Do Men *Really* Want To Be Just Friends With Women?

Name: Stephact-superior-3
Comment: A little background:
I just started medical school in a new place, far from my boyfriend, family, and friends. I’ve had a hard time making new friends. But I’m normally a happy person who’s deeply interested in other people. My friends tend to be women, gay men, and literary types of all stripes. I’ve been with my boyfriend for a very happy two years. We’ve been long-distance for a year but we visit each other every month, Skype every day, and travel together twice a year.

Over the course of this fall, I met two extraordinary people whom I wanted to befriend. Both were male grad students in the humanities.

I met the first one in a cafe when I asked him to watch my stuff while I used the restroom. Our conversation lasted for two hours, spanning everything from opera and philosophy to current events and God. I mentioned my boyfriend several times. I gave him my number after he asked if we could stay in touch. We ran into each other the next day and had another lovely long conversation. Since then, I’ve only gotten a couple tepid texts/emails from him in response to my two dinner invitations.

I met the second one at a classical-music concert. He was extremely polite and kind. Everything about him—clothes, speech—made me think he could be gay. This conversation was also so much fun. He also asked to keep in touch, saying how refreshing it was to meet a kindred spirit. We exchange contact info and he suggested hanging out the following week. The next day, I emailed him specific times that I could meet. I haven’t heard from him since.

My question:
Am I doing something wrong? Is there some etiquette for making platonic male friends that I’ve forgotten? My boyfriend thinks they just happened to be busy/flaky. There was mild flirtation in both cases, but I never touched them except to shake hands and I certainly didn’t invite them over or anything.
I’m so sad to have lost these potential friends.

PS: Physically, all these guys are more attractive than me (me = 4, my boyfriend = 8, first dude = 10, second dude = 6). In terms of social skills, I’m a 9, my boyfriend = 6, first guy = 7, second guy = 6.
Age: 25
City: Providence
State: RI

Question: Do the women that you try to befriend act similarly? Are they receptive to your platonic overtures? If you’re experiencing similar reactions from both, then there might be something about your approach that is setting off some warning bells.

In this letter you’re focusing on your two attempts to establish friendships with men. Maybe there have been some examples of similar interactions with women. I don’t know. I can’t help but wonder why these particular situations have you so perplexed and whether or not it has anything to do with the fact that they are men.

Broad generalization alert: as men get older, few have little use for female pals. It’s one thing to have a pre-existing romantic relationship and to stay friends. It’s another to try and develop a friendship with some random guy outside of your social circle. When you’re in your twenties and group dates and social interactions are more common, it’s natural for friendships of the non-sexual variety to develop. There are commonalities involved that make the friendship easier. You shared a class together, he dated your friend or his friend dated your friend, he lived on your floor in college, etc. There’s a connection that justifies the friendship and makes it less complicated. There’s also a trust and understanding of each other.  Things could still get sticky, but the men aren’t as suspicious of a woman’s intention when they share a background or social group.

These men don’t know you. They don’t know your boyfriend. They have no idea what your agenda is. Therefore they likely don’t fully believe that you just want to be friends. You made it a point to mention your boyfriend, so it could be that they don’t wish to appear to be jumping in on another person’s relationship or sneaking behind someone’s back. They also might be hesitant to be friends because they don’t want to be your replacement boyfriend while you’re away at school. Also? There’s little to no chance of sex. Most guys aren’t really down with being a woman’s gal pal. You might not think you were flirting, but your perception of these situations doesn’t matter. What matters is how they interpreted your actions.

Then there’s the fact that you reached out to both of them and tried to make plans. And not just plans, but in the case of the first guy, dinner. That doesn’t say platonic. That says intimate. Maybe next time suggest they meet you and some of your friends at a bar for happy hour first. You have to work up to making one on one plans. That first guy assumed you were trying to get a meal or a date out of him. He knew, since you repeatedly mentioned your boyfriend, that sex was unlikely. So he passed.


