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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Cooper

Can men and women really just be friends?

It's the age old question that really doesn't have a clear answer for some people. Can a man and woman really just be friends? In some cases yes and in some cases no. It's a debate that keeps on going and will continue to keep going until the end of time. From my own personal experience, I have been on both sides of the debate. I have been in a relationship where I was just friends with the opposite sex. I was also in a relationship where I didn't like my significant other having female friends. Many will say that you can't have it both ways (which I will agree with) but there are exceptions to the rule too.

For example, if there is already an established platonic relationship between 2 people and never once has there been any romantic or sexual tensions, then yes a man and woman can just be friends. Now if there is a change somewhere and someone develops may be best to go your separate ways. Things can only get complicated and messy especially if one of you doesn't feel the same way. But what about in the case where there is strictly a platonic relationship, but one or both of the significant others of the friends has a problem with the friendship? Then what?

I can personally relate to that aspect. My then boyfriend and I had an issue regarding his friendships with the opposite sex. He wasn't cheating or anything like that, but several of his friends were women. They were established friends before I came into the picture. I didn't have a problem with any of his friends because none of them had ever disrespected me or anything. But one day that changed. One of his friends started having problems in her own relationship and because of this, she started calling him more often. Granted he's a great listener so I can understand this, but what started bothering me was WHEN she would call. The calls would start happening late night during the times when we would be having our own private time with each other. I started noticing a pattern and it was making me uncomfortable. Nothing was going on as far as I could tell, but it was bothering me enough that I felt I need to say something.

I had a talk with my boyfriend about his friend and when she was calling. He assured me that nothing was going on and that she was only calling that late because he was ALLOWING it. Why was he allowing her to call that late? I kept wondering about that over and over. He didn't always talk to her when she called. He would let her know that he was talking to me at the moment and would hang up with her, but still...why allow someone to do that? I told him how I felt about it. At first he was okay, but I could tell that it bothered him because later on we fought about it. During our argument he brought up my male friends that HE didn't approve of. Needless to say both of our friendships with the opposite sex were affected going forward.

Have you seen LeToya Luckett's video for her song "Back to Life?" in it she's dating a man whose best friend is a woman. When she's introduced to the best friend, she's immediately turned off by how her boyfriend and his friend interact with each other. When she calmly tells him her feelings about it, her boyfriend turns on her and makes it seem like SHE has the problem. The video continues to show how after their meeting, the relationship starts to fall apart due to the friend now constantly calling and texting and interfering with the relationship. Why was the friend doing this? Its was later discovered that the friend had feelings for the boyfriend and she was hiding them all along. The boyfriend didn't realize it until she kisses him and he didn't return the favor. By then it was too late for his relationship.

Not all man/woman relationships are like this. There are some relationships that have lasted lifetimes. No one was sexually involved and no-one had secret crushes either. Mutual respect was established with each other's significant other as well. I have several male friends that I have known for years. I don't talk to them everyday, but when I do get to catch up with them, it's like we pick up right where we left off. I'm married now and my husband is okay with these relationships. One because he knows that he's my best friend. Two he knows that my friends respect me. And three if they tried anything...well we won't dwell on that scenario.

Am I okay with my husband having female friends? The short answer: yes. I say this because I know my husband. He's not out there cheating on me. He's not disrespecting me. I know that him having female friends gives him a different perspective on how to handle me whenever I get on his nerves. Most importantly, he comes home to me every night and our relationship is solid. It takes work to keep it that way and if he didn't want to be here, he wouldn't be.

As far as the friendship perspective, honestly it's a personal preference and you should do what works for you in your relationships.

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