Platonic friendships: Can men and women really just be friends?

When it comes to this burning question, there are all sorts of views, some may even have an anecdote to share. In the 1989 movie, “When Harry Met Sally”, the writer Nora Ephron was exploring the exact question, “Can men and women be friends?” According to Harry (played by Billy Crystal), men and women can’t be friends “because the sex part always gets in the way.”

“Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.”

Oscar Wilde

Firstly I’d like to note that I am referring mostly to deep, connected friendships between both a heterosexual man and woman and not the casual and circumstantial interactions that happen between people in groups of friends or work colleagues.

From an evolutionary standpoint, men and women were never meant to be friends in the first place. Many leading philosophers claim that the entire purpose of life is to reproduce and pass on your genes. Although this statement is controversial and debatable, we can all agree that our basic instinct is to survive and reproduce.

“If I had the chance, I would smash”

There’s a reason why cross-sex friendships tend to make a significant other feel jealous or threatened. Even if it isn’t said outright, sometimes you can feel tension in the air or glaring eyeballs burning into your skin. Trust me, I know! At this point, I’d expect someone to comment and say, “Oh but if someone’s jealous of a cross-sex friendship, then that’s down to their own insecurities!” — sure, I don’t disagree with this statement. You do find many individuals in relationships while simultaneously still healing from old wounds or unable to let go of past trauma which can create these negative feelings towards the “friend”. However let’s be real… there is a risk that in cross-sex friendships, one or the other will develop sexual attraction, and possibly feelings over time. It’s just how human nature works, but it doesn’t always happen.

Bear in mind that just because your friend is sexually attracted to you, it doesn’t mean they will necessary act upon it. Either they will keep it hidden from you or confess to you when they get the courage to do so. In the past, I’ve had one great friendships fizzle out because he chose to admit his feelings for me… it was pretty awkward and a shock to say the least. After I told him the feelings were’t mutual, he started backing off and our friendship unfortunately never went back to normal. I really hoped he’d be fine over time, but he clearly wasn’t. I reached out a few times to see how he was, and although he would respond (short, blunt answers), I realised our friendship was pretty much dead in the water. 🙁

I have many male friends, and it’s not by choice. I’ve always naturally found that we have more common interests, the same humour, a similar outlook on life and I appreciate that they’re all straight up, no bullshit kind of people. That’s not to say my girls aren’t!

Here’s a confession… I had a little thing with one of my good guy friends about 9 years ago… it was a while back and we were young, but I definitely don’t see him in that way at all. There’s no emotional attachment and it’s certainly the same from his side. He’s a good looking dude and we’ll joke about the past if it ever comes into conversation (rarely!) but it’s never impacted our friendship. These days we’ll talk about life and even offer each other dating/relationship advice!

There’s a couple guys I’m close with who I’ve known since primary school and we literally have a brother/sister type of bond, nothing more, nothing less. I’ve been to their house, I know their parents, siblings and vice versa. And I really value those long-lasting friendships.

With some of the other fellas, they have openly told me that if they had the chance, they would “smash”. Does it bother me? No. Does it affect our friendship? No. I’ve always set and maintained boundaries and I don’t entertain flirtatious behaviour for sake of an ego boost or anything. I draw the line and they know that. I’ve joined in on a “lads holiday” and taken a trip with just one of them in the past. Nothing happened — we slept in separate rooms, partied together, dined together and soaked up the sun by the pool. All amazing holidays! Ultimately, I believe we all have a high degree of maturity which allows our cross-sex friendship to be really lovely, fun and wholesome.

Woman please

When my guy friends get into relationships, I respect the boundary and tend not to invite them out one-on-one. I also decrease the calls, texts, cut the explicit chats about sex, etc. — I just know that their partners wouldn’t appreciate it. Likewise I would feel the same if the roles were reversed. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t want their partner to feel uncomfortable or feel like I’m getting in between them. Funnily enough my friend recently admitted that his ex wasn’t a fan of me, 😆 she thought I was “going after” him. 🤦🏻‍♀️ Woman please.

I do get it though, I used to be in a relationship with a guy who was always chatting to his female friends. If we went to an occasion/event, all these chicks would be hugging him, constantly floating around him, giving him that little “playful” stroke on the arm. He ended up being a cheat anyway 🤷🏻‍♀️ so yes I get it!

So… can men and women really just be friends?

I do believe it’s possible… with a few caveats here and there. Sometimes you grow up as childhood friends and it simply remains that way. In other cases you build friendships overtime, and if it so happens that one develops feelings or the “sex part” gets in the way (and it’s not reciprocated) then by all means, a line needs to be drawn. From my experience, this “line” usually come from the woman. This is where boundaries must be put in place. I’ll leave you with some final points to think about.

