The study results also suggest that relationship status can play a role in people’s level of trust in cross-sex best friendships. Gilchrist-Petty wrote to me in an email that of all their findings, she was most surprised that engaged couples were the most skeptical. Engaged couples may be particularly protective of their relationships because they’re almost across the matrimonial finish line, she posited, “and do not want anything or anyone, including a cross-sex best friend, to potentially jeopardize their upcoming marriage.” In the study, she and Bennett also note that engaged couples are in a uniquely stressful situation compared with single, dating, and married people: Not only are they transitioning to become assumed life partners, they wrote in the study, “but they are often dealing with … merging lives and planning a wedding.” As they note in the study, this can include family problems as well as financial constraints, both of which are known to place long-term stress on people and relationships.

Read: Why women so rarely propose to men

Stress can certainly be a risk factor for feelings of jealousy, Solomon noted. “When any of us are under stress, we do kind of regress a bit, and fall back on less healthy ways of coping. Insecurity can spike, and if you’re not particularly comfortable in your own skin, you’re more likely to want to control the world around you,” she told me. “I think staring down this really big identity shift—a relationship-status shift, a life-commitment shift—just awakens insecurity that we don’t always know how best to cope with. So to get controlling of a partner would would just seem like a way of coping.” An unhealthy way of coping, to be sure, she added, “but it’s understandable.”

Solomon also lauded the study’s efforts to consider feelings of jealousy and expressions of jealousy separately. They’re often conflated, she told me—for example, the concept of a “jealous lover” is commonly invoked to describe both lovers who feel jealousy and lovers who exhibit controlling behaviors toward their partners. To consider the feeling of jealousy as something that may not necessarily have a corresponding action, she said, can help destigmatize it and clarify why people might be particularly vulnerable to it.

“Maybe this is another reason why engaged couples struggle the most,” she added. “When we fall in love and make a commitment to someone, we become actually, neurophysiologically tied to them. Our intimate partners live in our bones; they matter so much that they co-regulate each other’s physiology. So of course, the sense of, Oh my God, I’m gonna lose you, is really threatening and terrifying. But that’s separate and apart from what you do with that.” In other words, she said, there’s a strong distinction to be made between I love you, and I’m reckoning with how much I need you and I love you, so I have to control you because I’m so afraid of losing you.

Jared has had primarily female friends ever since he was a teenager, when his family moved to the edge of a rural East Texas town, far away from school, and he spent most of his time hanging out with his cousins, who were all girls. When he finally moved out and worked his way through college as a correctional officer, he still struggled to connect with his male peers at work and in class. “I’m not traditionally macho. I don’t really watch sports. I don’t fish or hunt. I feel very uncomfortable when men objectify women in conversation,” Jared, a 36-year-old copywriter, tells me.

Interestingly, Jared didn’t immediately seek out female friends as an alternative. Instead, he sought out the help of a therapist, who advised him to watch more sports so he’d have things to talk about with other men. But that sounded like a ridiculous chore, and he eventually just went back to being friends with only women. “There’s not as much posturing involved with being friends with women,” he says. “I feel like I can be myself.”

Many men gravitate toward friendships with women for the same reasons people crave human connection in general. Close interpersonal relationships improve health, boost well-being and help everyone lead longer, happier lives. And yet, understanding the psychological underpinnings of men who are almost entirely friends with women requires an understanding of why they avoid male ones.

“A lot of men would really like to be friends with other men, but there are barriers because of toxic masculinity,” psychotherapist John Moore explains, noting an anecdotal increase in heterosexual male clients who are mostly friends with women. Although the American Psychological Association (APA) has pivoted away from describing masculinity as “toxic” — in its 36-page Guidelines for Psychological Practices with Boys and Men masculinity is mentioned 153 times, yet the word toxic isn’t used once — it does characterize masculinity as very lonely, and friendship with women may represent one way out of that.

The APA cites a number of traditionally masculine traits that alienate men from one another — e.g., self-reliance, which primes them to avoid friendships because they’re not supposed to need them. By the time they realize this is a flawed premise, making friends with other men is awkward and inconvenient at best. And if men aren’t too busy pursuing money and power and fulfilling their breadwinning responsibilities, then internalized homophobia makes approaching other guys for friendship uncomfortable. After all, they don’t want to be mistaken for flirting.

“When men do form close friendships with others, there are still those who tag these guys as having a bromance,” Moore notes. “The term helps to create negative stereotypes around emotionally supportive male friendships.”

Boys learn to assert their masculinity early on through their friendships, roughhousing and playing sports when they’re young, and trash-talking, drinking and throwing money around as they get older. Generally speaking, male friendships are hierarchical, and bonding can be more competitive and status-driven as a result. But for many boys, this doesn’t align with their personality or interests. “There’s a lot of pressure to posture as a boy, and it always seemed silly,” says Patrick, a 36-year-old political activist who has maintained mostly female friendships since he was in elementary school when his parents split.

Growing up between two households in upstate New York, he was surrounded by aunts, grandmas and girl cousins for most of his formative years. When he was around other boys, he didn’t fit in: “They were always angrier and more aggressive than I was.” As an angsty teen, Patrick preferred listening to The Cure and having long phone conversations with his female friends instead. His lack of male friends never struck him as unusual. His father, like most Boomer dads, had no friends and relied solely on women in his family for social interaction and emotional support. Having any friends at all was a step-up, generationally speaking. (Bonding with women can be comparatively easier for men because women are socialized to do more of the heavy lifting; so while the relationship may be partially rooted in dysfunction, this can make for a strangely compatible friendship.)

Still, it’s not as though these male-female friendships aren’t without their issues — especially when they don’t involve family. In particular, some men bring ulterior motives and blurred boundaries into the relationship. When Erin, 37, met Jeff nine years ago, they had reasons to keep it from getting romantic — they were coworkers and both in relationships. Then, about six years into their friendship, when they were both single at the same time, Jeff made a move. She told him to back off, and they kept their distance for a few months — until she needed help moving.

“He drove the truck and helped me move. We went out to dinner and started hanging out more, just the two of us. It was a very brief courtship,” Erin recalls, admitting they eventually slept together. Soon after, they attended a friend’s wedding and even shared a hotel room. She assumed they were headed toward a relationship. But after the wedding, he left town for 10 days and stopped responding to her texts. When he finally returned, they were still colleagues, but no longer friends, and definitely not lovers.

“He was literally ghosting me in real life, like he barely spoke to me,” she says. Around the same time, a new girl started working at the office, who he soon started dating. They kept it professional at work, but otherwise stopped talking, and never spoke of what happened. “To be clear, I’ve fucked my friends before, and it’s not weird,” she says. “But in this case, I wasn’t treated like a friend at all.”

It can actually get even weirder, too. Michelle, 37, became friends with Sean in college. He was older and in a serious relationship so she assumed he was a safe platonic choice — until they went out with a group of friends for her 21st birthday. “He drove me home safely, but then said I could never call him sketchy because he didn’t rape me when I was super drunk and he was a good dude,” she says. She got out of the car and slowly started tapering off communication because she was scared.

For his part, Jared claims he’s never crossed any such lines. “I make it very clear that I have no ulterior motives and don’t put myself in situations where that can be blurred,” he says. “I see how it can be challenging, though. When I was married, it was easier to establish that I wasn’t trying to hook up.”

As for Patrick, he has tried to make the jump from friendship to romance without sticking the landing, but he doesn’t regret it or think it hurt his friendships in the long-term. “You can always tell someone that you think they’re attractive, hear them say they’re not interested and still build a sincere friendship,” he says. “If they still want to be around you after that, it’s a nice reminder that maybe you have a good personality.”

Not that it’s ever that easy. From protecting egos to listening to problems to just making plans, there’s a lot of emotional labor in these friendships, which Jared and Patrick admit, women shoulder a disproportionate amount of. Best-case scenario, then, being friends with men feels like having a collection of robots who are all learning to cry. “Guys don’t plan. They don’t make plans to do things. If they make plans, the follow-through is rare,” Jared says. He compares recently reconnecting with an old grad school buddy, who he’s been trying to hang out with for months, with a female friend who simply suggested they go to coffee, which happened almost instantaneously.

The risk is that most meaningful relationships cannot survive if one person is doing all the work. That’s where some men who are only friends with women run into problems. “When some guys find a safe place he can share — something that isn’t the easiest to find — they often do a lot of emotional dumping. It can end up being a one-way street,” Moore warns.

This is particularly exacerbated by men who refuse to go to therapy, only to treat their female friends like unpaid therapists. Understandably, when men demand too much from these friends, the women pull back, or in extreme cases, end the friendship. Patrick is doing his best to make sure this doesn’t happen. “There are times when I catch myself relying on women in my life for that, and I have to think about how long it’s been since I’ve seen a therapist,” he jokes.

Along those lines, it’s entirely possible for men to become better friends to each other, too. Jared has a few male buddies and is open to more, but he’s found that he’s had to put in work — not by studying sports — but by putting in the same effort that his female friends do. This has been challenging as a single father of two because he doesn’t have a lot of energy or excess time, but perhaps that’s how his female friends felt when they first gave him a chance.

