Can men and women ever just be friends?

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Can men and women have platonic relationships?
Here Dr Neil Clark Warren, eHarmony founder, answers this age-old conundrum.

Question:
Dear Dr Warren,

While I search for a partner, I continually meet the same problem, opposite sex friendships. 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?
-Kelly
 
Answer: 
Dear Kelly,

I am a passionate advocate of close friendships with a number of people. In most of our lives, there will be times when a loving friend will literally save us. And when the world might seem against you, the unconditional support of a close friend can help you through the hardest moments.

So, from the outset I want to make clear my support for the concept of friendship, regardless of gender. The question is more about the sort of friendship and the feelings of your spouse or partner.

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

In my view, a man and a women can be friends, go out for meals, work together and discuss their the issues of the day without overstepping the boundaries of propriety. But I think people need to be aware what the limits are to that relationship, and not just in terms of fidelity. There are more subtle margins if you are going to respect your promises to your husband.

These cross-gender friendships can happen in the presence of each others’ partners. By including your partner when you are catching up with your male friends you are most likely to dispel any fears he has about those relationships. By including him, you will also be respecting those commitments you made to him and probably make him more comfortable about you spending time with your male friends alone.


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