Friendship with someone of the opposite gender or what is called platonic friendship gets a bad rap for a lot of reasons. Many believe that it is impossible to be “just friends” with someone of the opposite sex, that is, a man and woman can never be friends.
But is it really impossible? Can your friend be the opposite gender? I mean, can your best friend be the opposite gender?
Let’s take a look at platonic friendship and the advantages and potential disadvantages of being friends with the opposite gender.
Platonic Relationship: What Exactly Is It and Is It Possible?
“Platonic” means to be affectionate and intimate without being sexual. The term was named after Plato and in reference to his writings and philosophy on various kinds of love.
Basically, platonic friendship means bringing out the best in people and helping them become the best version of themselves. It involves being “just friends” with the opposite gender or someone from a gender you are attracted to. And it is strictly a non-sexual relationship.
Now, if you kiss, hook up, or do anything more, then you’re no longer strictly platonic friends. You’re now moving into the “friends with benefits” or relationship territory.
Being friends with the opposite sex is not impossible as anyone may think. It carries amazing benefits to each other, but there are also risks, of course, especially when there are no platonic relationship rules in place.
The Advantage of Being Friends with the Opposite Gender
1. You Get a True Friend
Being friends with the opposite sex is pure, natural, and true. It is true that women and men have different perspectives on things; however, being friends with the opposite gender can help bring this into balance.
And this is what makes a platonic friendship a true and powerful friendship. All your differences are accepted and balanced by the opposite sex, making it much more special.
2. Mutual Dating Help
You have probably heard about the concept of “wing people.” But, if you don’t, being a wing woman or a wingman simply means helping and supporting someone on approaching a romantic partner.
This means that if you or your friend of the opposite gender wants to try their luck in the dating pool, then you can definitely help each other out. You can say nice things about your friend when you are in a circle of other same-sex friends while dealing with any unwanted candidates or vice versa to make the mission of finding love easier. You will have each other’s back in terms of various situations, even the awkward ones.
Some wing people even get involved in online dating to find a perfect partner for their fiend. They usually register on such a platform, find a man or woman who could potentially be a good match (using a website’s filters and reading the bio of each user they find attractive and interesting), and start chatting to get to know them better. And when they’re sure the person is decent, they share their friend’s contacts for them to arrange a real-life date.
3. Understand the Opposite Gender
As mentioned before, men and women have different perspectives. Being friends with someone of a different gender can help you in understanding each other. It can teach you a lot about someone of the opposite gender, their preferences, how their mind functions, how they deal with specific things, and so much more.
In fact, some people find it easier to ask some things from their friends of the opposite gender than their romantic partner who might misunderstand them. Observing the behavior and functioning of your platonic friend can help you connect the dots between women and men, building a bridge between opposite genders and greatly improve understanding.
4. Improving Your Communication Skills
A man communicates in different ways on different levels than a woman. Such differences often lead to many fights and arguments, particularly in marriages or relationships.
Being friends with the opposite gender can help fix that by improving your communication skills and understanding how the opposite gender communicate their ideas and perspective.
Spending time with a platonic friend, you can feel more relaxed and freer in terms of sharing your ideas. You also get hints on how the opposite gender generally responds to your thoughts.
This works the same way as when you talk with people on the internet, using social media or dating sites. The last-mentioned is even better in regards to communication skills, as purposeful chatting with the opposite gender online improves your understanding of their mentality, which has a constantly positive impact on the development of your personality.
The biggest advantage of online dating platforms is that they allow you to feel relaxed while talking with the opposite gender and getting to know them, which can be extremely useful for those struggling with shyness or social anxiety. So finding a friend for a platonic relationship online is also the right option.
5. Get a Trustworthy Relationship Counselor
Having friends to give you relationship advice will always be gold. However, seeking relationship advice with a friend of the same sex is not always helpful.
Sure, you can get the relief of emotional burdens, but getting valuable advice on what you should do next? They’re not that helpful sometimes. This is mainly because they often think the same way as you and do not have a good perspective of the other gender.
Now, being friends of the opposite gender means you get a trustworthy and legit relationship counselor. They understand how the mind of their gender works and maybe even been in the same situation. Thus, they can tell you what is really going on from their own experience and perspective.
They give the best advice, show you possible issues on your part, and make you understand the opposite gender’s perspective, ultimately helping you establish a healthy relationship.
6. Learn New Activities and Interests
Women and men are interested in different things. And some hobbies, activities, and interests are often classified as belonging to women or men.
With that being said, befriending someone of the opposite gender means that you’re introduced to new activities and interest that you have not tried before—whether your same-sex friends don’t want to try it with you or you just never thought it’s possible for you.
Platonic friendship can help you experience life without gender-based restrictions. With this kind of friendship, you don’t have to restrict female-only or male-only activities or hobbies.
7. Building Trust
If you got traumatized from your past relationship or have gone through a recent split, then your levels of trust in the opposite sex are quite low.
