If you liked it, you should have put a ring on it ….

BeyonceCan women and men ever be friends? This is an old-age question and everyone has a different view on it. I agree with Billy Crystal’s character in  the movie “When Harry Met Sally,” who famously said, “Men and women can’t be friends … the sex [or attraction] part always gets in the way.”

Past experience has shown me that a man can only be friends with a woman if there is no physical attraction but the kicker is that a man will usually only seek out a friendship with a woman he is attracted to. I think women are much better at trying to put their feelings aside but when unrequited feelings gets in the way of a blossoming friendship, admittedly it isn’t always the guy who is struggling with those feelings.

I believe from personal experience that a man and woman can be friends if they have a common basis for friendship – for example, they went to the same school or university, they are childhood or family friends, they worked together, they go to the gym together or have a common basis for friendship. But even so, there’s always seems to be one person who longs for something more.

One thing that hasn’t escaped my attention is that there are a lot of married men who hide behind their relationships and think they can be overly flirtatious with a woman and cross the line of friendship because they are coupled up. It is easy for married men to dismiss their inappropriate actions as being friendly or harmless flirtation and that the other person is just imagining it or paranoid if their advances are rebuffed. After all, they have a ring on their finger right?

Places like offices and gyms are places where married men think they can prey innocuously on single women. You may recognise the signs. First it starts with the man prolonging their stay in the kitchen so they can catch you in there to ask you about your weekend, then the personal emails begin and they ask you questions about your love life. Alarm bells should ringing by now but if you start going out of the office with them for lunch and they start talking about their relationship problems, RUN!

Having an opposite-sex friend can put you in danger of both emotional and sexual infidelity. I don’t believe that men in relationships should proactively seek out friendships with women and look for emotional intimacy outside of their marriage. Emotional cheating can be even more harmful than a physical encounter. If you are unhappy in your marriage, it’s best to speak to your partner or see a counsellor and not involve a third-party.

There are also men who through lack of social skills, shyness or confidence try and get into the friend zone and then use this as a platform to develop a relationship. There are women too who seek out proxy friendships with males and devoid of real male attention, seek comfort in a friendship with a man. All are deceitful and wrong in my humble opinion.

In all scenarios, the friendship usually has an expiration date. If they make the inevitable move, the friends either enter in a relationship or friends with benefits situation or their advances are rejected and you can’t get over the awkwardness. One of the friends may also enter into a relationship and they start devoting less time to the friendship. It’s unfortunate because male friendships in essence can be a lot of fun.

You always have your plus one on call to take to parties, they can help you with carrying boxes and doing all those techy things and fixing things at your house, they are a good sounding board for relationship problems and you can even drag them to a chick flick once in a while. Sigh … if only it worked this way in reality.

In my teens and early 20s, I was always accused of leading men (or rather boys) on. I thought I was just acting as a friend but apparently when I merely said hello to them and smiled, I was flirting with them. Fast forward ten years later, the deliberate misunderstandings still keep coming and I’ve come to the harsh realisation that some men never will never grow up and have the maturity to be friends with a woman.

So what happens when you enter into a relationship and your partner is disapproving of your cross-sex relationships? To be crystal clear, no person has the right to dictate who you can be friends with and no genuine friendship should end because of a relationship. But if you know deep down in your heart that your friend is not acting in a truly platonic way, I think it’s disrespectful to your partner to continue the friendship.

There is often little thought given to the person who has invested time in a friendship and felt disappointed or betrayed when the man or woman revealed they had feelings all along. And quite rightly so – it does hurt to invest time in what you thought was a bona fide friendship and for it to be abruptly end because that person cannot put the friendship first and their feelings aside.

After several experiences where I have been burned by males declaring their love for me and undying passion for me which just left me very underwhelmed and feeling uncomfortable or turning their back on our friendship when they found a partner, I made a firm decision not to have any more male friends because it just leads to tears, usually theirs not mine.

And just for the record, if I’m single and do make a move on you or like you, you’ll know it. You won’t have to guess.

Comments are welcome. However, please  note that personal remarks and attacks or comments not related to the topic may be deleted or edited.  Follow me on Twitter or subscribe to email notifications.


