do drugs together and now that she has kids she doesn’t do drugs. I thought to myself yea right? Kids don’t stop you from doing drugs please. And if they do good for you. But why would you text a married 54 year old man ex drug addict that you have some stuff stuff stuff and then text you know I am just joking right? I was mad when he told me he went to see her after he dropped me off for work. And alone too!

    Next I have two life long male friends. One is an ex boyfriend from when I was 14. And the other is an ex husband of 9 years. I no longer desire these two males and I am legitimately concerned for them so I talk to them every now and then and I like to check in on them to make sure they are still alive. I have no sexual feelings for them at all whatsoever. Me and my husband have excellent sex. I would not have married him if I wanted these two men from my past nor anyone else.

    But I am wrong Because I have had sex with these two men before my husband and I got married. I have never cheated on my husband and I do not have any desire to cheat on him. So now what do we do about this?

  6. Bruja says:

    I wish people would stop acting like we live in this fuzzy great society where sex between men and women isn’t shoved down our throat at every second. What women should know, and what a lot of men won’t admit, is that MOST men aren’t actively befriending women because they have so much in common. Most men remain actively friends with only the women they’re sexually attracted to. Whether this means he’d pursue it or not doesn’t matter. Because at the end of the day, when you and your boyfriend break up, it’s going to be the female friend that he runs back to and ends up screwing or finally feeling like he can be flirtatious guilt free. There needs to be boundaries. All a relationship is is sexual attraction with someone you enjoy hanging out with. So if your boyfriend has a female friend who he finds attractive, it’s only s matter of time before they break under that tension. And it’s irresponsible to put yourself in a situation with another person who could possibly ruin your relationship. Having friends of the opposite sex is fine, but ain’t no “best friend” that you hang out with regularly and text all day. I’d prefer s relationship where we aren’t constantly communicating with other people outside the house when we’re home anyway. But social media has made it normal and easy for outsiders to intrude into your private lives. When I got into my relationship with my boyfriend, I stopped hanging out with my guy friends because I could recognize that most if not all of them saw me as someone they could hopefully get at one day. And this has been the case most of my life. I’m just saying. exercise caution. If your boyfriend is hanging out with other females and then only thing keeping him from doing anything with her is you, then you already have a problem.

  7. Patti Nichols says:

    The guy I have been with for 17 yrs. recently cheated on me. We are trying to make it through this but yet he still talks to the lady and sleeps with her in her bed. He tells me they are just Friends and nothing more cause she doesn’t like sex. I have to learn how to trust him which I am doing but it’s hard. I haven’t told him I told want him to sleep in her bed cause I know he would get mad. He tells me sometimes he just sleeps in the chair. What should I do?

  8. Mike Hunt says:

    Men and women cannot be friends. There is always a sexual urge for one or both of them, whether or not they realize or admit to it. That isn’t friendship. That’s instinct of our biological imperative. I have no female friends and I don’t allow my wife male friends. It’s a deal-breaker we both agreed to.

    • Yolanda says:

      True. I wish my boyfriend would see it that way like he was before when he met me. He had a problem with men on my FB Page So I removed all the Men To make us happy but instead he went behind my back and added more females to his page. Which shows me no respect for me like I did for him . He had explosive pictures of women showing how their body parts plus he was secretly talking to a few of these women. What kind of man is that?

  9. Dr Blabby says:

    I have been with my narcissist husband for 12 yrs – married 6. He has cheated on every women he’s ever been with ( I am wife # 3 and 4th long term). The latest he found last year when he decided he was “divorced” on online dating sites but neglected to tell me.
    I had no idea she existed as he told me he loved me all the time. Fast forward a year. She is still in the picture – single – and they have conversations behind my back. HE does not make me a priority – he lies – but what is astounding to me is that this other woman is FINE with it. WHY does she want a married man? He should be talking to ME – not HER. I am not a controlling person. But I do expect respect. He actually lent her 1700 dollars!!! He’s never given me a dime ( I support myself). I am so angry that this continues behind my back when he swears he only wants us to be happy. REALLY? How am I happy with single, attractive, disrespectful women in his orbit? I have filed for divorce.
    I told him before. You want female friends?? Bring her to the house – talk to her on the phone in front of me – stop these secret text messages…. Could he do it? NO.
    Yes.. if you trust your man and he is honest with you – open? THAT is a different story. MINE? The most sneaky, deceitful, miserable excuse for a husband as I’ve ever seen.

