If you have ever found yourself in a platonic friendship with someone of the opposite sex, it is likely that the intentions of you both may have been wildly different, leading to confusion, frustration, someone getting their feelings hurt, or worse. While no one has ever said that having a close friendship with someone of the opposite gender is simple and straightforward, it is sometimes possible to keep things in the “friend zone” when you are both able to communicate in an open and honest way. So, what is the best way to navigate a friendship with someone of the opposite sex? Here are some ideas to guide you:
Recognize the wide spectrum of friendship needs – Many of us are guilty of only thinking about what we want out of a friendship without also considering what the other person is after. No matter what type of friendship or relationship you may find yourself in, your desires may not line up. When it comes to friendship with someone of the opposite sex, one of you may simply want a companion with whom to chat, go to the movies or grab a bite to eat, while the other is hoping it turns into something more. Oftentimes, one person hopes it will blossom into a sexual relationship, regardless of whether or not they want to actually date that person.
Voice your feelings – If you aren’t sure where you want your friendship to lead, by all means just enjoy each other’s company and see what develops. However, if you know from the beginning exactly what you want out of the friendship, make sure you speak up. Whether you want to keep things strictly platonic, are hoping for a friends-with-benefits situation, or are convinced you two have what it takes for a wonderful romantic relationship, be clear on where you stand. You are not being fair to yourself or the other person if you are expecting one thing but getting another simply because you don’t want to speak up. Likewise, be respectful of what the other person desires, too. That way, no one will be guessing!
Be sure the friendship is worth it – If you both seem to be on the same page, you have found yourself a great friendship. Maybe you both want to take things slow but hope you can make the transition to a committed romantic relationship. Perhaps you truly enjoy each other’s company without involving the element of love, leaving you free to have fun without any awkward feelings. Or you may both want a friend to have no-strings-attached sex with. Regardless of the type of situation, as long as you both agree on what you want out of the friendship, you are on the right track to a satisfying relationship. However, if you find the friendship to be unbalanced and you have different desires, you will be better off ending things before tensions rise and one (or both) of you feel nothing but frustration and resentment.
Successful friendships with the opposite sex are possible when you find friends whose end goals are the same as yours, so when you find one that works, treasure it!