Sometimes, people even build prejudice towards the opposite sex because of traumatic relationships, which can greatly affect your life and relationships. Rebuilding that trust can take years. But you can shorten that period by hanging out with a platonic friend.
Having a platonic friendship can help open yourself up again to another person of the opposite sex, which is the first step towards moving on, healing, and being able to trust again.
Spending time with your friend can help you connect better with the opposite gender, making it easier for you to jump into the dating pool once again without any trust issues.
8. Meet New People
Having a friend of the opposite gender means that you can meet new people or their friends of the opposite sex as well. Their friends will be your new friends and may even find someone among them to have a romantic relationship with.
Meeting new people of the opposite sex can help you gain more insights, get a better understanding, and even welcome you to a wider perspective of the opposite gender’s world.
Related Post: Developing Maturity in a Relationship
The Potential Disadvantage of Being Friends with the Opposite Gender
Being friends with someone of the opposite sex is all fun and different; however, you may face potential issues at some point. These disadvantages are not bound to happen, but there is a good chance that you’ll experience one of a few of them.
1. Develop Romantic Feelings
This is perhaps the most common problem of being friends with someone of the opposite sex.
Some platonic friendships reach a point where they want more from each other. They don’t like being “just friends” anymore and break the rules of being platonic and enter the romantic territory.
This is because it’s easy to develop romantic feelings for your friend, especially if on the opposite gender that you’re attracted to. After all, friendship is one of the stages of every healthy romantic relationship.
There is a thin line between a romantic relationship and being “just friends” with someone of the opposite sex. And as you get comfortable and bond with your platonic friend, there will always be a high chance that things go towards the romantic zone.
Developing a romantic interest in your friend of the opposite gender can turn into a complicated situation. Most of the time, one of you will be cutting contact to prevent the romantic feelings from deepening, which would mean losing a friend.
2. Possibility of Jealousy
If you’re in a relationship and have a close or best friend of the opposite gender, then there’s a really high possibility of jealousy and trust issues between you and your partner.
A platonic best friend means you spend a lot of time with them, keeping them updated on your life and even sharing your secret with them. It is no wonder why some partners might become insecure and jealous of it. And the fact that you’re friends with someone who you can potentially fall for or who can fall in love with you just adds fuel to the flame of jealousy.
Not everyone understands the concept of being “just friends” with the other gender. Some partners might need some time in order to understand and accept all that and that there is no need for them to be jealous. But others won’t be able to accept it, causing serious problems.
At one point, you might have to choose between your partner or your platonic friend.
3. People Assume You’re a Couple
It can be quite annoying for platonic friends to have people call or assume them a couple just because they enjoy spending time together.
For some, it is not the fact that people assume they are a couple but the case of having to explain to them that you’re “just friends” and that’s why you spend a lot of time together. It would be great if it would just end there. Some people won’t believe explanations and even tease them together, which can be quite frustrating and irritating.
So, if you ever think of having friends of the opposite gender, know that there’s always a high possibility of other people thinking of you as a couple, the backtalking, and repeated explanation and teasing.
4. Being the Middleman
Some people don’t mind being the middleman. But, if you hate being in a situation where your platonic friend becomes interested in your other same-sex friend and wanting you to introduce them, then know that this is a common issue with platonic friendships.
Sometimes, people don’t want to share their platonic friends with their other friends because there is a chance of them becoming involved romantically, and they hate being the third wheel. You may feel awkward or left out when your platonic friend and same-sex friend get too romantically involved, especially when hanging out together.
Some people don’t mind their platonic friends being in a relationship with their same-sex friend until they decide to break up and ruining the possibility of being friends with everyone, which can be complicated and uncomfortable.
5. Criticizing Your Love Life
When you have a friend from the opposite gender, your love life tends to be influenced by them. Since they know their kind functions, they will see every move as a potential flaw or threat.
Since they want what’s best for you, they tend to nitpick about every individual you are interested in. While they’re just being protective and caring, it can get annoying sometimes.
But you should always keep in mind that they are doing it because they want only the perfect partner for you, according to their standards. They want to make sure that you are happy and with someone who’s worthy of loving you.
So, to answer the main question, “Can you be friends with the opposite gender?” the answer is, yes, absolutely!
To avoid friendship with someone just because they’re of a different gender to yours is like choosing not to befriend someone because of their race or age.
So, rather than focusing on their gender, you need to think about their personality and character. If it is someone you vibe, connect to, and feel comfortable with, then gender should not determine whether you’ll consider someone as a friend or not.
Gender will never determine the quality of friendship that someone has to offer. This is indicated by their values, character, and who they are as a person. So, go ahead and don’t be afraid to befriend someone of the opposite gender. You’ll get a lot of benefits and perks. But also make sure to mind the pitfalls of befriending someone of the opposite sex in order to avoid the dramas and complications.