“It took getting divorced for me to reevaluate my friendships — with both men and women,” he explains. “Even though I’m at an age where a lot of men apparently don’t make a lot of new friends, I’ve been working on changing that for myself.”


Lauren Vinopal

Lauren Vinopal, also known as Lauren Vino, is a journalist and comedy writer based out of NYC. Her work has been featured in MTV News, Deadspin, Vice, The New York Post, and The Observer. She’s currently a science reporter at Fatherly where she writes about the psychology of boys and men for video, editorial and branded teams.


Many of these girls have that one close female friend they spend time with. But for the most part, they tend to make friends only with the male species. Ask them why and you’ll get a response like this: “I just struggle relating with other girls” or “I’m just more comfortable talking to guys – less drama.”

Why do some girls feel this way? It may not be her fault – it could be that other girls are simply not nice to her (I’ll explain later why this may be so). Or it could be that they enjoy the way men treat her. After all, men will often do things for a girl that other girls wouldn’t (e.g. pull out their chairs, give them their coats, pay for lunch, etc.).

2. Girls With Only Guy Friends Seem Really Cool to Guys
Guys are drawn to this type of girl because she seems so much cooler than other girls they encountered. Girls who have only guy friends tend to be interested in what guys talk about, can hold their liquor, enjoy watching sports and are generally into “guy stuff.” And guys are drawn to this because it’s fun to have someone so different yet so similar to them.

Note: Girls who play sports don’t necessarily fall into this category. After all, a lot of athletic girls tend to have a lot of girl friends due to team camaraderie and fellowship.

3. Girls With Only Guy Friends Are Usually Pretty
This is kind of messed up, but girls who only have guy friends tend to be on the prettier side. In fact, that’s why she’s able to get so many guys to befriend her. Guys like being around pretty girls. So combine that with the “cool factor” and voila – men are drawn to her.

Another messed up observation: there are some girls who struggle relating to other girls but don’t have many guy friends because, well, men aren’t attracted to them. So they end up having maybe one close guy friend and mask their disappointment with bitterness or anger towards men. And this poor close guy friend ends up absorbing all her bitterness.

4. Girls With Only Guy Friends Use Their Guy Friends Against Their Boyfriends

What No One Understands About Being a Girl Who’s ‘One of the Guys’

You get oddly comfortable being inappropriate

Sometimes I catch myself in group settings talking about things like The Pirate (two words: Urban Dictionary). Most times I even act it out with sound effects. Sure, it gets laughs (because The Pirate is hilarious), but here’s the thing: I’m not always surrounded by a bevy of bros… and it’s not typically thought of as the most ladylike thing in the world.

In the same way a lot of us probably don’t realize how our Kardashian-saturated culture has caused us to say, “I know, right?” a lot more than we’d all like to admit, the crass behavior of my dude friends has become a very real part of my own personality. To my inner circle, it’s not a big deal. But drop me into a different group, and things can get uncomfortable pretty fast.

It’s like playing slaps as kids. Eventually your hands end up so pummeled they just stop hurting. My insides are like that — after years of being playfully harassed and ridiculed by my guy friends and being part of all kinds of disgusting jokes and inappropriate pranks, I’ve grown a thick skin that I’m proud of — but I also can’t always draw a decency line.

Boyfriends are always suspicious of you

There was never a time in my life I didn’t have to explain my relationships with guys to a significant other. And the thing is, I get it. I talk to a member of the opposite sex who isn’t my boyfriend almost daily. Who wouldn’t be threatened by that?

The whole When Harry Met Sally theory makes this a constant uphill battle: you can’t possibly really just be friends with this guy, because guys and girls are never just friends. And no matter what you say, it’s lose-lose. You can try convincing your S.O. that you’ve never hooked up with your best guy friend. He’s like a brother to you. If that works, your boyfriend will be relieved — but he’ll also have residual resentment that there are things you’ve told this friend of yours that he will never know.

Which, if I’m being honest, is totally fair.

Or, in an attempt to be fully transparent, you might admit that you did hook up with your best guy friend just that once, but it was years ago, and you’re pretty sure you both had just had Goldschläger shots for the first time. So it doesn’t count.

Yeah… good luck with your boyfriend ever truly trusting you alone with this person.

I’m Not A “Whore” Because I Only Have Guy Friends

I’m the girl that’s seen as unfaithful or a “whore” because I don’t hang out with other females very often. Not only does this affect my social life, it also takes a toll on my relationship. So, to clear up any and all misconceptions, here are the reasons I choose to hang out with males more often than females.

First of all, there is hardly any drama. If there ever is any, it is laughed off like it never mattered in the first place. I’ve learned that males actually talk to each other when there is a problem, unlike most females who will talk about it behind each others’ backs. So, I never have to worry that my friends might be talking about me, because they would actually say it to my face.

Second, we can goof around and pick on each other without being worried that we’re hurting each others’ feelings. I don’t know about you, but I cannot stand it when I am just joking with someone and they take it offensively. If I mess with the guys like that, they’re gonna have a comeback, not cry in the bathroom later because I was “being mean.”

Third of all, I just get along way better with guys. I’ve never been looked at any differently than the rest of them because of social status or what I wear. I could play Xbox in my pajamas while drinking a beer, and my guys wouldn’t judge me at all. After all, I pretty much am just “one of the guys.” I never have to worry about looking my best or having the perfect outfit, because they aren’t going to care about that. They’re going to care that I made it, not what I showed up in.

Finally, I never have to worry that one day, they’ll just drop me for no reason at all. When you are the only girl on the team, you are just part of the brotherhood. We all know that men usually stay friends a lot longer than females. So, 5 years from now, I’ll probably still be hanging out with the same squad of guys. Meanwhile, you’ll be on your 5th group of “girlfriends.” I’ve been friends with the same guys for 6-7 years. My longest friendship with a girl has never lasted longer than 3.

The “whores” are the ones that look down on girls like me. Why? They’re jealous. They can’t hang out with the guys, because they don’t have enough in common, so they date them. Once they break up, the girl like me is the bad guy. It was my fault, because your boyfriend didn’t call you back. It was my fault your boyfriend wanted to hang with me AND the guys one time this week, instead of hanging out with you. So, I must be messing with the squad, because that is the only thing that can justify why you and your boyfriend didn’t work out. Sorry, honey, but you wouldn’t have worked out anyways. It’s not me, it’s you. Stop hating girls like me for wanting to hang out with men, when females are so much worse. I’m a female, and I cannot stand hanging out with girls. So what? That doesn’t mean that I am messing around or a slut, it means that I just don’t want to deal with the drama and sensitivity of another female. Handling myself is enough.

I’m the girl that only has guy friends, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

It is highly likely that your friendship with a male friend will take a new twist after he gets married. Building and maintaining a strong affinity with a married chap without raising suspicion and judgment can be a tad overwhelming. Gladly, you can include your friend’s partner into your social circle to prevent cutting ties with him and help maintain the friendship.

Understand that unlike dating, marriage is a traditional institution that demands a whole new level of respect, trust, dedication, and consideration. Try to keep your expectations low and respect his boundaries as soon as he puts a ring on it.

Today, we’re going to share some quick etiquette tips for being friends with a married man without raising curious eyebrows.

1. Have His Partner on Board

Forget the good old days when you used to grab lunch or attend Tuesday Movie Night together. He’s now married, and his partner needs to know about your existence

Befriending his spouse is a sure-fire way to maintain the friendship without putting his marriage at stake. Of course, there should be no problem with having his spouse on board if the relationship isn’t romantic.

You should expect no significant changes in your friendship if your relationship with a married man is genuinely platonic. Otherwise, your friendship is likely to come to a halt if his better half perceives it as a threat to their union.

2. Understand & Respect His Limits

You’ve got to define boundaries and understand the difference between flirtation and friendship. When a dude walks down the aisle, his wife becomes his major relationship obligation and immediate family.

Appreciate that he has to maintain certain boundaries and limitations with you to avoid causing any harm to his marriage. He has to uphold the foundation of trust and intimacy for the marriage to flourish.

One of these boundaries defines the time you can meet and see each other. You cannot expect to have your married male friend come over to your house at odd hours unless you have feelings for each other. Learn to respect his limits and never complain about his wife because he has to be loyal to his marriage.

3. Lower Your Expectations

The family unit is an integral part of every married man’s life and will take up most of his time and attention. Understandably, you were too close with him when he was single, but now he has to maintain loyalty and responsibility toward his family.

Never expect him to spend the whole afternoon with you the way it used to be when he was a bachelor. He now has more important responsibilities to take care of, including spending time with his spouse and children.

Lower your expectations to accommodate his new chapter of life irrespective of how close you both are as friends. You might want to spend a weekend with his family if you wish to, instead of enjoying it alone with him. Give him the time he needs to do his duties as a married man.

4. Embrace His Better Half

Learn to embrace his wife and never complain about her or call her names. Make an effort to understand the love of his life, and allow her to learn more about you too.