    • Dr Blabby says:

      PS How did I find out about her? He left his phone unlocked and I found text messages.. ” Good Morning, Sunshine!!” Want to go for dinner? I bought you some t shirts!! BLAH BLAH BLAH. He can have her. They deserve each other.

  10. Sam says:

    I don’t have too many male friends. My wife is my best friend, and importantly she’s the only person I want to be my lover. She’s got lots of guy friends, but I personally trust her.

  11. Sandra says:

    My boyfriend has a friend called kadee they are quit good friends I guess but I do not know her. My boyfriend invited her to watch a fight at his while I’m there and his other mates at 4 in the morning. Should I be okay with that ?
    And also I feel like he or she has an attraction
    I don’t know how to deal with this kind of situations

  12. Rhea beal says:

    Question, so my fiancé dated this chick and then they broke up he broke up with her and then a month later she started dating his brother, she lived with them under the his parents house , just this week his brothers girlfriend ( my fiancés ex) asked him to go out for a plantonic date.. for old time sake… which is so uncomfortable I saw the comments and didn’t say anything but I don’t feel comfortable…

  13. Angela says:

    Men and women cant be friends period!!!! And if youre in a relationship what do you need female friends for? Your girlfriend, fiancee, wife should be your only female friend. Ive seen how the line can be blurred when men and women are supposedly friends. If your girl doesnt like your female friends its for a reason. I think to keep the peaxe a male shoukd keep his female friends to a comfortable distance.

  14. Jolaine says:

    She’s a childhood friend but she sends him stuff and she blocked me from fb so it wouldn’t cause trouble she said he can delete her if our relationship means a lot to him but he won’t

  15. casey says:

    People use the word friend very loosely.Any man going out of his way to get alone time with another woman in my opinion is looking for trouble.It is a gateway to destroying realationship.Treat people the way you want to be treated.What guy wants to watch his girl frolicing around with some guy.I think its interest what if some girl is interested in some things you like and its easier more fun to hang out with someone else.If your enjoying the company of some other person more than your mate people should look at they realationship.This would hardley be an issue if every thing is so innocent.Humans are wired in A certain way the rest is human nature and the truth will set you free.My example for men I have seen dont make any body comfortable but the women they are friends with so it depends on the guy but most of the time these issue like men being friends with women dont go well

  16. Sofia says:

    Hi Stephen, Matt,

    sorry, but this is going to be a looong comment, as this topic about male-female friendships got me. Why? Because most of the time I’m on the other side. I’m the friend, who’s a female and who loses male friends more often than not as soon as they are having a relationship. And honestly… I don’t find it fair.

    First let me differentiate between old friends and new friends, and let me elaborate on the “old friends option”, as you’ve discussed already in detail what’s happening with the later.

    But before that let me quickly have a few lines about new friends from the opposite sex… you talked about “the 10 whiskey rule” which I find is a good rule, but… mostly the person, who is insecure about the new friend, is not there when this drinking game takes place. And if they are… mostly there is always a place for misinterpretation. So I don’t see how that would help to calm down the insecurities. Sorry. I think with new friends one feels it rather out, where is it heading.

    So why is it that I think old female/male friendships can work?

    I find that more often than not old female/male friends of men/women are kind of the Number One target on the new girlfriend’s/boyfriend’s Death List. We (friends from the opposite sex) are “The Threat”. We have the advantage of knowing him/her better than the new girl/guy does; having that great time, every time they spend time with each other; capable of cheering him/her up; capable to help in hard times; showing up without noticeable effort and still be great; etc.

    However as one of my Exes phrased it, when I asked him the standard question about a girl who was coming at him really hard at the time: “If I’d wanted anything from her, I would have already gotten it”. And I think he was in a way right.

    In my experience, if a woman is in a man’s life (or the other way around, because men can be just as excruciating as women) on the long haul, they’ve already had the topic of romantic relationship covered. At one point or the other it pops up. It’s inevitable. But both of them had to put it into bed, and that’s where they are right now. Most of the women/men who have mostly friends of their own sex, should understand one thing: those two already went through a lot, and found that the current relationship what they have is the best for them. Means: they WANT to be friends. They chose to be friends and they have worked/are working for it. After a time – same as any other human relationship – it’s not “just so”. And if one of them can’t close the door on the topic of romantic love, it won’t be a long friendship anyway. So why force someone to a decision of losing a good old friend for a new love interest?