BE EXPLICIT WITH THEM
It’s important that you’re clear on why you are friends with them. If the motivation is not platonic, then be honest with yourself and admit that you are attracted to this person. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a friendship with them, but it will help to acknowledge the attraction you feel and know your limits in awkward situations.

EASE UP ON THE TOUCHY FEELY-NESS
Rein it in so you don’t give the other person the wrong idea. At the same time, don’t entertain it if they start getting all touchy-feely with you. A hello/goodbye hug is okay, but shoulder rubs, thigh grabs, hair stroking… well! 👀

SHARING THE SAME BED… REALLY???
You know, I was reading up on this… and perhaps I’m an old skool kinda gal but apparently cross-sex friends sharing the same bed is fairly normal? I never realised that and don’t get it. I’ve never shared the same bed with any of my guy friends and wouldn’t want to! How awkward! Personally, I wouldn’t suggest this.

BE AWARE OF EACH OTHER’S SITUATION
When a boyfriend or girlfriend enters the scene then it’s probably time to take a step back. It’s not worth treading on someone else’s toes. Acting accordingly is the respectable thing to do, the last thing you want to do is cause conflict!

Situationships, Friends with Benefits, more than friends less than lovers?

I think this post is going to be quite an interesting subject for most! It’s not one for the sensitive folk and I spit facts only so please don’t get emotional if you disagree with something I say. For the sake of mixing it up a bit, I’ve decided to open with a few random “fun” facts about myself and then I have a confession to make!

So… I have never:

1. Had a one night stand
2. Cheated
3. Been a mistress (as far as I’m aware!)
4. Been drunk to the point where I’ve blacked out
5. Taken any illegal drugs (weed is not a drug, don’t go there with me please)
6. Had a threesome/foursome/any-some
7. Been intimate with a person of the same sex

Yes people, I am relatively well behaved!

Okay… now that’s off my chest, it’s confession time…

So what have I done?

Well, a while ago… I dipped my toes in the FWB movement!

You know those articles you read online about how complicated or tricky it can get? They weren’t lying! I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely a lot of fun in the moment but personally I don’t think it’s a relationship that can withstand consistently for the long-term.

Here’s the thing…

FWB type-relationships are not for the weak! The lines can get blurred very quickly. You have to be a certain type of person to enter this kind of territory, and unfortunately not everyone is cut out to compartmentalise sex… as well as be ruthless and impassive throughout the process. If anyone reading this post is thinking about adding “benefits” to a friendship… please let me give you a word of advice: if you get jealous easily, have an anxious attachment style or are secretly yearning for an actual relationship – sorry dear, I’m afraid FWB isn’t for you.

People will enter the FWB world thinking that it’s an easy arrangement, but unless you’ve set boundaries and have good communication with your friend – most people will end up suffering from the same problems found in normal relationships, i.e. mismatched expectations, jealousy, unspoken motives, etc.

Story time

I was with my FWB for 6 months – which is much longer than what I expected to be honest! It was never planned, it kind of just happened out of nowhere. As it stands, we don’t talk as much as before but we’re still on good terms with each other. I’d still consider him as a friend, to the point where if I dropped him a text now, we’d end up having a nice chit chat about whatever (he’d probably secretly think I was trying to get back in his boxers too – boy please) but thankfully we put an end to our “thing” without having any bad blood between us.

We first got talking a little while back when he added me on Facebook. At the time, he was more of an acquaintance so we were re-introducing ourselves, discussed our mutual friends, music, films, hobbies, family, career goals… the usual stuff when you’re getting to know someone. He eventually asked me if I wanted to get dinner and drinks with him, but out of respect for my partner at the time (sorry, I don’t use the term “boyfriend”), I declined. We kept in touch every so often but conversations slowly fizzled out.

A few months later, I’d broken up with my partner and coincidentally, someone decided to slide into my DMs… like almost immediately! Seriously, it was as if an alert got triggered the second I was back on the single market! Lol! We started talking again then eventually I agreed to meet up with him…on multiple occasions! We had the craziest, most hilarious times together! We bonded so much and done all sorts: dinner, cinema, went for long drives, shisha, shopping, clubbing! I recall one of our wildest nights when we knocked back (I’m not kidding) about 10 drinks each by 10:00pm! And by 3:00am… I was hurling my guts up on the street and (bless him!) he was moving my hair out the way, calling me Uber whilst dealing with being intoxicated himself! It was diabolical! 🤦🏻‍♀️ He sat in the Uber with me all the way back, walked me to my door, took the house keys out of my bag, opened my door (as I could barely function), then actually walked me into my house! It was a mess! He then turned around to jump back in the Uber… which had already left without him! So the poor guy had to call another! Whoops.

