General Question

Emilyy's avatar

How does one draw boundaries in friendships?

Asked by Emilyy (2133points) September 18th, 2008
43 responses
“Great Question” (3points)

I’ve always been a somewhat flirtatious lady, and in recent years I’ve toned it down a lot because people get the wrong idea and hearts get broken. But one thing I still struggle with is how to let people (specifically men, in my case) know that I like their friendship, but that it can’t be more than that. I don’t want to assume that every guy I like spending time with wants to have sex with me and be more than friends (a la the whole When Harry Met Sally theory that men and women can’t be friends), because that seems presumptuous. But I also don’t want to lead them on, or worse, betray the trust of the person I’m dating.

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deaddolly's avatar

talk about the kind of guys you treat them like a grlfriend. they’ll get the idea.
Ask for advice on other guys. It takes most guys a while to catch on, but unless they’re really stupid, they’ll catch on that you’re not into them that way.

marinelife's avatar

Be up front. Say something like, “Just to make sure we’re on the same page, I like to flirt and have fun, but I am dating TomDickHarry right now, and I am a one-woman gal while I’m in a relationship.”

In a way, I would rather not help you. Even toning it down, flirtatious behavior with others when you are attached is just not good form. That’s why it leads to all those misunderstandings. You may want to take a look at your need to do this. It seems somewhat selfish.

kevbo's avatar

So, uh… we’re not going to have sex then?

scamp's avatar

Just tell them you are a flirt, and you are committed to another. Then have some fun and be your sassy self girl!!

Judi's avatar

My husband and I have a rule. He has no female friends that are better friends with him than they are with me, and I have no male friends that are better friends with me than they are with him. That may seem sexist, but my marriage is more important than being politically correct and as liberated as I want to be, I know human nature and this rule works very well for us. (until he tarts worrying about how much time I spend on fluther)

nikipedia's avatar

There’s no substitute for good communication. Risk looking presumptuous and have the awkward conversation. But if they accuse you of sending mixed signals, you might want to re-examine your admittedly flirtatious nature.

That said, based on recent experiences, I’m not entirely convinced men and women can be “just friends”. Would be an interesting thread unto itself.

Emilyy's avatar

Kev, I thought my message was loud and clear when I screened your calls and set my myspace page to private. How much more clear does a gal have to be!?

Emilyy's avatar

Okay actually, new question. Or, off-shoot of previous question. Since a lot of people are suggesting to mention that I’m dating someone else, or talk about who I’m dating….How to set boundaries when NOT in a relationship? Just make up a fake BF and talk about him incessantly? Other suggestions? I guess that’s where good old communication comes in and I just have to bite the bullet and give them the whole, “It’s not you, it’s me, and I just want to be friends” line.

scamp's avatar

Just tell them you don’t want a boyfriend right now, just a buddy to hang out and have some fun with.

kevbo's avatar

Is it okay.. I mean, could I maybe be your fake bf? Like on FB and stuff?

Emilyy's avatar

No, Kev. I really have to let you know how much I like our friendship, but it has to stay at that.

How’d I do?

tinyfaery's avatar

If you’re a lesbian you can be “just friends” with a man. I am still a woman.

A note on flirting: Guys try to flirt with my wife and I all the time. She’s cute, I’m told I’m cute, and when we go out together, guys come up to us often. Depending on our/my mood, we/I will flirt back. I get a kick out of watching her flirt. Sometimes we play out these rolls, and allow the guy(s) to think they have a chance. No harm, no foul.

Back when I dated men, I had a problem with this too. Not to generalize, but most single guys do not want just a friendship with a girl. If you hang out with the guy, and he shows interest, just don’t respond. He’ll get the clue. Just don’t think a guy is really your friend until he knows for sure he has no chance with you.

stratman37's avatar

Emily, with the Bill-the-Cat avatar you’ve got going, I wonder about the caliber of men that would WANT to have sex with you! j/k. How about another picture? You look like you’d be gorgeous without the goofy expression.

Emilyy's avatar

Wow, I just got told.

stratman37's avatar

No, I meant it as a compliment! Please post another picture to prove me right.

tinyfaery's avatar

I think strat is flirting. Quick, give him your spiel.

stratman37's avatar

No, not at all. I’m just at the point in my happily-married-45-year-old life that I’m not afraid to verbally acknowledge beauty when I see it. And I don’t care if my wife, or the girl thinks I’m hittin’ on her.

arnbev959's avatar

I like your current avatar.

Emilyy's avatar

I’m not posting another picture! That’s my avatar! Take it or leave it. Thanks, Pete.

stratman37's avatar

Alright, I admire your stance!

MissAnthrope's avatar

I think I’d have to be up front and at some point say, “I know we flirt.. I love to flirt.. but I want to be respectful of your feelings and let you know it’s just flirting.” I’m sure you could say it nicer than that, I am very blunt and incapable of sugarcoating things. :P

I’d need to make it clear because I’d feel weird until I did.. always afraid he’d take it wrong, or whatever.

artificialard's avatar

The whole thing about “being upfront” is that it can sometimes make you look egotistical…

“So I was wondering…”
”... if you want another latte.”

rss's avatar

maybe it would be helpful to make it seem like you are the one with the problem – then the guy won’t feel bad if he is interested in you, or feel awkward if he isn’t. so if you are out at a bar or whatever, you say “hey, I always have a really hard time telling when people are into me, so I just wanted to be up front that I’m only into being friends.” then continue with whatever other conversation you are having so it doesn’t seem like a big deal.

cyndyh's avatar

It’s cruel to lead people on, especially if you know people have taken your manner differently in the past. If you want to be flirtatious you need to take the responsibility for the fuzzing of the boundary. Better for you to feel a little uncomfortable with looking egotistical than someone else to get their feelings hurt because you really want to flirt.

