Home  >  My Life  >  Relationships

Opposite Sex Friendships: 24 Rules, Boundaries & Where We Go Wrong

Opposite sex friendships are tricky, but as long as you know the rules and gender boundaries, you can have a perfectly platonic and enviable friendship!

opposite sex friendships

Some people just get along better with members of another gender and have no problems with opposite sex friendships. Perhaps you’re a woman who has simply got along with boys better. Maybe you’re a guy and always connected with girls more easily because your family was full of females.

Whatever the reason, friendships and gender don’t have to be segregated especially if you follow the rules of opposite gender friendships.

The problem is, many people believe that men and women can’t be friends without the lines becoming a little blurry and one person developing feelings for the other. Some think sex will always enter the equation and screw everything up. [Read: What do guys think of their female friends? 15 real secrets revealed]

Why is it so hard for guys and girls to be friends?

One of the great mysteries of life is why opposite sex friendships are so difficult to maintain.

After all, men, women, and every other gender have a lot in common. We all come from planet Earth, we breathe the same air, and we all have beating hearts. So why is it that men and women so often find themselves at odds?

Sometimes, opposite sex friendships are difficult because they are constantly being tested by attraction. For example, a man and a woman who are friends may find themselves attracted to each other. If they act on these feelings, the friendship will likely be ruined.

Additionally, sexual attraction is often a problem between male and female friends. Sometimes friends with sexual tension can remain platonic, but sometimes it leads to conflict or even the end of the friendship. [Read: How to handle sexual tension between friends like a platonic pro]

It can be difficult to maintain a platonic friendship when there is sexual tension, but it is not impossible. If both friends are committed to keeping the friendship platonic, then they can usually find a way to make it work.

However, if either friend starts to develop romantic feelings, then the friendship will likely come to an end. In either case, it is important to communicate openly with each other about how you are feeling.

Another reason opposite-sex friendships are difficult is that men and women often communicate differently. For example, a man may interpret a woman’s friendly gesture as an attempt to flirt, while the woman may just be trying to be friendly. This can lead to misunderstandings and conflict. [Read: How girls flirt – 20 signs she’s flirting more than just being friendly]

Can you handle an opposite sex friendship?

It’s totally possible to have a friendship with someone of the opposite gender and for romantic feelings and sexual tension to never come into the equation. Okay, for some, this is a problem. In fact, it’s probably an issue for the majority except for close friendships.

Perhaps for those who have known each other years and been through a million and one experiences together, it’s completely doable to have this close connection without it ever becoming awkward.

But for most people, they need to remember and follow the most important rules and boundaries of opposite sex friendships.

[Read: An insight into the rare and complicated world of platonic friends]

The most important rules of opposite gender friendships

There are rules of opposite gender friendships which should be followed at all times by both sides. We’re not suggesting you write out a rule book and read it to each other regularly. These are more of an unspoken set of guidelines that will help you keep your friendship on the right side of the line. Plus, they’ll avoid problems in the future.

1. Keep everything strictly platonic

If you’re getting ready to go out and you find yourself wondering what your friend will think of your outfit – first, stop and check with yourself for a moment. Every interaction between you two should be totally platonic. There should be no thought about them in any other way. [Read: Can girls and guys really be just friends?]

2. Keep an eye out for developing feelings

How would you feel if your friend suddenly found a partner and started a close relationship? Would you be happy for them or would you become a little jealous? That’s something you need to watch out for!

If you develop any type of romantic or sexual feeling towards your friend, take a step back and examine exactly what is going on. If one side of the friendship harbors attraction and the other one doesn’t, it can not only be hurtful for the one with feelings. But it can be the beginning of the end of the friendship. [Read: 21 easy-to-recognize signs your friend has started to have feelings for you]

3. Respect each other’s feelings at all times

One of the most important rules of any friendship, opposite gender or otherwise, is to always respect the feelings of your friend. And it is even more important in opposite sex friendships.

Men and women sometimes don’t see things the same way. They might speak out of turn and not realize it, or be a little insensitive without knowing, but by always respecting your friend’s feelings, you’ll side-step any issues.

This is definitely one of the rules of opposite gender friendships you should keep at the forefront of your mind at all times, if you want your friendship to last. [Read: What makes a good friend and the art of honing your friendship skills]

4. Nothing you say, do, or think should be a secret to anyone around you

If you’re keeping secrets between you two, away from anyone else in your lives, why is that? Is it because you’re doing something that doesn’t fit in with the description of ‘just friends’?

