Childhood & teenage often seem full of friends & gender typically does not bother us too much during these ages. However, as we grow older, gender becomes a factor to consider & even be careful of, especially regarding male-female friendship boundaries.
Popular culture even makes it seem next to impossible to maintain platonic friendships between men & women without them falling in love or lusting for each other. But how much of this notion is true in the real world? Let’s explore all about it in this think piece.
Male-Female Friendship Boundaries to Follow
The idea of platonic friendships between people of opposite genders being impossible stems from a few other notions that do not stand true universally. However, you can follow some male-female boundaries, which we list for you.
1. Don’t get physically involved
One of the golden and crucial rules when it comes to male-female friendships is not to get physically close. Avoid flirting, don’t get too touchy, and ensure to maintain physical distance even when you are hanging out.
Indulging in physical activities can complicate a lot in a friendship because it can deepen your attachment, especially if you choose not to date or have any romantic relationship.
2. If you are “just friends,” then stick to it
When you have decided to stay “just friends,” stick to it. Do not encourage or incite any sexual interaction with them. Platonic friendship means avoiding the ‘over-the-top’ hugging, kissing, &, of course, sex!
Besides, make it pretty clear to your friend too! By confirming that you will follow pure and plain friendship, participants start off on the same page, and there are no chances of deviation. Due to this, transparency is maintained in friendship, confusion is repelled, and correct intentions are set in place.
3. Let your partner know about your friendship
If you are in a relationship or married, include your partners in your friendship. Don’t hide anything from them and make them feel at ease with your friend and vice versa. With this, both your partner and your friend will know about your priorities, and there will be respect in the relationship, thus strengthening the bonds.
4. Keep a close eye on your feelings, especially when they are developing
Your best friend has found a partner. Question yourself – are you happy or feeling jealous? If you are happy, then let go. However, if there is an ounce of jealousy brewing, then BEWARE! If you are in the initial stages of developing romantic streaks, you gotta watch out for your feelings.
Besides, if there is one-sided attraction, then it could be the beginning of the end of a cute friendship. If you do not wish to pave that way, examine your feelings before it’s too late.
5. Be very transparent about each other’s boundaries
There is always a fear of building sexual tension when there is a friendship between the opposite sexes. So, it’s always better to be cautious and, to do so, follow and be vocal about male-female friendship boundaries.
You must clearly communicate your intentions with your friend from the first day of your friendship. Never leave room for doubt. The real ones can take the truth. Good friends will respect your boundaries, take your opinion on the friendship seriously, & handle the relationship with just as much care as you would.
Communicating your feelings & thoughts is the first step because it is effective enough to sort first-world problems.
6. Ensure your partner is comfortable with your friend
If your partner is also as important as your friend, then you must make both parties comfortable with each other. You should all meet up and spend time together. Let them ascertain whether they are comfortable with each other. And if any one of them is dicey about this scenario, then maintain distance. Please don’t force them to adjust to each other.
However, if they do get along, ensure to have this an occasional affair and not daily. With this, you will be able to maintain both relationships.
7. Do not compare your partner and friend
There are some boundaries one should never cross, and this is one of them. Don’t ever dare to compare your partner with your friend because it is the most hurtful thing to do. You are making them both uncomfortable with each other, which is a red flag for your relationship and friendship.
8. Do not indulge in activities that are “date-like”
Going for a coffee or a walk casually is okay. However, if you add a “date” angle, then BEWARE! Avoid going for romantic movies or dinners because you are both confusing each other.
These activities may send the wrong signal & is likely to push your friend to develop romantic feelings for you. Moreover, you may be seen by other people with your one constant friend everywhere. This may lead to people considering the two of you a couple. Now, is that what you want?
If not, then you know precisely which events to avoid. Your platonic friend need not be your constant ‘plus one’ at events such as weddings, celebrations, parties, etc. Consider taking along another friend sometime, or consider going solo every once in a while! I mean, why not?
Besides, include your friends and group and choose public places to meet. With this, the “lovey-dovey” angle can indeed waive off.
9. Shut down the misconceptions people have about you
There would be instances when people comment, “you look so cute as a couple,” or “you would have made a great couple.” If you come across such remarks, shut them down immediately. Correct them right there, and stay put on your decision. Please don’t give in to the funny banter because it could complicate your equation with your friend.
10. Do not hangout alone
Avoid going alone, and that’s a golden rule when it comes to male-female friendship boundaries. It’s a good idea to involve other friends too. With this, it is evident that there is no chance of changing the friendship dynamics.
11. Be you and “not extra special”
When we wish to impress our partners, we go the extra mile to surprise them. But you must understand that this is friendship, and one antic can give away many misleading signals. So, be yourself. Refrain from putting any extra effort into impressing them because if you do, you are definitely giving some wrong signals.
12. Avoid posting pictures of the two of you
At one point, it is very tempting to post pictures, especially if you are crazy about social media. However, avoid it when you are friends with the opposite sex. It may send a wrong signal to the people who are browsing through your pics. Not just the viewers but your partners might smell something fishy, and it may ruin your love and friendship dynamic. So, it’s better to be cautious.
Golden tips that will help you through your friendships with the opposite sex
If we have male-female friendship boundaries, we have some golden tips too!
13. Allow your romantic partner to gel as well
Involving your romantic partner in your meetings with your friend can establish a sense of security in your romantic partner as well as set the lines of your friendship more clearly. There need not be any hesitance in addressing your romantic partner as your girlfriend/boyfriend in front of your friend.
The truth is the truth & it better be told clearly. Moreover, your romantic partner might enjoy the company of you & your friend together as well. These bonds can always grow even stronger after this. Now, that’s something worth looking forward to, isn’t it?
14. Be their matchmaker!
Yes, you read that right. Some of us have tried & tested this method, & it really does make sense to have a blind date for your single platonic friend every now & then. It may not lead to your friend finding their soulmate, falling in love, or even enjoying the date (in some cases). But that’s not even the goal!
The goal is to allow them to see how you view your friendship with them. If you want to share a platonic friendship, do not hesitate to let your friend find a romantic connection elsewhere. The fact that you’re not available for it, though, needs to be precise. And match-making is one good way to do precisely that!
15. Avoid speaking ill of their partner
Your platonic friend may start dating somebody at some point. And this should not bring insecurities between the two of you. It would be best not to put your friend’s partner down in front of them. It may be understood not only as disrespectful but also suspicious. You need not voice out every opinion you may have on the people your friend dates.
16. Avoid oversharing
When you’re friends with a person of the opposite sex, some secrets are better kept. You need not share details of your intimate relationships with your romantic partners with your platonic friend. It is not advisable to tell them every single detail in all cases. Oversharing can easily be misinterpreted. Moreover, it’s a boundary you must certainly establish with your platonic friend.
17. Do not allow misconceptions to dwell
Whenever you come across somebody’s perception of you & your friend being a couple, shut it down. If you’re not romantically involved with your friend, make it clear. Do not leave room for assumptions or interpretations. Put your exact intentions & your idea of friendship in words.
Whoever may hold the perception that you & your friend are romantic partners, correct them right then & there. You do not need to let it slide. Letting it slide will only encourage this perception. It will only lead to confusion & a messy friendship.
Keeping in mind such simple boundaries & respecting them can help you maintain a healthy & platonic friendship with a person of the opposite gender.
All in all…
It isn’t complicated to maintain male-female friendships. A few good boundaries & good communication does the trick! Platonic friendships often add a lot of value to your life & must be maintained with a healthy attitude toward them.