Can you honestly have platonic friends?
July 22, 2012 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to have platonic female/male friends?

I had a best friend in high school and for awhile i thought it was platonic until 2 years later when he confessed that he liked me as more then friends and wanted to date. He got a girlfriend some time later and we never really talked much after that.

I also have a married guy friend i usually see on occasion in a group outing. He has informed me that every guy i've ever been friends with has had a crush on me at some point.

When Harry Met Sally has made me question this a bit, especially with my new found male friend that i talk to everyday to every other day for hours sometimes. This new friend has also told me that he doesn't talk to anyone else this much if that means anything.

Can you honestly be friends with someone without wanting more at some point?
posted by ohtimorousme to Human Relations (61 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, of course it is. It isn't the easiest thing in the world, and of course there are lots of situations like the ones you describe, but it's far from impossible, as I (and I'm sure others who will comment below) can attest.
posted by languagehat at 3:31 PM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

One of my closest friends is male. Close as in finish each others sentences, eat off each other's plates, spend a LOT of time together. The thought of ever dating each other has us both recoiling in horror.

I haven't known him my entire life (yet) but I can't imagine ever wanting more than the friendship we have.
posted by mollymayhem at 3:33 PM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

(Also, I'm pretty sure gay people have friends of the opposite gender without ever wanting to date them. And what about bisexuals? Do they not get to have any friends?)
posted by mollymayhem at 3:34 PM on July 22, 2012 [15 favorites]

It is definitely possible. I've always had male friends who I didn't click with romantically (they felt the same way).

On preview, my best friend and I have a relationship much like mollymayhem suggests. He's like my brother without all the family baggage.
posted by cooker girl at 3:35 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by John Cohen at 3:36 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes you definitely can. I have male friends who I've known for decades. I don't talk on the phone with them for hours on end every day though.
posted by headnsouth at 3:38 PM on July 22, 2012

I also have a married guy friend i usually see on occasion in a group outing. He has informed me that every guy i've ever been friends with has had a crush on me at some point.

Oh really? Has he personally interviewed every man you have ever had contact with? Or, perhaps, he is just the kind of guy who crushes on every girl and he lacks the self-awareness to understand that not every guy functions like he does.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:39 PM on July 22, 2012 [24 favorites]

More to the point about gays. Um... I'm a lesbian and I have platonic female friends.
posted by FlamingBore at 3:39 PM on July 22, 2012 [11 favorites]

I'm 34, female, single, heterosexual. Looking back on my life, most of my "best friends" have been male. My best friend in grade school was a boy. My best friend in high school was a boy. Some of my closest friends as an adult have been men. There's never been any weirdness or hidden agendas in any of these relationships. Some of these men are single, some are married or otherwise partnered, but none of that has mattered to me because I haven't ever wanted to date them. And vice versa. In fact, one of my dearest friends is a man who I used to spend basically all my free time with. We went on road trips together, had tons of private inside jokes, sometimes slept in the same bed if we'd been out drinking and it wasn't safe for whoever to drive home... and it wasn't unusual for us to share gum or snacks in a pretty intimate way. (He'd be eating beef jerky and, with the end of it sticking out of his mouth, would ask if I wanted the last bite. And I'd take it by leaning over and biting it right off from his teeth.) We never, ever took our relationship to the "next level", nor did we want to. He's married now, with two kids, and while he lives in another state, we're still pretty dang close .

On the flip side of that, I have been friends with men who wanted to date me and used being my friend as an in-road to winning my heart or whatever. Those friendships are the ones that haven't lasted, for me, because those guys don't really want my friendship. They entered into the friendship with ulterior motives (i.e., to win me over), and got mad when they felt like they'd been "friend-zoned", when I just thought we were friends.

Here's an interesting thing: I've only ever heard that "every guy you're friends with secretly wants to bang you" line from the guys who... secretly wanted to bang me, and who were being my friend in hopes that I would bang them. I've never heard any of my ACTUAL guy friends say that.
posted by palomar at 3:41 PM on July 22, 2012 [15 favorites]

That's just a movie. Of course it's possible.

