General Question

wundayatta's avatar

How did you develop a friendship with someone of the opposite sex?

Asked by wundayatta (58714points) February 8th, 2009

The question of whether men and women can be friends shows up regularly, but I’d like to take a different angle. I’m wondering how it happens, and even more importantly, what people are thinking while it happens.

I’m wondering if there’s always a stage where the question of taking it into a different realm (love and/or sex), and if so, how do the friends navigate thought that? Or does the friendship develop the same way as friendships with folks of the same sex, and love and sex are never an issue?

In either case, how does it happen? If you have experience with this, please tell us how you got into it, and what were the problems you faced and how did you overcome them?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

30 Answers

DrBill's avatar

Just be friendly, if it is right, it will happen.

steve6's avatar

I never hit on her and over time she found that irresistible and it was hard not to sleep with her because she was unbelievably sexy. Maybe subconsciously that was part of my sick, twisted plan.

gailcalled's avatar

My best friend is a gay male; it was easy.

steve6's avatar

If he is gay it doesn’t really count, there’s no conflict. Sorry.

Mtl_zack's avatar

Most of my friends are girls. I just connect more with girls. The thing is, there’s a line between talking and flirting, and you have to be on the talking end to be friends. Unfortunately for me, I suck at the flirting end, so many of the girls who I’m interested become my friends. At the beginning of every friendship, I think “wow, she is really nice, I’d go out with her”, but then , as I mentioned I suck at flirting so we become friends. It can be very frustrating having many female friends and not have any of them “into you”. So, there has always been a point in time where I thought about going to the next level with all my female friends.

cyndyh's avatar

I have had male friends that were just friends. It helps things along if you’re really clear that you’re not thinking of the person in that way but not because there’s anything wrong with them or with you. It’s because I love my guy and they’re friends. I just sort of get into “sister mode” with guys that are also friends of my husband. It seems to help if the guy is really close to my age and we have a lot in common. Guys like that tend to not misunderstand. There are a few of these friends that I’ve known for a really long time.

I’ve had guy friends that talked with me about women, and it’s easy to be around them with my husband around and when my husband isn’t around without feeling weird. I can get a bit nosy with them about potential girlfriends (“So, she seems really into you. Did you get that? Are you going to ask for her number?”) and they seem to like the help. They’ll ask advice about whether it’s too soon for this or that gift and other girl-help like that.

I’m really helpful and want to see my friends happy. It’s hard to explain without seeing it, but it’s really clear and very sisterly in the moment. I think some guys just need to know that someone who doesn’t want to jump them thinks they’re a sweetheart and one of the good guys.

Once, I had a friend who said to me, “Is it awful that I think it’s not going to work because she doesn’t get why I play the guitar so much?” She kept interrupting his singing and playing to talk about nothing. Once she grabbed the guitar out of his hand at a party and everyone got stunned and bug-eyed. I had to tell him that I hated her already and that he could do better than someone who didn’t “get him” at all. He laughed at me, dumped her, and he did find someone better really quickly.

Having said all that, I’m not entirely sure how this would work if we were both single suddenly. If there was suddenly no reason for us not to think of things in terms of being a couple, I’m just not sure if things would get awkwardly distant or if there’d be a sexual tension or not. I would hope that we’d still be good friends, but I guess we’ll never really know.

asmonet's avatar

Uhh…I just make friends? People aren’t that different.
I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never had to face a problem with boys that was too bad. Usually, it only goes so far as them professing their love and me being not interested, we then continue playing video games. Maybe my friends are just awesome.

