My boyfriend has a lot of female friends. If I were 16 I’d be in a perpetual panic about the sea of hot, smart, funny women he calls his friends.
But I’m not. I’m 34. And while I can be a crippling ball of insecurity when it comes to my boyfriend, there is nothing but trust between us.
Still, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t roll my eyes sometimes at the way his female friends greet him with giddy, overly long hugs. I’m a woman. I know what other women get up to, especially when it comes to guys as good as my boyfriend.
Can men and women be friends?
Relationship expert Keya Murthy, for one, says yes.
“Yes, men and women can be just friends,” Murthy explains. “I have men friends who I am just friends with. I know of women who have men friends and they are just friends with. In each of our cases, we have been friends for decades to reach this level of maturity in our relation, and we have achieved it.”
When your boyfriend has a lot of girlfriends, it can be easy to feel worried, on edge, or jealous. In fact, I’d say feeling any of those things is totally natural.
“But it’s possible to have great friendships with straight men when you know this is what you want and work hard at it towards achieving this ideal friendship,” Murthy clarifies.
What does it mean when a guy has a lot of female friends?
Some men say they enjoy having multiple female friends because they find women are more open to sharing and hearing about emotional issues, and they feel they can’t be as vulnerable with male friends.
Others may have grown up in households with a strong mother and one or more sisters, so they feel at home around a group of females.
Still, others may enjoy having women they can bounce their romantic issues with without worrying about upsetting their current partner.
And then, of course, there may be guys who feel more dominant around women than they do around men and maybe hoping to woo their “platonic friends” into something more.
There are definitely some questions you should ask yourself if you worry about your boyfriend or husband having multiple friendships with women.
If you have concerns that your fears about his female friends and aren’t sure whether or not you have reason to be jealous, ask yourself these questions:
1. Is your jealousy really about him, or is it about your own feelings of insecurity?
Every single time in my life so-called “alarm” bells have gone off in my head about a woman in my dude’s life, it has turned out to have nothing to do with the woman in question and everything to do with me.
I work hard to be a confident, self-actualised woman, but let’s face it: it’s hard to be confident in yourself 100 percent of the time, especially when you’re young and just starting to date.
Before you immediately leap to the conclusion that your boyfriend is having romantic relationships with one or all of his female friends (or even that he wishes he was), you need to turn this question inward for an ego check.
Could your fears be rooted not in your feelings for him, but in your feelings about yourself? Do you find yourself asking, “Why is he even with me”? Or, saying to yourself, “He could do so much better than me”?
If any of this rings even vaguely true, it might not be his relationship with his female friends that is the problem. It might be the relationship you have with yourself.
2. Who is it that you don’t trust?
If you find yourself feeling wary because your boyfriend has a whole mess of close female friends, it begs that you ask yourself this question: who do you really not trust?
Are you afraid your boyfriend might violate the terms of your relationship agreement? Are you worried that the women he is friends with might have their sites set on him?
Before you fall victim to a girl-on-girl crime, stop and get to know the women in his life. It can be tempting to view them as the enemy and see them as competition for your guy’s time, but you need to remember that you are the woman he decided to make his girlfriend and not them.
We already know your boyfriend has great taste in women. He picked you, after all, didn’t he? That probably means the women in his life who he has chosen as platonic friends (a thing that can happen between men and women) are cool as all get out.
Rather than waste your time trying to figure out their true intentions, why not spend some time trying to get to know them?
3. Is he trying to gaslight you?
If you are suspicious of your boyfriend’s relationship with his female friends and he has a history of cheating, you have every right to be skeptical about his relationships with members of the opposite sex, friendly or otherwise.
If a dude cheated on you and the two of you have decided to make that relationship work, there’s no reason he can’t alter his behavior and not do stuff like “heart” every busty shot one of his female friends post on Facebook.
When your partner cheats, the hardest thing to get back is trust. If you express your fears about his female friends to him and he pushes them aside or tries to gaslights you by saying stuff like, “You’re crazy, babe. We’re just friends. What’s wrong with you?” you have every right to remind him of his shoddy track record.
Belittling, gaslighting, and patronizing are not things a man who is truly committed to rebuilding a healthy relationship with you would try.
4. What if your gut is right?
You know what’s really bad? When you catch yourself getting jealous of his female friends and say to yourself, “Oh my goodness. He’s my man. I trust him and I’m just being petty.” And then you find out they’ve been sleeping together all along.
There’s a reason so many women get skittish about how their boyfriends relate to their female friends, and it’s that, sadly, some women (and men too, of course, it goes both ways) have been badly burned before.
I urge you to remember that just because one bad boyfriend did this to you once, that doesn’t mean every man out there is going to do it. In fact, frankly, in the long run, you want to have a boyfriend who gets along well enough with women to call them friends.
This demonstrates a dude with a healthy and positive relationship with the women in his world, and that’s the kind of dude you want on your arm in the long run.
What Guys Think About Whether Men And Women Can Be Just Friends
Because I, tragically, am not a man, I asked a group of anonymous men to chime in and share their thoughts on the subject of female friends and how a girlfriend fits into the equation. Take a breath before reading — they got heated up about this!
1. While it’s okay to have friends of the opposite sex, they rarely are ‘just friends.’ To be more precise, at least one out of the two always wants to sleep with the other.”
2. “If he’s not cheating, why is this a problem?”
3. “A woman who is threatened by my female friends is clearly too insecure to be with me for the long term.”
4. “Men and women can’t be friends. Period.”
5. “You treat friends differently than you treat people you are sleeping with. As long as that’s true, there shouldn’t be a problem.”
6. “As long as there’s no cheating, either of you can have, communicate with, or spend time with friends of any gender, with or without each other.”
7. “You cannot stop somebody from being unfaithful. However, constantly worrying about it will affect how you treat your significant other, and this will be wholly negative. Fundamentally, you’re just going to have to put your faith in him.”
8. “Don’t spend your young years worrying over someone who can’t manage their friendships and keep an appropriate distance.”
9. “A lot of people would not be comfortable with this. A friendship shouldn’t have to come at the expense of a partner.”
10. “It’s one thing for a straight guy to have a straight woman as his best friend when he’s entering a relationship (someone he’s known his whole life, for example, who is like a sister to him), and another thing entirely for him to be in a relationship and develop a new friendship with a woman and put her in ‘best friend’ status. Why wouldn’t your guy’s closest lady friend be you? It is weird.”