Repeat: Of course it's possible.

Attraction interferes with that. Now, does being attracted to someone or having a crush on them mean you're not real platonic friends if that's a fleeting feeling? I don't know. But I mean, yeah, it's possible that many of your male friends have had crushes on you. Maybe this is more likely for you if you are conventionally attractive, or if you have a particular kind of charming personality.

But I mean, no one is ever going to be attracted to someone they're not attracted to. And I'm a guy who has many female friends I don't "want anything more" from -- some of whom I think are attractive in a general sense according to my tastes, some of whom I don't.
posted by J. Wilson at 3:48 PM on July 22, 2012

I date men and women both. Am I not allowed to have friends now?
posted by spaceman_spiff at 3:48 PM on July 22, 2012 [15 favorites]

Yes, totally.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:52 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sure. I (straight woman) have male friends the same way I have male family members who I also don't want to sleep with. Other people may have different ways of looking at similar situations, so I hesitate to generalize but I've always had very close male friends, some I've been attracted to and some I haven't and I assume that's gone both ways.
posted by jessamyn at 3:53 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, just don't touch their junk.
posted by oceanjesse at 3:55 PM on July 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

I've only ever heard that "every guy you're friends with secretly wants to bang you" line from the guys who... secretly wanted to bang me, and who were being my friend in hopes that I would bang them. I've never heard any of my ACTUAL guy friends say that.
+1 on this, except to add that I've also heard it from girls who were either insecure in their relationship or liked to have guy "friends" to boost their ego. As a girl who has had a few 100% platonic guy friends, indeed it's possible.

I've also, of course, had guy friends who were attracted to me but it wasn't reciprocated, and yep, vice versa too. There is also a risk in being so emotionally intimate that one person mistakes it for something else but don't truly feel that way or don't consider going there and that crush-like feeling just dies. Either way, there's a way to handle even a "I want to date you!" "EW NO!" without it getting terribly weird, but it's not an automatic guarantee that emotional closeness + physical attraction/not finding the other person hideous = wanting something more in ANY relationship.
posted by sm1tten at 3:55 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Of course, and I think there is some weird stuff going on with people who claim you can't.
posted by wintersweet at 3:59 PM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

He has informed me that every guy i've ever been friends with has had a crush on me at some point.

Even if this is true (which I doubt) it doesn't really mean that you haven't had platonic friendships with these guys.

Just because some people pine after their friends doesn't mean it's universally true. I have women friends who I've never had a crush on, some who I've had transient crushes on that faded into strong friendship, and some I've had persistent crushes on. Human relationships are varied and complex.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 4:00 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

In my experience this has become more straightforward since I've been married. Especially with other marrieds. Long term well known secure partnered people can perhaps also attest to this? Of course, that situation can and often does go the other way too!

I have also be very close friends with a man I dated for quite a long time in late high school/early uni, too. I think having some obvious reason why it's a no for both of you really helps. We're still quite close 13 years later.
posted by jojobobo at 4:02 PM on July 22, 2012

With a few notable exceptions, my male friends (I'm a straight female) are guys I've had crushes on or relationships with in the past. Just recently I had to end friendships with two guys that I still have feelings for because they were abusing that factor in our now-not-romantic relationship. It's different for different people -- for me, it's extremely easy for me to make male friends... But it's hard to keep them.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:04 PM on July 22, 2012

When Harry Met Sally is a film. I'm sure you can think of lots of situations in films (I mean real-life-ish ones, not Iron Man or something) that don't feel realistic or that wouldn't happen the same way in reality. In films, opposite-sex friends usually realise they love each other and/or end up in bed together. Real life is rarely that neat, and it would be less dramatic if the man and the woman just stayed friends. But it happens, and it happens a lot. If I dated a man who didn't have female friends, I'd find it unusual in this day and age, and perhaps even wonder whether they found it hard to relate to women in general.

