Can Men Have Female Friends In Relationships?

Stephen Hussey

Last week I wrote about some of the worst behaviours of women who sabotage relationships and drive men away.

Since then I’ve had a couple of people ask me about point no. 4, in which I basically said: “Don’t forbid your man from having friendships with other females.”

I remember writing that and immediately having the same worries some other readers had when they read it, which was “Yep…that’s right…sort of” and then proceeded to think of a bunch of questions whose answers could render his platonic friendship totally unacceptable.

Questions like: How close is he to that female friend? How often do they hang out? Do they spend time alone? How sexy is she? Is she single? What do they do together? Does she flirt with him?

One female friend read my previous article and said to me: “I just don’t know about that point. If my guy is hanging out with another woman, frankly I wonder why he would rather spend his free time with her and not me.”

And I have to say…I get it.

The idea of your boyfriend having platonic female friendships on the side of your actual relationship will always be tricky.

It’s one of those areas of life where we all want to be liberal and gender-neutral, but when faced with the reality of watching our partner spend ‘alone time’ with someone of another gender, we just can’t help but feel an instinctive jealousy.

When you think of your boyfriend sharing popcorn at the movies with another woman, or I imagine a girlfriend heading out in her adorable summer dress to relax in the park with another guy, it’s impossible to stop that primal knot of unease working through your stomach.

Although you don’t really believe every woman is out to seduce your partner, you also can’t help but feel a little rejected: Why would he choose to spend time with some other girl instead of you?

You get that feeling of:

  • I don’t feel respected
  • I feel like he doesn’t value me
  • Maybe he finds her more fun
  • Maybe he secretly wants her to be his girlfriend 
  • He must be attracted to her to want to hang out with her
  • She must be interested in him…at least a little bit

Are these irrational thoughts? Maybe and maybe not. This just isn’t a simple issue.

Unfortunately, there’s no set blueprint or rule for whether male/female friendships are ok when you’re in a relationship.

Of course, there are some people we just know are dangerous to spend time with, because they spell danger to our new relationship: old ex’s we have lingering feelings for,  that work colleague we have sexual chemistry with, or that friend who can’t stop flirting with us no matter how much we bat them away.

Matt has a great YouTube video on the question of male/female friendship, in which he advocates The Whiskey Test for whether a guy can ever be ‘just friends’ with another woman.

Basically, if you can both drink ten shots of whiskey and still not want to tear each other’s clothes off, you can safely be friends.

6 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before You Let Him Have Platonic Friendships

What really matters here is how you are made to feel whenever your guy hangs out with a female friend.

For example:

1. Does your guy go to an effort to make you feel safe and loved at all times, and never give you reason to doubt his loyalty?

2. Does he always put you first, and never actively choose other women over you?

3. Does he only hang out with women with whom he has no troubling romantic or sexual history that      would give you cause to worry?

4. Is he completely open and free when he talks about other women (i.e. does he tell you about the woman he was talking to at the party, or the ex he bumped into recently?)

5. Does he feel happy chatting to a girl on the phone while you’re in the room so you feel comfortable with it?

 6. Does he ask if you’re ok with him having a specific female friend?

If you can answer yes to these questions, then at least you know you’re with a guy who makes an effort to never exclude you or make you feel less than his priority.

If the answer to any of those is no, then you may have a right to be concerned about his female friendships (and vice versa, if you’re the one with guy friends and don’t do him the same courtesy).

These are just questions to think about.

To be frank, this is an issue for which I would never offer a concrete prescription because I just know that so many couples vary wildly in their rules for platonic friendships.

For some couples I’ve met, it’s no real biggie, and both partners trust each other so much that it’s unthinkable that their partner would cheat behind their back. They have friends with whom they see movies, drink cocktails, go to music concerts, and even whose house they sleep over.

For others, it’s considered a heinous betrayal to even speak to another woman or man and not immediately report back with a full transcript of the conversation and set of reliable witnesses to testify about what happened.

The friendship that turns one woman green with envy, another will shrug off and even happily encourage. I don’t think either is better – it’s about how it makes you both feel and whether it matches your own standard of loyalty you expect from a partner.

When Healthy Concern Turns To Dangerous Jealousy

That all being said, there are some behaviours, no matter who you are, that show an unhealthy level of destructive jealousy and intrusion into your partner’s life.

These might include:

  • You freaking out any time he gets a Facebook wall post/photo like from anyone with a female name.
  • You asking to check his phone messages (without any good reason to do so).
  • You getting weird if he talks to a woman in your presence, say, at a party, and you make it awkward for him by staring daggers or being passive-aggressive towards her.
  • You making him delete girl’s phone numbers (if you’re at the stage where this is necessary, you probably already have a bigger problem in the relationship).
  • You stop him having a friendly coffee with a friend who is in town that he hasn’t seen in ten years.

Now, even as I write that final bullet point I know already that will have its detractors.