    If it’s an honest friendship, most probably they already have an idea what made the other person attracted (because they had to talk it over to be able end to the episode of “Unwanted Love”) and decided to avoid that behaviour/outfit/light touch/whatever that does the trick in each other’s presence. Why? Because they don’t want to hurt each other! I’m certain that once is enough to see a person (who you think is awesome, but for whatever reason just not for you) hurt because you said no, and help them to put an end to their romantic feelings, as you also want them to stay in your life, but give them the possibility to find happiness with someone else. It takes enormous energy/effort/decree from both sides! So everyone should rest assured, they won’t go through it again just for fun. And as I’ve been on both sides of the table (and depending on the person, stood up with a great friend or nothing), I think I know what I’m talking about.

    So long story short, these men/women with close friends from the opposite sex just want the other one to be as happy as he/she can be. They are brothers/sisters from another mother (and therefore displaying the same behaviour as cousins/mothers/fathers/siblings do, which Matt described so perfectly in Keep the Guy), and as such they will do anything to make the person in question be happy. They will respect the choice their friend makes and at one point they will disappear, if someone is pushing it. But is it really the way to treat these friends, just because of their sex?

    I agree with you guys, that a guy/girl needs to show that the new love is important, but I don’t believe that it requires either “putting the new love first and never actively choose other women/men friends over them” or “asking if she/he is OK with a specific female/male friend”, as Stephen writes. Actually from a friend point of view, it’s pretty annoying when an “outsider” decides, where is our 5-10plus-year-old friendship is heading. Occasionally friends have priority over loves and as I wrote above these people can be like family. So what if the love interest is not OK with them? Will you call either of the relationships quits or try to ease the people into accepting the existence of the other?

    As for the questions which Stephen mentioned at the end of this post, let me answer them from my point of view:

    Why does his old friend have to have coffee with him alone?

    Because they need to catch up undisturbed and free of judgement. Maybe she has stuff in her life which is noone else’s business, and she is not very proud of it. She needs the uninfluenced opinion of her friend (which she highly values), and his point of view is somehow unique for her. It’s the same when you are going picking up your girlfriend after some shitty stuff. She just speaks male language better.

    Why can’t she just hang out with him in a group with his buddies?

    Same as above. If you are in a bigger group, either peer pressure will kill an honest conversation, or there are people with whom you don’t want to talk about everything. But OK… I give you this: if she NEVER hangs out in a group with his buddies, even I would get suspicious. But then you can just invite her though him to a few group events and see how it goes.

    Shouldn’t he invite me along too?

    Be patient and awesome, you will be invited as and when. It’s their friendship, and maybe you haven’t earned the right yet to be there. Everyone needs time to open up to people, and most probably she doesn’t trust you enough yet to let you in on her inner thoughts/see her at her most vulnerable. (And ask this question more than once in 5 years, and you’ll never be invited by choice.) Once she sees how trustworthy/uncomplicated/intelligent/non-judgemental/cool you are, and more than once have a valid point, she will tell him: “bring her along”. And an invitation from his female friend to such a private meet-up is the biggest compliment she can ever give to you. But to reach that, she needs to see that you don’t mean any harm, and most importantly that you make him really happy and reach his potential on the long run.

    • Jane says:

      I have to say that I totally love what you have said because I agree with most it, especially on a friendship of 5/10 years even more have a friendship/relationship similar to family as they have known each other that long!. But yeah I totally loved this response as it spoke about the other side, that is the friend of the opposite sex.

    • Claire says:

      Hey Sofia!

      Thank you so much for your reply to this thread.
      I’ve recently started seeing a guy with a lot of female friends and his best friend is female too.
      now I’ve never actually dated a guy like that, sad I know. And my male best friends are mostly gay so I don’t have that experience as you do.

      Anyway I just wanted to say your comment had really helped as I want to be cool with it as he’s a great guy I just didn’t know how.
      But your post has really put me at ease with it all.
      everything you said is spot on. So thanks, and thank you for being an awesome female friend to your guy(s) too! xxx

      • Sofia says:

        Hey Claire!

