Can Men and Women Really Be Friends?

April 24th, 2015 by Nick Notas 14 Comments

Boy and Girl Friends

Few questions spark a more passionate debate than this one. 

When asking women, you’ll usually hear, “Yes!” When asking men, you’ll usually hear, “Of course not.” or “Only if the guy is gay.”

This sucks for many women to hear. It’s depressing to think that no man can be a real friend, no matter how well you get along.

However, it’s not that black and white. I think the correct answer is, “Yes…but only under the right circumstances.”

Growing up, two of my best friends were girls. But I’ll admit, things were made easier because I was never physically attracted to either of them.

Here’s the first nugget of truth about male-female friendships…

Men have no problem being platonic with women they don’t find attractive. It sounds awful, but that’s the reality.

On the other hand…

If a man finds you physically attractive, there’s a high chance he’d be open to casual sex with you if given the opportunity.

This is the argument guys use to justify why they can’t be friends with women. But I disagree. Desiring someone doesn’t automatically mean you can’t be friends.

You can be open to no-strings-attached sex but still want to be just friends. You can be attracted to someone but not want to date them.

How do I know that? Because I’m legitimately friends with many good-looking girls. 

From my experiences, I know that I’m in the minority. I know that it took me years to get to the point where I didn’t need to sleep with every hot girl I knew.

My goal is to explain what type of men are most capable of creating healthy friendships with women — even if they find them attractive. And then I’ll show you how to have the highest probability of maintaining that friendship, conflict-free.

What makes men able to be real friends?

Experience. This comes down to both age and romantic history with women. When you’re young, your testosterone levels are at their peak. Your sex drive is high and it’s hard to think without the influence of your dick.

If you’ve had little sexual history, then you’re going to see almost every woman as a romantic prospect. You’re hungry for it. You value that intimate connection more than friendship. And that’s normal.

When you’re young or inexperienced, you also don’t look past attraction to evaluate compatibility. You just know that you sexually desire someone and that’s all you need. When I started becoming sexually active, I never thought about a woman’s values, self-esteem, or respectfulness. She just had to look hot and I was sold.

As you get older and have had sexual escapades, you screen women for more than their body. You can accept that you may find them attractive but that doesn’t mean they’re a good romantic partner for you. You can then appreciate their company as a friend without feeling slighted.

Self-confidence with women. Men who lack confidence with women have difficulty expressing their romantic intentions. You don’t flirt or show interest with women you like. Instead, you act like “friends” while secretly hoping she sees you as a romantic prospect.

When things don’t progress and you realize you’re in the “friend zone”, you can’t handle the rejection. You can’t settle for “just friends” because you never actually wanted to be friends in the first place. Your self-worth depends on winning over this girl.

Men who know they’re attractive and believe they have many opportunities with women are upfront with their romantic intentions. You openly desire women and show your interest early on. You never use friendship as a tactic to get close, especially if you know you have no intention of staying “just friends”.

Moreover, when you understand your own value, you will not be permanently devastated by a rejection. It’ll hurt but you can take it in stride and continue to explore other options. Then, if you decide honest friendship is something you actually want, you can pursue that.

Romantic fulfillment. When you’re happy in a relationship, you’re less likely to look elsewhere because that need is taken care of. Yes, you still may see attractive women and fantasize about them sexually. But most men aren’t going to ruin a great connection to get laid one time.

Now if you’re single or in a shitty relationship, that’s a different story. You’re missing that romantic element in your life. So when any opportunity presents itself, there’s a high probability you’re going to seek that validation.

The more a man embodies these qualities, the more likely he can be a genuine friend.

How men and women can build stronger friendships

Studies show the most significant issues in male-female friendships are…

  • Men think their female friends are flirting with them, even when they’re not.
  • Women think their male friends are just being friendly, even when they’re interested. 

While the values I outlined above increase the chances that a man will be a real friend, you can’t guarantee anything.

What you can do is communicate more clearly. Both parties need to be explicit on what type of connection they want so expectations are met.


