Can Men and Women Be ‘Just Friends’? (VIDEO)

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So, here’s the age-old question: can men and women be just friends? Is it possible? I suppose it depends on what we mean by “friend.” We have many acquaintances, work colleagues, classmates, and buddies of the opposite sex, but what really defines a friendship and can two people of the opposite sex really be just friends? Or will there always be a sexual interest between at least one person?

I have always answered, “well, it depends.” Are we talking about coworkers who just greet each other in the morning, at lunch and before they go home? Are we talking about college friends that see each other once every three months and text occasionally? Or are we talking about two people who share intimate details with each other and see each other every day? There are different levels of friendship and it is important to distinguish what types of friendships we are talking about.


In the movie When Harry Met Sally, the answer was a definite “no.” There’s no way, according to Harry, that two people of the opposite sex could have feelings limited only to friendship.

So what is the real answer and why does the question always intrigue us?

To answer your question, check out this video from Dr. Gregory Popcak and his wife Lisa. They’ve answered this captivating question in a way that I have never considered before. I suspect it may surprise you as well.

They look at the bigger picture and ask if we are seeing each person with dignity. Are we looking at the needs of each person and how we can relate to him or her or are we just labeling people as dating material? I love that the Popcaks talk about the importance of appreciating the other gender as a person.

But the conversation doesn’t stop there. Have you ever considered the dynamics of men and women after you get married? It should all work magically and perfectly that we don’t need to think about it, right? Well not quite … good friendships are needed for a healthy marriage too. It is important for couples to first develop a friendship and relate to each other as whole persons. Friendship love inside a marriage is what keeps the relationship going through the long haul. They even say that friendship love helps married couples to have fulfilling sexual relationships.

Watch the video and then tell me what you think. Do you agree with their answers or do you feel differently? Have you had a “just friends” relationship work out or go bad? Leave me your feedback in the comment box and let us know what other topics you would like to see covered.

And Greg and Lisa have some really great stuff about relationships on their website, so check out the Pastoral Solutions Institute.



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33 Comments

  1. Derry-1302855 March 22, 2017 Reply

    i`m sure good friends is important ,but i`m still trying to work it all out .It was very interesting .

  2. Albert-146514 October 27, 2015 Reply

    I have a younger female friend with whom I often travel with , and when we travel together we share the same room , and the “chasity ” of this sleeping arrangement is beyond reproach.

    • Kimberly-418284 March 25, 2017 Reply

      So what your saying is she cant keep her hands off of you? what’s reproachful about chastity? 🙂

  3. Mary-6183 August 25, 2015 Reply

    I have always had male friends, and there isn’t some heated underlying sexual tension just waiting to be unleashed… I am sure that a solid friendship is an important component of a successful marriage, I am also sure that opposite sex friendships can be a healthy part of a circle of friends. My beaux do not need to be threatened as long as I am not being inappropriate.

  4. Elizabeth-1057606 August 24, 2015 Reply

    The notion that a woman has made herself ‘unavailable to pursue’ by having ‘guy friends’ is one that suggests an issue on the part of the notion holder. It sounds as though the only woman Chad would date would be a woman willing to renounce any existing male platonic relations, and then after, kept very decidedly away from all unrelated men – or else! Not only is it wildly unrealistic, it is far too controlling. It sounds as though there may be serious trust and/or envy issues there, and he tries to couch it in terms of moral authority. While pitiable, it has no true grounds in objective moral truth.
    I agree with some of what Rachael and Mindy have said – This is far too subjective a question to paint it with such a wide and rigid presumptive brush. The morality of it depends on the character and virtue of those involved. Chad cites St. John Paul II – and St. John Paul II is a perfect example of a man who had platonic female friends both prior to becoming a priest, and after. He had holy and profound friendships with Mother Teresa, Sr. Lucia, and a great affinity and posthumous respect for St. Faustina. Not to cite examples impossibly lofty, but it is only 1 example of a plethora, and proof that Catholic men and women can indeed be friends…and even saints as such! There are enough obstacles and difficulties to achieving a loving Catholic relationship without throwing up these walls. Much too rigid a point of view.

  5. Lisa-727959 July 24, 2015 Reply

    My husband and I met at work. Although he is very handsome, I wasn’t instantly attracted to him. As we worked together on different projects, I got to see the REAL him – like his work ethic and how he treated other people. We gradually became friends and shared our mutual interests. I believe all that played a huge role in my falling in love with him. Dating to find “the one” is a great thing and many people find successful relationships that way, but I don’t discount the Popcaks’ advice at all. Based on my personal experience, they’re right on target 🙂

  6. Michael R. July 23, 2015 Reply

    There’s no question in my mind that men and women can be just friends. I have a former girl friend, whom I even asked to marry me, who is now married to another man. We’re still friends!

