How to Develop a Healthy Platonic Friendship

Men and Women Really Can Be Just Friends

Can men and women be platonic friends? Despite romantic comedies who show one friend falling in love with the other, most platonic friendships work just fine and remain in the boundaries of true friendship

No two sets of friendships are alike. There are many different levels and categories of friends which dictate how friendships progress or establish boundaries. If you can make a platonic friendship work, you'll learn some valuable lessons about the opposite sex that will help you in your dating life or marriage. Here are some things to keep in mind when becoming friends with someone of the opposite sex.

Having Feelings of Attraction Does Not Mean You Need to Act on Them

You might (initially at least) feel physically attracted to an opposite sex friend when you first start hanging out, but just because you feel things doesn’t mean you need act on them. 

If either one of you is currently in a relationship already, you have even more reason not to proceed with your feelings. Your friend should just be a friend, and no more. If you focus on other things, your feelings of attraction will become less and less. 

Understand Boundaries and Stick by Them

Group of Friends at Bar
Group of Friends at Bar. Digital Vision/Getty Images

You don’t necessarily need to spell out the boundaries in your friendship verbally, but do keep them in mind so you don’t cross them yourself. If your friend expresses feelings of attraction, then you can verbalize what the appropriate boundaries should be so you both can stay on the same page. Otherwise, make a mental note of what type of behavior is comfortable for friends, and stick with that.

Do Not Fuel Gossip

New Friends
New friends bonding over coffee. Jupiterimages/Getty Images

There might be those that coyly ask you about your friendship, implying that the two of you might have something romantic going on in private. Some folks are very skeptical of platonic friendships, so don't fuel the gossip by saying:

  • (With a smile or wink) "We're just friends."
  • "Wouldn't you like to know?"
  • "That's our business."

Simply answer with "No, we really are just friends" and leave it at that.

Don't Flirt

Baked goods show that you made an effort.
Baked goods show that you made an effort. Tom Merton/Getty Images

A platonic friendship is not one where the people flirt but don't date. They're friends and friends only. If you try and change your relationship into a "friends with benefits" situation, you will ruin your friendship by pushing the boundaries. Don't flirt, hug, kiss, or do anything else that you would do with a date.

Do Things That Encourage the Friendship Without Fueling Intimacy

Friends sharing a picnic together.
Friends sharing a picnic together. Alys Tomlinson/Getty Images

If you treat your platonic friend as a date (going out for a romantic dinner or staying up late on the phone), your friendship will forever be clouded with the question of attraction. Instead, don't put you or your friend in an awkward position and stay solely in the friend zone instead. Plan activities that support your status as platonic friends where you are not in a romantic setting.

If you catch yourself falling for your friend, check that you're not blurring the line from friendship into emotional affair.

Watch for Feelings of Jealousy

Dinner Party
Friends at dinner. Bruce Laurance/Getty Images

Some opposite sex friends get jealous when they see their pals in a happy romantic relationship. If you feel this way, it means you haven't come to terms yet with the fact that your relationship is platonic only. If you need to, take some time away from your friend so you can deal with the way you feel.

If you don't do this, you might be sabotaging your friend's happiness by making subtle, negative comments about the people he or she dates. You may try to talk friends out of people who could be good for them simply because you haven't accepted the platonic nature of your friendship yet.

Make Sure You Are Not Open With Your Partner About the Friendship

Hanging with friends at the coffee shop.
Hanging with friends at the coffee shop. Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

It's important to be up-front with your partner about your platonic friendship. Tell your boyfriend or girlfriend (or spouse) about the times you talk to your friend or schedule time together. Be sure to include your partner when hanging out from time to time. Never compare your partner to your friend or share secrets of your relationship with your friend.

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