  • Be upfront with your romantic intentions. You need to flirt with women you like and see if they like you back. Pretending to be a friend and hoping that things will turn romantic is dishonest. Also, it almost never works.

    I won’t get too into this here because that’s a huge part of what this site is about. I advise you read through the flirting and sexuality sections of the Dating 101 page.

  • Accept rejection with grace. If you do express those intentions and a woman turns you down, let it go. Don’t keep chasing her endlessly. Don’t take it out on her — whether through anger, threats, guilt tripping, or manipulation. She doesn’t owe you anything and she’s not a bitch if she doesn’t see you as a romantic partner.

    Most of all, don’t pretend like you can handle being a friend if you can’t. It’s better to walk away than stay around while in pain. You’re only going to build resentment and be more hurt when she starts hooking up with someone else. You can consider restarting a friendship with her only when you’ve truly moved on.


If you just want to be friends with a guy…

  • Communicate you want a friendship early on. Use the word friend in conversation. “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” “You’re such a great friend.” “I’m lucky to have a friend like you.”
  • Don’t give more than light physical contact. Think about how you’d touch a co-worker or a female friend — hugs, high fives, and casual arm touches are fine. Anything more sends the wrong signals. And please, no cuddling together on your couch while watching Netflix.
  • Be clear about your rejection if they make a move. Don’t try to just ignore it because they will keep pursuing you. Don’t give them false hope that something could happen in the future.

    Do let them know you see them as just a friend. If they can’t handle being friends with you, then you shouldn’t keep hanging out. The free attention isn’t worth it. You’re setting yourself up to be on the receiving end of only more problems when he feels like you used him.

  • Consider hanging out in groups rather than always one-on-one. Spending time alone in a house together sets an intimate dynamic. It’s hard for a guy not to get the wrong idea or have feelings for you.

    I know it’s not your responsibility to manage someone else’s emotions. But you have to be smart about not putting yourself in a position where a man can easily misunderstand your intentions.

  • Don’t just use them as a support system. I understand that occasionally you may want some emotional guidance from a friend. But always using a guy as a shoulder to cry on about your romantic problems is not fair. Real friends hang out, have good times, and invest in one another.

    If you only talk to a guy when you need help with something or when you’re feeling lonely, you’re a fake friend.

“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.” – Muhammad Ali

  1. Tricia on April 24, 2015

    I loved the instructions to both men and women on how to be better at friendships. I’ve had a close male best friend since college and we have managed to keep things platonic and healthy (in my opinion). However, we’ve both been in happy relationships so I think that really helps, we don’t rely on each other for every little thing. I can see how it’s tough for people but it’s worth it!

    • Nick Notas on April 24, 2015

      Hey Tricia,

      Glad you found value in the tips. It definitely helps when you aren’t using each other for that emotional intimacy.

  2. Tim on April 24, 2015

    This was a great read. A real level-headed approach to discussing this issue. I’ve often thought along similar lines but you really spelled it out well in this article.

    I have to admit I used to be that guy high school who would try to “befriend” women and hope it would turn into something more. It almost never did, like you said.

    Obviously, after reading your work, I’ve grown past that!

    • Nick Notas on April 24, 2015

      Thanks Tim, I tried to take a rational fair approach to such an emotional topic. Happy I inspired you to be more direct and honest with your romantic intentions.

  3. Diane on April 24, 2015

    Can you be friends with a guy you dated and it just didn’t work out.But the friendship part works.

    • Nick Notas on April 24, 2015

      Absolutely! But only if both of you have moved on and are genuinely excited to be friends.

  4. Daniel on April 24, 2015

    Important article for me because one of my best friends is a girl. I’m not sure if you saw, but I did have a few occasions where I felt lonely and desperate and tricked myself out into thinking I wanted something more with her (one of which cases I wrote about in my progress journal– and then deleted, because it was very fleeting). I think the reason nothing really happened between us was because when we met, I had a huge crush on this other girl, who my current best friend gave me advice with etc. Since we developed such a platonic relationship back then, it kind of set a foundation for a platonic relationship.