The second guy also probably felt a little put off by how eager you were to hang out again. If he is gay, that doesn’t mean that he’s fabulous and looking for women to hang with because he’s gay. That’s a stereotype. Not every gay man wants to be the Will to our Grace or the Jack to our Karen. (Though, let’s be honest, we’d all love to have Karen Walker as our friend, amirite?) Then there’s the possibility that he wasn’t gay. Not every guy who is impeccably dressed with a lilt to his speech is gay. Yay for more stereotypes.

I have two thoughts about this:

1. You’re looking for a guy to hang with because you miss your boyfriend.

2. You’re coming on too strong and scaring these guys off. Personally, if I were to meet a woman or man out at jury duty or at the gym and exchanged info with them and they immediately jumped to contacting me and suggesting we go out, I’d be hesitant. I have issues with stuff like this. I don’t like to bring anybody into my life who seems too needy or anxious for friends. I’m not good with having people become that dependent on me that quickly. I just don’t like it and it makes me feel obligated and pressured. Friendships are not much different from romantic relationships. You need to appear as though you have options and that you are choosing to include them in your already well rounded life.

I would set up some group situations and then try again with these guys. Give it a couple weeks or so and then organize a night out with classmates and invite them along.


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9 Responses to “Do Men *Really* Want To Be Just Friends With Women?”

  1. meh Says:

    moxie is right again.

    this woman needs to make some female friends. i mean, she is actively trying to put men in the friendzone. pretending she might cheat on her boyfriend to get men interested just so she can friendzone them. i hate women like this.

  2. WO7 Says:

    Yeah, not sure I believe in platonic friendship.

    This girl is definitely looking for a boyfriend replacement. Not saying she’s going to cheat (though it will make it a lot more likely), but she’s definitely at least looking for an emotional replacement.

    I almost never trust a guy/girl friendship. If I am friends with a woman, and she is attractive to me, then I want to sleep with her. Perhaps there is something that prevents me from acting on it, but there’s always a risk that something will cause me to ignore that (alcohol, loneliness, etc). I can be friends with someone who is not attractive to me, and I have no idea if the same applies to women.

    I feel like women who have guy friends are just looking for people who boost their self esteem, or treat them better than a friend would (because guys trying to get you in the sack do nicer things then friends do).

    • jane Says:

      I completely agree. There is always more than platonic intentions with male female friendships even if it’s just wanting an ego boost from getting attention from a member of the opposite sex. It always feels different to have an opposite sex friend be interested in you because there is always the tiniest bit of underlying sex charging it regardless of whether it’s reciprocated or you have any intention of acting on it. I have a feeling for OP these male friendships are a safe way of getting that ego stroke while still playing by the rules and being loyal to her boyfriend.

  3. E-B Says:

    It’s not that guys don’t want to be friends with women, ever. It’s that the OP is looking for a surrogate boyfriend and these guys don’t want to play that role. When she says she considers these guys “kindred spirits,” it broadcasts that she wants emotional sponges that will be immediately replaced when the real boyfriend returns. What guy wants to be part of that?
    Moxie is right- make friends with other women and hang out in groups.

  4. LostSailor Says:

    Do men really want to be friends with women?


    That doesn’t mean that men don’t have female friends. I have a lot of women with whom I have friendly relationships, but only a few women that I am close friends of long standing with. The key is that I met and got to know those women in situations that clearly platonic and the friendship developed over a much longer period of time.

    These two guys that Steph met, she met in situations that were not unambiguously platonic, no matter how convinced she is in her own mind that they were. The fact that she didn’t touch them or that she mentioned her long-distance boyfriend are meaningless, at least to the guys. Wanting to “hang out” after a single meeting tells the guys that you want to date them, even if they don’t say so. And Steph may be misleading herself here, however much she says she is committed to her boyfriend.