Complaining about his better half in his presence is likely to jeopardize your friendship, especially if he truly loves his wife. A man who is loyal to his wife will do anything in their capacity to defend their better halves.

So, steer clear of negative opinions about his wife if you don’t want to put your friendship in a compromising position. Respect both of them in equal measure to keep the comradeship intact without crossing lines.

5. Make a New Social Group

Your married friend may not always be there for you because of the new responsibilities he now has. He’s evolving by the day, so you’ve got to grow in your little ways too.

It’s probably the best time for you to go out there and make new friends outside of the previous circle. Give him and his new family some private space by having an entirely different social group to keep you company.

Keeping in touch casually and upholding a meaningful friendship with a married guy is possible, but it’s also respectful to branch out so he can have quality time with his spouse. Seek out new friends, develop a bigger social network, and get your own romantic partner to make your life as fulfilling as you may want.

6. Listen to Third Party Counsel

Sometimes you may offend your friend’s partner without even realizing it. For instance, assuming you went out for lunch with this male friend, his family, and a handful of friends.

Then you engage in excessive physical contact with him while having a conversation. You may think this is natural because you’ve been holding each other too close throughout your school days.

And even though you have no romantic intentions, these gestures might offend his wife. So, if your friends caution you about certain things you might be doing involuntarily, listen to them and change your ways. Understand that your wife’s friend might misconstrue your intentions and, in turn, cause unnecessary trouble.

7. Make Inquiries When Not Sure

We are all human, and human is to err. Sometimes you might make mistakes without knowing whether the two of you are crossing the red line.

Invisible or hard-to-see lines are everywhere in this fast-paced life. And when you come across such lines, the best thing to do is to seek clarity to avoid repetition of the same.

Asking questions might be one of the scariest and uncomfortable conversations you’ve ever had, but you should be mature and honest enough with each other. Acknowledging and rectifying a slip-up is better than repeating the same over and over again without caring to fix past mistakes.

8. Know When to Communicate

Out of courtesy, there are hours of the day and night when calling or messaging your male friend is unacceptable, unless there’s an emergency. Contacting your married friend between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. is generally forbidden.

Your male ally will probably be enjoying quality time with his spouse between these times, so it’s in your best interest to avoid interrupting them. Unless you’re in a life and death crisis, it’s best to avoid calling or sending him any text messages.

Late-night talks were acceptable when he was single, but when you call him at 3 a.m., you’re putting him in a difficult situation, and he might have some explaining to do.

9. Be a Shoulder to Lean On

Try not to bash your married friend’s partner. Stay away from any fights between him and his wife, whether you have differences with her or not.

Be a shoulder to lean on, and never engage in actions that would anger your friend’s other half. Listen to their concerns and try to solve them without taking sides.

If you’ve got any genuine concern, share it with eloquence and respect. You’ve got to act maturely and exercise caution with every word you say.

10. Let Them Have Their Space

It’s vital to give your friend and his new family some space even if he wants you to hang out with them every moment. He might not see the reason for your avoidance, but his spouse will appreciate it.

Remember, you’re just a friend and not his life partner. He needs to have private and quality time with his partner without you being in the same equation.

11. Have a Clear Intent

Think about what you want out of this friendship. Do you want an entirely platonic friend of opposite gender whom you can mingle with once in a while?

Or you simply want to rob your friend of the time he would have otherwise spent with his family to gratify your ego? Think about the nature of your friendship. Is it fruitful or meaningless?

Setting a clear intent helps set boundaries from the word go. You’ve got to be extra careful around each other to avoid arousing weird emotions between each other, especially in situations when the two of you are drunk.

12. Put Yourself In His Wife’s Shoes

Ask yourself how you’d feel if your husband was engaged in a friendship with another woman. Would that make you mad, jealous, or happy?

Now, consider how your married friend’s wife feels when you go out for drinks with her husband – and without her. Does she know about the times you hang out together?

Putting yourself in her shoes allows you to set clear boundaries in your friendship with the married man. Imagine how she would feel if you ever crossed the lines and took your friendship a notch higher behind her back.

13. Know When to Quit

No one would want to lose a friend. Friends are to be treasured because they mean a lot to us. However, quitting is the best thing to do if the friendship isn’t as innocent as you thought.

You might be trying hard to suppress your physical urges, but some emotional gray areas will always be there to compromise your conscience.

If this is the case, you might want to let go of this friendship for good. It will be hard and painful to leave, but just end it if you feel a strong urge to sin. Ethical friendships will always triumph, no matter what.

Final Thoughts

Any successful marriage calls for healthy inputs from truthful and righteous people. Balancing friendship with the intimacy of marriage can be a challenge, but not when you have a friend who understands you.

A true friend knows that marriage is a valuable thing, and should, therefore, be protected. This is the kind of friend who shares in the happiness of marriage and does everything in her power to respect and maintain it.

It might take a little effort and commitment to navigate through platonic friendships and get used to them. Nevertheless, the above etiquette tips for being friends with a married man will help you maintain a proper friendship without jeopardizing his union.

1-on-1 Opposite Sex Friends: A Blind Spot Threat to Marriage

On October 26th, 1967, John McCain’s Skyhawk dive bomber jet suffered a lethal blow to the right wing as he was flying a mission over Hanoi, Vietnam. The plane immediately went into an inverted, almost straight-down spin. Pulling the ejection handle, he was knocked unconscious by the force of the ejection. McCain gained consciousness right before landing in a lake off the corner of Hanoi, where he sunk immediately to the bottom of 15 feet of water, weighted down by 50 pounds of gear. With his right leg broken around the knee, right arm in three places, as well as his left arm, he managed to kick up to the surface to fill his lungs with air, right before sinking back down only to be forced to kick back up again for more air. Shortly after, he was pulled out by North Vietnamese, receiving a rifle to the butt, and a bayonet shoved clear into both his abdomen and foot.

And so, began his five and a half years serving as a prisoner of war.

Suffering psychological torment through routine solitary confinement and perpetual physical agony and anguish, a day of potential salvation finally came. North Vietnamese commanders learned of McCain’s father, a Navy Admiral, who had recently been named commander-in-chief of all Pacific forces. Hoping to score a propaganda victory, they offered McCain an early release. McCain refused. The Code of Conduct U.S. Forces followed designated prisoners were to be released in the order they were captured. Unless every man captured before him was released as well, McCain declined the offer. “I just didn’t think it was the honorable thing to do,” McCain said.

Declining your freedom for a greater cause can sometimes be difficult to do, especially if you’re married.

As I’ve explored in a previous article, which can be found here: The Most Important Relationship Strength You Must Have, exercising selfless behavior—that behavior which runs in conflict to selfishness, often unnatural, and even undesired to what you may prefer to do—in a marriage relationship is a key component to a long-lasting, satisfying, successful relationship. Thus, it should come as no surprise that giving up particular freedoms, requiring complete selflessness, is a contributing variable to such ever-lasting marriages. Those freedoms that may be the most challenging for you to part with individually may actually strengthen your bond with one another collectively and even help guard against an extramarital affair.

For instance, can you think of a freedom you are exercising with the opposite sex that you should consider surrendering for the sake of bolstering and fortifying your marital union? Do you have a one-on-one opposite sex friend beyond your spouse you find yourself meeting and texting with consistently one-on-one?

If you answered, “yes”, you may be decreasing your marriage’s opportunity to flourish, mature, and secure itself, while increasing potential opportunity for infidelity to creep in.

*Before findings and lessons learned from research on this topic are extracted, a brief note must be stipulated to dispel what you may think is going to be discussed: This article debates potential marital relationship repercussions that one-on-one opposite-sex friendships outside of a marriage may produce, and is not an article condemning opposite sex group friendships, professional rapports at work, peer assemblies at school, couple double-date night, dating courtships. Though these connections still should be stewarded appropriately, guarding against relational connections which may harm a marriage, or, a dating relationship, developing connections with the opposite sex in group settings—double date-night with other couples and co-ed game-nights, for instance—may encourage positive personal and relational growth when steered strategically. Therefore, this article is not recommending you completely abandon friendships with the opposite gender, but rather contemplatively consider and then strategically steward appropriately opposite-sex relationships.

Nonetheless, research findings from this past year, the last five years, the last 20 years, and beginning from 25 years out (And yes, each and every one is listed below this article), propose potential emotional and sexual attraction in one-on-one opposite-sex friendships, creating extramarital/unfaithful relational bonds outside of a marriage or dating relationship, pose often negative long-lasting consequences to those relationships.

Opposite-Sex Friendships Research and Research History

Gender research suggests women’s and men’s experiences in one-on-one opposite-sex friendships are swayed by their advanced coupling tactics. This idea retains two suppositions: the first is that historically, one-on-one opposite-sex friendships are a modern phenomenon; and the second, women and men hold advanced coupling tactics. Utilizing this particular reasoning, both women’s and men’s coupling tactics are prompted when women and men interact with individuals of the opposite sex who, over time historically, would have been prospective partners. Accordingly, coupling tactics may encourage an individual’s participation in one-on-one opposite-sex friendships while inadvertently attaching them emotionally and/or sexually, when their actual initial intent was simply for platonic friendship.