  7. Sherrill-anne-13557 July 22, 2015 Reply

    The point that stands out is the need for strong friendship as the base of marriage.It’s the important element that will carry you through the years.The communication that develops and increases in that friendship is crucial. .Reaching the point where you are not looking elsewhere for that will help the relationship to last a lifetime.

  8. Patrick-341178 July 22, 2015 Reply

    I guess I am in the minority view here, but I don’t understand the emphasis on men and women being friends. Guys should befriend other guys and women should befriend other women. When you are dating, you can work on the friend part of the relationship while dating. An earlier post talked about how he was friends first, and then a relationship blossomed. Well, that is great, but that is extremely rare. The vast majority of times, once you are stuck in the friends zone, it will rarely ever go beyond that. That has been my experience and is the experience of most people. One of the nice things about a site like this, is you can go right to the chase. If you see a profile, you like, you can begin courting the person and see what happens. In the vast majority of cases, that will not be the person you marry, but when it is over, both persons can move on with their lives and try to find the right one for them.
    If you are dating someone and need an outside perspective of the opposite sex, we have sisters, aunts, moms, nuns or counselors. I just don’t see how a man in relationship, or even just single, just chatting up a storm with his female bestie is productive. But, maybe that is just me???

    • Amy-1104389 July 22, 2015 Reply

      Yes! I was just thinking about this the other day. I have a few long term male friendships, and the thought of them turning into romantic relationships actually makes me very uncomfortable, as these men are like brothers to me.

      In old school catechisms I’ve read, they instruct that one should not associate with a married member of the opposite sex. Maybe I misread them but this makes sense to me.

  9. Joseph-625452 July 22, 2015 Reply

    Robyn,
    I am going to comment on what you said before watching the video or reading anyone else’s comments. I want to say what I feel before being influenced by others. First can there be friendship between male and female. The answer is yes.

    The question really involves each persons desires in this “friendship”. If one of the two is already married, then the question will never come up. And if love develops it is a courtly love a non sexual love. And a relationship develops between you, your friend and their spouse.
    If both are single, it depends. Mostly it depends on if both are truely honest with each other. You both must be honest with each other’s desires and feelings. You must prove to the other that you are honest. Both of you can accept the others position if you are honest with each other. If both are single there will at some point be an awakening desire for a more intimate relationship. (by intimate I don’t mean sexual congress, you can have sex without being intimate, and you can be intimate without having sex.) A long time ago I was once taught that every man and woman has one main desire. To Love and to be loved. To love someone and to have that loved return is about as close to being with God as we can get this side of the grave. God is love and he who abides in Love abides in God and God in him.

  10. Apollo-1213244 July 21, 2015 Reply

    It is the natural way that humans pair bond by becoming friends first and then lovers to create the next generation. In too many cases men and women are driven by strong sexual desires which over-ride friendship. They marry to consummate those desires but there is not friendship. When true friendship arrives with another, is it not right for the three to be in harmony, and if sexual congress is necessary to seal the new friendship then the same sex as the new friend, partner will respect that and not hinder it, for they too will now have a new friendship and all will benefit.

  11. Lucy-361173 July 21, 2015 Reply

    Yes Men and Women can be just friends. I was friends with my neighbor We had no sexual attraction what so ever toward each other. We could hang out. go on vacation. Sleep in separate ro oms and never once kissed or held hands. Completely platonic. We ended up marrying other people.

  12. Jonathan-1179314 July 21, 2015 Reply

    I’d say it’s not only possible, it’s practically necessary to form opposite-gender friendships in order to fully embrace the Catholic faith. God is the perfect embodiment of both masculine an feminine traits*. Our understanding of God would be extremely lacking if we limited ourselves to one gender until marriage–not to mention we’d all be in for some terrible surprises once married!

    *and let’s face it, these are two very different things.

  13. Johnni-1226076 July 21, 2015 Reply

    I would say that I agree with Rachel. The important thing is to keep everything above board and honest. This is absolutely essential with friends of the opposite sex who are in a committed relationship or married. And, for singles, it should be almost paramount that friendship comes first. While a serious commitment may develop, over time, as with all things, the sex will diminish. But if you were lucky enough to be in that committed relationship with someone who started off as a good friend, then, as the doctor stated, the relationship can survive for the long haul. Now that is something to desire and strive for…just saying!

  14. Ryan-1191814 July 21, 2015 Reply

    Uh…

    Yes.

    No problems, no sexual attractions, no romantic attractions.

