Actually this is not the correct question. The REAL question is…. “Can you be ‘just friends’ with someone who you find attractive?” In today’s world we accept there are same sex relationships, so it is not really a question of opposite sex but rather attractiveness. So…can YOU? Can THEY?
Without blowing up this topic, I’d like only to address the situation where the attractive friend is not a previous boyfriend/girlfriend. That… is a WHOLE other topic altogether. To start, I would say the answer is that it depends on: Investment and Workability.
So I believe anyone is “capable” of having platonic relationships with attractive friends. Capability and choice are two different things. As a woman I am “capable” of being a prostitute, but it is my choice not to be employed in the World’s Oldest Profession– see the difference? There is always a chance that attractive friend can become more . . . BUT . . . not without certain behaviors and investment. Assuming both parties are physically attracted to one another, one does not go from platonic to lover “accidentally”. Certain behaviors contribute and create stronger emotions. Answering the following questions may help:
- How much time is spent communicating with this attractive friend? (Both physical and virtual presence like texting or skyping count!)
- How often is this attractive friend mentioned in everyday conversation?
- How often this attractive friend thought about?
- Is this attractive friend always seen in a group setting or private or both?
- How often this attractive friend met with physical contact (touch, hug, kiss on cheek, etc)?
- If you (or partner) were single, would they date this attractive friend? Would this attractive friend say the same?
- What is the tone when speaking to this attractive friend? Is it flirtatious, professional, are there lots of compliments?
- Is there any hiding of information when engaging this attractive friend? (Private texts, phone calls, meetings, etc)
Hopefully you see a pattern? The more you give to a relationship (action and thought) the more you get out of it. Which relationship is receiving more investment? Whether or not someone is consciously pursuing that attractive friend for “more”, through a relationship investment calculation is how one can gauge whether it will grow stronger, whither, or be maintained as-is. Even if this attractive friend is only interested in a platonic relationship, it could cost your current relationship depending on how much investment you are making.
Some may disagree with this, but really you never have control over another human being. Even if you have a wedding ceremony in the Vatican and a marriage certificate signed by the Pope himself, it does not entitle you to demand anything from your partner. You can make a request, but everyone has the freedom to make his or her own choices (good, bad, or ugly). You cannot control your partner’s decisions or their actions… you do however have full control over your own.
I’ve said this in previous articles but there is only “what works” and “what doesn’t work” for you. It does not matter if the entire planet agrees/disagrees with you… if something “doesn’t work” then it “doesn’t work” – end of story. Since every relationship is different you will need to work out with your partner what that attractive friendship means and agree on those boundaries that will help maintain your best relationship. In other words, you must agree with your partner what is and what is not acceptable behavior. It may be as simple as “I don’t care as long as you don’t sleep with them” to “You need to prove to me that every interaction with this person is platonic. Show me all your texts, emails, and you are never to be alone with them!”
Some people do great with agreed boundaries as long as both parties respect them and feel good about them. If boundaries cannot be agreed upon or if those boundaries cannot be respected, then the decision must be made if that relationship really “works” or “doesn’t work”. I’m not even talking about a wayward spouse. I’m also talking about an insanely jealous partner who hates talking about the weather to anyone other than them!
Even if all interaction is platonic, appropriate, and has court admissible proof, if someone has a problem with it – then there are only two choices. Maintain the relationship with your partner or the attractive friendship. In that situation, clearly you will not be able be happy if you try to have both.
So in short, I believe anyone is “capable” of having a platonic relationship with an attractive friend (and also capable of "much more"). But if you want to keep your current romantic relationship going strong, that friendship must have it’s limits and agreed boundaries with your loved one.
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