Originally, the following question was submitted by a guy to Javacia for our Love Letters column. But the issue sparked such a debate at Georgia Mae Headquarters that we decided to share both our views:
Can men and women just be friends? e.h.
The reader's question stemmed from an interview by relationship expert (COUGH) Steve Harvey. Apparently, Harvey said there is no way on earth a man and woman could be friends and remain platonic.
Stick to the gaudy suits, Steve. Leave the relationship advice to the pros.
I'm blessed to have many female friends. In fact, I probably have just as many female friends as male friends - maybe even a couple more. I grew up with most of these women and a couple know me better than anyone on the planet, besides the wifey herself.
I've never dated any of these women and never will. I'm not saying they're disgusting sludge monsters. No, they're very attractive women but I see them solely as cousins and sisters. They truly feel like family. And dating them would be icky.
Now, I'm sure some insecure women would say "you're married now, you need to cut them off." Why? I had most of these friends LONG before I knew someone named Javacia Harris roamed the streets of Birmigham (uh, I didn't mean to make it sound like she was homeless...). It's not fair to cut them off.
I must make clear that Javacia has met and spent time with ALL of my female friends - those I've known since grade school and those I met after my marriage. I'm not disrespecting Javacia by sneaking out in the middle of the night to hang with them or have secret conversations at 4 a.m.
The danger is when people establish relationships with people they're attracted to and then try to classify them as "friendships." That's when the problems start, and is probably what Harvey is alluding to. I had a female friend years ago who was hung up on me - even though I knew this, I didn't end the friendship. Eventually, she started talking recklessly about Javacia (we were just dating at the time and she was preparing to move to Louisville) and I told ol' girl "respect my girlfriend, or we can't be friends." That was the last time I talked to her. I regret losing a friend, but my relationship came first.
If you follow that mindset, men and women easily can just friends.
Eduardo, I must admit that initially I did have a problem with the fact that you had so many female friends. And yes, you assured me that they were like sisters to you, but still they were not really your sisters and they're all hot. But once I started to hang out with them my uneasiness quickly faded.
So I would say that it's important for opposite gender friends, and any friends really, to meet and spend time with your significant other.
As for me and my male friends, I set rules for myself. I won't be friends with a guy unless he's gay, someone I'd never be attracted to (either because he's not my type or I see him like a brother), or my ex. Now, I know the last one seems counterintuitive if not completely insane, but let me explain. With only one exception, my romantic relationships have always blossomed from a deep friendship. I'd meet a guy, we'd be the best of homies and inevitably I would start wondering "What if?" I was curious and just had to know what it would be like to be more than friends. Therefore, for me, being pals with ex-boyfriends is perfectly safe because that "What if?" question that got me into trouble in the past isn't there to tempt me. It's been answered. And even though nearly each of the guys I've dated in the past is a great man, he's clearly not the man for me. And I'm not the woman for him. He's my ex for a reason!
And as Edd said, it's all about respect. You shouldn't be having some secret late night rendezvous with these friends nor should you constantly put your significant other on the back burner, but again this is something you should follow whether we're talking about friends of the opposite or same sex.