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Can Men and Women Really Be Friends?

(from the archives) It’s Wednesday again and that means it’s also He Said/She Said time.

It’s an age old question (sorta). Men, women, and friendship. Is it legit? I don’t know if I have known of many genuine friendships between men and women. It seems like it is much more of a novel and progressive idea than it is a practical possibility.

I’m suspicious. And I’m curious. Can men and women really be friends?

When Harry Met Sally is my favorite romantic comedy. Harry believes that men and women can never really be friends because, as he says, “the sex part always gets in the way.”

“The sex part” for Christians is, hopefully, not an issue, at least not in the same way. The sex part for Christians is more likened to attraction and maybe even some sexual tension. Which, when you are following Christ and are single, sexual pressure and desire is enough as it is without becoming friends with someone of the opposite sex whom you find hot.

I don’t think I could have ever really been friends with a hot guy while I was single. No way. That’s asking for trouble.

Looking back over my friendships, I’ve had a few male friends. At the time I really believed that they were just friends. But as I’ve gotten older and had the chance to re-evaluate those friendships, I’m not so sure.

There was the one guy who hung outside my place of work, waiting for my shift to end. There was also the friend who got angry every time my ex-boyfriend would call me. Or the dude who acted all friend-like, but who many years later told me he had a crush on me all along. I was also not attracted to any of these guys. Hmm…I think see a pattern developing.

All that aside, I do think being single and only having close friends of the same sex is great practice for marriage. Before getting married I was always intrigued by and admired guys who didn’t flirt with every girl or who had a girlfriend but didn’t have numerous female friendships on top of that. I also believe it is wise to have friends of the opposite sex that you only hang out with or see in group settings.

Now onto the issue of whether men and women can or should be friends. “Should” is different then “can”. Should they? Sure, if they can handle the heat and potential temptation. Can they? Umm… I’m still figuring that out.

Another situation people often bring up is men and women being friends with other couples. My husband and I have couple friends and I consider the men in those couples to, in fact, be my friends. However, I would never hang out with a man without my husband or call up a male friend to chit chat. My husband would also never kick it with the wife of one of his friends.

My husband and I only operate as friends with the opposite sex person within another couple when our spouse is present. Yes, it sounds a little limiting, but that’s the point. I trust my husband and I trust my friends, but I don’t want my husband and my friends going to a Friday night movie together to share some Red Vines. I want my man right next to me at the movies, holding my hand and stealing my popcorn.

I personally don’t feel like I’m missing out by not having some laundry list of guys that I call friends. I also never meet a guy and think “Man, he’s so cool, I wish we could be friends.” I’ll wish, if he’s married, I could get to know his wife. Or if he’s single, I’ll hope that he and my husband become friends. I guess part of the reason for that is because I have such a close friendship with my own husband that anyone in his life, is by default, in mine as well. And that’s the way I like it.

Harry says men and women can never be friends, that in the end, it’s impossible. I don’t agree totally with Harry but I see his point.

What about you? Do you think men and women can be friends? Why or why not? Do you have friends of the opposite sex?

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Nicole Cottrell is trained in the fine art of button-pushing. She uses her skills daily on Modern Reject where she writes about the intersection of faith and culture as well as the unpopular stuff no one else likes to talk about. Nicole is a speaker, writer, discipler, and coffee fanatic. She and her husband planted the Foundation, a network of house churches in Arizona. Nicole lives in Scottsdale with her husband and two little munchkins, three of the coolest and funniest people she knows.