    Still, though, now I’m 15 and hornier than ever (lmao) so of course I do get sexually attracted to her, and she doesn’t really have a problem with it because she has an understanding of male psychology and biology, hahah. She has a boyfriend now, and although there are times (especially when I feel desperate, lonely, jealous, or at some sort of loss of hope of progressing in my dating life) when I do feel like I want something more with her. But for the most part, when I’m my normal, confident self, I acknowledge sexual attraction as something I will just always have, but not something I want to act on with her. When desperate, I trick myself into believing she’s everything I want in a girl, but my rational, confident mind knows that I shouldn’t be jumping into relationships before even putting myself out there and discovering what I really like in a girl.

    So more or less, I think male-female friendships can work, as long as everyone is honest about their intentions. In the past when I’ve felt I liked her, I’ve actually told her that, but it’s never lasted any more than a few days, and we almost invariably go back to our normal lives.

    Good article Nick.

    • Nick Notas on April 30, 2015

      Damn man, you are seriously introspective for a 15-year-old. You should be proud haha.

      You hit everything perfectly and honesty is key. It’s normal to crave that romantic attention when you’re feeling lonely and down, even if you know she’s not the one for you. I’m glad you recognize those feelings and are able to process them in a healthy way.

      More importantly, it takes a lot of courage to open up so honestly with her. She also seems really cool to be reasonable and understanding of your feelings. Sounds like you guys have a great friendship.

      Thanks for reading!

  5. Ramiro on April 26, 2015

    It’s awesome to see what i did right and wrong and find a way to getting better in socializing with people. You put a good resume of everything we should know more about in an easy way to understand. I congrats you and give you my thanks for the tips. i’m realy looking forward to get some of your work.

    Greetings from Mexico, Nick.

    • Nick Notas on April 30, 2015

      Greetings from Boston, Ramiro. Happy that I could share some insight and help you get a better understanding of these dynamics. You’re very welcome and I look forward to having you as a reader 🙂

  6. Mark on April 29, 2015

    My best friend is an incredibly beautiful young woman. Since I have gotten really good at dating women its easy to be friends with them because I know there are always so many I can date. Finding a great friend is rare. Someone you can share your deepest secrets with and who does the same. Once you get good at dating you realize that no matter how open and honest you are, a romantic or sexual relationship will always be far less stable than a friendship. I would never want to risk our friendship for sex or a girlfriend. I believe having a close female friend helps you be a better lover because there you have less of a women vs men mindset. When you can go to a hot girl and tell them the most embarrassing things and feel completely accepted and have them do the same to you, it helps so much. We all struggle at our sexual relationships and knowing that through a female friend takrs the pressure off by providing a female perspective. Women are very different from men in the way we think and process things but feeling accepted, understood and respected is the important part. Be honest with yourself and with women. Once you are you will be able to have a friend who is a girl. It will make you a better man. Not to mention much better at dating.

  7. squib on April 29, 2015

    I’m glad you made an entire post on this topic. It really helped to clear things up for me. I would really like to have some guy FRIENDS, but I’m still not having much luck with that. It sucks because I feel like I’m losing a lot of guy friends to them wanting more, but I guess I have no choice but to keep at it!

  8. Andy on June 2, 2015

    This topic is really interesting, as I was reading through it makes a lot of sense. Im older now but when i was younger i wouldn’t consider being friends with a girl unless i found them attractive. Sad but true! As the post says men tend to base things simply on attractiveness. Now that I’m older its different and do have a few ‘girl’ friends some who are attractive but i don’t think of them as sexually attractive, they are just friends. All depend on your age I think, and maturity.

  9. Mike on May 10, 2016

    Hi Nick I ve been having this problem and I am struggling to get out of it I hope I’ll manage despite loving the woman so much yet she just want friendship it’s hurting anyway