You can never be just mates...or can you?” 

So, you meet someone at a party… You share a laugh, you’re both into the same tunes, you both binge watch the same stuff.

THE PROBLEM is they’re the gender that you’re into (in the sexy romantic kinda way). And so the age old question arises: can you ever be just friends? 

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Wait… is this actually a real problem??

Despite the way almost every Hollywood film tells it, we can be – and are – just friends all the time. Hanging out with each other don’t always end up in sexual tension, broken hearts or a slow-motion make-out sesh in the rain. 

Nope, believe it or not, being friends with a girl or guy without being attracted to them romantically or sexually is totally normal and very common.

We become friends with people we get along with and genuinely like as a person. We can laugh and hang out with our mates, and trust them with the more serious chats. If it’s this kind of stuff that we look for in our friends, why do we care so much which gender the people that we get it from are? 

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There are a few reasons we claim “you can never be just mates” (and they’re all pretty shitty)...

Jealousy from a partner. It’s as if women can only have one guy in their life, or guys only one gal pal?? The idea seems to be that if there’s more than just one it’s threatening your romantic rello.

But this is ridic – and it’s jealousy, which is something for us all to overcome. We’re all capable of caring about multiple people at once and in different ways. If your partner doesn’t trust you to maintain friendship boundaries, then there are some bigger convos you should have about trust, independence and boundaries.  

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Inevitable sexual or romantic feelings. You’ve probably heardpeople say “oh it’s just inevitable, if you get on you’ll naturally wanna bang/date/be in love/go all Hollywood”. Except that we can get on without being attracted to each other… duh.

We’re not attracted to every single person who matches our sexuality that we ever meet, right? We’re not doing it in the cereal aisle at the supermarket, right? We can all control our urges plus sexual and romantic attraction is much more complex than sex and gender alone.

Romantic/sexual relationships matter more than friends. Friendships often get shoved to the bottom of the priority list, but why? Our mates are super important in our life, right – and often last longer than partners tbh.

Why do we say “just” friends? “Just” suggests something is missing or we’ve settled for less. This idea underpins the whole friendzone saga too, as if friendship = settling for less.

Friends are awesome – we’ve got to stop putting them down! If we think about friendships and relationships as equally important (but playing different roles in our life, obvs) then it feels much more obvious that of course we can be “just” friends. 

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So, the next time you meet this great new mate at a party and freak out, think about why you actually care what’s their gender is??

PS: This isn’t to say that every friendship has to or will remain a friendship. You may end up developing feelings for the other person and this is completely cool too! If you do catch the feels, be open and honest with the other person. If someone thinks you’re “just” friends it’s important that they know if that’s changed for you – plus you never know what could happen! If they’re not feeling it back, have a read of our Friendzone piece.