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Is it possible to maintain a platonic friendship without the risk of romantic feelings getting in the way? In my journey, I’ve faced challenges in nurturing and sustaining friendships with men, but I remain optimistic. With the proper foundation of values and boundaries, genuine friendships between men and women can exist. To gain more insight into the real-world dynamics of these relationships, I reached out to my inner circle and my Instagram followers (men and women aged 25-38) to hear their thoughts.

Here are the responses:

“Yeah, I believe so. If there are no feelings or attraction, then I think so.”

“On most occasions, I think there will be some type of feelings from one end, but once that has passed and we’ve walked through that phase, there can be a healthy platonic relationship between a male and female.”

“I want to be hopeful and say that you can, but then I look back at all the relationships that I have, one of us ultimately did start to have feelings.”

“From my experience, yes, but it will always evolve to romantic desire. Whether covered or uncovered, there’s always a desire that arises in at least one party… they may hide it and never speak, but from experience, a romance ignites in someone… it may fizzle out and return to platonic, but I’ve never known it to not breed a desire in someone.”

“I think men and women can be friends, but you need to be very open and transparent about if one of you has feelings because then it cannot exist! I have had a boy best friend my whole life, but he then developed feelings and told me, and I had to explain that I do not have any feelings. Also, when one of you start dating, it has to be clear that your significant other does come first.”

“I just think it’s not for everyone, but growing up, most of my friends were boys, so it is very difficult.”

“Yes, if both parties are emotionally mature enough to handle that.”

“Yes, but there must be clear boundaries.”

“I feel men & women can have that due to how they interact from the beginning; the wordings they use towards each other matters, the activities they do together matters & the situation matters of where someone stands as an individual.”

“I have never been fortunate to have platonic male friendships. We are called to be brothers and sisters in Christ, but we overly romanticize things that were meant to stay platonic. The male friends that I do have, which are very few, we don’t consistently hang out with one another, which has created a healthy distance. We live in a world where perversion has leaked into the way people go about friendships. I don’t know what it’s like to have a true brother in Christ, so even I have struggled to navigate and cultivate male friendships.”

“I am huge on boundaries, especially with the opposite sex because there can always be things interpreted wrong, and I am also very clear with them.”

“I do believe it’s possible, and I’ve seen it firsthand. I had a friend from church that I have always treated her like she was my actual sister. I saw myself as her protector when we were younger (youth ministry), and even as we both grew up, my view didn’t change. Honestly, 1 Timothy 5:2 was my mindset in this instance. It can be done when both parties understand this.”

“I think boundaries and open communication are key, just learning to be honest on what you want out of certain relationships.”

These responses highlight a nuanced view of the possibilities of nurturing and maintaining healthy friendships between men and women. Most people, like me, have strong perspectives based on their personal experiences. There is a pattern of opinion that feelings may arise in some friendships between men and women. However, most believe that men and women can be friends if clear communication, maturity, and boundaries are in place.

Here are my final thoughts:

The foundation of a healthy friendship between a man and a woman is built on honesty. Both parties should be honest in their expectations of the friendship and their feelings about one another. If one party harbors secret feelings for the other, this can create a problematic and toxic relationship. Neither party should use a “friendship” to mask feelings they may have for one another. From a Christian perspective, I agree that we are called to be brothers and sisters in Christ, but if we are honest, this is difficult to nurture when there are unspoken desires for more than just friendship. Honesty is a value needed in building and maintaining healthy friendships between a man and a woman.

Acknowledging, establishing, and upholding clear boundaries between men and women is critical for nurturing a non-toxic platonic friendship. Boundaries create a sense of safety within friendships, serving as guidelines that communicate your expectations for how you wish to be treated. While others do not need to agree with your boundaries, they should respect them. The theme of boundaries emerged as a consistent thread in the responses, highlighting its importance in fostering healthy friendships between men and women.

So, can men and women be just friends? It depends on whom you ask and their experiences.

What do you think?

Exploring Platonic Relationships Between Men and Women: Can Men And Women Be Just Friends?  was originally published on