5 Tips For Staying "Just Friends" With A Man

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girl and a guy together
How to keep men as friends, without benefits.

When my friend Chris asked me to go to Cape Cod for the weekend, I was so eager to get out of the city that I ignored my own nagging question about his intentions and said yes. After spending the weekend holing up early every night with "a cold," I realized I needed a serious re-think on how I was approaching friendships with the men in my life. If there was one thing I'd learned from my divorce, it was that I liked having a male presence in my life. If there was one other thing I'd learned from my divorce, it was that I liked many more men than I wanted to sleep with. How could I get the best of both worlds?
 
1. Name those un-named expectations.
Not long after we returned from the Cape, Chris called and asked if I could go out to dinner. He gave me two choices: Thursday and Saturday. This was probably his way of testing the water, but I happened to be busy that Thursday but not Saturday. He came back via email suggesting a French restaurant I thought it sounded far too much like a date place. Attempting to be coy about it, I wrote back with some decidedly less sexy options, explaining I couldn't afford his selection. He replied that the meal would be his treat. What to do? The answer was with me all along, I realized, when I wrote back simply, "That sounds too much like a date." Now when we hang out I don't worry if I'm doing anything suggestive because I've made it clear that I'm not in the market for a romantic relationship with him.
 
2. Turn it into a group outing.
The good thing about many male friends is that you probably know them through other friends. Mark was just such a guy. Had we met on a dating website, I might have gone out with him. But it wasn't long into knowing him that I knew it never would have worked. No shag with an expiration date is worth jacking up a circle of friends. This all seemed so obvious that I was surprised when he kept going in for a kind of open-mouthed goodbye kiss. Avoidance behavior and flat-out rejection, I feared, might cause the rift in our group that I'd been trying to prevent in the first place. I took the easier way out by always suggesting we include our mutual friends when we get together. If it is just the two of us, I ask about his love life.
 
3. Try going on a date.
I knew Sam was into me because of the way he'd lock down on me whenever I saw him. We did share an unwavering and constant desire to belt out '80s pop tunes given very little provocation, yet this did not make him a guy I wanted to date. But should it? He was smart, funny and handsome. We were friends. Common wisdom would have me believe we just might be perfect together.

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