I got to talking to this girl during my weekend creative writing class, and I was telling her about my blog. The conversation happened over lunch – where I had a side serving of fries on my plate – of which I only had 3 pieces, yay! Sorry, just had to brag 🙂

Anyway, we got to talking about men, and this girl had a pretty strong belief that men and women can’t be friends. For her, the notion was absurd and impossible.

As for me, I’d like to believe that men and women CAN be friends, because most of my good/best friends are male (and if her theory held true I’d be left with virtually no friends!)

Having said that, I’m actually struggling with making new guy friends.

I grew up with brothers, so I always feel I get along better with men. Because of this, when meeting a new group of people, I find myself naturally gravitating towards men more than women. For some reason I feel more at ease around men, and the conversations seem to flow better.

So I’m in a new city, I’m meeting all sorts of people. I meet a bunch of cool people, some of which are guys. We talk, we click, we laugh. We exchange numbers and make plans to meet. I’m happy to meet this cool person who has similar interests and to have a new friend in the city whom I can catch up with.

The trouble, though, is that I wanted to be friends, but he wanted the benefits too.

I’ve had to deal with a couple of these situations in the past few months, and so I tried a few approaches to see which one works best.

The up-front approach
This is where, before agreeing to meet up with a guy, I say something like “I just want to let you know that I’m agreeing to meet you as friends. I’m not looking for more, so nothing will ever develop out of this beyond friendship. I want to be upfront to avoid awkwardness and unmet expectations.”

The results?
Didn’t work so well. One guy said he still wants to keep pursuing me in case he can make me change my mind. I guess the flaw with this approach is for someone who enjoys a challenge, saying this to them is like holding up a green light saying “come get me”

The hint-drop approach
I found this really useful for the new year, because people always ask what your new year resolutions are. If the guy doesn’t ask, I make sure to ask him so he can ask me back. To which my response would be “my resolution? Just trying to give up things that are bad for me, you know, alcohol, fries, men”.. He is intrigued and respond with “Men?” And I proceed to talking about how I have no place or time for men in my life etc. One guy responded with “but you’re talking to one”, to which I casually said “yup, guy friends are allowed”

The results?
I actually don’t know if this approach worked (hah!) It might have just made them less likely to tell me what they’re really thinking, but that’s fine by me.

The play-dumb approach
This is where I literally play dumb. If he compliments me, I pretend I didn’t hear it. Or if it’s via chat, I ignore it and change the topic. When saying goodbye, if I sense he’s leaning in for a kiss, I would just wave or give a quick hug and go off. I basically ignore all attempts and proceed as though nothing has happened.

The results?
I think this is the easiest one to do because it doesn’t require any confrontation or conversation, but it’s also the least effective. By brushing it off, he might think he needs to try harder.

I generally prefer to be upfront and honest, so we get it out of the way and just be friends. The whole playing dumb thing bothers me because I hate the idea of leading someone on. But at the same time, I struggle to bring it up especially when the guy isn’t being explicit about it. He might just go all “Woah chill the f*ck out girl I wasn’t into yo ass”

So, that’s my story. I’m still not sure what the best approach is but I stand by my belief that men and women can be friends. I’m sure there are male-female friendships which don’t work, and some of my new friendships may never work out. But there are also same-sex friendships that don’t work. The way I see it, some friendships are meant to be, and some aren’t – regardless of whether you’re male or female 🙂

What about you guys? Do you think men and women can be friends? And if you have any bright ideas on how to tell a guy you just want to be friends, please do share 🙂

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