Becoming friends with girls when you have a girlfriend.
April 9, 2005 10:16 PM   Subscribe

How do you make friends with girls at if you have a girlfriend? Or is this pointless?

How do you make it clear that you're not hitting on them, but just interested in becoming / being friends? How do break the news softly that you have a girlfriend if you feel they are becoming interested in you? When is the best time to bring it up?
posted by banished to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Woops, omit the word "at" in the first sentence, sorry, bad editing.
posted by banished at 10:20 PM on April 9, 2005

I usually bring up my husband early on as a "getting to know you" thing, or it usually just comes up in conversation when I talk about anything to do with home life. If you mention your girlfriend from the beginning, there shouldn't be an issue about when you tell your female friends. I would think it would be natural to mention your girlfriend in normal conversation, if you talk at all about what you have been doing or where you have been going. Women are often interested in details anyway, so it's likely that they will ask you directly if you have a girlfriend. Although I am not sure of your age, and younger girls might not be as direct.

Just be honest at all times. Mention your girlfriend, and be friendly to the girls you want to be friends with. Some of them might become interested in you, but if it is clear that you are taken and not interested in finding someone new, they will have no choice but to stay friends with you in the hope that one day you will be single again, and will choose them next. I have had many male friends, even when I was single and they were taken. It can work out.
posted by veronitron at 10:36 PM on April 9, 2005

You'd do it in the same way you would otherwise; if, for some reason, you feel you can't relate to them while you have a girlfriend in the same way you could before, it probably means you're not interested in merely being friends with them. You should also say pretty soon that you have a girlfriend so the potential friends know where both of you stand. Just mention it casually, as part of some remark, e.g. "My girlfriend also likes Frieda Kahlo" or something like that.
posted by clockzero at 10:37 PM on April 9, 2005

Always drop a mention of the girlfriend in your first conversation. Talking about new resaurants in town? You and your girlfriend went to this great place last week. Or maybe about a new movie that came out? Your girlfriend mentioned that she really wanted to see it. You only have to do it once, and just work it into coversation instead making a big deal out of saying "I have a girlfriend." Those who are interested in you only for dating will take the hint.
posted by falconred at 10:38 PM on April 9, 2005

If you're giving girls the wrong impression on a regular basis, you're probably flirting without really being conscious of it. Try imagining that she's a relative of yours or married to a friend. You might be surprised at how different your reactions to her are. With the right body language they'll know you're only interested in being friends even if you don't have a girlfriend.
posted by cali at 10:50 PM on April 9, 2005

cali is exactly right. Be careful that you're not sending out signals of being interested in anything more, or of being receptive to their interest. Some people pick up mainly on body language and nonverbal cues despite what is being said -- or not said.

Upon evaluating my male friendships, I have found that most of them are either gay guys or straight guys with girlfriends. Oddly enough, it is never intentional. I don't go forth and seek out friends on the basis of their status; I usually only find out later on. One thing is might be that I am drawn to qualities that are more likely to be found in homosexual males and males in stable relationships (or both!) than the average single heterosexual male. Another thing might be that I think they are "safe". No sexual tension bullshit, and you can hang out and talk about all sorts of things without ever ever having to guess about the other stuff. It's just easier.

I, for one, would never dream of being all sweet on someone who's taken, so, yes: be upfront about your relationship status. It's not a big deal, and it's a very subtle way of saying "I'm not interested in you in that way" and could minimize the chances of them inadvertently hitting on you.

Bottom line: eliminate the guesswork.
posted by Lush at 12:38 AM on April 10, 2005

Hmm. It is possible to have a laugh flirting with female friends when you're definitely not going to get together.

It depends on the girl...some girls want to be treated as a platonic friend full stop and some like flirting.
posted by lunkfish at 1:31 AM on April 10, 2005

What do you mean by "pointless"?
posted by LittleMissCranky at 9:12 AM on April 10, 2005

By pointless I mean should one sever connections with every girl but your girlfriend. As in, maybe girls and guys can't be friends because one of the two of you may develop deeper feelings that could make friendship impossible. One could argue... well why do you need to make friends with a girl, why couldn't it be a guy? and so forth. In my particular situation, I get along with girls better generally... but I have a big problem understanding body language apparently, because I've been told from other friends that although the conversations I'm having with other girls have been about innocent topics, the girl is really in to me, and I'm not noticing her body language.
posted by banished at 10:44 AM on April 10, 2005

I think the real pointless thing would be to decide to cut yourself off from more than half the population because you have a girlfriend!

I've had good friendships with guys who had girlfriends- sometimes, yeah I'll admit, I had a huge crush on the guy in question, but I always knew where to draw the line and I always made sure to be very respectful of the girlfriend.

But hmm... I've also been on the other side, when I made friends with guys while having a boyfriend, and some of the guys would just lamely try to either get with me or try to persuade me to dump my boyfriend. But some of the guys were totally cool.

You know, it really depends on the girl you're trying to be friends with, and how jealous of a person your girlfriend is.