    It’s not as hard to manage as one thinks. I’ve been doing fine 🙂

  15. Jacques-1171974 July 21, 2015 Reply

    I have many woman friends and there is no sexual attractions, I’m like the big brother, they will tell me things that they would not tell anyone else, and I’m fine with that.

  16. Joe-1017468 July 21, 2015 Reply

    I don’t see as to why a man or woman who have never had friends of opposite sex could not be in a relationship and be married. What the guy said in video is just his opinion.

    • Amy-1104389 July 22, 2015 Reply

      And a very pharasaical opinion at that! I’d have hired my own thought police if I thought I needed one!! That’s yet another heavy load people do not need laid on their backs in terms of rules and regulations to be adhered to before marrying! Absolute balderdash!!!

  17. Nancy-753337 July 21, 2015 Reply

    I totally agree with this video. It is so very important to have a true friendship. How many times with online dating do you find yourself with one date and if you are not exactly what the man is looking for the second date never comes.. People today want a quick fix and everything needs to be fast. I do understand the working situation between a man and a woman and that needs to stay at a professional level period…If you are having lunch with a male friend without their wife or partner that is just wrong. I have been seeing a wonderful Christian man for about 4 months and it has been wonderful. No sex talk, just learning more and more about each other. I have should a peace with him as I can be myself without worrying what he is going to try next. When the Lord is the most important person in the relationship, you know he is there to guide you. Like my friend tells everyone is that we are friends learning about each other from the inside out. Very much like when we were young children meeting new friends at school. A lasting friendship between a man and a woman is the glue that will hold a lasting marriage together for better or worse. By the way men if you have a comment (I am attractive and he is very good looking) The two of us are very lucky to have found each other in this wonderful friendship..

  18. Kathy L. July 21, 2015 Reply

    I have a question. If 2 individuals are about 400 miles apart but talk frequently on the phone and are both widowed and 82 years old, could that just be friendship. These 2 persons see each other about once a year.

  19. Patrick-341178 July 21, 2015 Reply

    I think the problem is the answer to this question today is too often “yes.” That is why so many of us are still singles. Men and women befriend each other in person and online, because that is a lot easier than committing to a relationship. I think there is a difference between opposite sex acquaintances and friends. The former is fine and necessary, the latter is counter productive and keep us single.

    • Jonathan-1036447 July 21, 2015 Reply

      I disagree. I think it’s actually very healthy to have friends of the opposite sex (just need to set clear boundaries). My most recent relationship, I was friends with a girl for 8 months, and that friendship lead to the best relationship I’ve ever had. For me, being friends with a girl helps me to love women the way I should… as sisters in Christ. However, it is important for me, and for them, to reserve the seed of “marital” love for a relationship discerning for marriage. But I can say, without question, that I’ve learned to be a better boyfriend and husband because I have friends that are girls that I talk to on a fairly regular basis; even before my last relationship.

      Also, I have to say for a guy, it is quite refreshing to be good friends with a girl without any emotional or even physical pressure on the friendship. Many of my friends that are girls are able to open up to me more, because they know I don’t want anything more than just their friendship from them. Sometimes… it’s just nice to have the pressure off and trust each other as friends trust each other.

      • Aline-1160634 July 22, 2015 Reply

        @Jonathan holy wow! what a comment! seriously one of the best on this thread! The sentence ”as sisters in Christ” really blew me away! good job sir

      • Ann-69118 July 22, 2015 Reply

        Great reply. Feel the same.

  20. Robert-3483 July 21, 2015 Reply

    The higher authority of a Doctor of the Church answers this in all its nuances in “Intro to the Devout” life. He even gives Biblical examples. Yes, there is both good and bad friendship.

  21. Rachel-1207021 July 21, 2015 Reply

    Very interesting video.

  22. Chad-988613 July 21, 2015 Reply

    I

    Thank you Robyn Lee for your effort of posting a video to accompany the post. That said, I was unable to stomach the video in its entirety. As well intentioned as the “Dr.” & his wife may be – it is yet another case of -it feels good so it’s ok. Our late beloved saint JPII warned us about this type of moral relativistic thinking & how alluring and pervasive it would become. While this thinking saddens me, it nonetheless doesn’t surprise me. Irregardless of how many agree/disagree with this issue & site all manner of examples – it doesn’t change reality.

    II

    Why did God make man & woman? (If confused start with prayer or – Genesis Chapter 2:7 & 18). Why did Christ pick twelve men to be his disciples & not a mix of men & women?