Some will ask: Why does his old friend have to have coffee with him alone? Why can’t she just hang out with him in a group with his buddies? Shouldn’t he invite me along too?

My answer to all of these…yep, maybe, fair enough.

I can’t dictate your standards.

What matters again is that:

  • He makes you feel safe
  • He makes you a priority
  • He understands your standards and wants to meet them.

And make sure he doesn’t forget to mention how ugly she looks in that dress.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    *

Stephen Hussey helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.

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(Photo: Gettyimages)

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75 Replies to “Can Men Have Female Friends In Relationships?”

  • I won’t be friends with a guy if he has a girlfriend or is engaged or married because I was once and I found out they can’t be trusted because usually I can’t trust the girl their dating in every situation when I was friends with a guy like that I cut them off and never saw them or talked to them again it’s for the best I think since I do need to be emotionally close to a friend in order to be comfortable that’s why any guy I’m friends with has to be single or I want nothing to do with him that’s just the way I am nothing can change it I wouldn’t want to change either so I’m not going to I don’t owe any guy my friendship

  • You get that feeling of:

    I don’t feel respected
    I feel like he doesn’t value me
    Maybe he finds her more fun
    Maybe he secretly wants her to be his girlfriend
    He must be attracted to her to want to hang out with her
    She must be interested in him…at least a little bit
    Are these irrational thoughts? Maybe and maybe not. This just isn’t a simple issue.

    This is why “men shouldn’t have female friends while in relationships” Do you think it’s okay for your own girlfriend/wife to have male friends and hang out with them?

  • This topic has got me thinking. I think that people are free to be friends with who they want, and it can be very controlling if your partner believes you cannot be friends with the opposite sex.

    I’ve been on the receiving end of situations where I made it clear I was checking in with a schoolmate, and he shut me down just because he had a girlfriend. Another time, a male and I were getting to know each other, and I was open to being friends. We had a mutual connection, but he then sided with his girlfriend and ended communication. Sadly, I’ve lost potential friendships because these men chose to give in to their girlfriends, even after I made it clear it was just friendship.

    It speaks to a relationship if you’re okay with your male partner hanging out with his male friend, but you can’t accept it only because she’s a female. I think there’s something illogical to that, which I can’t fathom. I understand it’s a different story if let’s say, I had romantic feelings for them or if they began to develop romantic feelings for me. But that wasn’t the situation at all. It’s awkward to get rejected to talk simply because they’re dating, which wasn’t my concern in the first place.

    I disagree with the boundary that you must gatekeep your partner from developing friendships with the opposite sex. I believe you should have trust and be loyal to each other. If your partner wavers, that speaks about them, and you could then question if you want to stay with them. It’s awkward for the person with platonic intentions to get rejected because “I’m in a relationship,” and a response to that is, “Well, good for you.”

    Not everyone enjoys hanging out in groups. Some people prefer to have one-on-one hangouts. It almost feels like their partner is policing them while I’m there for a friend. There are topics two people talk about that a third person may not relate to. For example, there could be a memory that pops up from an old workplace or your school days, then the person you’re dating wasn’t present when all of that happened. It would create extra effort for us to explain to their dating partner, and they might not even be interested. So, it’s not the same.

  • What if while we were broken up he was hanging out with the other girl that he said not to worry about. He said she’s like one of the boys, but sent him a naked photo of her in the shower wishing him a happy birthday. She was also introduced to his family and slept over his house in the same bed because she was too tired to travel home. I know this sounds double standards because we weren’t together, so whatever he can do what he wants. But we are together now and he assures me that they didn’t do anything. Also didn’t let me know that they are still friends. They message back and forth sometimes regarding a hobby of his that I’m not good at. I’ve studied a bit about it to then talk with him but he just doesn’t feel the same “friendship” with me as he does with her. He sometimes hides his phone close and calls me immature living the high school life and to just grow up. I never would stop him from making friends and I don’t really care if it’s the opposite sex. I too have friends that are male but I wouldn’t keep in contact with them if I have seen them with no clothes on. Also to add a cherry on top, I have never met this girl. When my partner and I broke up, he never wanted me to meet her and still has never offered to introduce us. I’ve tried adding her but she never accepted my requests and just made a comment to my bf about it, which he just brushed off. Most of her images are half naked photos and I just feel uneasy about the whole situation. I’ve expressed these concerns to him, and he insists that he’ll unfollow but then I catch him still messaging on either one of her various Insta accounts. He thinks I’m just not interested in our future together because I’m too hung up on high school wannabe drama, but I feel like he loves the attention from another girl. Am I overreacting?

  • What about if he’s planted seed to make one think that the female “friend” has feelings for him and when questioned whether she’s made passes at him, he responds with “what does it matter if I’ve rejected it”. Or he says things like “I like the attention I get from her sure, but she knows I dont want more than a friendship with her”
    I dont want to give an ultimatum but the trust was broken very early on in our 10yr relationship and I have trust issues.

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