The When Harry Met Sally debate rages on.
Some of my best friends in the world are women I’ve never been attracted to—and vice versa. One of these women is my roommate, actually, and I can tell you with 100 percent confidence that I would never touch her with my schlong. She shares the same lack of romantic feeling.
But I’m no expert, which is why I hit up Christie Hartman, Ph.D., a Denver-based dating expert and behavioral scientist and author of It’s Not Him, It’s You: The Truth You May Not Want—but Need—to Hear.
“They can be friends,” Hartman told me in an e-mail. “I’ve had lots of male friends and have a close male friend right now—and I’m married. You have to be transparent and include your partner in the friendship at least to some extent. And there can’t be any real attraction between the two people. It gets weird when there’s actual or suspected attraction—even if one-sided—if the partner is excluded, or if the partner is made to feel less important or less of a priority in any way.”
Of course, just because an expert says you can hang out with dudes doesn’t mean your boyfriend will be okay with it. So I reached out to some men and women to ask them how they’d feel if their partner hung out one-on-one with a member of the opposite sex—and whether they think men and women can really be just friends.
“No, I don’t think so. Because guys only want to be friends with girls if they want to f**k them. I’m not saying they’d ever try, but they’d still want to. I wouldn’t want my girlfriend going out with some dude by herself, even if it’s, like, her work boss or something. Maybe especially then.” —Simon P.
“I’m fine with it. My boyfriend has a really close girl friend who he went out to dinner with just last week when she was in town on business. I trust him, for one thing, and he also showed me a picture of her. She’s not too cute.” —Claire J.
“I would be comfortable with a girlfriend hanging out one-on-one with a guy…if that guy was gay. Otherwise, I’d be worried the whole time, even if it was an unfounded worry. Mostly because I’m a guy and I know how guys think. And we think with our penises pretty much all the time.” —Will Z.
“I don’t necessarily believe that men and women can’t be platonic friends, but I’d probably be skeptical about my girlfriend hanging one-on-one with a guy. This is only because an ex cheated on me with a guy she swore a thousand times was just a friend. After we broke up, they got together and lived together for years. So I’m an example of the worst-case scenario for two friends of the opposite sex hanging out.” —Erik S.
“I can be comfortable with my boyfriend hanging out with a female friend. It hasn’t happened yet, but if it was someone I also knew, I’d be fine with it. I would want to discuss it with him, though, if it was a girl I had never met before.” —Liz P.
“People make too big a deal about this whole thing. Girls can be friends with guys and vice-versa. I think it’s a sign of trust if you tell your girlfriend you’re okay with her going out with a guy friend. And she’ll probably appreciate it if you show you’re comfortable with her doing it. If you were to give her a lot of sh*t about it, I could see how she’d take it as a sign of insecurity, and that could make problems where there really don’t need to be any.” —Jonathan W.
“I saw When Harry Met Sally before I had ever been in a relationship or had a real guy friend, so I was predisposed to believe that part of the movie where Billy Crystal says that the sex thing always gets in the way between male and female friends. I’ve never been in that situation, but I hope that if my boyfriend wanted to hang out with a female friend, I would be cool with it.” —Juli A.
“My girlfriend hangs out with her best guy friend a lot, and I’m fine with it. Sometimes, I wonder if they’re talking about me when they’re out together, but maybe they aren’t. And if they are, why does it matter? If she’s talking about me with him, she’s probably talking about me with her female friends, and I try to see it as the same thing. I know there are plenty of stories out there about friends becoming lovers and all, but I think the more you think about those possibilities, the more you’re going to get overprotective—and the worse it’s going to be for your relationship at the end of the day.” —Patrick M.
“I have a few guy friends I spend time with, and it has never been an issue with my husband and me. So for me to say I don’t want him going out one-on-one with a female friend of his would be hypocritical and kind of immature. I think one of the most important things in a relationship is to be able to not question your husband’s dedication to you.” —Ashlee N.
“My girlfriend’s best college friend is a straight guy, and I have no qualms with them getting together. She’s known him a lot longer than she’s known me, and even if the guy thinks he’s in the friend zone or something, it doesn’t worry me too much. If he tried something, she would tell me about it. Afterward, I might not want them to hang out alone together, though.” —Wayne G.