The only advice that applies to absolutely every situation is to always be completely and totally honest always always always always. Did I mention "always"?
posted by elisabeth r at 11:29 AM on April 10, 2005

I'm a woman and I have always maintained friendships with men in my life, even when I've had a boyfriend (or husband, as the case was for several years). I've also never expected said boyfriends/husband to sever any of their friendships with women (in fact, I'm actually a little suspicious of men who don't have female friends!) The overwhelming majority of those friendships were not complicated by either (or both of us) developing feelings for each other despite one (or both) of us being in a relationship. There were a couple of notable exceptions, however, and, well... that's the drama that life is made of, I guess. But I'd never say friendship between men and women is "pointless" merely because of the potential of possible complications. (On preview: ditto to elisabeth r!)

I agree with the suggestions above for minimizing the confusion -- I would add that in addition to referring to your girlfriend, also refer to other women who are just friends ("my girlfriend Ann, my buddy Julie, and I were all talking about foo the other day..."). So not only are you essentially saying you're taken, you're also saying you're not looking to cheat on your girlfriend, or get someone next in line for after you guys break up. You're showing that you're the kind of guy who can be just friends with women. Not all men are capable of that, quite honestly.

Also, even if you might not catch their body language, learn to watch yours. Leaning into her personal space, any light touching (of the arm, etc.), long periods of eye contact without breaking to glance away, etc. are all signs of flirtation. Cali's suggestion about imagining you're talking to a relative or a friend's wife could be really useful.
posted by scody at 11:40 AM on April 10, 2005

By pointless I mean should one sever connections with every girl but your girlfriend.

I personally find this attitude really depressing. sex life is important, but true friendships are ultimately the central thing, in my opinion, and it's tough enough to find interesting people you relate to without having to excise a vast portion of the population thanks to their orientation/status.

Yes, just bring it up in the first conversation, off-handedly, as suggested above. You can always work in a quick reference; as clockzero suggested, if it feels troublesome to you, then you should probably reexamine your own goals & interests. Maybe the person you're currently dating is not necessarily the person you expect to marry - i dunno how old you are and how abstract that is to you at this stage - and you don't want to cut off options so fast. But if you're young & things might change, yadda yadda, then that's not affected by the reference to your girlfriend. All it does is clarify that you're a good boyfriend, and generally a polite person who'll make sure there's no confusion at the outset.
posted by mdn at 11:42 AM on April 10, 2005

By pointless I mean should one sever connections with every girl but your girlfriend.

Of course not. That's just silly. And also creepy. If your girlfriend is so insecure that she doesn't trust you to be friends with girls, then you have a big problem. If YOU are so insecure that you don't think you could be friends with girls without wanting to jump them, then you have a big problem. It's entirely possible to evolve to the point where you don't want to jump everyone who happens to be of opposite sex and wants to spend time with you. It's also a recipe for unhappiness to have the attitude that if you're taken you should only ever want to spend time with your boy/girlfriend. However, if you're seriously flirting with other women, then you need to change your behaviour (flirting for fun is one thing, flirting with semi-serious intent is another), and otherwise you can easily drop your girlfriend into the conversation as others have suggested.
posted by biscotti at 12:48 PM on April 10, 2005

Dude if you don't know the answer to this question, you just shouldn't do it.
posted by prettyboyfloyd at 4:33 PM on April 10, 2005

One more thing: regardless of how much you and your girlfriend trust each other, avoid putting yourself in situations where it would simply be too easy for trouble to happen. If you're in an environment conducive to a potential temptation of either party, then you're setting yourself up for trouble regardless of the presence or lack of signs, no matter how your signals are construed or misconstrued.
For example:
Daylight, group situation = cool.
Dim lighting, loud music, alcohol, just you two = not cool.
Work, campus = fine.
With buddies who are cruising for chicks = not fine.
Around fully-clothed people = no issue.
Around scantily-clad people = questionable.
General topics of interest = yes.
Topic of sex = no.
A healthy, managable amount of time = good.
Waaaay too much time = not good.
18 inches of personal space = normal.
Close quarters, leaning towards each other, touching = oh, come on.
Advice on how to be a better person = sure.
Serious issues you'd be better off discussing with your girlfriend directly = uh oh.
You get the picture?

Ideally, you should have mutual friends and friends from separate circles. The former helps you grow together, the latter helps you maintain some independence and continue to develop your own identity. Forming friendships with the opposite sex is healthy and normal. Just don't cross any lines. :)
posted by Lush at 6:16 PM on April 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

I have to say I find your question a little strange. Maybe it's because I'm married and have more female friends than male.
break the news softly and best time to bring it up? Wouldn't the fact that you have a serious/steady significant other be one of the first things you would talk about when making a friend? (I'm assuming your relationship is serious since monogamy seems expected.) imho, the fact that you're not mentioning her until after some of your female friends start to have romantic thoughts about you really seems as if you are - consciously or not - leading some of your friends on. I'm not a shrink, but if you do want to continue your committed relationship, it doesn't seem fair to either your girlfriend or hetro female friends to not mention your relationship, like, within the first 30 minutes or so of meeting. Human egos are fragile things. While I'm sure it is kind of a boost to get romantic signals from other women, it's not worth hurting them. Would you be bothered if your girlfriend had many male friends and did not mention you until some of them started to think about dating her?
God knows I am not one to judge people's arrangements, but whatever those may be - you have to be very honest and upfront with them and yourself from the start.

Icky . . . I'm starting to feel like Dr. Phil
posted by sixdifferentways at 10:50 PM on April 11, 2005

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