How about, “I like your friendship, but it can’t be more than that” or “I like our friendship just the way it is”.

That way you’ve taken the responsibility, and you’ve shown your concern for your friends’ feelings.

emilyrose's avatar

Hey Em…. I have struggled with the same thing and find that I end up being kind of distant and bordering on rude “just to be sure.” It sucks. I have a lot of really close guy friends, but most of them are married or engaged now so it’s non issue (and I was friends with them before all of their ladies which Is always weird at first that we are so close but the ladies always get over it). But I still have male friends that I don’t feel like the “friends” thing is totally established with. I still fear they may ask me out some day and I’ll have to say no : ( I find that talking about other men can work, and in the case that you do have a bf, mentioning him early on in a casual way is NEVER a bad idea. I tend to make up fake boyfriends when I am at parties or meet someone new that I know I’ll never be attracted to. I have an ex of sorts who lives in Canada, so when I need it, “I have a boyfriend that lives in BC.” Perfect!

Christopher's avatar

Well I’d just like to point out that the generalisation doesn’t hold true always… I have lots of female friends, all of whom I love dearly – but they are good friends and that’s it, just like my male friends. I like to think I have a nice balance of male and female friends!

(Some people I just love a little more than others though ;) but honestly, it makes me intensely happy to just be around my friends. A nice big hug solves a lot of problems. =)

bodyhead's avatar

Work to set those guys up on blind dates. Even if they didn’t work out, at least you would be letting them know that you don’t want to go out with them.

shadling21's avatar

@Judi (way way wayyyyyyy up there in the thread) – My best friend is a gay guy. I worry that I’ll never find a someone closer to me than him. I doubt that any future lovers will become jealous of him, though, right? There is no sexual attraction between us.

This question is one that I think about a lot. I’m clueless when it comes to relationships, so a lot of guys think I’m into them when I’m not. It can get complicated. I know that girls are supposed to understand this stuff more than guys, but I really don’t.

Judi's avatar

Every girl needs a gay guy friend. No one else can tell her her butt looks huge in those pants and her actually listen without her feelings getting hurt. :-)

cyndyh's avatar

Yeah, gay guy friends, sisters, and girl friends all fill this role. And young aunts. :^>

Judi's avatar

Sisters and girl friends are different. They could have a different agenda when telling me my butt looks fat.

cyndyh's avatar

For that matter so could your gay guy friend. :^>

Judi's avatar

But doesn’t it just seem different? More honest some how? Maybe it’s just MY gay guy friend.

cyndyh's avatar

I was thinking that maybe it was just my friends. I’m not lucky enough to have a sister. I do know what you mean, though. I just don’t keep friends who’d have that sort of agenda—gay guys or straight women. It makes it easier to find the good friends.

BioMystro's avatar

I hate the stereotypical view that gay guys are the only men that can fill this role.
I fulfill this role with many of my female friends (I’m a straight 20yr old male) and it’s always an effort for me to convince people that this is truly the relationship I have with these women. That i genuinely enjoy shopping and will happily tell her that she should really straighten her hair again or that she should put the lip balm on first.

Judi's avatar

I don’t trust you (just kidding.) There of course are exceptions, but the issue isn’t usually the guy’s sincerity, it’s the girls willingness to accept criticism. It’s great that you have so many girl platonic friends that are secure enough in themselves to accept constructive criticism from you. A lot of us have a bit of a harder time with it.

BioMystro's avatar

It’s the idea that; purely because I’m a male that likes females, I am automatically unable to have a platonic relationship with a woman. That’s what I don’t like. It seems to be a commonly held view in society, by no means any singular persons fault, it’s merely a perversion of sexism.
It should, as with everything, be based on the person with no preconceptions. But, alas, the world works in a manner far from my own eutopian ideals :-)

jellyfish's avatar

When guys ‘just want to be friends’ they start mowing my lawns and help chop down trees et al and then if i meet someone and tell them they never come over to help! So basically they only are around to see if I am interested!! That’s how it seems to work for me!

TheFonz_is's avatar

I think a plutonic relationship between a man and woman can work, but it has to be firmly ground in on both sides, what then tends to happen is that the guy doesnt try his luck but you know what, at the back of his mind given the opportunity (he may never admit it) but if he ever got the chance and with no consequence he probably would take things further.

people may argue but I’m yet to meet anyone who has a friend of the opposite sex who without consequence would at least have a kiss…

after all your friends, people tend to choose friends they are attracted to physically or mentally..

CMaz's avatar

Your mistake is you can’t be friends with guys. Espically if your nature is to be flirtatious.
Your neediness for men has to stop. Or find a boyfriend. Bad things happen to girls like you all the time. Because you want to find a way to walk on water.

rsfan63's avatar

can married men be friends with gay women

rsfan63's avatar

can married men be friends with gay women ?

MissAnthrope's avatar

Why not?

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