  1. Emma, 19 July 2010, 1:23 pm

    Ha, love that last bit – ‘if I do make a move on you, you’ll know about it’. Nothing like being direct! Men often need to be clobbered in the face with a message to get it, anyway 🙂
    I think you’re right – men and women can be friends, but never as close as you can get with friends of the same sex. Otherwise you head into dangerous territory. Which is fine if you just have a group of people, male and female, that are all fun to be with. But is sad when attraction gets in the way of a friendship one party deeply valued.
    I think you’re right that it’s the men who have the most trouble getting past their feelings and desires. Bloody selfish creatures – they always put what they want first.
    That is an interesting point about attached men preying on other women and hiding behind their relationship. Some don’t limit themselves to single women either – I guess they assume that if they’re prepared to cheat, other people are too, and if he hits on someone else who’s married it all sort of cancels out. Wrong! I’ve been offended a few times when guys judge me by their values and assume I’m the sort of person who’d cheat on my husband.
    However there can also be some flirting and joking about that is genuinely innocuous, but it has to stay extremely low-key or it ends very, very badly. Now that I’m writing this down it sounds a bit gross, but we’ve been out in groups with other couples that we’re good friends with, and a bit of banter from husband 1 to wife 2 and so on can be fun. I’ve also seen my husband be attentive and jokey with other women – all very innocent – but my god they lap it up! I don’t have an issue with it as it barely rates on the flirtation radar, but they all get a bit of a boost and a laugh out of it. I just roll my eyes and mutter ‘there he goes, charming the ladies again’. I put his success down to the fact that they are generally older women, or if not, younger, gorgeous ones that men find intimidating and therefore ignore altogether, or come on way too strong, leaving her virtually starved of any light-hearted male attention.
    Good piece. And please keep us posted on your ‘making a move’ shenanigans 🙂

  2. Dominique, 19 July 2010, 9:37 pm

    I’m so glad that someone brought this up. I’m so over married men trying to sleaze on me and then pretending they are all innocent when you call them on it! Yeah right!

  3. Sexysinglegal, 21 July 2010, 7:33 pm

    I totally agree this post. There are a helluva lot of lonely, married men out there but back away from the single gals! I’ve got enough troubles than adding a horny, married guy to my list.

  4. AmandaS, 4 August 2010, 11:48 am

    I agree that men and women can’t be friends. Sorry to say but if a guy is friends with a girl he’s either gagging for her or think she’s fugly. Sad but true!

  5. Gillian, 5 August 2010, 7:06 pm

    @ Emma: Thanks for your comments! You’ve got yourself a keeper in your husband. I’ve always loved charming men who were as equally charming to my friends. The husband/wife dynamic is very different unfortunately to the married man/single woman dynamic or even the single man/single woman dynamic. And if that married man’s name is Mark McInnes, back away very quickly.

    @Dominique, Sexysinglegal & AmandaS: Glad you enjoyed the post and I’m not the only who feels this way!

  6. prefernotto, 18 October 2010, 9:15 am

    Have you considered that if you’ve been accused multiple times over a long period (not just once or twice) that you’re leading guys on, then there might be something in it? i have a friend just like that – i love her to death but despite her loudest protestations to everyone that she’s not leading guys on, i know she does it because she loves the attention. i wonder if you have the same affliction.

    just a thought.

  7. Gillian, 18 October 2010, 9:33 am

    Of course I have considered my behaviour towards males but if you consider saying hello and smiling at someone to be leading someone on, then guilty as charged. In my 20s, this used to bother me somewhat and I used to think it was my fault but now I’m in my 30s, I’ve realised that some men like to manipulate women into thinking they are leading them on when they need to take responsibility for their own feelings and actions.

    Perhaps your friend is just a friendly person who enjoys the company of others? Have you ever considered that? I am quite friendly to both men and women but I have drawn the line to being friends with a male. It stands to reason that if I wanted the attention, I’d stay ‘friends’ with these men instead of cutting them off dry but quite frankly, I don’t need the attention or the drama that goes with it. I’d would rather seek out the company of females.

  8. Sexysinglegal,, 18 October 2010, 11:13 am

    @refernotto: There are definitely women who look for attention from guys. I don’t think that is the case here. I know a lot of men who assume that if a woman is friendly to them, that she must be leading them on? It sounds like you might be a little jealous of the attention your friend receives. As Gillian says, could it just be that she is a friendly person?


Write a comment:

Loading ... Loading ...