Longtime typical definitions of friendship look something like this: A voluntary, supportive personal relationship comprising fluctuating amounts of fellowship, closeness, affections, and joint support. Whereas opposite-sex friendships have been often defined as a voluntary, supportive, non-romantic association between persons of the opposite sex. Though this definition seems harmless enough in a word, in action, however, it seems to be much more complex.

During the late-twentieth century, one of the earliest investigations on opposite-sex friendships suggested that opposite-sex friends meet these primary challenges: defining the type of emotional link shared, encountering sexuality in the relationship, and displaying the relationship as a genuine friendship to observers. Additionally, this inquiry proposed that opposite-sex friendships provoke mistrustfulness in romantic partners and that opposite-sex friends must continually assure their romantic partners that the friendship is not a risk.

A large collection of research shortly after suggested most married women and married men of those spouses with close opposite-sex friends, possess a continuous grade of suspicion and apprehension. Since this early research, studies have consistently discovered women and men across an array of contexts report feeling emotional and/or sexual attraction to their opposite-sex friends.

It’s important to mention that the greatness with which emotional and sexual desires are apparent in opposite-sex friendships differs from inquiry to inquiry. Research from the early part of this 21st century suggested variation in findings.

One enormous study, for instance, proposed women and men experience low levels of emotional attraction with high levels of sexual attraction to their opposite-sex friends, whereas another study suggested the opposite. Particular inconsistency in response from study to study may potentially be a consequence of how opposite-sex friends are defined by participants. What remains consistent, however, from the late 1980s to the early 2000s, to the present day is that emotional and/or sexual attraction is a notable and very consistent component of opposite-sex friendship. There is extremely little research or widespread literature on an opposite-sex friendship that does not indicate attraction and its conceivable consequences.

Extensive talk surrounding explanations for the existence of opposite-sex friendship attraction exists. Some academics center their attention on the societal underpinnings of attraction in friendship. For instance, the media is to blame on many levels, instilling in women and men the notion that they should be attracted to their cross-sex friends. Other scholars, however, posit biology, psychology, and physiological explanations are key reasoning ingredients for why the relational connections of emotions and sex are unavoidable in opposite-sex friendships.

Regardless of the rationalization, extensive present-day research explicitly suggests one-on-one opposite-sex friendships with an individual other than a spouse, may contribute to marital conflict, extramarital affairs, and even divorce.

Potential Marriage Relationship Consequences

In previous articles of mine, which can be found here: Facebook Infidelity: 10 Safeguards Your Marriage Needs Today; Internet Infidelity: Today’s Blindspot Threat to Marriage; and Texting May Destroy Your Marriage, I’ve discussed research examinations conducted by myself and others, concerning marriage fidelity and communication. Specifically, common relationship blind spots that often are unfortunately not anticipated, often times leading to a myriad of marriage relationship ramifications, across a large array of contexts. To name a few: dissatisfaction, disconnect, conflict, loss of trust, deceit, and extramarital affairs.

Extensive interview and survey results from essentially even figures of married or previously married women and men, collected from both instigators of extramarital affairs as well as victims, provide overwhelming large measures of responses indicating they, or, their spouse, participated in either an emotional (i.e. disclosing intimate, personal details normally reserved for a spouse, either face-to-face or through texting or social media) and/or sexual (i.e. face-to-face sexual affair and/or “sexting”/social media) extramarital affair, with a woman or man of the opposite sex that they considered to be a close friend. More specifically, a man or woman they devoted personal, one-on-one time with away from their spouse, either in a face-to-face venue in public or private or, digitally, through texting or social media.

Face-to-Face, Social Media, Texting. It Doesn’t Matter.

Meeting one-on-one with someone of the opposite sex for your weekly Starbucks in-between a meeting, or, daily workout at the gym before the day begins, or text-messaging to pass the time at work, or late night Facebook chats, or movie night while your spouse is out of town. All these scenarios and infinitely more, provide ample, consistent opportunity to attach relationally to one another both emotionally, with feelings, and sexually, with desires. Often times dangerously creating a relational bond, through emotional disclosure, and often working in tandem, development of sexual desires, that is of an alarming similar strength to the bond that you hold with your spouse.

Additionally, with the advent of social and digital media, such as Facebook and texting, potentially negative implications to marriages from interacting one-on-one with the opposite sex through these electronic means must be taken into consideration. Substantial divorce court records indicate a large number of divorces nationwide, occurring based on an extramarital affair, originated on Facebook and through text-messaging with a one-on-one friend of the opposite sex. Too often, direct quotes from instigators and victims in both divorce court records and scholarly research concerning extramarital affairs between married men or married women with a close one-on-one friend suggest their thinking, “It will never happen to me”, played an instrumental role in their path, or their spouses path, from friendship to emotional disclosure, and finally, to sexual affair.

It must be illustrated that research does submit there are many married women and married men capable of refraining from developing romantic emotional and/or sexual attachments and connections with an opposite-sex person, as being part of the human race, we are incessantly mixed with members of the opposite sex, regularly participating in opposite-sex activities at work, school, and leisure. However, massive research clearly indicates one-on-one opposite sex friendships have a heightened likelihood of developing emotional and/or sexual connections, regardless of initial intent for a strictly platonic relationship. Though you may find you’re quite capable of stewarding well emotional feelings and sexual desires, your friend in that one-on-one opposite-sex friendship may be developing feelings and desires unbeknownst to you. In turn, causing problematic friendship turmoil down the road.

5 Tips on How to Manage Opposite Sex Friendships When Married or Single

  1. Have a sit-down, one-on-one conversation with your spouse about friendships with the opposite sex. Be transparent. Share about your one-on-one opposite-sex friendship experiences, and allow your spouse to tell you about their experiences. Discuss what makes you both uncomfortable. Being zealous for one another is not necessarily a bad thing. There indeed is a stark line between being zealous (passion, enthusiasm, desire) and being possessive (controlling, domineering), and there is indeed a need to discuss boundaries in your marriage with the opposite sex while maintaining a healthy amount of trust for each other. It’s a balance.
  2. If you’re currently married and have decided with your spouse that one-on-one opposite-sex friendships may indeed be a hindrance to your relational growth, and you (or your spouse) have a one-on-one opposite sex friend (or many), have a sit-down heart-to-heart with them and your spouse. Discuss with them openly and transparently your reasoning for choosing to discontinue the one-on-one friendship. They may be married as well, and if so, include their spouse in the discussion. Maybe you and your spouse and them and their spouse can develop a couple’s friendship. If for whatever reason that isn’t a possibility, discuss forgoing the friendship any longer altogether. You must be willing to place the success of your own marriage relationship before other relationships.
  3. Discuss with your spouse your circle of “couple friends,” and any uneasiness or discomfort either of you may have with any of them. Couple friends can indeed be significant and important. They can act as encouragements for your marriage, and add much joy that can come from being involved in a community. But sometimes certain couples friendships can add unnecessary stress to your marriage. You may have 30 couples you both spend your time with couple-to-couple throughout the year, or, you may have only two or three couples you run with from time-to-time. Either way, whether your uneasiness and discomfort may be brought on by some unwarranted, consistent attention your friend’s spouse may be giving you through texting, or, face-to-face during your Saturday night couples date night, or, even maybe from some consistent, unwarranted attention you’ve noticed your own spouse receiving, it’s important to know that it’s OK to discontinue hanging out alone with a particular couple if they’re causing discomfort in your marriage. Your marriage relationship is worth more than appealing to, and pleasing others on a couples-date night.
  4. Single? Be cautious with your opposite-sex friendships, especially one-on-one. If your desire is to date with the eventual goal of marriage, pursue this person intentionally for this end goal. However, if a strictly platonic end is the goal, consider having an open, transparent conversation, suggesting you limit quality time together to a group setting. Feelings and desires are tricky components of both men and women, and as seen extensively throughout this article, are often unavoidable and difficult to completely tame. It’s crucial to view your opposite sex friend as someone else’s future spouse until you both choose yourself to play that role.
  5. The reality is, infidelity exists, and it’s not going away anytime soon. The equation for infidelity often looks like this: A – B = C. If you don’t have guidelines established for engaging with the opposite sex, you’re leaving your marriage house unlocked and undefended = the bad guy. Infidelity, may break in and cause devastating marital havoc. Set boundaries for communicating with your opposite-sex friends. These boundaries should be applied not just to face-to-face settings, but of equal importance, to social media (e.g. private messaging) and text messaging. Evaluate who you and your spouse are friends with on Facebook.

Surrendering a personal freedom can be difficult. Especially when it comes to our relationships with others. We’re built for a healthy community, with both men and women, and this can often be done successfully and appropriately. But it should not come at the cost of your marriage.

12 signs a married man is falling in love with you

As a woman, you will probably be able to figure when a married man is falling in love with you, thanks to the blessed female intuition. But if you are still doubtful and want to confirm it, then this article is going to be your guide. Once your intuition is confirmed, it depends on you how you want to handle this complicated situation. So read on.

