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For the past year, I have been experiencing the difficulties of maintaining a cross-sex friendship due to the other person being interested in more than a platonic friendship. This is my first experience in which I am content with nothing more than a platonic friendship. This relationship is one that I cherish, and hope to maintain as she is a great person but there might be ulterior motives motivating this friendship. The motivation behind our cross-sex friendship may be for her to gain sexual or romantic access, or perhaps is looking at this opportunity as an audition to climb out of the “friend zone”.

Over the course of the past year, I have viewed our friendship as a mutual alliance, as we treat each other with respect, mutual regard, emotional support, and loyalty to one another. I wasn’t quite sure if this relationship could work out as I have never had a cross-sex best friend but figured it was worth a shot. Heteronormative assumptions have socialized us to view men and women as romantic sexual partners. The correlation between negative attitudes, sexual attraction, and jealousy towards cross-sex friendships molded my personal beliefs about gender roles. This is a social construct I had mostly fed into until this opportunity arose and I decided to run with it.

The benefits of this friendship were fruitful in the way it proved productive. Our friendship is strong as we both have someone to seek advice from as well as having someone cheerful, positive, and fun to be around. We have mutual interests and spend quite a bit of our time together. We get to gain insight into the opposite sex, widen our friend groups, challenge media stereotypes, and promote equality. We share the same benefits this relationship has produced but our intentions aren’t the same. The romantic attraction may play a critical role in cultivating this friendship.

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Maintenance strategies have become a big part of my arsenal of helpful hints. I mention attraction and interests in other people, as well as actively flirt with other people. Our mutual friends keep me in the loop and let me know that she appreciates the friendship but is hoping more will come out of it. This has led to some strain in our relationship as I don’t want to lead her on. She has told our mutual friends that I give her mixed signals but that was obviously not my intention.

One strategy I need to incorporate into our friendship is to maybe address the elephant in the room which may be sexual tension. The best way to go about this is to be open and honest. We need to be clear about boundaries, and let the chips fall where they may.

The idea that men and women can’t be friends is a bunch of hogwash and I plan on proving the naysayers wrong by actively working to improve our friendship. We as a society need to stop operating under this script. In a modern society where men and women have the same opportunities for friendship, we must appreciate these connections that enrich our lives.

Overall we have some maintenance behaviors to improve on and some boundaries to set in our quest to forge a long-lasting friendship. We are on the right track and I think this is just the start of a wonderful friendship.

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