How to Be Just Friends with a Member of the Opposite Sex

Four Methods:Decide What Your True Feelings AreDefine Your RelationshipInclude Your Significant OtherControl the Situation

With men and women intermingling in various circles of life that were gender-specific in the past (home, the workplace, sports, school), people of the opposite sex are discovering new common ground and more reasons to be friends. But with the media constantly showing male/female friendships evolving into romantic relationships, many are convinced that a long-term, truly platonic friendship between individuals of the opposite sex just isn't possible. Romantic interest, physical attraction and sometimes, the jealousy of significant others can threaten to sabotage a cross-gender friendship. However, those risks can be circumvented by setting boundaries from the start. It's tricky, but it can be done.

Method 1
Decide What Your True Feelings Are

  1. Image titled Be Just Friends with a Member of the Opposite Sex Step 1
    Determine how you feel about the person, and how they feel about you. Be honest with yourself.
    • Do you find yourself fantasizing about what a relationship would be like with them?
    • If you weren't in a relationship, if they were single, or if something else wasn't in the way, would you probably be romantically interested?
    • Do they seem to be romantically inclined towards you? Remember that actions speak louder than words. Trust your gut feeling.
    • Do you really believe that this person is better suited to you as a friend than as a romantic partner? Why? Your answer to this question is what makes all the difference, and what will keep the relationship platonic when or if boundaries ever become blurred.

Method 2
Define Your Relationship

  1. Image titled Be Just Friends with a Member of the Opposite Sex Step 2
    Define your relationship as a friendship from the start. In any relationship, cross-gender friendships included, communication is key. Presumptions can lead to broken friendships, misunderstandings, and other problems down the line. Egos aside, address why you both want to be just friends. There's a period in most opposite sex friendships when you question whether or not you should be more. Address it early on. Both of you must want a strictly platonic friendship and understand that's all it will ever be. No matter what anyone says, it is possible to be just friends as long as you have that understanding (and a commitment to the friendship as just that) from the start.

Method 3
Include Your Significant Other

  1. Image titled Be Just Friends with a Member of the Opposite Sex Step 3
    Talk to your significant other. Ask your friend to talk to theirs. Any insecurities or trust issues within a relationship will be magnified by a cross-gender friendship, especially if the friend is obviously attractive. The opposite-sex friend can often become a scapegoat for relationship problems, and a repeated source of contention. Honesty is the best policy.
    • Acknowledge any borderline feelings from the start, and provide a reason for friendship that outweighs those feelings.
    • Remind your significant other that you're committed to the relationship, and why.
  2. Image titled Be Just Friends with a Member of the Opposite Sex Step 4
    Involve the significant other(s). You should make an honest attempt to befriend their significant other and include yours. Coordinate get-togethers that you all can enjoy as a group. Include your significant other in outings with your friend. Jealousy is much less likely to be an issue if your significant other can get to know your friend. It's going to take time, especially if they don't believe in platonic friendships. Likewise, even if you don't like their significant other, understand there might be a little doubt and jealousy over the friendship. Find out what they like to do and suggest an outing for just the two of you. By becoming a friend to the couple, the doubts and jealousy usually vanish in time.

Method 4
Control the Situation

  1. Image titled Be Just Friends with a Member of the Opposite Sex Step 5
    Minimize sexual tension. Don't be "touchy feely" with your friend, even if you consider yourself to be a naturally affectionate person, and especially if either of you are in a romantic relationship with someone else. Sure, it's possible to make physical contact without inciting sexual attraction, but hormones can play tricks on us. Don't give those hormones a chance to confuse your status as friends. Limit hugs and physical contact to the same amount you share with a sibling or a co-worker, depending on what you feel is appropriate, and what you think your significant other (or theirs) would feel comfortable with. If you find the need to hug and touch them more, then maybe you're not just friends.
  2. Image titled Be Just Friends with a Member of the Opposite Sex Step 6
    Prevent borderline situations. Don't give people a reason to think you're more than just friends. Having a night out together is fine, but don't bring your friend into social scenarios where everyone else has a date. That is called dating, not friendship. You wouldn't ask your same sex friend to accompany you to your sister's wedding, so don't ask your opposite sex friend! If you are going somewhere that might appear romantic (e.g. a movie or a fancy restaurant) but you do not want it to appear that way, invite another friend of the same sex. Even then, people may insinuate that you are more than friends; be prepared for those suggestions, and think of how you can deny them gracefully.
  3. Image titled Be Just Friends with a Member of the Opposite Sex Step 7
    Reduce contact or end the friendship if the boundaries can't be clarified or upheld. If your friend is attracted to you as more than a friend and can't seem to put that attraction aside, it's probably best to take the friendship down a notch. Keep contact casual, conversations short, and get-togethers brief. If the friend continues to press for a romantic relationship when you've made it clear that you don't want one, if they constantly trash talk your significant other (without good reason), or if they let their own significant other demean you, then perhaps the friendship isn't worth keeping, and this person should just be more of a friendly acquaintance.
  4. Image titled Be Just Friends with a Member of the Opposite Sex Step 8
    Be careful with your decisions.
    • Simply choosing to meet for lunch over the alternate meeting for dinner, can portray a significant difference to your friend.