A married man might not easily express his love for you, because he is married and might be a little scared to take a step further. Therefore here are the 12 signs which will help you understand what is going on in his mind and what his true feeling for you are. You will get to know if the married man cares for you or has fallen in love with you.

1. He compliments you out of the blue

When a married man compliments you for your qualities, looks, dress sense, professional life, etc. especially when you least expect it, then it means that he is interested in you and wants you to know that. The compliments might seem harmless in the beginning, but then gradually the married man will be more direct with those compliments to drive home his point. There may come a point when you feel he is also flirting with you, on the pretext of being nice.

2. He loves talking to you

You will notice that when he talks to you, he will be cheerful and the tone of his voice will be lively. He will always be the one to initiate conversations with you and keep you engaged when you are around him. It will be as if just by talking to you his day becomes better.

Dating at workplace Image Source

3. He tries to keep tabs on your love life

Your relationship status is perhaps his gravest concern, as since he is falling in love with you, he wants to find out whether you are available or not. If you already have someone in your life, then he will probably air negative opinions about that someone, because he will be jealous for sure. He will keep regular tabs on your love life to wait for the chance to express his love for you.

4. He either shares details about his married life or refrains from doing so

He either discusses details about his married life with you or does not even mention it at all to you. If he does the former, then it means that he is giving you an indication that he is not exactly happy in his married life and wants you to know that he is available for you. If he avoids sharing any details about his married life, then he is probably overwhelmed with guilt and wants to forget the fact that he is married so that he can be with you.

5. He goes out of his way to help you

The fact that the married man has fallen for you becomes apparent when he does all in his power to help you especially if you are facing a problem. He might be helping you because he is friendly, but if he is always there by your side, then it means he deeply cares about you. He will not even think twice before resolving any of your issues.

6. He tries to highlight the similarities between the two of you

He will keep hinting at the fact that you are the type of girl he likes and that you two have a lot of similarities, whereas his wife hardly has anything common with him. All these are just tactics to get hold of your attention and to create a lasting bond with you because he has feelings for you and wishes to have a future with you. before you succumb, let us tell you that an affair with a married man can be quite a complicated, messy journey.

7. His body language is a huge indicator of his love

Instead of straightforwardly confessing his love for you, a married man will use his body language to express his love. Probably he will get nervous around you, will lean towards you while talking to you, make continuous eye contact with you, will smile at you as if you mean the world to him and will take every chance to touch you as well.

Eating Ice cream together Image source

8. He takes out time especially for you

As a married man, his priority should be to give time to his wife and family. However, if he is taking out time especially for you during the weekends and even during the weekdays, then you mean something to him. All the time he spends with you, he will try to keep you comfortable and happy.

9. He tries to stay in touch with you regularly

Every day the married man will try to stay in touch with you either through text messages or calls. In case you fail to reply to his text messages or forget to call him back, then he will get super hyper about it. He constantly tries to contact you because he wants to get to know you better and make his presence known in your life.

10. He gives top priority to your opinions

Your opinions and thoughts related to marriage, cheating, love and any other matter whatsoever mean a lot to him. So he will give top priority to your opinions and try to shape his opinions accordingly. Even if he is in some trouble, then he will turn towards you for suggestions. By giving enough value to your opinions, he is giving you an indication that he is interested in you.

11. He always behaves perfectly when he is around you

He portrays himself as the perfect gentlemen when he is around you. He tries to be charming, chivalrous and brightens up the atmosphere by making you laugh. He does this so that you can see him as an interesting and a unique person and not a serious and boring married man. Even his interaction with other people is very cordial because he wants to show his best side to you.

12. You have a strong gut feeling about his love

Deep down in your heart, you get the strong gut feeling that the married man is falling in love with you. You can keep fooling yourself by saying that he just cares for you because you are his friend, but the reality is that he likes you and you cannot keep denying it. However, if you do consider taking the plunge and dating him for all that is worth, do it safely and without getting hurt. A married man can deeply care for you but a relationship with him does mean complications. You need to know that.

Why do married men fall for other women?

When married men are bogged down with immense responsibilities of a marriage and are unable to cope, it is then that they search for an escape route and end up falling in love with another woman. They might feel emotionally disconnected from their wives, because of which they look for emotional satisfaction elsewhere. It is usually when the wives fail to acknowledge the efforts of their husbands that the men become helpless when another woman shows them love and affection, while some men might just crave attention and just want to satisfy their insatiable lust by getting involved with a second woman.

Satisfy their insatiable lust Image Source

If a married man is falling in love with you, then it is probably because of one of these reasons:

  1. You might have the qualities that his wife lacks
  2. You might be making him feel whole again
  3. You might have re-installed his faith in love again
  4. You might have supported him during his critical times

Whatever the reasons, it is important that you know what you want in your love life and whether or not you seriously want to commit to a married person. So think about it carefully. Getting dumped by a married man could be a severe blow to your future and self-respect.

You don’t choose who you fall in love with – so reciprocate his feelings if you feel it worth to invest yourself in a relationship with a married man. But, it makes you uncomfortable and the whole idea of being in a relationship with a married man makes you cringe, then make it clear to him at the outset. Just because he is falling in love with you, it does not mean you have to oblige him in anyway if you are not interested. Taking a firm stand is essential in such tricky situations.

How to get over the married man that I am attracted to?

How to seduce a married man?

Married People! Better Understand the Happily Single…

After nine months of counseling, Amy was ready. She started an extensive regime of hormone therapy that would shrink her muscles to more feminine proportions and redistribute body fat from her shoulders, neck and arms to her breasts, hips and thighs. (Amy says she may get genital reconstruction surgery, but she isn’t in a hurry. “It’s $15,000 to $30,000 I don’t have,” says Amy. “By the time I save that much, maybe I’ll be emotionally prepared.”)

Her parents had attended her college graduation the previous spring, but come the following fall and winter, Amy didn’t go home to spend the holidays with her family. “My parents and I had pretty much stopped talking at that point,” she says. “Thankfully, I had grown closer than ever with Valerie and Allison.” As her body continued to transform itself from male to female over the next year, says Amy, “My best friends really stepped up. I was starting to present regularly as a woman when I went out with them in the evenings, and if I got so much as a funny look, Allison would say, Listen to me, it just doesn’t matter. The people who really count will be OK with this.'”

Valerie was even more fiercely protective. Once, she and Amy went to lunch with a male colleague of Amy’s who didn’t know she was transitioning. (She was still binding her chest at the architecture firm where she worked and was presenting herself as Brendan.) A transgender woman walked into the restaurant, clearly disconcerting their male friend. “That is a man,” he kept repeating, shaking his head again and again. “That is a man!”

“That is a person,” snapped Valerie. “That is a human being, and you are being disrespectful.”

Looking back, Amy says, “I was wowed by Valerie, but it actually scared me that she had to do that. I was like, What’s he going to say when I come out at work?”

“I Wore the Tallest Shoes I Had”

Two months later, despite her anxiety, Amy did come out as transgender at work. “I told them I’d been taking hormones and that soon I’d be presenting as a woman,” she says. Everyone, even the guy Valerie chewed out, was respectful. Amy picked her twenty-fifth birthday, October 6, 2008, as the day she’d let go of Brendan forever.

On October 5, Amy went to a stylist and got her uneven chin-length hair highlighted and cut in a soft bob. The next morning, on her birthday, she performed what was by now a fairly normal weekend routine: She shaved her underarms, legs and face (hormones had lessened but not eliminated her facial hair), applied light makeup and ran a flatiron (an essential gift from Valerie) through her bangs. The outfit she’d picked out for that day—slacks, an oxford over a tank, and pumps—was “basically the female version of what I’d worn every single day as a guy,” she says. “I didn’t want to overwhelm everyone on the first day.” If her coworkers registered any shock, however, Amy was in too much pain to notice. “I wore the tallest shoes I had that day because I wanted to look cute,” she says. “But I didn’t know that wearing heels for an entire day is hard! By the time I got to the office I could barely walk. All I could focus on was getting to my desk and sitting down. So, in a way, maybe those shoes were a blessing.”

Within a month, in spite of her friends’ entreaties not to rush herself, Amy felt anxious to embark on her next rite of passage: dating as a woman. She started on a dating site that matches men with transgender women. Amy’s first real date went well—so well that she went out several more times with the guy, but when things started to get more serious, he disappeared. “It hurt a lot,” says Amy. “Having only dated as a guy, I hadn’t experienced that kind of vulnerability. It was awful!”

Do They All Want To Sleep With Me? — And Other Questions Of A Guys’ Girl

Being a guys’ girl is all fun and games — until you realize you’ve been the one in play all along.

Nov 21, 2019 · 7 min read

I recently read Girl Logic: the Genius and the Absurdity, by Iliza Shlesinger. Perhaps you’ve heard of her. If not, go find one of her specials on Netflix.

The point I want to highlight from her book is (spoiler alert) not really part of any of her stand-up specials. Even though Iliza and I are very different people in many ways, by reading her book I found a strong commonality: we’re a couple of guys’ girls.