I've had crushes on male friends before, but it didn't mean that we couldn't be friends, or that we had to act on the feelings. And it doesn't always happen with men I am friends with. It would make being friends with people at work very difficult if it did...
posted by mippy at 4:11 PM on July 22, 2012

I also have a brother-without-the-family-baggage best friend-- it's like we're the exact same person. Laugh at the same jokes, watch exactly the same (trash) TV and listen to exactly the same (trash) music when we haven't talked to one another for months, have super similar interests, can talk about nothing for hours, &c. But I have never, ever wanted to date him (barring a brief period in kindergarten). I can't even imagine sex with him, it's impossible. So yeah, this happens.

On the other hand, his wife doesn't much like that we're friends, and has asked him to cut me off at least three times in their five year marriage, so whatever. It's hard to have a friend of your gender(s) of choice without drama unless everyone is grown-up about it. (I have no doubt that she would hate me if I were a guy, too, beause she's constantly harrassing him for having any hobbies or friends at all and calling us "third-graders," but she REALLY really hates me because I'm a woman.) I mention this because I think a lot of the problems people have with their SO befriending someone they might potentially be sexually interested in really is about the two individuals in question, but when something goes wrong we think of it in broad terms. My first boyfriend had plenty of female friends and I didn't mind, but he had ONE friend who was a touchy-feely needy hanger-on, and the conversation instantly became "about" having opposite-sex friends.

I've had crushes on some of my other male friends-- one of them is a guy I still find cute but could never date, another is a guy I briefly dated until we totally lost interest. Neither of those friendships are going anywhere though. It's hard to be friends with someone unless you think they're cool, and if you also think they're attractive, well, that does make it a bit harder. But there are times when I'm not looking for love at all, and then I can make friends with whoever I want.
posted by stoneandstar at 4:12 PM on July 22, 2012

Yes it is absolutely possible. I'd guess 90% of my friends are male. I am a straight female and I fancy none of them, adorable and lovely as most of them are.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:13 PM on July 22, 2012

I guess what I'd tend to say is that there are crushes and crushes. I'm queer, mostly date non-cis-men and have at one point or another had teeny-tiny crushes on most of my friends, but more in the "oooh, I have a crush on the cute bus driver" way....I mean, I like smart, mean, neurotic people in all aspects of my life, you know? But that's very different from "being friends" with someone solely in the hopes that they will sleep with you.

I have also had a huge, serious crush on one of my best friends - wasn't going to happen, never said anything, it went away. They're still a darling person and cute as hell and everything and if we were in a parallel universe and they wanted to date I would be glad to, but I no longer have a crush.

What I'm saying is that because some people act like fools or jerks when they have a crush, and because some people for reasons I don't understand do not want to dial it back to "friends" if a relationship isn't possible and instead will just drop you, many straight people (I really think this operates differently in queer circles, if only because women are friends with women and date women all the time) think that a "crush" pollutes or invalidates a friendship. It doesn't. Being a jerk about a crush is the problem.
posted by Frowner at 4:23 PM on July 22, 2012 [8 favorites]

Yes. I'm a hetero male, and all of my relationships have started from friendships too. Still, I have a few female friends that I'm not/never have been interested in dating. We're just friends, and the idea of dating seems off with them. With the friendships into relationships, I knew from day one that there was something more going on.
posted by neveroddoreven at 4:23 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing that yes, it is possible.

What I think happens, to fuel this misconception, is that there's a natural curiosity when we meet someone of the preferred sex. Even when you say, "I'd never sleep with this person!" it means you've considered whether you'd sleep with them.

The question is not really whether "men" and "women" can have platonic friendships, but whether certain people can have platonic friendships. Some (gross) men don't think a woman's worth talking to if there's not an end-game payout. Some (weird) women believe they could have absolutely nothing worthwhile to talk to a man about that doesn't involve their children and family. These types of men and women could not have platonic friendships.