Jack79's avatar

well, there are 3 ways:
1) it starts off in the exact way as a relationship with a man. We could be colleagues, classmates, neighbours. Sex never becomes an issue, for whatever factor (usually because I’m not attracted to her physically).
2) same as above, but sex becomes an issue soon after and is discarded. It’s what you describe in the question. There is a critical moment when I have to make a conscious choice whether I want to move to the next level, but decide not to. Usually this would be due to the person’s character (ie I love her as a friend but could never imagine living with her).
3) we go through the sexual relationship, see it doesn’t work, and a while after breaking up we decide to be friends instead. This has been more common than you’d imagine. I’m friends with most of my ex gfs, and getting back together is never an issue.

amanderveen's avatar

I’m with asmonet on this one. Friends are friends, regardless of sex. I tend to have far more male friends than female, probably because I’ve always been a tomboy and tend to have more in common with guys. All of my female friends are tomboys, too, now that I think of it. You meet people, you either have something in common, hit it off and end up spending time together, or you don’t. If either of us became attracted to the other sexually, we broached that if/when it came up. I’ve been friends with all of my boyfriends before we hooked up. All of my relationships lasted for some time, and all of those that ended, ended well and we are still friends.

amanderveen's avatar

Jack79 makes a good point about loving a friend that you could never imagine living with. I’ve experienced that with male and female friends. There are guy friends that I know I would never be compatible with romantically and therefore would never want to live with. That doesn’t mean we don’t have fun hanging out. I have gal friends that I love dearly, but I know we would make terrible roommates. The only thing that is different between male friends and female friends for me is that the decision to possibly pursue a romantic relationship wouldn’t come up with a gal because I’m not sexually interested in women.

Sakata's avatar

I’ve had a couple female friends but that was just because they would sleep with me. I can only assume that if they ever did I wouldn’t have to talk to them anymore therefor ending the friendship. Never gonna get that lucky

Or they were one of my male friends’ wives, but I wouldn’t think they would count for this

I’m also guessing that we’re throwing the term “friendship” around pretty loosely on this one.

saranwrapper's avatar

Most of my friends are guys. I have a hard time relating to girls. Girl friends don’t want to sit around playing Call of Duty for 4 hours telling dick jokes on xbox live. Being friends with the opposite sex isn’t hard if you’re conscious of the difference between friendship and romance.

laureth's avatar

In my parents’ or grandparents’ generation (I was born in ‘72), there was a kind of wall separating the genders. For my generation, I think it’s either less or nonexistent. I think it used to be that you only saw the other gender as a potential mate, but I’ve never had that trouble. I would just talk to people I liked (by personality, interests, etc.) whether it was a male or female.

It’s actually harder, now that I think about it, for me to strike up a conversation or a friendship with my own gender. So many of them are just not interesting to me. If clothes or makeup are what get someone excited, we probably won’t get along very much, and I see a lot of that socialized into females. The guys seem to have more to say, if they’re not just all about sports.

So, to answer the question, how to develop a friendship? I “just do it.” Perhaps a woman chatting up a guy is a little more “welcome” or less “creepy” than a guy randomly chatting up a woman, though.

Spargett's avatar

Make sure they’re either unattractive, HIV+, or currently dating a good friend.

EmpressPixie's avatar

The same way I make friends with someone of the same sex. Literally. I made two of my best friends (one male, one female) at exactly the same time, exactly the same way. The third night of college, I met them dancing together at the ‘80s dance. We started talking as part of a big group. Then made a smaller group. Then they came over to my room and we talked until really late. Then we fell asleep on my bed. Woke up in the morning, split up for various showers and clothing. Met back up at breakfast and boom! We were fast friends.

monsoon's avatar

I’m a lesbian.

My best friend is a guy, and I think I make him cooler.

Aethelwine's avatar

@laureth I totally agree with you. It’s hard for me to find female friends too. A perfect example would be a field trip that I went on with one of my sons; the other moms started talking about where they had their nails done, I would have rather talked about the mountain bike trails in the area. I would rather play pool or darts with the guys than dance with the girls. Having been with my husband now for 18 years, I would prefer to hang with him and his friends. If it’s female interaction that is needed, I call my sisters.