        Thanks for the compliment, you’ve made my day! :) I’m so glad if it helped you!

        And rest assured: it’s not sad at all that you haven’t dated a guy with many female friends before ;) It’s totally common. But contrary to many, you’ve already made a huge step forward by reading this thread and thinking about it. I thank you for that too. (And btw: he and his friends should and will appreciate that too)

        Good luck with your guy, have lots of fun and rock on! ;)
        Sofia

        • Arya says:

          Hey Sofia
          U should start a blog, apparently u helped more than this article which I just read,
          I’m glad I scrolled down in the comment section.
          Thanks

    • Sara says:

      I can’t help but think, especially with the last paragraph, that this is the reason you are often excluded by a new love interest. Your expectation as a friend is exclusive intimacy with someone who is trying to start a new intimate relationship with someone else. That is the problem at its most basic. Some women may be content with another woman taking up emotional energy and enjoying that level of intimacy with her new partner, but most would probably rather he put that into the new relationship, especially if a romantic relationship is started with the intent of it becoming more serious.

      Having several decades-long, opposite sex friendships myself, I can say that as deeply trusting as I am of my male friends, I don’t expect them to give me this kind of intense emotional attention when they are in the beginning of a new relationship. And I certainly would not try to set up a situation where the new girlfriend is excluded for good if she asks more than twice in 5 years to be included. That sounds like a really possessive friend, to me.

      • Darryl says:

        I agree with Sara. 1. If we say single women won’t go out with a guy unless they are interested on some level in more than friends, why does that change when he’s dating someone – Find new single guy friends or better, female friends. 2. Time and energy are resources in limited supply, why would a partner want to invest intimate(alone, close, one on one) time with anyone not their partner of the opposite sex. 3. I understand long standing relationships from childhood, but associating alone is inappropriate – why can’t it be done as a couple. 4. Most female friends of mine set boundaries with me once they start talking to a guy they like, it demonstrates respect and consideration for him and the relationship, it also serves as a foundation for trust, safety and security. 5. Humans are animals, spending time alone will eventually trigger attraction, sexual or otherwise – it’s the reason most exes/friends with ulterior motives stay present, to be kept in mind. 6.If its agreed on by both partners, then its ok, if not, you’re partner should be the priority. I mean if it’s not serious they who cares, if one or more partners want something serious, hang out together or with a group. When you play with fire enough times…you will get burnt eventually…State your standards, if your man/woman refuses, know they just chose who holds more value to them, cut them off and find someone who meets you half way.

    • anna says:

      I get where you are coming from but at the same time if you know that whenever your guy friends get into a relationship you get less and less. Why not invest your time into a female friendship where you don’t get kicked to the curb and can still hang out with them?

      Women, i find, can be great company and there is less sexual poking with women. i have found it to be hard to have male friends bc one, they get gf’s and then spend a lot of their time with them, two, they want to blank me and i always feel that sexual poking, three it could cause problems if i get a bf.

      Plus, if i put in time with a guy outside of main relationship then it is like i am putting in time with some other guy that I enjoy spending time with. if i enjoy spending time with a guy and find him attractive, then it is a recipe for disastour. Also, i think there is a physical and emotional part to a relationship. if i am putting in time with some other guy and bonding, that is the emotional friendship part of a relationship. Also, there is the closeness part of the emotional relationship bc we are putting in one on one time together where we can bond even more than when you could in a group of ppl and attention is more spread out.

      Also, i don’t understand why you need to talk to some old guy friend sooo much. if you need to talk to a guy friend, why not just get a boyfriend? Why not talk to some current female friends.

      last bit, idk about everyone else but when you work and have a family or school, there isn’t a lot of free time. So why would i want my guy spending his free time with some girl, when he doesn’t even have a lot to give to me. And i certainly don’t want them bonding away or getting close bc then why bother with me?

    • Fran says:

      Thanks for this. I really appreciate hearing it from the Friend’s point of view. I’m going through this right now — except I’m the girlfriend.