I will say the only thing weird for me about having platonic friendships with men is societal expectations of what's going on. After having a friendly acquaintance over for a movie night my sister scolded me for inviting a single man over alone when I had no romantic intentions - I was "leading him on". So yeah, the trickiest thing about men and women being just friends is that many people think they can't be.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 4:24 PM on July 22, 2012

Yes, of course.

Although the actual friendship is the easy part. The hard part is maintaining it in the face of jealous significant others. (My " brother-without-the-baggage" cut me out of his life for his girlfriend, so yeah it's tricky, and I get irrationally annoyed with people who spout the whole "men and women can't be friends!" nonsense)

Even if (and its an extremely unlikely scenario) every guy you're friends with had a crush on you at some point - if they're over it now, then you're just platonic friends now right?
posted by stillnocturnal at 4:25 PM on July 22, 2012

Also, I would be absolutely astonished if all my straight male friends have wanted to sleep with big ol' butch queer more-fat-than-thin me. Flattered, yes, but mostly astonished. (Again, I think this question becomes a lot less clear-cut if you stop assuming that all friendships are between straight men and straight women of the same age range.) The kid who is fifteen years younger and who looks up to me as an older activist? The trans guy who is otherwise into really femme women? The Very Serious Professional for whom I am his token radical friend? All of them? Well, my dance card is full, I guess.
posted by Frowner at 4:29 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yup. I'm a straight woman and I've had straight male friends with absolutely no sexual tension or shenanigans going on between us. I've had friendships with men that have had tension develop, which has even ruined a friendship or two, but I've had more that have remained nothing but friendship for a decade or longer.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:32 PM on July 22, 2012


Which isn't to say it's never complicated, but to a certain extent, all interpersonal relationships can be complicated. There can sometimes be a blurry lines and things that look confusing to people outside the relationship. But I think as long as the people involved know where they stand, it doesn't matter.

But then, most of my close friends have either been straight men (I live with one, even!) or lesbians so I'm a weird case (nevermind my somewhat fluid "I'm mostly straight" sexuality).

But mostly, I see my friends as people I love and want to be around and I don't much care about the details. And if someone I'm dating is threatened by the fact I am close to a few men ... then, well, they won't be dating me for too long.
posted by darksong at 4:32 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I totally believe it's possible but I've never experienced it. I'll think it's platonic until he'll:
1. randomly say, "Haha, where were you 6 months ago when I was single?" And suddenly I can't talk to him normally anymore because, the jerk, he ruined everything since now I can't trust him if he suddenly becomes single again.

2. suddenly acts super awkward as he attempts to ask me whether I kinda maybe want to go get Thai food with him?

3. attempts to give me a massage (learned that early and I don't even look sideways at touchy-feely guys anymore, but that's my personal preference for friends OR dating). I don't know why so many guys claim to like to give their friends-who-are-girls massages. I find it weird and now I'm not sure I can be in the room alone (or in certain other situations) with him.

4. attempts to have a moment between the two of us. You know the kind. The eye connection. A lingering hand on your hand/arm/fingertips. The awkward smile. And the leaning in...... at which point I end up blurting out some horrible line of honesty such as, "I don't find you attractive" or "I'm not interested in getting with you and you need to get out of my personal space. Now."

But then I've been told I'm kind of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Which I had to look up and found moderately familiar but it's more annoying.... I'm not trying to be anyone's guardian angel or be the bridge that gets the quieter geeky types to open up. I'm just generally weird and awkward and have cheeky-snark and wanting guy friends who won't try to sleep with me all the time.
posted by DisreputableDog at 4:35 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would find it creepy if someone truly only had same-sex friends. It's immature.

On the other hand, I have seen mixed-sex friendships where they so identified with each other, that kind of 'it's you and me against the world' attitude, that I couldn't imagine they weren't denying some latent romantic component.