Before I was married, I hardly ever met a guy that just wanted to be friends. If he did, he was gay. my best friend in high school was a gay guy

wundayatta's avatar

I’ve always been more comfortable around women than men. I make friends with women, but I find there is almost always a sexual tension of some kind, at least on my part. I generally leave it unspoken, and I did that even before I got married. Anyway, perhaps that explains why more of my friends are women than men, or why I much prefer to talk to women.

My male friends, at least the close ones, are gay. Maybe this all suggests that I have either a competitive sense around other straight men, or I feel like I’m unable to compete. For a while I worked at a place where there were about ten women for every man, although half of the women were lesbians. And nowadays, the vast majority of my hires are women. This year, there was a man who was more qualified in one way, but less qualified in another, so it made the two candidates even. We took the woman.

90s_kid's avatar

The band white stripes (90’s, but also NM) is made up of Jack White, and Meg White. They got married, then broke up and said that they were “Brother/Sister” to avoid media.

Zaku's avatar

“I’m wondering if there’s always a stage where the question of taking it into a different realm (love and/or sex), and if so, how do the friends navigate thought that?”
– Not always: Sometimes there’s mutual sexual disinterest, absence of sexual chemistry, OR mutual lack of availability or circumstances. Also some people are content with their current situation and not looking and so it never really comes up.

“Or does the friendship develop the same way as friendships with folks of the same sex, and love and sex are never an issue?”
– Yes. Which is another way of looking at my answer to the above sub-question.

“In either case, how does it happen? If you have experience with this, please tell us how you got into it, and what were the problems you faced and how did you overcome them?”
– Ok, first, I have to say that it actually happens quite frequently and naturally, and why it occurs that way for some and not for others, I imagine, is largely because some people have a set of preconceptions and apprehensions, and others don’t. What makes it strange or difficult or whatever to befriend the opposite sex is one or the other person involved thinking it is strange or difficult or whatever. What makes it not those things, is the absence of such preconceptions and apprehensions.
Another thing that helps is if people don’t have interpersonal love confused or combined conceptually with romantic and/or sexual love.

example: I meet a woman in a class, we have friendly, open conversations and like each other as people, and find we have things we like to talk about and/or do after the class concludes. Romance with each other never really comes up. We hug each other as friends, without sexual tension.

other examples: We meet and talk, get romantically interested or even involved, then one or the other or both discuss and decide to stop the romance, maybe not see each other for a bit, or not as much, then later continue communication and even spending time together as friends. The context is clearly that we’re with other people or romance doesn’t even come up because we completely resolved it before, and we know if interest and opportunity came back, we could and probably would talk about it again.

Tension and misunderstandings mainly seem to happen when there is some kind of breakdown of communication.

wundayatta's avatar

I am reminded of some dance work I do. People have a lot of fairly intimate contact with each in this work, and it can bring up a lot of ideas about sexuality. After you do it for a while, you slowly learn that it’s about intimacy, not sexuality. Still it can feel unsafe for people who don’t get that.

The thing is, it seems like Americans don’t know what to do about feelings of sexuality when they occur privately in public spaces. Most of our marketting is based on sex appeal. Things are constantly sexualized.

I think the same is true of relationships between men and women. The simple fact that we are of opposite sexes in a highly sexualized, yet repressed society means the issue is there, at some level. The folks like Zaku have learned what’s going on and can handle it without problem. Others can’t get past it, and say it is impossible for people of the opposite sex to be friends.

cyndyh's avatar

I hear what you’re saying, but at the same time I’m never more intimate (or sexual) with anyone than I am with my husband. I have some very close male friends, but I’m very open with anything and everything that goes on between them and me with my husband. If there’s ever anything that makes him feel uncomfortable between me and a male friend then I back off. I’m never iffy about it. The same is true of lesbian friends. I tell everyone involved what’s happening and why and there’s never any guessing. This way I can have close friends of multiple genders without it ever causing concern with anyone. I’m into having friends not making anyone insecure or uncomfortable to stroke my own ego.

cornets_01's avatar

by just talking to them nicely and politely, you could have a lot of friends.

candacewells4's avatar

well way back in middle school this guy that had been my close friend since elementary told me he liked me. i told him i wasn’t interested like that, and he got over it. we agreed our friendship wasn’t worth the risk, and to this day, we are the best of friends. people ask us all the time if we’re dating or even interested in each other, and they always get the same anzwer: no. as long as you’re being clear on what your intentions are- no flirting, etc.- then it’s almost like having a friend of the same sex. to me, it’s almost easier to have a guy friend because we can help each other see things from a different point of view. we’ve never had a real fight. it’s amazing.