      I will say this, I feel uncomfortable with my boyfriend’s female best friend because he always tries to remain neutral between us. She comes to him for platonic comfort because her argument is: “We’ve been friends longer than you’ve been around. He’s MY BFF. I need him to be here for me.” He wants to be there for his friend, but I feel her reasoning is out of bounds. The point is, I’M here now. I respect that they were friends before, but my boo and I are going to move forward together. We’re talking about marriage, the future, etc. and quite frankly, we can’t stop to consider how the friend feels anymore. WE have to consider what’s best for us. And I feel like the female friend, needs to honor and respect that.
      It makes my boyfriend uncomfortable to have to be in this situation at all and it puts strain on OUR relationship knowing that his actions make me uncomfortable as well. How can he make me feel safe and secure if he’s trying to appease both sides? I don’t have all the answers, but my boyfriend chose me and I’m happier for it. I’m sure if the female friend were dating someone and was put in the same situation, my boyfriend would respect her prioritizing her own partner as well.

      Psychology Today posted a really interesting article showing that women actually tended to be the ones who had trouble relinquishing control in a relationship — perhaps their ’emotional ties’ run deeper, and thus, it’s harder to let go. Though, as my own boyfriend said, “Some people stay for a few chapters in your life. Then you meet someone and maybe that person stays for the entire novel. And the reason they stay til the end, is because you give their story focus for the rest of the book. The previous character might make guest appearances here and there, but ultimately, you and your partner will finish the book together.” Haha, I thought it was a lovely analogy!

    • Sushi says:

      Glad I saw this comment. As a man with a couple of platonic relationships and an understanding girlfriend I thought some of the reactions were a bit scary and glad my girlfriend has been very relaxed (she equally has a some male platonic relationships).

      I really think it is about setting clear boundaries but not drawing attention to it. In one friendship I invited her out for a meal for the first time and made it clear it was as a friend. There was a little awkwardness with one friend who kept dropping friendzone hints, which can be equally damaging to a friendship until I made it clear that there was no romantic interest. Another friend got a bit touchy until I subtly (probably unsubtly) mentioned girlfriend in the conversation as a reminder and she stopped, etc.

  17. Kathryn says:

    Of course if someone chose to spend time with another, what with work commitments, hobbies, interests, friendships of the same sex, family etc then you would question that conscious decision. But often friendships with the opposite sex, even though you are in a relationship, can be because of work or geographical distances. Partly this can be detrimental because we probably tend to even be friends with the opposite sex we find attractive subconsciously and there can be an awful lot of emotional intimacy and closeness without any hint of actual sex going on! More dangerous if the friend is single definitely.

  18. Emily says:

    “And make sure he doesn’t forget to mention how ugly she looks in that dress”?

    OUCH!!

  19. Arianna says:

    Hahaha! Sassy Steve, at it again. ;)

  20. kish says:

    I’m glad you wrote this post. I was getting all antsy with the last couple of posts about friends of the opposite sex because this is such a tricky area.

    I agree with all that you have said here and appreciate that you recognize that there are no prescriptions when it comes to friendships like these. Each case has to be taken individually along with both partners’ feelings etc.
    I believe most healthy couples can sort things out when it comes to where they stand wrt to friends and negotiate what works best for everybody–including the friends. After all, I would feel sad too if I lost all my guy friends just because they got a gf/wife.

    A major point I would like to add here is the issue of fairness. I don’t know about you but IME, I have seen many guys who have double standards in relationships. It is ok for them to visit a strip club or flirt with other women on a boys night in town. But they don’t like it if *their* gf/wife wears a low cut dress and ends up attraction attention or competitors. Ditto with friends. They can have female friends but the gf/wife is strongly discouraged because “all her friends want to sleep with her and it is *them* they don’t trust, not the gf”. I’m sure there are women like this too. All their friendships are “innocent” and platonic but they will make their bf stop seeing their childhood buddy just because she is female–or sometimes even if it is a male because they don’t want competition!

    It goes without saying but needs to be explicitly acknowledged that whatever “rules” a couple has established apply to BOTH parties.

    Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t have them do to you –is a good rule of thumb.

    I also agree with you that while it is important to respect your partner’s feelings about friends, a partner who is irrationally jealous or controlling is a big no-no.
    I don’t think that snooping, interrogating etc. are healthy ways to deal with ANY problem no matter what insecurities someone has. And these kinds of relationships are best dissolved.

