Opposite sex friendships are becoming more common now that men and women work side by side. A survey of members on the Match.com dating site found that 83% of people believe that men and women can be platonic friends. Consider the benefits of these relationships and learn strategies to make them work for you.
Benefits of Opposite Sex Friendships
1. Gain insights. One key advantage of cross-sex friendships is getting an inside look at what men and women really think. This knowledge can help you prevent and resolve conflicts in your personal life and in the workplace.
2. Talk things over. There is some truth in the stereotype that female friendships tend to be based on talking about feelings while men are more activity oriented. Female friends often provide men with an outlet for talking about sensitive issues.
3. Share interests. Conversely, women often find that spending time with male friends brings more fun into their life. It can be a relief to lighten up and enjoy activities like hiking or photography.
4. Discover new aspects of yourself. Friends of the opposite sex can liberate you to express a full range of qualities that may conventionally be considered masculine or feminine. Dare to knit or watch football.
5. Widen your circle. Transcending the gender divide automatically gives you twice as many potential friends. Many people find it more difficult to make friends later in life, so welcome a bigger field.
6. Challenge media stereotypes. Hollywood sometimes seems behind the times. You can help prove that men and women can be happy together without getting romantically involved.
7. Promote equality. Breaking down gender barriers creates more choices for us all. Let your friendships set a good example for the future.
8. Strengthen your romantic relationships. Some people start out as friends and wind up as spouses. These partnerships can be especially strong and durable.
Strategies for Opposite Sex Friendships
1. Address sexual tension. Physical attraction may sometimes arise. The answer is to deal with it openly and honestly. Be clear about your boundaries. Even if you share a physical encounter that you come to regret, you may be able to bounce back if you remain respectful of each other’s feelings.
2. Make friends with other couples. You might find it easiest to start out by socializing with another couple. If you’re all compatible, you can maximize time with your partner and your friends.
3. Reach out to new people. From the playground to cocktail parties, it’s natural for men and women to drift off into their own groups. Make a conscious choice to strike up a conversation with a member of the opposite sex. You may hit it off.
4. Defuse jealousy. Accept that you or your partner may feel insecure about the time you spend with other men and women. You could be projecting if you’ve engaged in infidelity yourself. In any case, acknowledge your true thoughts and figure out where they’re coming from.
5. Deal with naysayers. There may always be people who doubt that men and women can spend time together and remain platonic. As long as you and your partner are happy, stand behind your own decisions and try to be understanding of the limitations of others.
6. Train your kids. Your kids learn from your example. Your friendships with the opposite sex demonstrate skills they’ll need to get along with others and share companionship and love.
In a modern society, men and women have more opportunities for friendship and these connections can enrich all our lives.