Iliza’s whole chapter on being a guys’ girl is very spot-on. My experience fits exactly what she describes: “It’s not like I specifically set out to become one; it happened naturally.”

There are a few factors that bring a girl to cultivate more friendships with guys than with other girls. For some of us, connecting with other women just doesn’t come naturally. Men seem simpler to deal with (when there’s no romantic interest on the girl’s part, but more on that later). Around them you can say anything, be anything.

As a rule, I don’t feel as comfortable around other girls as I do around men. I was never the most feminine of women. Makeup was a mystery to me until I turned 25, which was the same age when I finally learned how to properly blow-dry my hair. Before that, I used to think of hair driers as something for emergencies only. I nearly put mine inside a glass box in the bathroom with a sign: break glass in case it’s below 50ºF outside and you forgot to wash your hair 3 hours in advance. To this day, I’m completely lost when it comes to flat irons and curling wands.

Hanging out with boys so much has that effect. It’s a never ending vicious cycle. You start hanging out with boys because they’re easier to deal with. Around them, you don’t wonder why you can’t hide your dark circles with makeup as well as Lucy does, or if you’ll ever manage to starve yourself enough to have abs like Debra’s. You don’t feel inferior for your clothing choices because you’re not standing next to Allison and her perfectly assembled, on-season, trendy outfit.

There are so many questions involved in hanging out with girls. Like, how much boy talk is too much boy talk? How much weight should I say I’m trying to lose this week? How can I pretend to care about Stacy’s flat iron dilemma? Ceramic or titanium? Is forming a star with our fingers for a picture still a thing? If I just nod and smile, will they catch on that I’m not enough of a girl to keep up?

I never had any questions when hanging out with boys. Boy’s harden you up with crude jokes at the same time as they allow you to relax with their incredibly low standards for what constitutes good company. So things like makeup and hair and clothes become less important, and when you notice, it becomes even harder to connect with the girls than it was before.

Like I said, vicious cycle.

I don’t want to be unfair to girls by implying all they care about is looks and clothes, just as I don’t want to be unfair to boys by implying it’s all pizza and fart jokes all day.

I have connected at a deep level with many wonderful girls throughout my life, it just has always been simpler and far easier for me to find that connection with guys.

Of course, boys are only easier to deal with when you’re not into them.

It’s 100% true what they say: once we put a guy in the “friend” category, he becomes an assexual being. When we say that he’s like a brother to us, we don’t mean it Game of Thrones style. Not ever. We mean he holds as much sex appeal to us as a seashell. And maybe not even that.

And that’s impossible to change.

My behavior next to a guy I’m interested in is completely different from my behavior next to a guy I consider a friend. For starters, coming up and saying “hi” to someone I’m interested in is a struggle, while around my friends I’m spontaneous and loose. I’ve recently got better at it, but I still get very nervous around guys I find attractive.

A relaxed time is one thing a girl can expect from guy friends, but Iliza accurately points out another aspect of the dynamics:

“Being a woman participating in a male-dominated activity meant one thing: you were “good enough” to run with the guys. Being as skilled and ballsy as the guys lent a girl a subtle air of superiority.” — Iliza Shlesinger, Girl Logic: the Genius and the Absurdity.

My earliest memories of being five at the preschool’s playground all involve me running around playing with the boys. I’d spend summer vacations surrounded by them, biking, climbing trees, bodyboarding, playing soccer and hide and seek. My knees couldn’t catch a break, they were always scraped raw.

I liked the idea that I could keep up with the boys. Short of belching the alphabet, I’d do pretty much anything.

But then I grew up. And even though I still occasionally played basketball with the guys, those friendships became less about physical accomplishments and more about intelectual discussions and shared interests.

And that’s when we’re back to Girl Logic. Iliza separates the guys’ girls into six different categories, from the truly sports fanatics to the funny girl through “The Hot Chick Dudes Claim Is “Like a Sister” but You Know They Secretly Jerk Off to Her Instagram Pictures”.

I never really second-guessed any of my guy friendships. Not even when I discovered, a couple of years after high school, that one of my great friends from that time had lied to everyone that we’d kissed. Not even when another great friend sent me texts at 4 am telling me he couldn’t stop thinking about me.

Not even until recently, when a third friend (or so I thought) decided to drive 7 hours to see me and got extremely disappointed when I treated him as no more than just a friend. To be clear, before he hopped in his car, I told him I was involved with someone else (which was true), but he came anyway.

So, it just recently dawned on me that many of what I had always considered to be great friendships had had their starting points on a guy being interested in me.

And yes, I saw When Harry Met Sally.

I just always thought that the arguments against male/female friendships in the movie weren’t exactly accurate.

I guess you can call me naive.

If you remember the movie (or haven’t seen it), Harry meets Sally and tells her women and men can’t be friends because “the sex thing always gets in the way”. He explains to her that a man can’t be friends with a woman he finds attractive because he’ll want to have sex with her, and he can’t be friends with women he finds unattractive because, in Harry’s words: “you pretty much want to to nail them too”.

All my life I’ve heard people tell me that I’m pretty, despite sometimes looking in the mirror and not being so sure of it myself. I know I also divide opinions a bit. I know some men think I’m stunning, while others look at me and go “meh. No big deal”. But no one ever thinks I’m ugly.

This isn’t me being conceited, this is just what I’ve learned after almost 30 years of being alive in a western society.

It stands to reason that many guys first approached me because they thought I was pretty and perhaps they could get some. It just never occurred to me that their friendship had hidden intentions, since it never occurred to me to first become friends with someone I’m interested in — if you remember, I find coming up and saying “hi” nearly impossible to do.

I used to not really question my friendships with guys. Now I have one major doubt:

How many of them want to sleep with me? Do they all?

I supposed I used to think that Harry’s argument in the movie was flawed because it paints men as sex-obsessed animals, incapable of separating the purely intellectual friendship of a woman who’s just happy to hang out from an opening to someone who might become a romantic partner — or at the very least go to bed with them.

And I spent my life giving men more credit than that.

OR I spent my life too distracted to notice the hungry wolf eyes of those I had already put in the seashell category. Because if I’m not interested in a man as more than a friend, how could he?

But of course, just because you’ve a-sexualized someone in your mind it doesn’t mean they’ve actually became asexual beings. I’m ashamed to say I’ve only recently came to this realization.

And that brings me to the second major question involved with being a guy’s girl:

Are they all only being nice to me because they think I’m pretty?

Are any of them interested in me for who I am more than for what I seem to be?

I’d like to give my friends more credit and believe that they are. I’d like to believe no one would bother to be my friend for ten years if they didn’t get deeper value from my friendship than maybe eventually attain the opportunity of perhaps someday obtaining sexual gratification.

Still, I know my overall perspective on being friends with guys has shifted a bit. I won’t suddenly start avoiding forming these bonds, but I feel more equipped to do a better job separating the men who can put their sexual desires in the back burner and value the friendship from those who’ll take any opportunity to come on to me.

Meanwhile, I want to celebrate my friendships with other girls. After all, they’re not nice to me because they want to f*k me (most of them, I think), and that makes any difficulty in connecting a thousand times worth overcoming.

Oh, I didn’t see you there—I was too busy watching sports and shotgunning beers. I’m a pretty typical tomboy. Also, I’m pretty. It’s confusing, I know. People are always, like, “Were you created in a lab?” And I’m always, like, “I’m not at liberty to discuss that.”

Kidding! I love humor. Nothing is funnier to me than a boy fart or saying “pussy” for no reason. And, yes, you can swear around me. I’m used to it because I grew up with a bunch of brothers. It was so many brothers but also a normal number. Like, seventeen? Does that sound right?

I’ve always been a guy’s girl. I love meats and video games and how gasoline smells and tires taste. You know—just dude stuff. I’ve never been into girly things like makeup or being culturally conditioned to hate my body. What even is “bronzer” or “eyelashes”? I don’t understand why girls take so long to get ready. I put my human flesh on one leg at a time, just like one of the guys.

Girls are always so jealous and sensitive about everything. I don’t get that. I literally feel nothing except interest in whatever you like. I don’t think I’d get along with girls if I ever met one in real life.

Boys are just easier to hang out with. I guess that’s what makes me a guy’s girl. Specifically, the girl of some guys who created me during a thunderstorm. They glued two basketballs to a flagpole, waited for lightning to strike, and here I am.

Joking! Oh, my God, you should have seen your face. You were like that guy from that movie you’re so good at quoting. You remind me of Ryan Gosling, but I’d actually have sex with you.

Was that too forward? I don’t want to come on too strong. But you know what they say: “Don’t be a fucking tease like Lisa.” That’s the saying, right? I love sayings. Is now when I show you my basketball boobs? I mean, do you want to play basketball? Ha ha, I’m such a guy! Except I’m a girl!

Other girls are, like, “Why are we being pitted against one another for the gratification of the male gaze?” But I’m, like, “Because when we’re against each other, our boobies touch and it’s cool, duh.” Speaking of cool, a cool thing about me is that my butt is just for decoration and that’s all.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been more into guy stuff than girl stuff. My memory only spans the length of a day and restarts every morning because I’m just chill like that.