Is this concept just another version of 'all men are dogs'?
posted by abirdinthehand at 4:37 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Straight male here with female friends I definitely don't want to bang or date. My wife would object, for one. One of my best friends feels eerily like the older sister I never had: We like the same music, we watched the same shows going up, we have the same sense of humor and temperament. But I can honestly say there's no attraction there in a physical or dating sense. Even the female friends I'd say are cute have some other reason why I wouldn't even consider dating them. One of the things about being friends is you learn each other's baggage and how crazy you both are and, yeesh, I can say That Would Not Work in a few cases even if we're ride til we die friends.

That said, the internet is rife with tales of the lonely nerd desperately hoping some girl will notice him (usually him) if he just keeps doing friend-ish things, then complaining on the internet about how unfortunate he is to be stuck in the "friend zone," so there are guys (and girls, I assume) out there who will stay friends and hope if they just put enough Friend gestures in, eventually they will get enough credits to be promoted to Boyfriend.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:39 PM on July 22, 2012

Speaking as a man in his forties, I can attest that having platonic female friends is not only possible, it's almost inevitable. I'm practically a hermit, and even I have some female friends who I'm not remotely attracted to sexually. If a man my age doesn't, I'd have to assume that he's either (a) a sexist who refuses to talk to women he doesn't find attractive, or (b) a sex fiend who lusts after absolutely everyone.

That said, it's different when you're younger. A young man is by nature horny, and on top of that, the women who move in his social circles are mostly young themselves, and at the peak of their sexual desirability. So I can understand a young man thinking that he's incapable of having a platonic friendship with a woman. He'll learn better over time.
posted by baf at 4:43 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I also really like this New Yorker article about Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen and their friendship. That's maybe an extreme case -- not everyone is going to have that -- but I think it's a good example of a (mostly straight) female-male relationship that is deep and meaningful but not sexual.
posted by darksong at 4:44 PM on July 22, 2012 [5 favorites]

Absolutely possible. I am a very happily married man, and my best friend is a woman.
posted by The Deej at 5:15 PM on July 22, 2012

Oh yeah.

I remember that I tried to go on a "date" with my best dude friend once. I don't think we did it because either of us really wanted to date, we just thought, for some reason, that we should, seeing as how we both enjoyed writing horrible limericks and drawing weiners on innapropriate things so much. And everyone else seemed to think it would be a good idea, and we were both single and stuff.

So we tried to do thing.

And we kissed each other.

And it was super gross.


Fortunately that comment led to a litany of jokes of escalating tastelessness, which helped dispell the thick fog of awkward. But the consensus was, yeah, ick, no.

So yes. People can have platonic friends of the opposite sex. Sometimes you need the kind of friend that will remind you "You know that rhymes with 'colonic,' right?"
posted by louche mustachio at 5:16 PM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yes, obviously. American society is weirdly prim when it comes to friendship and orthodox wisdom says that men can only socialize with men, women with women, and couples with couples. This cuts many people off from at least half of the compatible minds they might encounter.

More anecdata, but if I (straight fellow that I am) had to name my five closest friends, four of them are women. They are all of them funny and kind and smart and have all offered me windows into the other half of the world. I have had one or two girlfriends who have issued decrees about my circle of friends and let me tell you, when choosing between a group of people I have known for decades and someone I have been dating for a couple of weeks,it has never been a hard decision to make.

Discard facile Hollywood pap that tells us the only acceptable point of connection between men and women is at the groin. It is insulting to think that the only reason a man might enjoy your company is because he wants to put his penis in you.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:17 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes, you can be platonic friends with a guy.

Also, if a guy says the only reason someone would be your friend is to Bhangra you, that says a lot about him.
posted by spunweb at 5:20 PM on July 22, 2012 [9 favorites]

Thanks, autocorrect! Bang, not Bhangra.
posted by spunweb at 5:35 PM on July 22, 2012 [18 favorites]

Can you honestly be friends with someone without wanting more at some point?