So yeah, as you can imagine we spent a lot of time together and developed a really good friendship. Then one day, we agreed to watch Netflix and chill together… surely I don’t need to elaborate any further? And from that moment, I understood the definition of FWB.

Initially, nothing changed as such, we still went out together, had laughs, had deep conversations… but gradually some new things were introduced to our “relationship”, which ultimately confused the hell out of me. It never helps when you’re an over thinker as well! Firstly, it was staying at each others’ houses – regularly! Then there was the pillow talk, the cuddles, the hand holding… which developed into taking mini trips away together, celebrating my birthday over the weekend. Erm excuse me, what is this!?!?!

On top of all of that, I was still active on dating apps. I had a couple guys asking me out… but it felt wrong to say yes? Yet I had every right to do what I wanted. As silly as it may sound to some of you, I did feel some sort of loyalty towards my FWB. Ugh, and realistically, having another guy in the mix – I couldn’t think of anything worse! It would only mean having an additional thing to think about. Plus I’m too much of an honest person and do have morals! Maybe this was all in my head but my goodness… my brain was overloaded with thoughts.

Anyway, I decided to put dating on the back-burner but soon realised that I was becoming too attached to my FWB (oh God, here we go), and this is how I knew: I started to get annoyed with him about stupid things like… not making me a priority, not coming to this museum or that new restaurant with me, him not staying the night! Then I was pissed off about the fact that I wasn’t dating other guys due to my “loyalty” to him. Then I got frustrated because I was completely confused about this situationship! …Of course, I chose not to be vocal about any of it. I had to put myself in my place and remind myself that:

1. I wasn’t his girlfriend
2. He never asked me to be loyal
3. I was allowing this situationship to continue

In conclusion, I needed to get a fucking grip and stop being ridiculous – so it was time to pull back.

…Only I didn’t pull back because I flipped out on him instead (with good reason, I like to think?)

One Saturday, I was with my friends, he was with his. We agreed to spend the evening together at his place. I drove down to the house (a little bit late), dropped him a text but did he even respond?! No. I gave the guy another 10 minutes. Nothing. My assumption was that he was probably still galavanting out and about with his friends. He didn’t even message me the next morning! I was livid and took the opportunity to call it quits right there and then. That bastard needed to be blocked. Okay, perhaps I shouldn’t of “assumed” anything… but I didn’t give a damn at this point, I wanted out. We were 6 months deep, and this FWB situationship was not bringing out my good side – it had to end.

Jumping the (situation)ship

We didn’t speak for a couple of months, he did text me a “Merry Christmas!” and a “Happy New Year!” but I ignored him. Then one day out of nowhere, we randomly bumped into each other on the street! Awkward!!! Well actually… it wasn’t awkward one bit. It felt like we were back to being good friends again. We spoke about work, holidays, family, general chit chat, joked around, he made sure I still had his number (lol!) and from there, we continued our friendship as normal. We even discussed why we fell out/what had happened, cleared the air and remained cordial up until this day!

It’s a peculiar one because once I decide to end things, no matter what the circumstance, I want them out of my life for good. I cut ties, block them on all platforms, get rid of their shit and couldn’t care less from there onwards. The FWB situation was very different, and it’s because the friendship was so key, and was always the priority. Yes, I was pissed off near the end but he was never the issue. Whilst we both knew it was never a conventional romantic relationship, the FWB arrangement was exclusively between us and so we had the element of respect and trust towards each other.

Having a FWB was a great experience but it’s not as cut and dry as you’d think, especially if you’re someone who is more inclined to having long term relationships. I admit, I like the idea of romance, stability and commitment. I like a guy showing affection in public and vice versa. If I find myself developing feelings for someone, I wouldn’t want to hold back because of the boundaries put in place. Above all, it’s not worth the hassle to be in your head all the time, feeling anxious or irritated, trying to figure out how to act, what to say and so on.

Looking back, I’d say I was quite lucky to share the experience with this particular friend. It was one of the most fun and exciting periods in my dating history. Him being attractive obviously helped massively (haha!) but having common interests, the same sense of humour, same values and mindset, made it all the more enjoyable.

Would I consider having a FWB again? Nah, count me out. I have no desire to explore that ground again. I don’t have any regrets but I know it’s not for me. For the sake of my sanity, I would rather avoid placing myself in problematic situations; I already find normal relationships a ball ache! Time and experiences like these have aided me in recognising what I want and what I definitely don’t want.

If you are currently in a FWB “relationship”, then I hope you know where to draw the line. Otherwise, if you find yourself acting up, similar to the way I did; then my suggestion would be to take the other option – abandon ship and salvage the friendship!


Basically the ideal FWB relationship is one where people enjoy sex, live close to each other and have a genuine interest in the happenings of the other person but are still too wrapped up in themselves to worry about the other person.

– Taken from an article I read. Ain’t that the truth!