Shin00bi's avatar

I just do, most of them are lesbians thought. A few of my straight girl friends like me because I actually think. People are pretty equal in my mind. I’m attracted to certain traits but I like girls a little better then guys because they LISTEN more.

As for the Relationship thing, yeah… A few friends become closer then others. I prefer to be friends with the girl I’d like to go out with first, its a bit better to know them before I’m really able to consider even going with them.

I do what I do and they do what they do.

bridold's avatar

I’m going to be honest, there is really only one friendship that I’ve had with a male that has been nothing but platonic from the start.

It began in one of my classes last quarter, I was talking to one of my friends and he was asking me about my recent engagement and I showed him the ring when I hear some guy behind me say, “Where did he get that, a cracker jack box?” I immediately retorted with a smart a$$ comment and that evening we went out to dinner after class.

Never once in our friendship has either of us had feelings for one another. I’m not sure why, exactly, but we are extremely good friends. I think we’re actually better friends because of it. We’re always talking about how great it is that there isn’t any of that weird attraction for one of us. We both recognize that the other is attractive, and we’re always teasing each other, but it’s not anything more than friendship.

In fact, my husband is good friends with him now too.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I have primarily female friends, and almost all of those relationships have been completely friendly (at least on my side). I have only twice tried to date girls that I was friends with, and both times were in middle school. Otherwise, I have always dated outside my friendship groups.

I know of two friendships that never involved attraction on either side, and I can remember how both started. The first came about because I was friends with a guy that the girl liked. She came up to me to ask about him, and I thought she’d be good for him. We became friends while scheming how she could get him. The second came about on a long bus trip during my sophomore year of high school. A girl I was aware of from school, but had never met, was sitting behind me and got bored. She started talking to me through the gap between the seats and the windows and we ended up hanging out a lot when we reached our destination (her favorite place in the world, New York City). She is to this day one of my two closest friends, the other being a guy I met in first grade.

I don’t know why I was never attracted to the second girl. She’s very sexual, a lot of fun, and has been lusted after by a lot of guys I know. But she just wasn’t my type. I remember getting a lot of flak for being friends with her from an upperclassman who I mistakenly thought was cool my freshman year of high school, though. He hated her because she wouldn’t sleep with him (which he referred to as “being a slut”). My friendship with him quickly deteriorated, but at least he graduated on time.

inkswinc's avatar

Throughout high school I was a shy and less assertive guy, so most of the girls I ever got at all close to friendship-wise I liked romantically to some degree. One of my best friend’s girlfriends was an obvious exception to that (the ironic thing about this was that almost every one of my friends had liked her at some point throughout middle/high school, but I never really got to know her until she was already in a relationship and thus never had those feelings). Then, of course, her relationship with my friend ended and she confessed to me shortly afterwards (although apparently I didn’t have anything to do with their relationship failing). The irony of that situation was pretty enormous, but thankfully she didn’t hate me for rejecting her since I genuinely didn’t reciprocate her feelings, and we’re still friends today.

Nowadays I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I’m nonsexual anyways (or at least that I don’t care enough/have enough spare time/money to deal with that right now), so anytime I’m talking to someone of the opposite sex I’m a bit calmer and try to keep from displaying any false intimacy, which surprisingly makes the whole ordeal a lot easier and less stressful for me. Maybe it’s just that my hormones are less active than they were in high-school, though. Thank god for that.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther