Friends – It’s an age-old fact that one of the hardest relationships to maintain is a friendship between a man and a woman with nothing else involved. Think about all the male friends you’ve had, and consider how you felt about them. Chances are, there was a time during your friendship when you felt something more for each of them, and quite likely, that feeling wasn’t requited – at least, not while you were going through it. The same is true of sexual attraction, back and forth between the two of you.

Even if you didn’t halfway fall in love with a male friend, you probably felt like there were times he looked at you with something beyond friendship – whether it was love or lust. It’s normal, and it can ruin great friendships. If either of you pushes for something beyond the friendship, you could end up pushing each other away. And if you just hold onto your feelings or desires (or he does), resentment can build up and kill the happiness you share.

But Can It Work?

Sometimes, there’s just too much friction, whether sexual or emotional, for a coed friendship to last. It’s just the basic makeup of humans that attraction and love get in the way all the time. That doesn’t mean it has to be that way. If you keep a few personal ‘rules’ or limitations in mind, you can maintain a healthy friendship with the opposite sex.

  1. Maintain a careful distance. Don’t become codependent because then that leads to the tendency to cling to your friend and start appreciating him as something more than the friend you should count on. Make sure you have your own personal life, and he has his.
  2. If you start to feel like you’re falling in love, it’s time to evaluate. Is it just because you are so close? While some of the best romantic relationships start as friendships, trying to find that romance more often ends the friendship, only for you to discover that you misread your own feelings.
  3. If you’re attracted to your male friend in a sexual way, you probably already flirt and tease because it’s in the nature of humans to do so. Pay attention to his reactions, and take cues from them. If he starts to tease back more seriously, maybe it’s something to pursue. On the other hand, if he doesn’t you should work on your own needs and press down your desire. Maybe it’s time to find someone else you’re attracted to.
  4. If you discover without a doubt that your feelings or attraction aren’t mutual, don’t hold a grudge or harbor resentment. That will definitely ruin your friendship. You’ll have to work through it and let it go if you value what you have with your friend.

Maintaining your friends of the opposite sex can take a lot of diligence, but it’s well worth it, especially when you’ve grown close to them. Don’t make the mistake of trying to get more when you aren’t sure you want to risk losing one of your best friends for what likely wouldn’t be as satisfying as you’d hope.

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