It’s the age-old question of, “can girls and guys be ‘just friends?’”, and it’s hard to figure out the right answer. Below Mike Zacchio and I talk about our experiences of having close friends of the opposite sex and what it actually means to be “just friends.”
1. Have your ever dated someone in your social circle?
Zacchio: I’ve never dated anyone I was friends with, then had it blossom into a relationship like a Monica-Chandler-type thing. All of my exes started out as acquaintances, then we hung out more, then casually dated, then were together.
Chelsea: I haven’t dated a lot of the guys in my social circle because I’ve found it can easily ruin the dynamic. Once when I was in college I hooked up with one of my guy friends and it was super awkward for a while before things went back to normal. Everyone found out about it because we were all friends and I sort of lost my credibility for a while. If you have a good group of guy friends and you want to date one of them, it’s hard to navigate the boundaries of that — so I would advise against it.
2. How many friends of the opposite sex in your life have professed their feelings for you?
Zacchio: A couple have said that they would want to date me because we got along and they thought I’d make a good boyfriend, but I didn’t necessarily feel the same way. They understood. We valued the friendship more than risking something we both weren’t sure we wanted. Conversely, I would date one of my female friends, but I don’t think she feels the same way, and so I wouldn’t want to jeopardize what we have as friends. I’ve never told her this.
Chelsea: A few. More than the other way around, I would say. Like I said before, I just feel more comfortable around guys (ironically, being raised by all women I am not sure how that worked out) so I’ve definitely had friends of mine who want to make that jump. I’ve very rarely reciprocated the feelings but I do understand why this happens. I mean, anytime you have a bond with someone and you have a lot in common and you spend a lot of time together, it’s easy to develop romantic feelings; but for me, I’d much rather date a guy outside my immediate circle for the reasons I explained above.
3. Have you ever had a one-night fling (anything from kissing to sex) with a friend of the opposite sex, and leave it at that?
Zacchio: Yes, once. It was totally unplanned and unexpected, but it was nice. She was one of the above from No. 2, so I felt bad for possibly getting her hopes up, but we talked about it and we were both completely on the same page. Nothing has happened since and our friendship hasn’t changed whatsoever.
Chelsea: Once. I had met this guy who I was very attracted to and we became friends and then my friends and his friends became friends and we hooked-up a few times. However, he was always really clear about the fact that he didn’t have that emotional connection with me and because he is such a sweet guy, we were able to remain friends. I think it’s easier for guys to hook up with a girl they have no romantic interest in and still remain friends than the other way around. A group of guys might not see that as complicated while a group of girls would definitely see it that way.
4. Why do you think guys are threatened by a girl having guy friends and vice versa?
Zacchio: Being a guy with mostly close girl friends, I’ve seen it firsthand. Some girls don’t like that you tell your friends more than you’ll tell them; some think you’re secretly sleeping with all of them; some don’t like the threat of that possibly happening. While No. 3 doesn’t necessarily help my case, it is very possible for a guy to have a girl friend (or several) and never have anything happen, sexually.
Chelsea: I think it has a lot to do with primal instincts. I think girls get a bad rap for being possessive but in my experience guys are way more possessive and girls are just more jealous. My most recent ex was very insecure about me having guy friends but I’ve had other guys I’ve dated not really care that much. I guess it depends on the context of the relationship. I think if you care about your relationship and you have a lot of friends of the opposite sex the best thing to do is to have them spend time together so they can see there’s nothing to worry about.
5. What is the biggest benefit of having friends of the opposite sex?
Zacchio: Most of my close girl friends are straight-shooters. They tell me things with no bullshit, especially when it’s not the answer I want to hear. Plus, they’re girls, so they know what goes on in the mind of a girl; when I need to try and decipher what a girl is thinking, they can usually help give me an idea.
Chelsea: The advice and perspective they give. Guys are really good at giving dating advice. Also they’re fun to be around. We’re a society that really downplays the complexity of male emotions and in my experience guys do have emotions and feelings — they just display them differently. I also like talking about sports, food, and sex, and most of my guy friends are on board with all of those topics.
6. How many platonic girl/guy friends have you developed feelings for?
Zacchio: Probably just the one girl I mentioned above. There are girls who I had crushes on and became friends with, but as far as “developing” feelings, just one. Even then, they are not strong enough to where I feel that she needs to know.
Chelsea: Serious feelings? One. I have a really close guy friend from college who actually started out as a crush and then turned into a friendship. We definitely tell each other everything and talk almost every day and that has always been really hard for the guys I’ve dated. I think it’s super cliché to be “in love” with your best friend so I’ve tried to steer away from that but I’d be lying if I said I don’t compare guys I date to him. I think anytime you have a best friend of the opposite sex you either consciously or subconsciously measure other males or females to them. I think it makes you have higher expectations of the opposite sex in general.
7. Would you be jealous if the person you were dating had close friends of the opposite sex?
Zacchio: Jealous? No. If she had previously slept with one of them, I’d like to know; but even then, I’d probably still be cool with it, depending on what the situation was. If they dated for a while, it would make me uneasy, but you kind of have to deal with that. My mindset has always been, “Your/their friends were there first and will likely be there after you break up.” You shouldn’t get mad at her for having friends who were there before you ever came into the picture. The same should apply for her.
Chelsea: Yes, and I know that’s a double standard. I think it kind of depends on how often they hang out and if it’s a group or not. I’m much more comfortable if it was like a group of girls than if his best friend was a girl. I think every relationship is different though and it has to do with how secure you are in that, but I also think that jealousy (and feeling possessive of the person you’re dating) is normal as long as you’re not crazy and behave accordingly.