    The thing about insecure, jealous and controlling people is that this side of theirs will show up in at least one or more areas of their relationship because that is how they deal with problems. It is rare that a partner will be controlling *only* wrt. to friends of the opposite sex. Usually (not always), we can figure out if a partner has a genuine concern or is just a controlling person. And if it is the latter, it is best to get rid of them if talking doesn’t help (which it usually doesn’t).
    If friendship is truly the ONLY area of insecurity/weird behavior then probably their concerns are genuine and should not be ignored.

    They Whisky test is interesting. For ourselves, we have to be honest with ourselves. Most people will justify their choices as it was all just innocent and then go ahead and do something stupid. A few good and hard questions we can ask ourselves when we are spending time with the opposite sex are:

    1) Would I be ok if my other half did this with their friend?
    2) Would I be ok if my partner knew exactly what was going on between me and my friend? Would I keep this a secret from my partner either in part or whole?
    3) Would I be ok with my partner joining in with us?
    4) Does my friend respect (if not like) my partner and our relationship?
    5) Am I enforcing boundaries? Can I recognize when a boundary has been violated? Will I be able and willing to reassert it?
    6) If push comes to shove, am I willing to give up this friendship if my friend falls in love with me? What will I do if this happens?
    7) What will I do if I end up developing a crush on a friend while being in a relationship? Can I will I do what is ethical?
    8) Finally–what is this friendship *really* about? Are we genuinely just friends or am I seeking validation, attention (or whatever…) from this friend that I might not be getting from my partner? Or perhaps I am getting all this from my partner but I want more, just because?

    I think if a person honestly answers these questions, they can figure out if their friendship is really innocent or dangerous.

    • Emily Shepard says:

      Do you watch Mad Men? All I could think of while reading your comment was Don Draper, and how much I wanted to slug him in every episode for his full-on unabashed hypocrisy on this topic. I mean, I guess that’s the point of his existence, but it overshadowed any of his good points for me. (Too close to reality for some?)

      • anna says:

        your comment doesn’t seem to be nice. The other woman was just expressing her opinion and thoughts. do you really need to be nasty back to her? is this the kind of person you are?

  21. Darla says:

    Thank you for writing about this topic. You’ve given us much to think and feel about. I would really love to have a guy friend. However, I’ve never experienced a guy interested in a close friendship only. I can’t imagine a married man wanting to have a close friendship to another woman. Wanting to spend time with her maybe go on vacations. It seems like a slippy slope of temptation. If I had a male friend, I would probably start to distance myself from him when he had a relationship. I would get to know his girl and start hopefully to be both their friends. Perhaps, it would work if boundaries where in place . Take care-

    • Emily Shepard says:

      I have a couple of guy friends who I knew in university, lost touch with, then reconnected with on facebook in the past few years. Both are now happily married (to women) and I did wonder whether that would make a difference at all, but I’ve been delighted to find that the dynamics of the friendships have actually improved.

      In one case, when I’m in town I will have dinner with the guy and his wife (who I now also consider a friend), or him alone, whoever’s available. In the other case, I mostly just see the guy one on one for coffee. In both, we talk about all the same stuff I talk about with my girlfriends–work, relationships, life, the universe and everything.

      Part of the reason it’s gone so well is, doubtless, because we are older and wiser (or at least more interesting ;) ), but the other reason, I think, is exactly BECAUSE they are married.

      I think when you’re a single female, being friends with a single straight guy–even if you’re Just Friends, and even if you don’t acknowledge it–always does contain the question of whether there is sexual tension or not, and what to do about it. (Do we want to risk our friendship by trying something that might go horribly wrong? Does one person have feelings the other doesn’t have? Are we really just friends, or fooling ourselves?) Now, though, the question of sexual tension is irrelevant, because the idea of Something Happening is off the table. I’m able to relate to them as people, not “guys” in the dating sense. (A nice side effect of this is that I don’t have to wonder whether the only reason they are friends with me because they want to sleep with me–which, let’s be honest, does happen to people sometimes.)

      I imagine it would be different in less-committed relationships, but I think for many people who are happily married, having friends to connect with individually outside of the marriage is probably a really healthy thing, so you don’t feel like you’re stuck having to talk to and spend time with only the same one person all the time forever.

