Rom-coms like “When Harry Met Sally” are at least partially responsible for planting the misguided idea that men and women are incapable of being “just friends” without eventually falling in love or having sex.
We recently asked real-life, opposite-sex best friends to set the record straight once and for all. Below, 10 things opposite-sex besties wish other people understood about their bond:
1. We love each other (as friends!) but We. Are. Not. Attracted. To. Each. Other.
“Ryan and I have been best friends for 16 years. He’s been my roommate on two separate occasions, including once with my then-boyfriend. We have never so much as even kissed. Truly no attraction, just a deep bond. Our respective significant others have handled it differently over the years, but eventually they all realized it will forever be platonic. He is my best friend. My big brother. He taught me to drive a car, I taught him how to cook. We love each other like family. We fight like family sometimes too, but that’s what makes it special.” ― Channing L.
2. The friendship isn’t a threat to our romantic relationships.
“If the trust is there between you and your spouse and your best friend, it works fine. My best friend Jason was in my wedding and is now good friends with my husband. And my husband’s best friend Christen was also in our wedding and has become one of my closest friends. If anything the best friend is an ally to your spouse because they can exchange advice on how to deal with you!” – Kayla D.
3. But some romantic partners just won’t understand it.
“I’ve had problems in dating where people don’t trust me or the other person in my friendship. Too many people are putting too much emphasis on sex. I don’t know about you, but I can honestly say I’m not sexually attracted to every single person on the planet and I can find value in a person other than what’s in their pants. Imagine that.” ― Jesse E.
4. Everyone ― from waiters to people on the street ― assumes we are husband and wife.
“My friend Chris and I have been friends for 23 years and now as married adults (just not married to each other!), there is a stigma about our friendship. Our spouses don’t care that we are still great friends but when we are out together, people assume we are married to each other. So to counter those assumptions, we make jokes like, ‘I’m one of the wives…’” ― Erica W.
5. Or that we’ve had sex.
“Everybody will think you slept together. And even when you try to explain how that would be so unfathomable, unthinkable, and probably impossible, they think you’re lying.” ― Kira L.
6. Or that we’re secretly in love.
“Jeff and I are best friends and there are people that refuse to believe that after 28 years, we haven’t at some point liked each other or had something going on. Anyone who really knows us knows we are like brother and sister and protect each other as such. We have love and respect for each other’s spouses and I think the old argument that men and women can’t be just friends is sexist.” ― Lauren Carter
7. Well-meaning people will inevitably ask eye-rolling questions.
“Cole and I have been through a lot together. We’ve also been to a lot of parties or social gatherings together. At these gatherings, there’s always at least one person who will ask one of many annoying questions ranging from ‘Why we haven’t mashed our fun bits together?’ to ‘When will the wedding invitations will be in the mail?’ The one I’ve grown to resent the most is, ‘You guys should really date, you’re so perfect together!’ Please excuse me while my eyes roll completely to the back of my head. The fact that we are so good together and have managed to stay friends is because at some point in our 17-year friendship, we drew a line in the sand and we knew not to cross it if we wanted to keep our friendship strong. So that’s exactly what we’ve done.” ― Natalie F.
8. And critics might just be projecting their own insecurities.
“Any time a man or woman has expressed disbelief in the existence of opposite-sex, platonic friendships [to me], it has always been due to a serious case of projection. Just because you can’t maintain platonic, opposite-sex friendships doesn’t mean that everyone else is suspect. I’ve met a lot of men and women whose blanket disapproval of their partners’ opposite-sex friendships stems from a personal history of being unfaithful, and the inability to keep it in their pants.” ― David D.
9. It’s possible to be affectionate with your bestie in a completely platonic way.
“My best friend and I are of the opposite sex, even though I technically identify as gender fluid. Yes, we sleep in the same bed. Yes, we cuddle. Yes, we show affection. Are we in a romantic relationship? No. We’re both gay. I think it’s important to understand that you can be affectionate and show love to someone of the opposite sex without them being your significant other. I love my friend very much and he loves me. It really bugs me when people make gibes at us and call us ‘lovers,’ especially since neither of us is interested in the opposite sex.” ― Calley T.
10. And it’s even possible to have a non-sexual friendship with someone you’ve had sex with in the past.
“Chris and I have been BFFs for like eight years now. We were in the Marine Corps together, did the dirty twice, and beyond all of that, have formed an incredibly solid friendship. He actually introduced me to my boyfriend because he felt that my boyfriend and I would click. He was 1000 percent correct. The thing I wish people knew about different-sex friendships is that just because you may have been horizontal with them at one point doesn’t mean it’s something that will happen again ― especially after a certain number of years of being each other’s wingperson. You know things about them (and they you) that make having sex super weird.” ― Rachael G.
**Some responses have been edited or condensed for clarity.