    III

    Ladies & gentlemen – please envision your relationship with your future spouse… does it make sense to emotionally invest yourself (this is what friendships entail) with another of the opposite sex? Where is the dying to self & leading your beloved away from even the near occasion of sin? How is that kind of relationship helpful for your marriage? Sounds like an affair waiting to happen to me! How many does it take to get & stay married according to our late Bishop Fulton Sheen (hint not two or four)? Can our behaviors in single & courting life – help prepare us for the sacrament of matrimony? Women for what it’s worth – regarding courting – quite honestly, when its clear you have “guy friends” I’m no longer interested in pursuing you. Why? Your behavior tells me your unavailable to pursue.

    IV

    Common people wake up! We have to get past our egocentric “it works for me” mindset. There are so many things that tear at the fabric and foundation of Christian marriage. Pornography is becoming an insidious foundation wrecker! And yet consider this – pornography is precisely insidious in large part because of its – yes ubiquitousness & addictive nature – but equally so -the emotional attachment someone has to it – instead of their spouse. Here me – this issue is eerily similar. It lessens a person’s attachment to their beloved and increases that attachment elsewhere. Wow Chad – take it easy – most of us are just single here. All the more reason to comprehend this important issue. For now through patience & self denial & Grace we can free ourselves from the shackles of relativistic thinking. Part and parcel to our universal call to love & holiness is living out the virtue of chastity (emotional & physical). Lets not be obfuscated by media or even well intentioned Catholics. This voice you are hearing crying out in the desert and boundless chaos – is for your sanctification.

    • Yujia Z. July 21, 2015 Reply

      I see your point. But friendship is definitely capable of contributing to the marriage life. They are hardly distractions, if you do it without being selfish. It definitely can improve marriage life, and it is designed by God that marriage and friendship shouldn’t be at odd with each other but should function in reciprocity. And I think it is a very uninformed judgment to say someone not in good moral standing for marriage simply because he/she has heterosexual friends.

    • Rachel-1193432 July 21, 2015 Reply

      While I understand your point of some friendships tempting us into extramarital affairs, I agree with the doctor. I have many male friends who are dating or married, and there is no problem. Both parties know that this is just a friendship. We go out in a group, have barbeques together, and I go to lunch with a few that I work with. We respect each other and we bring different perspectives to the table. When they are working through issues in their relationship/marriage, I offer them the female perspective. Likewise, they offer the male perspective when I’m working through issues. It is a healthy, purely platonic relationship. I have always been a tomboy, and men are often easier to get along with than women because of their straightforwardness. My male friends are like my brothers, and we’re always there for each other.

      I think that platonic relationships are possible if everyone is honest. My male friends do not hide our friendship from their girlfriends/spouses. Many times we do things in a group. I make a point to get to know the girlfriends/wives of my male friends so they know there are no ulterior motives. I think honesty and trust are important. There are those people who may try to tempt a married person, but as a spouse you must trust that your partner is strong enough to stay faithful.

    • Mindy S. July 22, 2015 Reply

      There’s no “moral relativism” in holding that something which is not immoral might be okay for some people and not okay for other people. Unlike the objective moral law, occasions of sin are highly personal. Going into a bar is an occasion of sin for an alcoholic. It’s not an occasion of sin for someone who only drinks rarely and who is meeting a friend for a beer. Going to an all-you-can-eat buffet might be an occasion of sin for a glutton — but for an anorexic, it could be a psychological triumph. Opposite-sex friendship is the same way. A person who struggles with extramarital lust needs to be aware that they have this struggle, and to avoid occasions of sin. But that’s not everyone. I’ve been married for 15 years and have never been even remotely tempted to cheat. My best friend is a male celibate (let’s just say he’s not really attracted to women). He actually lived with my husband and I for a while. There has always been zero temptation. My friend and I love each other, but there’s nothing even remotely sexual in that love. Treating it like an occasion of sin would be paranoid, weird and absurd.
      And yes, being emotionally invested in non-sexual relationships outside of marriage is very good for marriage. When married people become excessively emotionally dependent on each other, it can create huge problems because marriage is not designed to carry the entire weight of a person’s need for love and affection. Couples with supportive families, strong communities and good friends are more likely to thrive. When there is no romantic or sexual tension, an opposite-sex friendship can definitely be a healthy part of this equation.

    • Ryan-1191814 July 22, 2015 Reply

      I agree wholeheartedly on the Pornography part.
      -Trust me gents we ain’t kidding on that one!
      But I have been friends with the same girl for years. Completely platonic, no bad thoughts or ideas, or wild “Feeling mustangs” roaming free.

      Different strokes for different folks i guess.

      It all boils down to whether you can keep it in your pants-for lack of a better phrase, Keep God in your life and every aspect of it, and lead with your mind of all things, eyes and heart tend to deceive! (Yoda WASN’T kidding folks!

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