      Obviously, if there are trust or loyalty issues in the relationship, adding an available person into the mix could be more of a problem, but that’s not the fault of the person. I mean, like with any situation, honesty, awareness and tact would be key features here.

      • Darla says:

        Emily! Thank you much for taking the time to reply. Very hopeful and that is so great that you have continued to have those guy friends :) xx

        • Emily says:

          Hey Darla! You’re welcome; it’s fun to talk with people here. Good luck, and I hope you find good ways to navigate this in your relationships :)

      • anna says:

        I get what you are saying but i also wonder how these married guy friends have so much free time to spend with you? a lot of the guys i know work long hours and barely have time for themselves. Also, don’t these guys have guy friends to hang out with?

        Sometimes i think having some friends of the opposite sex is a good thing simply bc it makes my man look hotter and keeps me on my toes. But if he is spending one on one time with them bonding away, then it is like a threesome. And i wonder how close they are and if i am even any different than her. like what is she getting from him? how much time does she get. Why am i bothering to commit to him, become emotional with him, and do sexual more risky things with him if he has some girl that can provide the comfort and emotions. Am i just for the physicalness then? is that all that seperates me from the other girls? what is the point in giving more emotionally and physically intimate things up if i am not any diff than his other girls that are “just friends”.

  22. Becki says:

    A lot of things in this posting I agree with, but a woman knows with that gut feeling that a lot of us ignore all too often that tells us something is just not right with the relationship our significant other is having with a person of the opposite sex. Also if it makes you uncomfortable with the situation and your partner does not acknowledge your feelings and gets angry and defensive then that could be a problem. A lot of people have been damaged and broken from prior relationships, if the one your with is not willing to reassure you and help you to understand the friendship, even to include you then there is something going on, maybe just flirting but they still don’t want you there to see what exactly they do then it is not a good spot to put you in. Most people have a lot of insecurities and it is part of our significant other to reassure us that is not the case, and if hanging out with this friend without you makes you feel horrible then that discusion needs to happen. You have to decide what you want to do, it is not really up to the significant other, if you don’t want that to happen express your feelings and move on to bigger and better things. Your feelings are not always your significant others to fix without any work on your behalf, if they are not willing to stop seeing their friend and it bothers you tremendously then you must decide what is more important your feelings, or your relationship including the friendship with the other person.

    • anna says:

      I agree with you. I think a lot of ppl have had the whole “she is just a friend” situation go very badly. it hurts a lot to know he is bonding away with her instead of with me. if he is with a guy, it is just w/ev.

      Plus, i think the guys and girls can only be “just friends” if they do not find each other physically attractive and don’t find the need to get emotionally close. If thy are emotionally close then it is like they are in an emotional relationship and i find that that leads to a physical relationship at some point. plus, just friends between opposite sexs works a lot better if it is through a group activity. friends through dancing i find to be okay because ppl usually practice in a public area and also dance with lots of other ppl so they are not getting as close. plus, i think it helps when they don’t get emotionally close. it is the emotional closeness that feels like a relationship to me.

  23. Charlotte says:

    Hi Stephen,

    This is a great follow up post to your previous article, and although I agree with you on the whole, that there are no real set rules regarding having friends of the opposite sex whilst you are in a relationship. I disagree with where you have said “..before you LET him have a platonic Friendship”.

    Surely if you a women (or a man for that matter) of high value, you should be open, honest, relaxed with and considerate of your partner, and therefore feel (at least) more secure with how your partner interacts with friends of the opposite sex?

    Suggesting that your partner could decide/dictate who you are allowed to be friends with is reflective of the childhood scenario of saying to a friend “I can’t play with you no more as my mummy doesn’t want me to” which is ridiculous.

    I believe that if you are in a healthy, loving relationship with a partner that you consider to be an equal, and treat as such, you shouldn’t feel a want or need to check their phone, let alone dictate who they are friends with.

    On the flip side, I feel that if you are in a relationship which you recognise to be controlling and manipulative, with a person who tries to dictate to you then you should run as fast and as hard as Usain Bolt at the Olympics

    Charlotte

    • Selina says:

      Yes Charlotte, I agree with you.

      • charlotte says:

        Thank you Selina

      • Emily Shepard says:

        Me too! Well said. :)

        • charlotte says:

          Hi Emily,

          Thank you so much for the compliment. I am absolutely loving your responses to other posts too. In my own experience, I have never had an issue with partners having friends of the opposite sex as the majority of my own friends are male. I would be a major hypocrite to believe that my partner shouldn’t have female friends when 90% of my own friends are male.

