Even before Harry and Sally discussed it on their long lonely car ride east, the age old question as to whether men and women can be "just friends" stumped even the most brilliant scholars.
Some say "yes" while others say "absolutely not," and you end up sitting in your gender specific corners at the neighborhood party.
And if you don't, the speculation starts to swirl.
Of course, the reason why it's still up for debate is because there's no cut and dry answer. It really depends on a myriad of factors, many of which differ from person to person.
Biology aside, men are not hormonally charged animals, waiting to pounce on anything with a vagina. And women are not home wreckers, using their cleavage to swipe men away from their wives.
Granted, there will always be a few bad eggs in every bunch that ruin it for everyone who legitimately can maintain a healthy, non-sexual relationship with the opposite sex. There's always someone who knew someone who said he was just friends with the woman from his office. Unfortunately, he forgot to mention the "with benefits" clause, and so the idea that women and men cannot have a completely platonic relationship is perpetuated.
Now just because you might think someone is attractive doesn't mean you necessarily want to jump his bones. Appreciating a person's good looks and acting on them can be mutually exclusive; they have the ability to exist without the other. But yet, a compliment is seen as a come on. And flirtation is seen as foreplay.
So where did all this start? Why do so many people believe that at their core, men and women will always just want to do it with each other -- that at least one person in the friendship, when given free reign and a moment's opportunity, would do the deed without even thinking twice?
Well sadly, individuals with a strong sense of self coupled with an equally solid sense of trust and respect for their partner are a rare breed. And most people, at one point or another, have been burned by someone using the "just friends" excuse.
And regardless of the fact that you are completely comfortable in your own skin and trust your spouse or partner implicitly, he may have been burned hard. So his baggage is now your baggage, and those "gender-specific corners" are looking pleasantly low maintenance.
Now that doesn't mean you should break off all your opposite sex friendships, or relegate yourself to mingling based on matching private parts. But you might want to consider these factors before deciding what to do:
When it comes down to it, there really are no set rules to making an opposite sex friendship work. Use your own intuition to determine whether you feel something isn't quite right, and don't feel like the uncool one for needing to put your foot down. Conversely, if you're perfectly fine with opposite sex relationships, don't let society's norms make you feel like a weirdo.
Most importantly, you and your spouse's happiness should be at the top of your priority list. If you are more concerned with your friend's feelings or how you're going to look to other people if you have to break things off, then you might want to reevaluate your definition of friendship and of marriage.
Because no matter what your own personal answer may be to the "just friends" question, there's one truth that everyone can agree on:
Friends don't have sex with friends.
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