It’s a question that’s practically as old as time itself: Can men and women be “just friends”?
Have you ever encountered a woman in your life who you were not romantically attracted to but wanted to have a platonic relationship with? Maybe you struggled to communicate this and didn’t want her to get the wrong idea about your intentions.
Or perhaps other complications arose. After all, maintaining friendly relationships with women can be problematic if you’re in a romantic relationship with someone else.
Sure, you and your female friend may both know that there isn’t (and never will be) anything romantic between the two of you, but it’s sometimes difficult to make the people around you see that.
Considering all these factors, you may be left wondering: Is it possible to build authentic friendships with women? The answer is yes, and today I’ll explain exactly how to do it.
Maintaining authentic friendships with women can be rich and rewarding, and they can help fill a gap that men often find with their male counterparts.
After all, it’s no secret that many men struggle to build connections with other men, especially as they get older.
Professional men’s coaching groups, like the one we offer at Knowledge for Men, can help fill that gap, but a male-female friendship can help build unique perspectives that men simply can’t provide.
Beyond that, some men just prefer the company of women compared to men. However, to foster a genuine connection that lasts, certain principles need to be set in place.
Won’t All Friendships With Women Eventually Turn Romantic?
One of the most common concerns among men is that any friendships they have with women will inevitably turn sexual or romantic at some point. And while it’s true that this can and does happen, you shouldn’t assume this is always the case.
First, consider if you’re physically attracted to the friend in question. If you are, does that necessarily mean there’s potential for a serious, romantic relationship?
I’ve had dozens of female friends over the years that I knew I could never be in a serious relationship with. It didn’t mean that they were bad people or that they weren’t attractive — it just meant that we weren’t compatible.
Physical attraction is an important part of a romantic relationship, but it is far from the only thing that matters. So when it comes to friendships, both people can be physically attracted to each other, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a romantic connection exists.
I’ve personally known men and women who have remained friends for over 20 years and never had a sexual or romantic fling in their lives. If the romantic spark isn’t there, it just isn’t there.
How Are Male-Female Friendships Different From Male-Male Friendships?
Even though the romantic spark isn’t there, that doesn’t mean one can’t develop over time, and this is one of the core differences in building friendships with women.
If you’re a heterosexual male and all your friends are heterosexual males, you don’t have to worry about a romantic attraction developing. This isn’t the case with your female friends.
Always keep an eye out for signs that either of you is beginning to like each other a bit more than you previously thought. It’s very possible for one person to develop feelings while the other person remains completely unaware.
At some point — even if a person tries to hide their feelings — these emotions will come to a head, and the truth will be revealed, at which point your friendship might be destroyed. Here are some signs to watch out for:
- Increased Attention: Are you or your female friend starting to pay more attention to aspects of the other’s lives than you did previously? If so, it may be a sign that feelings are developing.
- Jealousy: Is your friend showing signs of jealousy? Do you have a female friend who you confide your relationship woes in? If her responses begin to change, be cautious of the fact that she might be developing feelings for you.
- Priorities: Are you or she prioritizing your time together above all other people? Above other friends, family members, or even your significant others?
- Body Language: Words are one thing, but body language always betrays a person’s true feelings. Be mindful of body language cues like increased touching or prolonged eye contact.
- Compliments, Gifts, or Gestures: Are either of you giving more compliments than normal? Are you bringing gifts for no special reason? Is your friend suddenly stopping by your office with Starbucks for no apparent reason?
The important thing to remember is that people change with time. Just because there were no romantic feelings in the past does not mean romantic feelings can’t develop in the future.
So, let’s say you and your friend met each other in your early twenties and have only been friends since. If ten years have gone by and you’re now in your early thirties, both of your perspectives on the world have changed dramatically. And with these newfound perspectives might come newfound feelings.
How To Be A Gentleman And Build Authentic Friendships With Women
So, let’s assume you have a woman or women in your life who you value as a friend and wish to keep in your life long term. The attraction is strictly platonic, and you have absolutely no intention of ever letting things progress into a serious relationship.
How do you, as a man, carry yourself in a way that respects and protects both of your boundaries? How do you act like a gentleman? How do you be a good friend in general?
1. Beware Of Societal Expectations
Even if you and your friend are 110% platonic, there are still societal expectations that need to be considered. Your friends, family, and coworkers might naturally assume that there is something going on between the two of you. (And, of course, the same is true of her social circle.)
Gossip can have a life of its own, and it doesn’t matter if the two of you have been friends for 10 years or 10 days, you should always be aware of your friendship becoming the subject of gossip.
If rumors spread — even if there is no foundation to them — it can cause problems for your friendship or damage your relationships with others.
Certain activities can add fuel to spark these rumors. And no, I’m not saying you should live your life a certain way in fear of what other people may or may not say; I’m just saying be mindful of the fact that if you and your friend leave the office together on a Friday night and go to a Michelin-star restaurant, then post photos about it on social media, people might start to talk.
2. Educate Yourself And Understand Different Perspectives
This might seem like a given, but it’s worth mentioning. If you want to be a good friend to the women around you and build authentic relationships with them, you should educate yourself on the issues women face daily.
Just by being a man, you will inevitably have a different perspective on certain issues compared to a woman. You need to take special care to be sensitive to this fact.
Now, this does not mean you need to become an expert on women’s issues, but having a basic understanding and showing empathy can go a long way to maintaining a healthy friendship.
Simple things like workplace dynamics, societal pressures, or personal safety — things that you pay no attention to — can have a great deal of influence on a woman’s life.