Sure, but it can take a bit of practice and learning. In my teens and early 20s, it was more common to hook up with friends based on a few similar interests. Eventually one realizes that liking the same thing or being incredibly comfortable in each others presence can be destroyed by adding sex to the relationship.

So yes, it's definitly possible, but not always easy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:37 PM on July 22, 2012

Well, yes and no. I think it's very unlikely that you've been friends with an unmarried (or even married, come on guys, be honest.) straight male, who never, ever, at any point, in a momentary lonely/horny/whatever mood, didn't consider the idea. Probably even considered it favorably, too, since they do like you after all. It's just that it's a passing thought, known to be impractical, and not acted on. Daydream material, nothing else.

So it depends on how you mean. Can you have friends who don't have that as an ulterior motive? Yes. Can you have friends who wouldn't take you up on it even if you brought it up? Yes. Can you have a friend who never considered it before, same as a (strictly straight) woman friend? I doubt it.
posted by ctmf at 5:37 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

As a straight male, I have a fairly even number of friendships with men and women in varying levels of depth. I have female friends for whom some level of unequal romantic tension emerged, and one of us would graciously withdraw from the friendship until balance came back. I have other female friends where romantic tension has never emerged, but I personally find that the absence of personal chemistry that would've led to a romantic relationship also kept these friendships from being anything more than casual.

But then, I'd also say that, for my current closest female friends, we did wind up dating (some for a few months, a couple into multi-year relationships) because a lot of the things that made us compatible as friends also complemented us as partners. But, those relationships also got terminated when we realized that it was threatening our friendship. So, I'm happy to regard them as friends now and also simultaneously glad for the added dimension that we got from each other as romantic partners as well as the peace that comes from having explored that option and knowing it wasn't for us.

(and just for the sake of fairness, I'd also say that of those friends that I have dated, an even number of those were relationships that they initiated, rather than one where I developed the crush ... so while it's certainly common for a lot of guys to do the passive-aggressive "friends now, level up to Boyfriend later" thing, it's not just guys who eventually develop feelings for their platonic friends.)
posted by bl1nk at 6:04 PM on July 22, 2012

I think it is possible, but it hasn't been my experience. At some point all the male friends I have, aside from work related professional friendships, have admitted to me that they had a crush on me or found me attractive. Even one of my proclaimed gay friends, who I ended up dating. I found the the attraction dynamic alluring when I and the friends were single. We could go out and treat eachother as a date and the tension of attraction made it interesting. Having a partner I don't find that tension alluring anymore and those friends that didn't respect my boundaries are no longer my friends. Those friends that did are still in my life and although the friendship is platonic, at some point we either shared a kiss or admitted we liked eachother.
posted by i_wear_boots at 6:28 PM on July 22, 2012

One more thing to add: I do have gay friends (male and female) who have always been platonic intimate friends, so I guess it is possible for me afterall.
posted by i_wear_boots at 6:31 PM on July 22, 2012

It is definitely possible. My closest friend is a guy. We are both married, and there is just no chemistry between us, but we are very close- I think of him as my little brother. There is nothing I wouldn't feel comfortable talking to him about, and I trust him just as much as I trust my husband. We've known each other for years now, well before either of us met the folks we are married to, and we've been through so much (deaths of some mutual close friends, etc) that we have a very tight bond. So I don't know that it's commonplace, but it's certainly not impossible.
posted by lyra4 at 6:34 PM on July 22, 2012

Yes, and if you want to make friends like that, I think it helps to look in slightly different age groups. My two closest male friends are both only 2-3 years younger than me, but we met in adolescence, when that's a big difference. When someone's clearly in a different stage of life than you are, there's less temptation to evaluate them as a partner (for anything) -- you can just enjoy their company. (Also, I think in a lot of people that older-siblingish, slightly protective drive turns the sex drive right off.)
posted by ostro at 6:48 PM on July 22, 2012

More anecdata: one of my best friends is a dude-type, I am a lady-type, we are both hetero, and it is completely platonic. We talk about everything, including our current relationships. I've met all of his serious girlfriends and we each consider it a relationship dealbreaker for our partners to be not OK with us being friends. We've gotten drunk and passed out in the same bedroom, and nothing sexual happened. We even occasionally tell each other that we love each other, but it is understood to be platonic love.

