Dear Elle: Can we be friends?

Q: Dear Elle, I feel like every time I try and make friends with guys, they think I’m flirting. How do I make it clear that I just want to be friends? Is there a clear way to simply make guy friends?

Well, I’d say this is a valid dilemma, but I will point out that after a global pandemic of lonely days and sexless nights, plenty of people are hoping friends will become more than friends. That being said, it doesn’t make your situation any easier, and I know our primal need for sex isn’t an explanation.

In general, I will say you’re fighting the taboo history of platonic friendships between women and men. And as a plug, I’ll add that it’s a sexist and conforming narrative, so I applaud you, and, quite frankly, I get it. If you’ve exposed yourself to the classic, but oh-so-dangerous When Harry Met Sally (and every movie about boy-girl friendships to follow), the assumption is, one wrong move (and as long as you like men) sex is going to happen.

My advice? Like I said, this shit is ingrained in our heads. But I think it’s possible to be friends with guys, and it starts with this:

First and foremost, to the men reading, keep it in your pants. You can think a girl is attractive — I think all my friends are hot as fuck — but I promise, deep down, beneath whatever inherent horniness you claim to have, there is the ability to ignore that gut attraction. If you can’t tell how she feels about you, don’t chase it. Really. It’s not that deep.  

I say this first because, Miss Platonic, you are taking a bit too much of the blame in this situation. Of course, flirting is a touchy subject because what flirting means to you might not mean the same to someone else. However, if you want to be friends, that shouldn’t require a whole lot of clarification.

But since you asked me how to make it clearer to guys, here’s what I’ve got. I would advise that you take this type of friendship a little slower. Maybe don’t have those deep conversations right off the bat, avoid sitting in your room, hang out in group settings, etc. Once you’ve dropped the word “friend” a few times and gone in for a fist bump once or twice, the tension should start to lift. And if this guy is persistent in ignoring your cues? That likely means you’ll need to openly communicate your intentions. In the end, that’s really as clear as you can get.

And, hey, if you’re feeling adventurous, say fuck it and try out friends-with-benefits. Either way, befriend who you want, flirt all you want, and have fun, darling.

Yours,

Elle

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