(You’re attracted to each other, so can you be just friends? Well, it depends.)
Can a man and a woman ever be just friends?
To put it simply, no then yes.
The beginning stages of a relationship (both friendly and romantic) are much like a wad of clay, and it’s up to both parties to decide how they want to mold it. Do they want it to become a friendship or do they want it to become a relationship? The truth is, we can’t just be friends, at least not in the beginning stages. It’s just the way we process each other as the opposite sex. If left alone long enough, the relationship gets defined to its default point of the “friend zone”. Girls can put guys there, and guys can put girls there. So how does it happen? In a word, time.
In the beginning phase of getting to know each other, you’re typically both wondering what the hell is going on. “We sure do have a lot in common”, “why are we flirting so much”, or “we are both attractive people so why shouldn’t we go out”. You’re sizing each other up because you want to see the other is made of. So you take the time to go out on a date. But of course you can’t call it a date, so you say, “hey, let’s grab a drink” and see where it goes from there. It’s your job though (both men and women), to make a decision on where you want it to go, and then steer the wheel in that direction. Whichever road you choose to take, if you decide you just want to be friends, or if you decide you want to get romantically involved, you have to make your intentions clear.
How? Here’s the tricky part. You can’t exactly come out and say “I think we should just be friends” because then you seem like a conceited asshole for assuming they wanted more. And you also can’t come out and say, “I’m interested in you in a romantic capacity. I would like you to keep that in mind while we continue these alcohol and caloric based interactions”. So how do you make your intentions clear without tipping your hand? If you’re not interested, then talk about other guys/girls you’re dating, drop the dreaded buzz words of “friend” or “buddy”, or start high fiving them a lot (women pick up on this befriending gesture very quickly). If you are interested in him or her, just flick that mental switch and your body language will follow. Then up the physical contact to an above “just friends” level and go from there. Also, try to breach topics that would indicate an interest like the dreaded perfunctory college major/number of siblings/when was your last relationship trifecta. Read the signals and respond accordingly.
So in order to avoid the “friend zone”, or get in the “friend zone”, you have to make your intentions clear. If you are interested though, you have to react while the window is open, or you risk going on what I call, “the 10-year plan”. What’s the 10-year plan? It’s where one of you is secretly in love with the other for ten years, and sticks with him or her through countless bad relationships, until one day 10 years later he/she realizes “holy crap we love each other” like a season 2 finale of a bad show on the CW. If you don’t want to go on the ill-advised, agony filled 10-year plan then you have to react while that window is open.
So put yourself out there and get your heart trampled on and kicked around. No guts, no glory right? With these types of things, it’s always better to try and get shot down, instead to wondering for the rest of your life. And if you really want to make your intentions perfectly clear, then you can always just go and kiss her.
[Photo: A date at the Vanilla Bake Shop In Santa Monica, CA. Great presentation but only mediocre cupcakes. Instead, go to SusieCakes in Brentwood.]