The debate over whether or not guys and girls can be just friends never seems to end. Some people think the friendship will always lead a romantic entanglement, while others believe it can, and has happened without any romantic attachment ever forming. The answer may be more in individual situations than generalities.
What's the Objection?
Too often people think that guys and girls cannot be friends, because it will always lead to dating. However, if we look at children, gender often means little when it comes to friendship. It's about interests more than gender. However, as we grow older and hormones take over, male-female relationships get more complicated. Some people find a male-female friendship easy, while others put up barriers to the relationship.
A Friendship is A Friendship
True friendship should not be gender based. A true friend is there for someone to lean on. They share interests that the other friend has. Friends laugh together, hang out, do things, and support one another. It involves trust, honesty, and unconditional love. Taking romance or attraction out of the equation, a friendship is just as meaningful as a dating relationship (and sometimes it ends up being more meaningful). So, what's to say that a guy and girl couldn't form that bond and set aside any romance or attraction? Again, it's going to be dependent on the individuals.
When Physical Attraction's Involved
Physical attraction is the biggest barrier to men and women being friends. Thinking someone is attractive and being attracted to them are two different things. When you feel tempted by someone, it can distract from the important parts of a true friendship. Suddenly you're not being honest with yourself or the other person. It's important that, if you start to develop an attraction to a friend, that it be talked about honestly. It will change the nature of the friendship, but an attraction will always get in the way of a true, platonic friendship.
Even if there is no attraction or romantic desire in the relationship, there are still boundaries that need to be set in any friendship. Yet in a friendship that is made up of a male and female, there need to be clearer boundaries. If the friendship is very close, often people mistake the friendship for more, so you want to avoid the perception that you're being inappropriate. We have to make an effort to not end up in a bad situation, and we also don't want anything misunderstood. Here are some good boundaries to set:
- Don't be alone. Yes, the two of you are just friends, but why take chances. Being alone can be perceived different ways by outsiders. It opens you up to people thinking things are going on that aren't. Also, sometimes we can get so emotionally involved we mistake friendship for something more, and that can end up putting you in a tempting situation.
- Be honest. Just like in same-gender friendships, you need to make sure you're honest with one another. It's important that, should one of you develop feelings, that you're able to talk about it. Have a friendship built on trust.
- Be supportive. Other people may not understand that the two of you are just friends. It's important that you have one another to lean on in those times. If either of you are in a dating relationship, sometimes those significant others can have a hard time understanding. Be willing to give a little so that the other person learns you're not their to do any harm to that relationship.
- Understand you're different. Guys and girls often think and act a little differently, so be accepting of those differences. There are times he's going to want to do some guy things and you're going to want to do some girl things. Accept and embrace those differences.
- Make sure your faith matters. Just like in any other friendship, make sure your faith is still foremost in your life. Your friend should support you in your Christian walk, no matter what sex the other person is. Let God be the guide in your friendship.