How To Be 'Just Friends' With A Guy When You Want To Keep It Platonic

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Man and woman smiling and just being friends

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 suspicions about his intentions and said yes. I had no reason to question his intent other than my thought of the age old debate: Can men and women have a strictly platonic relationship?

Men enjoy being in the company of women, just as much as women enjoy being around men. It's in our genetics to be attracted to one another.

Many argue that men and women cannot just be friends. While that may be true in some cases, there are many more cases in which lines are never crossed and a healthy, platonic friendship grows and develops.

With rules and firm boundaries, men and women can indeed be strictly friends.

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How to be "just friends" with guys you like, but don't want to date.

1. Don't be afraid to voice your expectations.

Not long after we returned from the Cape, Chris called and asked if I could go out to dinner. This was probably his way of testing the water. He suggested a place that was very expensive and quite frankly, too much like a setting for a romantic date. I made up the reason that I couldn't afford dinner; he offered to pay. Now, what?

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.

Be sure to set clear boundaries with your guy friends. The more vocal you are about keeping things platonic, the more they stay that way.

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2. Turn hangouts into group outings.

The good thing about having many male friends, is that you probably know them through other friends. I met a great guy on a dating site, that I might have actually gone out with. However, it wasn't long into know him that I realized that it was better for us to be friends. He also became close with my other friends.

Blurring the lines just isn't worth messing up a circle of friends. He continued to pursue and tried to take things further. 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.

Include your mutual friends in outings, so you won't give the wrong impression.

Image Credit: Canva

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3. Try going on an actual date.

I knew my guy friend was into me because of the way he'd look at 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.

"Go out with someone who'll treat you nicely," my friend Willy advised. Why not? Maybe my soul mate was standing right in front of me.

I learned the hard way that he was not my soulmate, and friendship was best. We both agreed, and moved away from any talk of dating. It may be okay to test it out, but be sure that is what you both want. And be okay with things not working out.

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4. If all else fails, lie.

I know it's not the most evolved response, but sometimes the best brush-off is the "accidental" kind. I was consoling a long-distance friend through a DM. He stopped talking about feeling sad about his ex-girlfriend, and started talking about how he has me.

Although the attention was stroking my ego, and I let it go much farther than it should have, I snapped out of it as soon as he suggested coming to visit. I told him, "I don't think my boyfriend would like that."

As far as I'm concerned, it's okay to tell a little white lie in order to spare a person's feelings and to keep you from getting in over your head.

Even if we're not interested in a guy, as he goes on and on about his conquests, we may start to feel, well, somewhat like chopped liver. But, keeping the relationship platonic could be best for both parties.

Some of the best relationships are between the opposite sex. Stick to your boundaries and standards, and you will be able to say that the friendship is just that — friendship.

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LL Kirchner is an author and journalist. She has published two memoirs and her writing has appeared in the Washington Post.