Friendship with the opposite sex: is it possible?

Whether at work, school or at church, we are constantly in contact with people of the opposite sex. Sometimes they become close friends. But a platonic friendship between a man and a woman: is that possible?

The story is classic: a young woman spends a lot of time with a young man. They are good friends, they get along very well and agree on a lot of things. They share the same interests and activities, then one day, the young woman begins to look at her friend from a new point of view. Her heart beats faster and she sometimes she wonders what their children would look like. The problem: his feeling is not returned! On the contrary, he likes to talk to her about other girls he meets. Harsh…

Is it possible for a woman to have a deep friendship with a man without falling in love with him? (And vice-versa) Multiple studies in psychology, reported by several media outlets, conclude that no, it’s not possible. That’s not to mention a large number of movies or books depicting this type of sad story. In fact, marriage is a lifelong commitment of friendship, as described in Proverb 2.17: “That forsaketh the friend of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.” (ASV) The strength of marriage is intimately linked to the strength of the friendship between the two partners. It is therefore not surprising that the friendship between a man and a woman inevitably turns to romantic (or sexual) intentions.

It is possible, sometimes even inevitable, to spend a lot of time with someone of the opposite sex. Whether it is a project at work or at the church we may have to exchange regularly with a particular person. If we do not want this friendship to take another turn, it is important to remember the conclusions of these studies. This will allow us to put clear barriers, to establish our limits and our expectations so we don’t harm that relationship.

The friendship between a man and a woman (who are not married together) is a risk. If both are single, the risk of developing a relationship may not be so serious. But if one of them is already married to someone else, taking the risk could be destructive: it is better to calculate the risks before engaging in such a friendship. This is what Luke 14.28 says: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” (NIV)

Knowing that it is unlikely that your friendship with the opposite sex will remain platonic, don’t put your head in the sand. Always keep in mind that the other person may begin to develop feelings for you at all times. If you are really not interested in a romantic relationship with this person, do not start developing a very deep friendship. Also, do your best to communicate to the other person that you do not wish to develop anything other than a friendship with them, so no one gets their hopes up.

If you find yourself on the other side of the equation, that you are the person who develops romantic feelings for their friend, do not wait to express it to them. Do not wait until your thoughts are way too developed before you signify your interest. Otherwise, you risk having your heart crumble in the face of a negative response. “But I’m afraid of losing this friendship…” If you have romantic feelings for your friend, you’ve already lost that first-level friendship! You will not be able to get it back unless you make a big effort or put some serious distance between you. It is better to take the risk of losing that friendship than to live in a hidden love that leads to nothing.

“But no, no, he’s just a good friend…” If you want to know where your heart is this relationship, ask yourself: “If my friend fell in love with someone else, would I be happy or destroyed?” If your answer is “destroyed”, it is because you have already taken the next step on the ladder of friendship. Admit it, express your feelings, and do not waste your time with these thoughts.

All this does not mean that men should only have male friendships (and vice versa). Men may have female friendships (and vice versa), but it is important to act wisely by remaining aware of human nature and by calculating the risks.

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