  • In any friendship, the dynamics change over time. An acquaintance you don't really care for all that much today might be your best friend a year from now. It's possible you and your friend will develop deeper feelings after a long, platonic friendship. But like any friendship, resolving whether to act on feelings requires honesty from both sides. It doesn't mean you were never platonic friends. It just means the friendship has changed like all do. React to the new feelings in a way that preserves the friendship and makes both of you happy.
  • Don't hide your friendship from your partner, but don't fuel any jealousy either by excessive one-on-one time with your friend or talking about your friend endlessly.
  • Every friendship is different. It's possible to completely ignore all of this advice and still succeed with a cross-gender friendship, but it's not likely because of widespread preconceived notions, natural impulses, and the fact that no relationship is perfect. Consider these preventative measures and adapt them to your own situation as you see fit.
  • When you're all together, pay more attention to your partner than to your friend. Encourage your friend to pay more attention to theirs.
  • These instructions really apply to any friendship where romantic interest and physical attraction is a possibility, including a same-sex friendship where one or both are gay, lesbian or bisexual.
  • If it seems awkward to bring this topic up with your friend, casually send them a link to this article. They should get the hint.
  • Invite your significant other (and your friend's significant other) to be a part of the relationship. This doesn't mean that you always have to do things as couples, but the reminder of you and your friend's commitments can help keep you from taking the relationship in directions that you might regret; it also helps keep feelings of jealousy on the parts of your respective partners at bay.


  • Never turn to your friend for physical intimacy. It doesn't matter if you'll still be friends in the morning. It's just not worth the risk. It'll not only threaten your friendship, but it'll also threaten the credibility of your friendship to a future romantic partner.
  • Having good self-control actually allows this platonic friendship to go to a new level of tenderness, trust, and commitment. It also gives reassurance to the other person's spouse that you are committed to their relationship. If you are the one who is single, use this platonic friendship as a model of what true loves looks like. This is a gift that you give to your future spouse.
  • If you are coworkers and one or both of you is married, do not continue your relationship outside of the office. Don't communicate over the weekend. If you are Facebook friends, be careful about commenting on each other's posts. Don't do anything that will worry your spouse. Make sure your spouse and other people know if you have meals or travel together. Be accountable. Protect your marriage. Platonic relationships are wonderful if both people maintain good boundaries.
  • Don't meddle in your friend's relationships. If their significant other finds out you gave some "helpful" advice that they view as causing more problems, chances are, they will not want the friendship to continue. Your friend will have to choose and, either way, will lose someone they care about. Don't put your friend in that position. Give advice, but unless your friend is in danger or being abused, never put down your friend's significant other to your friend.
  • However, if you have a healthy relationship with your significant other, and he or she has serious misgivings about your opposite-sex pal, listen and pay attention. Your significant other may sense an attraction coming from the friend that you can't see because you are too close to the situation.
  • Accept limitations: If one of you is married or if you are of different religions and cannot marry, face the truth and mourn over it. If you see each other frequently and you have trouble with your feelings, tell a good friend and your spouse but not your crush. Keep solid boundaries about touch, travel, words of affection, gifts, etc. You need to have someone hold your feet firmly in reality. Many people feel that it is better to keep your feelings to yourself and be thankful for the friendship you share. Putting feelings into words can shut down the relationship and you may lose your friend forever.
  • If your significant other will simply not accept your friendship, even after you've taken all the steps above over a reasonable period of time, you may be in a manipulative or controlling relationship. On the other hand, your partner might have a valid complaint. Counseling could reveal problems existing in your relationship and provide the tools you need to improve it.
  • Avoid pet names. While they may seem innocent or natural, realize they portray a different meaning to others including a romantic partner. If you can't, maybe underlying feelings aren't being dealt with.
  • Don't flirt. Teasing is normal and acceptable to the extent that you'd do it with your same-sex friends (unless it involves touching and/or sexual innuendos).

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Enjoying Friendship