Is there such a thing as "Just Friends" ?: The complicated dynamic between men and women.

In today's western society, individuals are constantly interacting with members of the opposite sex (i.e., at work, school, places of worship, in sports,  etc.).   Most people in the generation of individuals from 16 to 35, have many close friends of both sexes.  How does having many friends of the opposite sex influence the individual's romantic relationships?  As someone who has numerous friends of both sexes, here are some questions that I have been thinking about lately.   I would like to hear your opinions on this topic.

The first question that I have asked myself frequently is:  Can men and women be "just friends" without the question of dating entering the picture?  

I'll speak from my personal experience, but I think the question comes up for single men and women whether they want it to or not.  Whether it be immediately or in the first five minutes, five months, five years, etc. of knowing someone of the opposite sex, I think you make a decision of whether you see the person as a friend or something more.  The person may start off as a friend, but over time they may develop into something more whether you want them to or not. Nevertheless once you have labelled the person as friend only, boundaries of the friendship have been set up.

Also, I think that the term "friend" has many levels, ranging from an acquantaince to a best friend forever. Therefore, can men and women be friends? Yes.  However, when you get to higher levels of friendship and more intimacy develops between the two of you, complications develop.

With high levels of intimacy in the relationship, romantic feelings and love will arise.   Which leads to my next question: What if one of you develops feelings for the other, and the other does not reciprocate?  Can you really just stay friends? Can you really push away your feelings?

Another situation can arise, which has happened to me,  when you are amazing friends with someone and then one of you or both enter new relationships.  What happens when one of you enters a relationship with someone else?  Does the dynamic between you change?

From experience, the dynamic will change between the two of you, and that is totally fine.  You and your friend may not come to each other to tell each other everything anymore. You can still tell that person your issues, but boundaries need to be put in place.  Their significant other is now the most important.  When you care about someone so much, you want what is best for them. You may feel jealousy, for example why they chose him or her over you, but you have to refrain from doing that.  You do not want to do anything that will hurt them and jeopardize their relationships.  Therefore, you will still be friends but the dynamic will be changed, not lost.  How would you feel if your boyfriend or girlfriend put more emphasis on their opposite sex friendships than on you?  This leads to my next question.

When you are in a relationship with someone, would it make you jealous if they had good friends of the opposite sex?  Do you get jealous this way?  Would it bother you if you saw pictures of your boyfriend/girlfriend hanging out with a good friend of the opposite sex, heard that they were hanging out,  having deep conversations, or writing messages on their Facebook wall?

I know many men and women who get along better with members of the opposite sex and have many such friends. However, should their friend selection make them inadequate partners? Or, do you think they are going to date you if they have to give up all their friends? Many individuals will get jealous when they see pictures or hear of their partner spending time with a member of the opposite sex.  You have to trust them, but it is still hard.  The relationships between men and women are complicated, and you have create to balance and boundaries for them to work.

Therefore, my question still arises: Can men and women be only "close friends"?

Thoughts? Experiences?

Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.

See you at the beach!

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