    But Moxie is spot-on with this: You’re coming on too strong and scaring these guys off. Personally, if I were to meet a woman or man out at jury duty or at the gym and exchanged info with them and they immediately jumped to contacting me and suggesting we go out, I’d be hesitant.

    I wouldn’t be hesitant if there was a definite romantic/sexual vibe. But depending if she is insistent on “just being friends” and communicating frequently suggesting one-on-one activities, my thoughts would run more toward stalkerish behavior. That, and this: Broad generalization alert: as men get older, few have little use for female pals.

    As I’ve told a couple of women I’ve dated who said they “just wanted to be friends,” I already have plenty of friends. I’m not dating to find new ones.

    The only way Steph could possibly salvage this is to follow Moxie’s advice about including these guys in group activities. You don’t invite someone you just met for dinner–that’s a dating activity–you invite them to a party or other social outing.

    Men get friendzoned enough as it is. Few are going to walk into it willingly…

  5. george Says:

    this woman’s potential issues aside… (asking men for numbers to be friends? be friends on facebook, not on the phone or at dinner) …the “when harry met sally” friendship question is a good one.

    it appears to me that sex is the strongest motivation in life. at least for most men, and I think most women have an equivalent desire.

    sex is stronger than food. and it’s stronger than friendship. so a man can’t have a close yet non-sexual friendship unless the woman is VERY unattractive to him. not necessarily ugly, just sufficiently “not his type” so that he can complete sentences without subconsciously wanting to impregnate her.

    the fact is that men and women can fall in love with no effort at all. men even easier than women. it’s natural and quite unavoidable when two people are put together. so I think normal people learn to avoid torturing themselves over what they can’t have.

  6. msM. Says:

    The red flag is this woman rating the men’s appearances on the 1-10 scale…That is creepy to me. Imagine if a guy were telling this story…”I met a girl, I just want to be friends, she is a 10 though…”

    It feels like she is putting feelers out there to see if she could bag men who are “out of her league”. If she were a man there is no way anyone would see it as wanting to be friends. It seems that the only one who thinks she is trying to “make friends” is her. The men seem to have seen through her quickly. Good for them.

  7. AnnieNonymous Says:

    I usually wait until I’ve run into a person 2 or 3 times before I add him to facebook, let alone exchange numbers. Any potential for clinginess aside, it’s possible that neither of these guys have lifestyles that mesh with hers on a day-to-day basis. She might be suggesting restaurants/bars and timetables that don’t work for them. I don’t think this is a criticism of her, more like a call to grow up. She’s used to dorm situations where she would meet her new roommate and immediately fall into going to lunch together every day. Those kinds of friendships are more common among young women than men, so on top of her slight immaturity, she’s stepping into a fundamental misunderstanding between how men and women pursue friendships. These guys were going to think she was weird no matter what.

    Here’s my take on the boyfriend issue: Whenever a good-looking guy pursues interactions with me and mentions a long-distance girlfriend of that his lease with his girlfriend is coming to an end, I take that to mean that he’s looking for a reason to end a relationship that, even if it’s not horrible, has reached its expiration date.

    The fact that these two guys stand out in her mind makes me think that she was hoping she could throw her feminine wiles around and get a few dudes to hang out with her on her terms. No, they don’t want to go out to dinner, and her specific schedule might not be good for them. I question why she’s acting this way as a med student. She’s opting into a career that’s going to make it very hard for her to do the work of maintaining friendships with people who aren’t doctors in the very specific place where she ends up working.

  8. D'Alias Says:

    In my experience as a woman, men DO like just being friends once in awhile. BUT they are diff than women friends. My friendships with men tend to be action oriented where we both genuinely share an interest (ex: hip hop concert, specific art exhibit, political meeting). Only my female friends or men who want to sleep me want to hang around talking for hours at home, dinner, or a bar. Your experience sounds normal to me.

    But I don’t believe you that you just want to be their friend. You sound like you’re on the hunt.

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