I recently started hanging out with this new guy I met, and I really like him—just not in “that way.” I know that he wants something more, but I just want to be friends.
I’ve often heard guys say that men and women can’t be friends, because there will always be sexual tension. I’m not wild about hanging out with someone who constantly wants to get in my pants, but I would be happy to hang out with this guy as long as we don’t cross the line.
Is it possible for a guy to be friends with a girl? And how can I be sure that I make it clear to him that friends is all we are?
I know how you feel. Or, perhaps more importantly, I know how he feels. But before we get into what that is, it’s important that we establish a key difference between women and men. For a woman, a “friend” is a person she hangs out with but doesn’t have sex with. For a man, a “friend” is a guy. So, while the boundary between “friend” and “boyfriend” is fairly simple from the woman’s perspective—sex—it’s much more complex and confusing from the guy’s perspective.
As we’ve discussed ad naseum before, men are simple creatures. As such, we are very easily confused. Therefore, while a male-female friendship can certainly go on for years without incident, and there is only one key rule guiding the friendship in the woman’s mind (“Don’t have sex”), there are many more ground rules a woman must observe in that situation to avoid confusing her guy friends.
An excellent article on this very subject recently appeared on This Is By Us, a collaborative blog with a clever URL. For the sake of simplicity, I will paraphrase the most salient of those ground rules here:
- No hugging or kissing for greetings or salutations. Hugging is only allowed for personal tragedies or blessed events when the emotional significance of the situation blocks out the knowledge that your boobs are pressing against him. Kissing means sex. Always.
- No sleepovers. Men think of all women who sleep in bed with them as potential sex partners. He spends much of his free time trying to coax women into that bed, so if you get in there, he can’t help but think you want some.
- No seat sharing. When girls sit on a guy’s lap or next to him in a one-person seat, the proximity is arousing. A possible exception is fitting an extra person in a car that is filled to capacity. While he’ll suffer any indignity not to be the designated driver, it might not be the seat belt poking you.
- Try to avoid incidental contact. I can’t outlaw this since there are times when the brush of a leg or a sleeve is purely accidental, but try to be careful. You can take steps to not put your arm in his while walking or lay against him on a couch or other things like that. Those things lead to thoughts about sex.
- As the man said, you never give another man’s woman a foot massage. In fact, absolutely no neck/foot/back rubs or massages of any kind are allowed in a platonic friendship. That’s a lot of foreplay to waste on someone who doesn’t want the main event.
- No passing judgment on any girl that he dates. Good or bad, it’s the guy friends’ job to belittle and pick apart girlfriends. If a woman does this, it means she wants the guy for herself. So you think she is trashy and dumb? Well, you could have dated him but you just wanted to be friends.
- No judgments on any of his behavior. This could lead him to think you care a little too much about his well being. No telling him to stop smoking, drinking, or using women. If he is truly being an asshole in some situation, however, feel free to clue him in—that’s what friends do.
- No asking for man favors such as furniture moving, yard work, or car trouble help. Men don’t like to waste displays of extreme masculinity on women who have decided not to sleep with them. In a pinch you can bribe him to do man chores with beer.
- No flirting. So if you laugh at his jokes, they better be funny jokes. There is nothing that says “I want you” more than laughing at jokes that aren’t funny.
- No being attracted to him. He is going to be as attractive as possible in pursuit of other women, so this one may be difficult. In fact, don’t even tell him that he looks good, as that will torment him for days wondering if you’ve changed your mind about him.
- No confiding in him about boys. While you may not be able to grasp the difference, he is not your girl friend; He is your reluctant man friend who officially hates all men that you date now or in the future. Asking for hypothetical guy advice is okay; just don’t slam him with details about particular guys you are sleeping with.
- No dating any guy who treats you badly, disrespects or neglects you in any way—that’s just a slap in your friend’s face. He must truly adore you in order to suppress all those natural man urges for your friendship, so at least respect him enough to date someone who respects you as much as he does.
- You have to let him know immediately if you want to be more than friends. He’s only doing this to respect your wishes. If you ever want more—and he hasn’t moved on to someone else—rest assured that he will too.
Some of these rules may sound harsh, but they are imperative in order to keep the situation clear in the mind of an easily-confused man. As long as these rules are observed, he will not constantly think about getting into your pants, and you should enjoy a comfortable, uncomplicated friendship.
Please note that these rules only apply in a situation where there was initial, obvious attraction on the part of the guy. Almost all rules are moot if he never wanted you in the first place, or if you are already romantically attached to one of his guy friends. In either of those situations, you are essentially a guy to him, so be understanding of this fact if he calls you “gay” for offering him a hug or a neck massage.
Thanks again to moreanonymous from This Is By Us for first putting these ground rules into words.