I’m so good at chilling with the guys that Flip Cup is my middle name, which is funny because I don’t even have a last name. Do girls have last names?

I thought I met a girl once, but she was just a maple-syrup bottle. We sat across from one another in the kitchen and quietly kept each other company. Neither of us spoke because there were no boys in the room for us to fight over. I thought about bringing her to life in a lightning storm so that I’d have someone to listen to me. But that’d be selfish—I wasn’t brought here to think only of myself. I was brought here to think only of myself in relation to men.

Plus, I didn’t have any basketballs to glue to her.

Can Men and Women Be Friends?

Wrong, relationship experts have said. “The belief that men and women can’t be friends comes from another era in which women were at home and men were in the workplace, and the only way they could get together was for romance,” explained Linda Sapadin, a psychologist in Valley Stream, New York. “Now they work together and share sports interests and socialize together.” This cultural shift has encouraged psychologists, sociologists and communications experts to put forth a new message: Though it may be tricky, men and women can successfully become close friends. What’s more, there are good reasons for them to do so.

Society has long singled out romance as the prototypical male-female relationship because it spawns babies and keeps the life cycle going; cross-sex friendship, as researchers call it, has been either ignored or trivialized. We have rules for how to act in romantic relationships (flirt, date, get married, have kids) and even same-sex friendships (boys relate by doing activities together, girls by talking and sharing). But there are so few platonic male-female friendships on display that we’re at a loss to even define these relationships.

Part of this confusion stems from the media. A certain classic film starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal convinced a nation of moviegoers that sex always comes between men and women, making true friendship impossible. “When Harry Met Sally set the potential for male-female friendship back about 25 years,” said Michael Monsour, assistant professor of communications at the University of Colorado at Denver and author of Women and Men as Friends. Television hasn’t helped either. “Almost every time you see a male-female friendship, it winds up turning into romance,” Monsour noted. Think Sam and Diane or Chandler and Monica. These cultural images are hard to overcome, he said. It’s no wonder we expect that men and women are always on the road to romance.

But that’s only one of the major barriers. Don O’Meara, Ph.D., at the University of Cincinnati-Raymond Walters College, published a landmark study in the journal Sex Roles on the top impediments to cross-sex friendship. “I started my research because one of my best friends is a woman,” said O’Meara. “She said, ‘Do you think anyone else has the incredible friendship we do?'” He decided to find out, and after reviewing the scant existing research, O’Meara identified the following challenges to male-female friendship: defining it, dealing with sexual attraction, seeing each other as equals, facing people’s responses to the relationship and meeting in the first place.


Defining the Relationship: Friends or Lovers?

Platonic love does exist, O’Meara asserted, and a study of 20 pairs of friends published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships lends credence to the notion. In it, Heidi Reeder, at Boise State University, confirmed that “friendship attraction” or a connection devoid of lust, is a bona fide type of bond that people experience. Distinguishing between romantic, sexual and friendly feelings, however, can be exceedingly difficult.

“People don’t know what feelings are appropriate toward the opposite sex, unless they’re what our culture defines as appropriate,” said O’Meara. “You know you love someone and enjoy them as a person, but not enough to date or marry them. What does this mean?”


Overcoming Attraction: Let’s Talk About Sex

The reality that sexual attraction could suddenly enter the equation of a cross-sex friendship uninvited is always lurking in the background. A simple, platonic hug could instantaneously take on a more amorous meaning. “You’re trying to do a friend-friend thing,” said O’Meara, “but the male-female parts of you get in the way.” Unwelcome or not, the attraction is difficult to ignore.

In a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Sapadin asked more than 150 professional men and women what they liked and disliked about their cross-sex friendships. Topping women’s list of dislikes: sexual tension. Men, on the other hand, more frequently replied that sexual attraction was a prime reason for initiating a friendship, and that it could even deepen a friendship. Either way, 62 percent of all subjects reported that sexual tension was present in their cross-sex friendships.


Establishing Equality: The Power Play

Friendship should be a pairing of equals. But, O’Meara said, “in a culture where men have always been more equal than women, male dominance, prestige and power is baggage that both men and women are likely to bring to a relationship.” Women are at risk of subconsciously adopting a more submissive role in cross-sex friendships, he said, although that is slowly changing as society begins to treat both genders more equally.


The Public Eye: Dealing with Doubters

Society may not be entirely ready for friendships between men and women that have no sexual subtext. People with close friends of the opposite sex are often barraged with nudging, winking and skepticism: “Are you really just friends?” This is especially true, said O’Meara, of older adults, who grew up when men and women were off-limits to each other until marriage.


The Meeting Place: Finding Friends

As the workplace and other social arenas become increasingly open to women, the sexes are mingling more and more. Still, men and women continue to have surprisingly few opportunities to interact.

“Boys and girls form their own gender groups in elementary school,” explained Monsour. “They learn their own ways of relating to each other. So when they do get together, inspired by puberty, they see each other as dating partners because they’ve never really known each other as friends.” A surprisingly major factor in this phenomenon is the kids’ own innate interest in children who act like they do. Called “voluntary gender segregation,” it continues into adulthood. “You see it at cocktail parties,” said Monsour. “Men go off to one corner, and women go to another.”

These obstacles may seem numerous and formidable, but male-female friendship is becoming not only a possibility but also a necessity. If men and women are to work, play and coexist in modern society, researchers believe men and women must learn to understand and communicate with each other. To that end, social scientists like Sapadin, Monsour and O’Meara have studied how to do just that. The field of research is still in its infancy, but they are now beginning to understand some basic truths about male-female friendship:


Friendship Is Not Equal Opportunity

Not until high school does puberty really draw boys and girls together, which then continues into college. But as people develop serious romantic relationships or get married, making and maintaining cross-sex friendships becomes harder. “Even the most secure people in a strong marriage probably don’t want a spouse to be establishing a new friendship, especially with someone who’s very attractive,” said Monsour.

The number of cross-sex friendships continues to decline with age—not surprising, because most older adults grew up in an age where consorting with the opposite sex outside of wedlock was taboo. According to Rosemary Blieszner, at Virginia Tech and author of Adult Friendship, elderly people rarely form new friendships with members of the opposite sex. Her research shows that only about 2 percent of the friendships elderly women have are with men.


Men Benefit More from Cross-Sex Friendship

There are proven—and apparent—distinct differences between female friendship and male friendship. Women spend the majority of their time together discussing their thoughts and feelings, while men tend to be far more group-oriented. Males gather to play sports or travel or talk stock quotes; rarely do they share feelings or personal reflections. This may explain why they seem to get far more out of cross-sex friendship than their female counterparts.

In Sapadin’s study, men rated cross-sex friendships as being much higher in overall quality, enjoyment and nurturance than their same-sex friendships. What they reported liking most was talking and relating to women—something they can’t do with their buddies. Meanwhile, women rated their same-sex friendships higher on all these counts. They expect more emotional rewards from friendship than men do, explained Sapadin, so they’re easily disappointed when they don’t receive them. “Women confide in women,” noted Blieszner. “Men confide in women.”


…But Women Benefit, Too

All that sharing and discussing in female-female friendship can become exhausting, as any woman who’s stayed up all night comforting a brokenhearted girlfriend can attest. With men, women can joke and banter without any emotional baggage. “Friendships with men are lighter, more fun,” said Sapadin. “Men aren’t so sensitive about things.” Some women in her study also liked the protective, familial and casual warmth they got from men, viewing them as surrogate big brothers. What they liked most of all, however, was getting some insight into what guys really think.


Cross-Sex Friendships Are Emotionally Rewarding

Although women dig men’s lighthearted attitude, most male-female friendships resemble women’s emotionally involving friendships more than they do men’s activity-oriented relationships, according to Kathy Werking, at Eastern Kentucky University and author of We’re Just Good Friends. Her work has shown that the number one thing male and female friends do together is talk one-on-one. Other activities they prefer—like dining out and going for drives—simply facilitate that communication. In fact, Werking found, close male-female friends are extremely emotionally supportive if they continuously examine their feelings, opinions and ideas. “Males appreciate this because it tends not to be a part of their same-sex friendships,” she said. “Females appreciate garnering the male perspective.”


It’s Not All About Sex

“In reality, sex isn’t always on the agenda,” said Werking. “That could be due to sexual orientation, lack of physical attraction or involvement in another romantic relationship.” After all, even friends who are attracted to each other may also recognize that qualities they tolerate in a friendship wouldn’t necessarily work in a serious romantic relationship. And after years of considering someone as a friend, it often becomes difficult to see a cross-sex pal as a romantic possibility.

Of pairs that do face the question of lust, those that decide early on to bypass an uncertain romantic relationship are more likely to have an enduring friendship, says Werking. One study by Walid Afifi, of Penn State University, showed that of more than 300 college students surveyed, 67 percent reported having had sex with a friend. Interestingly, 56 percent of those subjects did not transition the friendship into a romantic relationship, suggesting that they preferred friendship over sex.


