I like to think of myself as a “girl’s girl”. I appreciate feminine energy because according to Beyoncé, we run the world. The power of sisterhood is a force to be reckoned with and I strongly believe healthy female friendships can change your life. This is not to say I cannot easily connect with guys and hold interesting conversations with them. However, I struggle when it boils down to maintaining strictly platonic male friendships. I attribute this to my zodiac sign; I am a libra and we are notoriously known for being “charming”, a nice word for a natural flirt in my opinion.
In our Nigerian society, girls are strictly reprimanded by parents and teachers alike for keeping ‘male friends’. The logic behind their opinion is understandable. Be that as it may, this has corrupted the general idea of male and female friendships which has been quite beneficial to some people. I remember watching my seniors in school face public embarrassment and severe punishment during school assembly simply because they were caught talking to members of the opposite sex. Unknown to those of us who at the time were just ‘tapping gist’, an unhealthy view surrounding male and female friendships was being formed in our young minds.
I never thought I would be saying this, but while it is important to build solid female friendships, it is also important to maintain a balance by building equally meaningful male friendships. When we box male and female friendships into only being useful to meet our emotional or sexual needs and desires, we limit just how amazing and rewarding relating with the opposite sex can be in terms of how much we can learn from them.
Can Men and Women Really Be “Just Friends” ?
The idea of having friends of the opposite sex can be exciting. I believe the question ‘can men and women really be just friends’ is one that should be answered personally, as against the public debate it has become. The fact remains that, it is individuals that make up these relationships and the success of these platonic friendships is heavily dependent on them and what they each have in mind. If you’re unable to maintain friendships with guys, I think rather than ask the question ‘can men and women be just friends’, ask yourself ‘why am I unable to be just friends with guys’.
I know in some situations men have their own ulterior motives, making it very difficult to maintain a strictly platonic friendship, but it may surprise you the level of self-discovery that can come out if you dig deep enough and be honest with yourself.
Can Men and Women Who are Attracted to Each Other Be Just Friends?
Now let’s take it a step further because it is easy to friendzone anyone you may not necessarily find attractive. I will give an example; If someone meets their spec/type, the physical and mental attraction is almost tangible. Is it still possible to maintain a strictly platonic friendship in such a situation?
Have you noticed it is when you decide to “take a break from dating and focus on yourself”, that potential suitors start coming around like a swarm of bees? Meanwhile, when you were looking and available you were wondering where all the men were at.
To answer the question of the possibility of a platonic friendship and I do not mean the “we are just friends” charade between two people who are evidently attracted to each other, I would say yes, it is possible. Unfortunately, you don’t have to be friends with everyone. If you are in a place of wanting to focus and work on yourself or are even in a relationship, my advice would be, no do pass yourself.
Maturity is key in any friendship, especially in the male/female friendship dynamic. Not every guy you meet requires a deep level of friendship just because the vibe is right. We have acquaintances for a reason, especially when there is the potential to make bad decisions or rush into things you are not ready for.
A clear communication of feelings of attraction would also help to significantly ease the tension. A high level of maturity is required to ensure discipline in setting and maintaining realistic boundaries as this will save you from compromising situations.
How To Build Healthy Male Friendships
We hear people say it all the time, “the best relationships start out as friendships” with no one telling us how to build these friendships. Now I do not believe in masking your feelings for someone by becoming their friend in hopes that they would one day realize you are the one for them. Let us not break our own hearts. Friendship is not a means to an end, but rather something that happens naturally. One of my resolutions for the coming year is to build more male friendships and to STOP leading people on! Although you can never have too much feminine energy, I am looking to balance it out nicely. I have a few tips for you if like me, you are looking to inject more masculine energy into your life in the coming new year.
- Pick your friends wisely: As you would with your female friends, the same applies when making male friends. Pick them wisely as your friends are a representation of who you are, though we hate to admit it. Peer pressure is real! Ensure you surround yourself with people who lift you up rather than with people who pull you down or make you lose yourself.
- Set boundaries: Setting boundaries for both in person meet ups and conversations are what separates platonic male friendships from someone you are dating. This will help you draw a line of safety that if ignored, can lead to mixed signals and trust me when I say those hardly ever end well. Conversations surrounding personal sexual histories, ranting to one another about each other’s relationship problems (are you a couple’s therapist?) and being overly affectionate with one another can blur the lines and lure either of you into the trap of catching feelings.
- Communication: Free flow of communication is a necessity for any type of relationship to succeed and building solid male friendships is not an exception to the rule. Conversations on what you both want out of your friendship, personal boundaries and so on are topics that should be brought up from time to time. The idea is to foster an environment where everyone feels safe to speak their minds.
- Protect yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally: This goes without saying but remember to put all aspects of yourself and safety first. It is important to apply wisdom when dealing with friends and choosing who to trust. Remember to guard your heart because that thing called feelings can try and show up unannounced and ruin a good friendship. If you constantly feel emotionally drained after hanging out with a friend, then it is time to reassess that friendship.
Ultimately, remember to have fun and to just be yourself. My friend and I were debating this male and female friendship conversation and she asked a very valid question, “must you date every guy you meet?”. When you stop limiting your relationships with guys to only being useful to fulfil the romantic aspect of your lives, you would be surprised just how cool having the right male friends can be for you.