Strictly Platonic – No, Seriously

He Said

Can a man and a woman maintain strictly platonic relationship with each other?

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True or nah?

I agree – true. For the life of me I cannot understand how grown people cannot maintain friendships with the opposite sex without muddying the waters with – sexual advances or energy. Many times men are drawn to a woman because they have sex on the brain, but sometimes the man can begin to truly appreciate the woman for who she is. Other times, it becomes the responsibility of either party to control their own emotions and desires and not make unwanted advancements.

I understand that attraction may occur between friends. Or that one friend might be more attracted to the other friend unbeknownst to the friend. However, neither of these examples nullifies our ability to reach higher and maintain a platonic relationship with someone for whom you may have an attraction.

People decide to bring others into their lives driven by whatever needs are to be fulfilled. The Bible states we go through seasons and individuals might come in and out of our lives depending on where we are in our life journeys. However, there is no reference to or hard and fast rule coming from the good Book about maintaining opposite sex friendships.

Well, there is some reference to committing adultery in one’s own mind including lasciviousness and other sinful actions. Yada, yada, yada, but I digress.

Men will almost always befriend females in which they have an attraction. And some men will truly desire a strictly platonic relationship as they get to know the female friend they’ve encountered. Heck, even Oedipus desired and married his own mother (hello…gross!) according to Sophocles. Besides, what man, straight or gay, doesn’t want to be around a harem of attractive female friends?

The bottom line – discipline and self-control come into play. Keep it in your pants for once in a while and get to know the woman for who she is – and you might find yourself with a friend for life. Or at least until you get married and your spouse nixes on the female friend.

And given the chance would a male friend control any sexual desires he has toward his female companion? Maybe not, but even so, should a one-time sexual encounter stop two individuals from developing a meaningful friendship after a “slip up”? I think not.

Have at it folks – go find that female or male friend and keep it platonic. There could be a treasure chest of friendship benefits waiting.

She Said

It’s almost impossible to maintain a close relationship with a member of the opposite sex without getting too close, resulting in problems in your existing romantic relationship, hindering your ability to get involved in a romantic relationship or causing one of the two people in the “friendship” to be hurt or frustrated.  It gets even more complicated if you have had an intimate relationship with the person.  In my opinion, all that bonding that you do with a member of the opposite sex should be reserved for the person with whom you will have or are having  a romantic relationship.

I believe someone always wants more than a mere friendship and they think they can “wait out” the other person or are willing to accept the crumbs of a relationship that the other person is willing to dole out.  It’s not a healthy situation for either party and should be avoided.  I have male friends, but I’ve never had a male friendship where there wasn’t an undercurrent, a tension that had to be managed.  If my significant other were to feel threatened by that relationship then that relationship would have to go.

Mr. Neanderthal (aka “He Said”) is right.  What brings friends together is an attraction, whether it’s an attraction to shared history or shared values or a physical attraction.  Either way, when you have this “attraction” to a member of the opposite sex it is very difficult not to cross over the line and get your heart or your body (or both) in trouble.  It is the emotional intimacy that is the greatest threat to your primary relationship.  The best test of whether a friendship with a member of the opposite sex is healthy is to ask yourself, “If something very good or very bad happens in my life, is this the person that I immediately think to call?” or “I am the person that my friend immediately thinks to call if something very good or very bad happens in his/her life?”  If the answer to either question is “yes” then you are far too emotionally tied to this “friend” or he/she to you (or both).

How is this a problem, you say?  Ask your significant other.  Who wants to be involved in a relationship with someone who has a relationship with a member of the opposite sex that usurps your role in your significant other’s life?  I know there are those that believe that no one person can fulfill all of your needs, and I agree, but I also think that if you decide to have a member of the opposite sex be your “go to” person to fulfill one of your needs, you should make sure it’s okay with your significant other and be clear with all involved on what the boundaries of the “friendship”are going to be.  There should be no sexual innuendos, no intimate conversations and limited time alone.

Mr. Neanderthal says it’s just a matter of “growing up” and avoiding the pitfalls that such a relationship presents.  Maybe, maybe not.  I guess it depends on the people involved.  I personally think it has less to do with “growing up” and more to do with being honest with yourself and asking yourself those two questions I posed.

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