          I’ve been discussing this topic with some of my friends (both male and female), and with the exception of two people, they also believe that friendships with people of the opposite sex can be achieved.

          One minor point that I recalled after posting my initial comment, is something that I believe Matt said in a previous post “people show you their true selves within the first few dates”. I believe this statement to be very accurate. It may sound harsh but I have refused second (or further) dates with people who have exhibited any traits that are on my “warning list” such as acting possessive etc.

          Sadly I think that many people (I myself included, in the past) refuse to acknowledge traits that they (even subconsciously) recognize to be a little “off”. Mostly in part due to absolute desperation for reaffirmation that they are wanted or “needed” by another person. This is a sad but regular occurrence which has been known to trap many people in unsatisfactory relationships which ultimately make them feel even more need for reaffirmation (vicious cycle).

          A note to any woman reading Stephens’ article and resulting comments. Be a women of high value. Have confidence (it’s sexy), spend time alone getting comfortable with who you are. Don’t try to change a man (including his friendships) to fit in with your perception of a “perfect relationship” as ultimately you will both end up miserable and resentful. Respect yourself and others around you for who they are. Be high value! X

          • Emily says:

            Hi Charlotte! Thanks for the great reply. It seems like we might be kindred spirits in some ways! :) I haven’t seen that post you mentioned (yet–I’m working my way through everything here) about people showing their true personalities in the first few dates, but I totally relate to what you’re saying. Hindsight is an amazing thing–in most of my romantic involvements, there have been problems which, if I look back, I can see were there from the beginning…but I wanted to give the benefit of the doubt, not judge too harshly, etc. My standards have changed and I don’t think I’d date those guys if I met them now. Patience is a good thing, but not if it means you’re waiting for the impossible, or hoping someone will change. And we’re all human, people have off days–but someone who is rude to the waiter and oblivious to your preferences three dates in a row is probably going to keep being that way! (To pick a wildly random example.)

            The cycle that you mention is a vicious one indeed. We convince ourselves of so many things, often without even realizing it, that just end up getting in the way of reality and decent functioning. But once we’ve put in a lot of effort, it seems like a wasted investment to cut loose, so we keep digging the hole deeper and deeper. It’s an amazing thing if you get the chance to realize you can just climb out of the hole into daylight and keep walking.

          • anna says:

            You say that 90% of your friends are male? do you not like hanging out with females? do you feel women are not good company?

            I have had males friends and i have found some of them to be cool but a good portion sexually poke. no matter how many times i told them to stop, they didn’t. Also, i found that hanging with a bunch of guys made me feel less in touch with my femininity. And then i become “one of the guys”.

            A lot of my guy friends aren’t fulfilling relationships because if thy are in a relationship, i can nvr spend as much time with them as i could with a female friend. with a female friend i can spend hours with her and go out to wherever and talk about w/ev. With a guy, i get only a lil bit of time maybe every few months and then he is gone, it is hardly satisfying.

    • Charlotte says:

      Hi Emily,

      I loved your reply, sorry it took me a couple of days to get back to you.

      I think you may be right about the kindred spirits thing! :)

      I can’t recall if it was Matt or Stephen who mentioned that people show their true colours within the first few dates, if I can track down the post I will let you know.
      I feel that you are right, of course people have their off days, but there is a major difference between being a little crabby or unfocused with someone and being rude or mean on purpose.

      I’ve been caught in the “vicious cycle” twice in my life, you are so accurate when you say it seems like a waste of our time and effort to not continue with the relationship after we have put so much work in it.

      However, hindsight is a wonderful thing and I realised a long time ago that if a person makes you miserable more often than happy, then, regardless of the time and effort spent with/on them, they are just not right for you in any way, shape or form. x

  24. Lisa says:

    Haha, love the last phrase of your blog post!
    I appreciate that you mention that there is no preset rule in how to treat the issue!
    Peace Lisa

Read previous post:
Drive Him Wild with These 3 Irresistible Date Outfits ft. Louise Roe

In this week’s video I’m introducing you to my good friend Louise Roe who just so happens to also be...

Close