Platonic relationships

Can men and women have a platonic relationship?

by Eharmony Editorial Team - October 5, 2009

Is it ever acceptable to be friends with the opposite sex when dating? Dr Neil Clark Warren, eHarmony founder, answers the age-old conundrum.

Can men and women ever be friends? We investigate the politics of a platonic relationship when dating 


Dear eHarmony,

While I search for a partner, I continually meet the same problem, platonic relationships with the opposite sex. Before I go any further I need to clearly decide what I feel on this issue. What are your views on opposite sex friendships when someone is in a relationship or married?



We’re passionate advocates of maintaining close friendships with a number of people. In many of our lives, there’ll be times when a loving friend of any sex may literally save us. And when the world seems against you, the unconditional support of a close friend can help you through the hardest moments.

So, from the outset, we want to make clear our support of friendship, regardless of gender. This question is more concerned with the type of friendship and the feelings of your spouse or partner.


When you commit yourself to someone, you promise to make them the focus of your emotional energy and your verbal intimacy. By verbal intimacy, we mean the way two people communicate their innermost feelings, dreams, fears and longings. This is what binds two people together forever.

Men and women can be friends. They can be friends, go out for meals, work together, and discuss the issues of their days without overstepping any boundaries. But people do need to be mindful of the limits of a platonic relationship, and not just in terms of fidelity. In many cases, the margins are a little more subtle.

These platonic relationships can happen in the presence of each others’ partners. By including your partner when you’re catching up with your male friends, you’ll quickly dispel any fears he might have about those relationships. By including him, you’ll also be respecting the commitment you made to him – it’s a win/win.