Male-Female Friendships Are Political

Men and women have increasingly similar rights, opportunities and interests, which can make cross-sex friendship very political, noted Werking. “It upsets the agreed-upon social order,” she explains. “Women and men engage in an equal relationship, or they aren’t friends.” For one thing, new generations of kids grow up believing that boys can play with dolls and girls can take kickboxing, and they’re crossing paths more frequently as a result.

Men and women are also becoming more androgynous as their societal roles become more similar. “Men are more willing to have feminine characteristics, and women are a lot more willing to admit to traditionally masculine characteristics, like assertiveness,” said Monsour. His dissertation showed that women and men categorized as androgynous had twice the number of cross-sex friends.

Whatever the challenges of male-female friendship, researchers agree that to succeed as friends, both genders have to openly and honestly negotiate exactly what their relationship will mean—whether sexual attraction is a factor and how they’ll deal with it—and establish boundaries. In Afifi’s and Reeder’s studies, the friendships that survived—and even thrived—after sex or attraction came into play were those in which the friends extensively discussed the meaning of the sexual activity and felt confident and positive about each other’s feelings. Once they got past that, they were home free.

“If sex is part of the dynamic, addressing it explicitly is the best strategy” for making sure the friendship survives, said Werking. “The issue will fester if friends try to ignore it.” So in the end, male-female friendship does have something in common with romantic relationships: To work, communication is key.

Researchers tell us that men and women can be friends. But do we really believe them? A survey of more than 1,450 members of the dating site revealed that we’re an optimistic bunch:

  1. Do you believe men and women can be platonic friends?

    Yes: 83%

    No: 11%

    Unsure: 6%

  2. Have you had a platonic friendship that crossed the line and became romantic or sexual?

    Yes: 62%

    No: 36%

    Unsure: 2%

  3. Who is more likely to misinterpret the intimacy of friendship for sexual desire?

    Men: 64%

    Women: 25%

    Unsure: 11%

  4. Is it possible to fall in love with someone who first enters your life as a friend?

    Yes: 94%

    No: 4%

    Unsure: 2%

  5. Do you hope that when you do fall in love, your partner will have started out as your friend?

    Yes: 71%

    No: 9%

    Unsure: 20%

  6. Who is better at keeping sex out of a platonic relationship?

    Men: 13%

    Women: 67%

    Unsure: 20%

The latest numbers on American birth rates are in, and they yield only one reasonable conclusion: All of us need to start having more babies or else the upcoming demographic tsunami will consume our nation, cripple our social programs, and leave us with a future so bleak that our only source of joy will be the moment we’re chosen to receive the sweet, fatal kiss of the Obamacare Death Panels, the Trumpcare Firing Squads, or the OprahCare Hemlock Squadrons.

Perhaps I’m overstating the danger a bit, but the point remains: Americans need to raise our sagging birth rates. One of the best ways we can do so is by reversing the trend of Americans waiting longer to get married. So, apart from tearing down America’s institutions of higher education, which tend to slow down the recitation of wedding vows, how do we do that? It’s quite simple. We tear down the Friend Zone.

Every year, countless young men find themselves trapped in the Friend Zone, a prison where women place any man they deem worthy of their time but not their hearts, men they’d love to have dinner with but, for whatever reason, don’t want to kiss goodnight.

Being caught in the Friend Zone is an inarguable drag on fertility rates, as a man who spends several years pledging his heart to a woman who will never have his children is also a man who most likely won’t procreate with anyone else during that time of incarceration. Free him to find a woman who actually wants to marry him, however, and he’ll have several more years to sire children who will laugh, create, sing, fill the world with love and, most importantly, pay into Social Security.

Quite simply, for the sake of our future, the Friend Zone must be destroyed. For the Friend Zone to be destroyed, women must accept the following truths: you don’t have any guy friends and, in fact, you can’t have any guy friends.

If He’s Spending Time Alone With You, He Wants a Date

By “friends,” I don’t mean acquaintances or chummy colleagues you only see at work, or friends of friends that you don’t get together with outside of a group setting, or what I call buffer-zone friends—people of the opposite sex you can be friends with because there is a significant other in between to take the romantic element out of the equation. Rather, by “friend” I mean someone you deliberately choose to spend one-on-one time with.

Likewise, I’m also asserting that a man can’t truly be your friend if he secretly wants to date you. Virtually every man who meets the one-on-one qualification does, in fact, want to date you. To understand why, it helps to look at things from an economic perspective.

Imagine that friendship is a good that people acquire in exchange for the currency of their time. The average man lives in a competitive friendship market where some forms of friendship appeal to him more than others and therefore get his business. What then, is the average man looking for in a friend? By and large, something along these lines:

  1. Someone who shares his interest in activities such as watching movies where things explode, playing video games where things explode, or putting fireworks in things so they’ll explode. Bonus points if you enjoy yelling at football players through the television set and laughing at noxious flatulence.
  2. Someone who won’t pressure him to open up beyond his comfort level if his girlfriend breaks up with him,he loses his job, or his mom gets eaten by a yeti.
  3. Someone who cherishes the man tradition of showing affection through insults and general jackassery.

If you are a lady who believes your dude friends are genuinely “just friends,” ask yourself this: Which of these things are you better at giving a man than another man is?

The answer is clear. None of them. You are not especially good at liking “Karate Ninja 7: Exploding Hands of Fury,” or informing the offensive line of the Chicago Bears, via your Samsung, that they are all false starting idiots.

When a guy is comfortable within the borders of Emotional-Repression-ville, you’re not great at letting him stay there. When he makes you cough and hack by releasing Taco Bell-fueled hell gas in your general direction, you don’t respond by complimenting him on his notable wind-breaking abilities.

If a guy wants to show you how much he values your friendship by calling you turd blossom or making you think you’re going to die in a skydiving accident, you probably won’t take that as a display of tenderness. By and large, you are not very good at supplying the kind of friendship the average man demands.

There’s Only One Thing You Can Give His Man Friends Can’t

If, then, the average male coworker, male neighbor, or male Nepalese yak herder is better at producing masculine companionship, why is an average man giving his business to you? It’s not because he wants your friendship. It’s because he wants to convince you to open up the supply chain of a romantic relationship to him, and he foolishly believes he can do so by being a loyal friendship customer. “Pay my dues in the Friend Zone,” he thinks, “and one day she’ll promote me to boyfriend.”

Just because men don’t want to be your friend, however, doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy your company. They most certainly do. They love discovering how you see the world, what you think about life, the universe, and everything. They love your kindness, thoughtfulness, sensitivity, support, and your nurturing heart. They love being in your presence when you display the wonders of the feminine virtues.

But because God designed these virtues to entice men into marriage, the average man will never be content to receive those gifts in a form of companionship that doesn’t lead to marriage. Quite simply, men can’t be at peace being just friends. And there’s nothing you can do to change that. Platonic chilling won’t stop your inner (and outer) beauty from pulling a man towards romantic love. Telling him he’s like a brother to you won’t stop his brain from shouting “Marry that woman and impregnate her now” when he encounters your femininity.

Repeat the “We’re just friends” mantra a thousand times. It won’t rewire the circuits of the male mind. All it will accomplish is deluding you into thinking he’s content to stay in the Friend Zone quicksand and deluding him into thinking he can break out of it by sinking even deeper.

Accept the truth, ladies. You don’t have any guy friends. You can’t have any guy friends. And because America can no longer afford to have its young adults waste their fertile years thinking otherwise, the time has come to tear down the Friend Zone and set free every man trapped within its confines.

Take a New Look at Your Best Man Friend

Consider your best guy friend. Are you attracted to him? Does he fill you with the biological desire to repopulate the earth? If not, then do your “friend” a solid and let him go. Call him up and tell him, “It’s not my fault that your facial symmetry grosses out my ovaries, but it was my fault that I got your hopes up by putting you in the Friend Zone. As restitution, please accept the phone numbers of five girls I know who find you attractive. Stop wasting your time with me and go hang out with a girl who might one day bear your children.”

So get brave. Get married.

Do this now. Don’t hesitate, thinking that you don’t want to lose him as a friend. The truth is, you’ve never had him as one.

Conversely, if you find your guy friend attractive, and if you see him as a man of character and heart, then call him right now and tell him that he was placed in the Friend Zone due to a clerical error. Say to him, “You make me laugh and would be a great husband and father. Clearly, you need to be on the express track to the Marriage Zone.”

Don’t worry that he’ll reject you. Just as the vast majority of mythological sailors didn’t want to crash their ships into the rocks when they pursued the beauty of the sirens’ song, he most certainly didn’t want to end up here when he began pursuing your song. Don’t worry that he was genuinely only in this for the friendship. Truth be told, you were never particularly good at offering him that in the first place. But you will be quite good at offering him what God designed you to give him—marital bliss.

So get brave. Get married. Get pregnant a bunch of times and give birth to a bunch of beautiful little future taxpayers. The time has come to fight for our future. The time has come to rebuild America’s demographic glory atop the rubble of the fertility-killing Friend Zone.

Guy and girl friend

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