However, before we were friends, we dated for about 3 years and lived together for 2 of those years. We had a fairly rough breakup and didn't speak for about a year afterwards. I don't know if that supports the argument that hetero men and women can't be just friends, as we were more than friends at one point, or refutes the argument that you can only be platonic friends with people who are so far from your "type" that you'd never date them. I think he's a great guy, but I have zero interest in dating him or sleeping with him. When I've checked in with him about whether he has any residual feelings, he makes gagging noises and uses words like "absolutely not" and "fuck no" (we have a strong foundation of mutual harassment), so I'm assuming the feeling's mutual.

Either way, I get to be a groomsman in his wedding next summer. I have an invitation to the bachelor AND bachelorette parties. So yeah, I feel pretty confident in platonic male-female friendship.
posted by quiet coyote at 7:14 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've had various platonic male friends over the years - straight, gay, partnered, single. I've had fleeting crushes on some of them at different times; they may or may not have had the same, but I've never known if they did. I don't see why it matters, as long if there's no dramatic professions of love that makes things uncomfortable, or if one side wants to date and the other doesn't.

To put a different spin on it, I'm not the type of woman who has ever had to fight the guys off, so to speak. So, when I've read the various "this guy friend of mine is in love with me HELP" questions in AskMe over the years, I've thought "wait, does that happen in real life?"
posted by cabingirl at 7:31 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

There's so much value to be had in friendships with the opposite sex that it would be a serious tragedy if we could never be friends. Yes, you can honestly have platonic friends. However, when there is chemistry, you might entertain the notion of "something more" and that can develop into a crush. And that sometimes puts a damper on a friendship. But, so it goes....

I've had many platonic friendships that could have become more (I suppose) but we just never went there and they are some of my most treasured friends.
posted by amanda at 8:27 PM on July 22, 2012

There is a certain single-mindedness one can get into if in an unhealthy place regarding sex and relationships. There are definitely men who are only friends with girls because they want to sleep with them, and who do not become friends with girls they don't want to sleep with, and for these people platonic friendships really are impossible, because they aren't open to that possibility. In my younger years (like age 19, 20) when I was in such an unhealthy place I might have agreed with this view, or at least nodded my head when I heard other people discuss it. I remember having discussions with friends about ladder theory which presupposes that men are only friends with women they want to sleep with. In fact, there is a quote from When Harry Met Sally on the front page of that site.

These days I recognize ladder theory for the foolishness that it is, because I am in a much healthier place when it comes to relationships, and I have a few really close female friends that I genuinely do not want to date. They are beautiful wonderful people and alternate-universe me probably wouldn't have said no if they'd asked me out when we first met, but at this point I don't feel any crushes and I'm quite certain we work better as friends than we would as partners. Oh, and there are a couple of exes that fit in this category too. Platonic friendships therefore exist in my experience, but that does not guarantee they are possible in every case -- this depends on the people and what they're open to.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:49 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

It depends on the people involved.

I have one guy friend who has been 100% platonic from day one. We value the friendship we have, and Mr. Yum isn't threatened by it at all. In fact, we just took our first road trip together and shared a hotel room.
posted by Val_E_Yum at 11:07 PM on July 22, 2012

posted by jb at 11:34 PM on July 22, 2012

Jesus fuck, of course. Straight people have opposite-gender platonic friends, gay and lesbian people have same-gender platonic friends, and bi and pansexual people have platonic friends of all genders.