This is even more damaging if one of you has a partner, or perhaps both of you have partners. Friends shouldn’t sneak around or hide things from other people in their lives. [Read: Why guy friends are nothing but trouble for girls so often]

5. Know your boundaries and make sure you talk about them

Same gender friendships have boundaries. But opposite gender friendships have more. There is always the risk of sexual tension building up or feelings developing. It’s basic biology in some cases.

If you have boundaries within your friendship, you establish them and communicate them to one another. One of the main rules of opposite gender friendships is that you communicate and talk things through. Your friendship will flourish if you do this.

We’ll talk about more of these opposite sex friendship boundaries below, so make sure you follow them as well. [Read: Are you more than friends? 17 signs to know for sure]

6. Make sure your partner has met your friend and feels comfortable with them

If you have a partner, or if your friend has a partner, you should all meet and spend time together. It’s no good if you spend time together as friends and never include your partners.

While this doesn’t have to be all the time, occasionally is a good thing. This shows your partner, or their partner, there is nothing to hide. And nothing is going on, and you really do have a platonic, innocent friendship. Helping your partner understand your friendship will make your life far easier.

7. Never allow things to become sexual

Number one in the rules of opposite gender friendships? Never let things become sexual. Sex has a way of complicating things and making everything difficult.

If you allow sex to creep into the equation, you’ll quickly notice that your friendship becomes awkward and the lines become blurry.

Some friends can navigate the friends with benefits thing easily, but most can’t. It’s best to keep your pants on! [Read: Sleeping with a friend – A no-regrets guide to doing it right]

8. Have other friends of the same gender

This one is up to you. But it’s a good idea to have friends the same gender as you. This gives you a balance. It also means that you keep the boundaries with your opposite gender friend intact.

So, if you have a partner, they’re probably going to be more accepting of your friend if you have other friends in your life too.

9. Don’t hide your dating life from your friend

If you’re dating or begin a full relationship, make sure that you include your friend and talk to them about it. By hiding your dating life from your friend, you start questioning your motives.

As we said, high up in the list of rules of opposite gender friendships – communication and no secrets! [Read: How to be just friends when your friend wants something more]

10. Understand what flirting looks like

If you’re a natural flirty person, make sure that your friend knows that and doesn’t misinterpret your natural flirtiness for something else. Be clear on what regular communication is and what flirting looks like. Make sure that you stay on the platonic side of the line.

Extra confusion in this department will cause your friend to think that you’re trying to tell them something different. This is when the lines become blurred. Everything gets super confusing!

Having a friend of the opposite gender is a real gift. It’s also a challenge if you don’t both approach it with the right mindset.

If any feelings start to develop, question them and nip them in the bud pretty quickly if you want your friendship to stay the way it is. There isn’t always a happy ending to these things! [Read: Friendly vs flirty – 21 signs to know their real intentions instantly]

The most important boundaries in opposite gender friendships you shouldn’t cross

There are a few things that opposite sex friends should never do in order to maintain a healthy and supportive friendship. Here are the most important boundaries that should always be respected: 

1. Don’t flirt with each other

It’s easy for the lines of friendship to blur into signs of a flirtationship when you both spend a lot of time in each other’s company. But if you want to retain the friendship and keep it strictly platonic, it’s important that you don’t cross this invisible line.

2. Don’t share overly personal information with each other

Your opposite sex friend is not your therapist, and you should not be sharing your deepest and darkest sexual and romantic secrets with them. This is a boundary that should always be respected.

Of course, some friends talk about this, but you should know that emotional intimacy can always turn into an emotional affair, which then can turn into something else. [Read: 24 subtle emotional affair signs most friends don’t even notice]

3. Don’t compare each other to your significant others

Comparing your friend to your partner is a sure way to make both people feel uncomfortable. Your partner would be annoyed and jealous of your friend. And your friend would be confused about what you have in mind as well.

After all, why would you compare a romantic parter with a platonic friend? Is it because you secretly look at your friend as a romantic potential?

4. Don’t let things become sexual

So you’re watching Netflix together, and before you know it, you’re snuggling with your friend. And you can’t help but realize your hands are pretty close to their “private regions”! Now just the fact that this thought passed your mind shows that your friendship is slipping into sexual territory. [Read: 15 cuddle buddy rules to avoid turning into f*ck buddies]

5. Don’t speak for each other

If you’re the type of person who likes to speak for your friend *because you’re so close to them*, or make decisions for them, you need to stop that right now.

