Can girls and guys be just friends? In a word – yes. But it depends on the situation, the dynamic and the history of the friendship. There’s a long list of variables that come into play and determine what type of friendships are appropriate when you’re in a relationship.
Here are 6 of the most common situations and how a guy should deal with them:
The Guy From Her Group
If your girlfriend has a large crew of male friends that are close to her group of girls, then she’ll frequently be in their company. It’s going to be in your best interest to befriend her guy friends and get to know them. That way you can gage if there’s anything to worry about, and you’ll be much more comfortable letting her hang out with them on her own.
Tip: If you aren’t the extreme jealous type and think you can handle it, this can actually be a good situation as it shows your girlfriend is chill enough to be one of the guys. But before you get too comfortable, make sure there isn’t any sexual history you need to worry about.
Cause for Concern: Medium
The Long-Standing Male Friend
Sometimes a girl will have one guy she’s been friends with for most of her life, which can be a circumstance where an actual legitimate platonic friendship could work. If she’s a good girlfriend she’ll provide reassuring clues — she’s known him since they were kids, he’s a brotherly type influence in her life, thinking about him sexually actually causes her the gag reflux, he used to wet the bed at sleepovers, etc. All of which immediately puts you at ease with the friendship.
Tip: Showing your girlfriend that you aren’t threatened by the friendship, and are actually mature and understanding about it just speaks volumes about the kind of guy you are.
Cause of Concern: Low
The Work Friend
She makes a new guy friend at work, or through some activity she’s involved in. This is the type of situation where you’re going to have to be comfortable with a certain degree of contact since it’s somebody that she’s working with or sharing a common interest. It’s going to be easy for jealousy issues to arise, especially if this other guy is interested in the same things as your girlfriend (maybe something you hate doing). So just make sure there’s open communication to avoid harboring any pent up jealously or animosity.
Tip: This is a friendship on eggshells. The onus is going to be on your girlfriend to set boundaries and respect your relationship. It’s fine if they’re being friendly when they’re participating in the activity they’re doing together, or having drinks in a big group after work. But anything that’s just the two of them is inappropriate.
Cause for Concern: Medium to High
The New Party Buddy
This is when your girlfriend makes a new guy friend at a house party or some other social function after only meeting once. This is completely inappropriate. There’s no need for her to make new guy friends, especially ones singularly brought together by alcohol. You’re a guy and you know how we think. Even if this guy knows she has a boyfriend, it probably won’t deter him from thinking he has a shot at sleeping with her, especially since you know how friendly girls can give guys the wrong impression.
Tip: This is not appropriate, and if your girlfriend doesn’t share your same views, you might want to reconsider the relationship altogether.
Cause for Concern: High
The Ex Boyfriend
This one is very tricky and needs to be observed on a case-by-case basis. Often relationships don’t work and people move on. Time passes and feelings cease to exist. In which case, it’s okay for your girlfriend to be “friendly” with an ex. Note the emphasis on friendly. There is no need to be proper friends. Anything more and you run the risk of old feelings rising to the surface. You also need to ask yourself if she’s being respectful of her current relationship with you — be suspicious if she’s being so buddy-buddy with her ex.
Tip: Go with your gut on this one. If they meet every six months for a cup of coffee, it’s probably harmless. But meeting up semi regularly is definitely a cause for concern. It might be worthwhile to join them one time to see how they interact around each other and assess whether or not there’s anything to worry about.
Cause for Concern: All Levels
The Gay Friend
Tip: Man, if you’re reading this and have ever been jealous about her gay male friend, then you need a lot more help than I can give you. The best way you can handle the situation is by befriending the guy — the worst will be brushing him off with a homophobic attitude. Bonus points if he likes you, which will only reinforce your girl’s feelings. In fact, the ultimate affirmation of her feelings will arise if her gay friend not only approves of you, but also kind of has a thing for you.
Cause for Concern: Zero
It’s possible to maintain platonic friendships with the opposite sex, but being in a relationship does change the rules. Just make sure you and your girlfriend are on the same page and set boundaries that work for both of you.