Anyone who thinks that isn't possible isn't paying attention to the world around them.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:15 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yes, lots.
posted by ead at 12:42 AM on July 23, 2012

I agree that it depends of where you are in your own life and how secure you feel in yourself. Speaking for hours every other day with a male friend and both of you late teens, early 20s, both hetero....? possibly friendship is not exactly what he has in mind, it sounds more like the limerance phase of a developing relationship to be honest.

For me the key thing with my male friends was that as our different interests developed there would be whole weeks, months where we didn't talk but when we did it was as if we spoke the day before, we were able to slot right back into a comfortable chatty catch-up. There was almost never a lot of aggro about not being immediately in contact/availible (exception being times of extreme life stress for either). Getting hung up on how often you called/texted/e-mail/IMed/were Liking something on FB was generally a sign that "friendship" was one-sided.

I lost one of my best male friends when his then girlfriend (now wife) refused to believe that people of the opposite gender could have a close friendship without wanting more. It was heartbreaking, I (and my whole family) miss him dreadfully, especially as they went on to have the babies and we used to talk about our kids being friends but, hey, that's life..

On the odd time if your lucky enough to have a lot of friends , yes there will be a time where you might have a mini-crush or you are the recipient of same but I feel that this odd time is no reason to cut yourself off from the amazing richness that friends who don't have the same reproductive organs you do can bring.
posted by Wilder at 3:12 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, you may have a platonic relationship but the other party may not share that "platonic" feeling with you. So No. There is always a low lying sexual element to it.
posted by pakora1 at 7:40 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Obviously, it's possible.

Whether it's possible for any two particular people is, just as obviously, a different question.
posted by box at 9:37 AM on July 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

There's a really interesting video made on a college campus about this here. Granted, there's editing and whatnot to take into consideration, but I think it's a fairly realistic portrayal.

Anyway, I've found that I rarely develop feelings for people if they're in a relationship when I meet them - if I'm friends with a couple, it's easier to be just friends even after they break up. But it seems like if you have any sort of physical attraction to someone who is cool enough to you to be a great friend, it gets harder to maintain pure friendship, especially if both parties are single.
posted by papayaninja at 11:22 AM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's possible, but can be difficult to find and kind of unlikely.

I have better odds being friends with men if:
(a) they are happily married and/or gay.
(b) they are at least 5 years younger than I am and prefer to date chicks their own age (older guys, on the other hand, always seem to want in my pants even if they could be my grandfather).
(c) I keep it casual--no getting super close with any of them. Sad but true. And god knows I'm not a babe, but the When Harry Met Sally "what if it's a woman you find unattractive?" "you pretty much wanna nail 'em too" line has happened to me frequently anyway. Not being bosom buddies who are on the phone all the time probably helps minimize the guy getting ideas, I suspect.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:37 PM on July 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe I'm just ludicrously picky, but (speaking as a het woman here) there are wayyyyyy more men I'm not attracted to than men I am attracted to. The overwhelming majority of the men I know, I just don't find physically attractive. So yeah, I find it fairly easy to have platonic friendships with men.

And with the ones I do find attractive, it's just not a big deal. Yeah, maybe Friend G is gorgeous and I enjoy looking at him, but that doesn't mean either one of us is going to do anything about it. For me, being attracted to somebody is on a different axis from wanting to be in a relationship/have an affair with them, so I can still have a platonic friendship with somebody I find physically appealing.
posted by Lexica at 5:09 PM on July 23, 2012

[Straight female here]: To be perfectly honest, the only opposite-sex friends I've had that I didn't have some sort of feelings for were the ones I didn't find physically attractive. If they were attractive, my imagination was free to roam, and did so freely. And I only ended up in bed with a few of them ... but I still considered all of them to be genuine friends. And even though it would be a huge exaggeration to call myself bi, I've had similar reactions to my same-sex friends, and, alas, only ended up in bed with two of them. YMMV.
posted by Capri at 7:06 PM on July 23, 2012

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