Navigating Platonic Friendships

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You're hovering a bit there bucko.

If you’ve got a question that needs the female treatment, chances are you’re not the only one who wants to ask it. Beth is our source for the answers. From opinions on men’s style to decoding the sometimes mysterious ways of women, she’ll take on a different question every Thursday. She also might provide an answer without waiting to be asked. That happens from time to time too. Click here to get to know Beth, then get in touch with her by sending your question to: .


I remember in high school, it was super cool if you were a girl who had a boy best friend, who was strictly that, a friend. It made you seem like a girl who wouldn’t nag or whine, a girl who wouldn’t get pissed if the boys started talking about boobs, a girl who got the inside scoop on what dudes talked and thought about. I desperately wanted to be one of those girls, but it never happened. The few times I approached serious friendship with a dude, we ended up dating. Fail. It wasn’t until the end of college that I figured out how to have a platonic friendship with a guy. If you’re still trying to figure out how to navigate platonic friendships, here’s a quick how-to:

It helps if one or both of you is dating someone else

No brainer, right? If you’re committed to another person, you hopefully won’t have any interest in dipping a toe into other waters. Ideally you and your friend both would be dating other people. Double security.

 An age-old debate…

Think before you drink

Maintaining a platonic friendship with someone you could conceivably sleep with requires that you do a little more preventative work. Don’t have her over to your empty apartment at 9pm after she just broke up with her boyfriend. Don’t get wasted just the two of you, especially not anywhere in the vicinity of a bed. With rampant emotions and lots of booze, people make mistakes. Hell, people make mistakes without either of those two variables. People look for comfort or distraction and end up in a situation they regret. Don’t assume you’ll make the right choice in the moment–avoid putting yourself there at all.

Recognize and allow for feelings of jealousy

You want a platonic relationship with this person, yes. But there must be a number of things you find very appealing about her or you wouldn’t want to be friends with her. So if you’ve developed a close bond with your friend, and then she meets someone and starts dating, it can feel kinda bad. Maybe she gushes about how handsome, how smart, how funny he is. Or she starts spending every waking moment with him. It’s totally natural that you’d feel jealous. Validate that feeling–“yes, I’m jealous that she’s with someone else”–so that you can deal with it appropriately. Remind yourself that your priority is to maintain a non-romantic bond with this woman. Try to spend time with your friend and her new boyfriend together. Get to know him, see them as a couple. It will help reinforce the friendship, as well as reminding you that you probably don’t really want to date her, you’re just having trouble adjusting to the new situation.

Incidentally, if you attempt platonic relationships with women and find them unsatisfactory, that’s totally fair. Though I have a number of men friends now, some I’m closer to than others, I still prefer friendships with women. Women are more likely to speak my language (you know, the old stereotypical standbys, feelings, emotions) and enjoy my sense of humor (big fan of bawdy female anatomy jokes that tend to make the menfolk cringe). Plus, I feel more quickly at ease with women than with men. It’s just a personal preference.


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