3. Respect Her Physical Boundaries (And Your Own)
Many men forget that physical comfort levels can be drastically different for men and women. It’s up to you as the gentleman to be mindful of a woman’s comfort zone and never overstep your boundaries.
Some female friends might be comfortable greeting you with a hug. Others might prefer a kiss on the cheek. Others might prefer no physical contact whatsoever.
Everyone is different, but it’s up to you to understand these nuances and respect her.
And the same goes for you. If your friend does something physical that makes you feel uncomfortable, voice your concerns. Keep both of you on the same page at all times.
4. Communicate Your Intensions And Periodically Revisit The Subject
Like it or not, men have a certain reputation in popular culture. The stereotypical “Men are only interested in one thing” line, for example, is thrown around all the time, so much so that it skews people’s perceptions of reality.
Regardless, if you’re trying to establish a new friendship with a woman, it’s in your best interest to be clear about your intentions.
Because even if you and her have complete trust in each other, there is always the risk of a concerned friend or relative getting involved and skewing the reality of the situation.
A simple, honest conversation can prevent misunderstandings (and misinterpretations) down the road. And be sure to revisit the topic from time to time. Again, this isn’t the same as a friendship with one of the boys, so you have to be a bit more cautious with how you handle it.
5. Keep Significant Others In The Loop
If either of you are in (or enter a new) romantic relationship with someone else, you have to take special care to be considerate of their feelings. Ensure everyone gets introduced to each other and be completely transparent about the friendship the two of you share.
Again, there are societal expectations at play here, and past experiences and traumas can be problematic in situations like these. You want to take control of the situation and put everyone’s minds at ease.
Obviously, take the time to introduce your girlfriend to your girl friend(s). If you think they’d get along, encouraging them to be friends might also be a good idea (similar to how a woman might become good friends with her sister-in-law).
You also want to be completely transparent with both parties. Don’t assume that people understand your actions in the same way you do. If you’re spending one-on-one time with your female friend, be sure to tell your significant other what your plans are.
6. Be Fun To Be Around
Men can sometimes be a bit brooding. If you’ve ever met one of your buddies at the bar to knock down a few beers and complain about how much your job sucks, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Men will gather with their friends to watch the game, go hunting, or paint the garage. All of these can be fun activities but aren’t necessarily the same experiences that women are looking for.
Women like adventure; they like to try new things. They want to do something that will build memories with those around them. And if you want to cultivate stronger friendships with the women in your life, you need to be the type of man who can provide these experiences.
In other words, be fun to be around. Don’t be afraid to show a different side of yourself around your female friends.
7. Be Honest With Yourself
Lastly, always be honest with yourself and with those around you. If you’re maintaining a “friendship” with a woman whom you secretly have romantic feelings for, it’s better to level with everyone involved than keep these emotions bottled up inside.
First of all, being deceptive is only going to ruin things in the end. You might want to keep this romantic fantasy inside your own head, but the truth will inevitably come out. It may be tomorrow or ten years down the line, but it will come out.
And when it does, it can do serious harm to both your friendship and your relationships with those around you. As painful as it may be to admit the truth, that is exactly what you must do.
Embrace your role as an alpha male and express your feelings. Either way, you’ll be in a better place because of it. If your friends, feelings are reciprocal, you can explore your options. If they aren’t, at least you no longer have to worry about living a lie.
Why It’s In A Man’s Best Interest To Have Friendships With Women
If you’re a man whose social circle consists primarily of male friends, several benefits come with bringing women into your inner circle.
First of all, there are practical considerations. For example, if you’re single and have a wedding to attend, you can simply ask one of your single female friends to come with you.
Similarly, if your best friend and his wife want to go out for dinner, a female friend can accompany you so things aren’t awkward.
Second, women create a unique social dynamic that is unlike what you experience when you’re among other men. Many men find that they are naturally more polite and courteous around women. They speak differently, carry themselves differently, and show a side of themselves that their male counterparts don’t often see.
Beyond that, if you find that you’re a bit nervous around women when there is a potential for romance, having a female friend or a group of female friends can help ease your nerves.
Plus, you get the added benefit of getting a female perspective when you need relationship advice. Struggling to figure out what’s going on in your love life and need a unique perspective? Simply ask your female friends for their insight.
Are you trying to meet new women to date but find that you’re hitting a wall? Ask your female friends if they know anyone who might be a potential match for you.
No matter how you cut it, having an authentic friendship with women greatly expands your social circle. And, as I’ve mentioned repeatedly, having a robust social circle is one of the things that make a man more desirable to women.
Never be too quick to write off the potential for friendly female companionship. The days when men’s and women’s social spheres were dichotomous are a thing of the past, and you might just find that you have more in common with a female friend than you do with the guys.
Expanding your social circle is one of the best things you can do for personal growth. If you’re struggling to expand your horizons, meet new women, and experience all that life has to offer, it’s time to take charge of the situation.
Navigating relationships with women — both friendly and romantic — requires a thoughtful approach, and it’s common for men to struggle to find their foothold.
If this sounds like you, professional coaching like the kind we offer at Knowledge for Men might be the perfect solution.
Embracing a gentleman’s mentality is a multifaceted endeavor — and it isn’t always easy.
That’s why our coaching program is designed for those who seek continuous improvement in life. Whether you’re interested in strengthening your interpersonal relationships, maximizing your career potential, or developing a better understanding of yourself and what you really want in life, my team of coaches and I can help guide you.
We may not be able to do the work for you, but we can push you to become the best version of yourself. Beyond that, we can provide you with our collective wisdom that only comes after years of trial and error.
We made the mistakes so that you don’t have to, and now we’re here to help men just like yourself overcome the issues they are facing.
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