Not only is it disrespectful, but it’s a sign that you’re trying to be possessive and trying to show control over them. Yes, both of you are good friends, but you don’t have to go proving just how close you both are to everyone else by speaking on their behalf about their likes, dislikes and opinions.

6. Don’t assume that you have a deeper emotional connection with each other than you actually do

Just because you share a lot of intimate details about your life with your opposite sex friend, doesn’t mean that you’re emotionally closer to them than you are to any of your other friends.

7. Don’t exclude your other friends from hanging out with you and your opposite sex friend

Just because you enjoy spending time with your opposite sex friend, doesn’t mean that you two should always be meeting up alone or spending time only with each other. This is a big boundary most people forget.

As far as possible, try to involve your opposite gender friend with your other friends. And if you’re dating someone, try to make sure your partner spends a lot of time with your friend as well so they can learn to trust their intentions. [Read: Does your boyfriend have a flirty girl best friend who annoys you?]

7. Don’t post intimate photos of the two of you on social media

As tempting as it may be to post a cute, cozy photo of the two of you together on social media, don’t do it! It’s just asking for trouble and it could ruin your friendship.

Not only will people wonder what’s going on between you two, your partners will too, and sometimes, perhaps your friend would wonder the same thing as well!

8. Don’t spend all your time together

You may love hanging out with this opposite gender friend. And they may even be your best friend in the whole world!

BUT make sure you spend a significant part of your week with other friends as well. Blanace is key if you want an opposite sex friendship to stay platonic all the way.

9. Don’t keep secrets from each other

If there’s something you’re keeping from your opposite sex friend and it involves any kind of sexual or romantic feelings towards them, it’s time to come clean. The more you suppress and hide your feelings, they more they’ll grow!

10. Don’t get physical with each other

This includes hand holding, kissing, touching, and anything beyond hugs and handshakes. If you’re tempted to do any of these things, chances are, you already have something more than friends in mind.

While sexual and romantic attraction now and then is inevitable, it’s whether you act on it or not that sounds. And really, it’s not worth risking your friendship over. [Read: How to stop being attracted to your friend and just feel normal again]

11. Don’t confuse them with words

Don’t talk about your feelings for each other in a way that implies you want something more than a friendship.

It’s confusing to both of you! Saying things like “you’d be such an understanding boyfriend” or “your boyfriend is lucky to have a great girl like you” may make your friend feel happy for a moment.

But this would also plant a seed of romantic interest in your opposite sex friendship. It’s not fair to either of you and it could lead to heartache down the road. Talk about other things, or just keep your thoughts to yourself. [Read: How to be friends with a guy – 16 ways to stay just platonic with anyone]

12. Don’t forget why you became friends in the first place!

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the new level of intimacy that you’ve achieved with your opposite sex friend, but don’t forget why you became friends in the first place. This way, you’ll be less likely to take your friendship for granted.

12. If you like someone else, admit it

Are you intentionally avoiding falling for someone else because you enjoy the time you spend with your opposite gender friend? Why would you hide your feelings for someone else from your friend, unless you want your friend to like you back?

If you’re into someone, it’s best to share that thought with your opposite sex friend. They’re your friend, not another person you’re trying to woo in secret!

13. Givers and takers in friendships

Don’t let the friendship turn into a one-sided affair where you do all the giving and your friend does all the taking. You may not even realize it, but you could be in danger of this happening.

If your opposite sex friend is constantly asking for favors or always taking, but never giving back, it’s a sign that they’re taking advantage of your friendship. You may subconsciously be falling in love with your friend, while they’re taking advantage of this and using you. This isn’t a friendship, this is one person using the other. [Read: Are you a giver or a taker? 19 signs of a taker in a relationship]

14. They’re just a friend

Don’t forget that your opposite sex friend is still just that – a friend of the opposite gender. You should never forget their gender and the line that should be drawn between the two of you. Just because you’re friends doesn’t mean that anything more is allowed to happen.

If you can respect these boundaries, your opposite sex friendship can be just as strong – if not stronger – than any other friendship you have. But if you ignore these rules and boundaries and cross the line, you may find that the friendship falls apart. So be smart, be respectful, and enjoy your platonic relationship!

[Read: The platonic rules to just be friends without the drama]

The boundaries and rules of opposite sex friendships might look like a lot of hard work. They’re often unspoken rules which simply happen without much thought or effort, but make sure you’re following them even if you never talk about it with your friend.

Liked what you just read? Follow us on Instagram Facebook Twitter Pinterest and we promise, we’ll be your lucky charm to a beautiful love life. And while you’re at it, check out MIRL, a cool new social networking app that connects experts and seekers!

Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...