Can Men & Women Just Be Friends?

Sometimes a little formality is a good thing.

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Comments (78)

(50) Anonymous, December 19, 2015 2:20 AM

yes but with DISTANCE!

I believe much of my life I have had male friends. There have been 3 that I remained friends with since I was a Teen. One reason we remained friends was our mutual admiration for one another. Two were very powerful Political men. No, I wasn't "after" them as a romantic partner. We truly liked one another. I assisted them when I could but never took credit for it. At least one of them I played pranks on. I did that every time I went there or I returned to do it when he was in meetings. He actually grabbed me one day and threw me out! He told his Secretary to call him when I returned. Secretly, my antics made him laugh. Decades went by and after 6 marriages, he finally admitted that I was the one he should have married. He made sense. I never realized it. No we didn't marry nor become intimate. He died shortly after. Within the past 5 years an acquaintance who I saw almost daily expressed a desire to have a relationship. We never exchanged phone numbers. I was adamantly opposed because we weren't friends. When he realized I had no interest he stomped off like an angry little girl. I made the right choice. :-)

(49) Anonymous, August 22, 2012 7:19 PM

Depends on the situation

I am a male, and a do have (a few) female friends with whom I wouldn't even think of doing anything. Even if they did ask for it, I would never accept, and I'm pretty sure it goes both ways. Friendship can be possible if neither has feelings for the other, and there is no attraction as well.

jill, August 29, 2012 11:01 AM

i have had many male friends and after doing something with about 2 of them it ruined our friendship now i have learnt my lesson all male friends i jut keep them AS friends and give no signals to them cause friends are hard to find

(48) Anonymous, June 5, 2012 8:06 AM

Underlying Point

The underlying point is that women are a lot more in denial about this then the men are. In turn, they look down upon their male counterparts as though they "cant control themselves" all along knowing what the male wants and just playing, teasing and dragging them along. Just because the women have an easier time handling or even enjoying a platonic relationship, it does not make them better or kinder. they r just playing, and perhaps pyromaniacs (enjoy playing with fire) as well.

(47) Anonymous, May 16, 2012 6:50 PM

Comment 46 Rivka is so right

My community does not take this seriously. I am having this problem with my husband and it is devastating. It has caused so much friction and between him and the women that are not so happy about me trying to put my foot down a get may be forced on me. It is a topic that should be addressed To the community on a regular basis by respected authority. However, will they listen?

(46) Rivka, January 31, 2012 11:08 AM

Thank you for posting this video - I think it's an issue that must be addressed and is not taken seriously enough by many Jews. There is no such thing as a platonic relationship between people of the opposite gender.

(45) Anonymous, January 27, 2012 6:24 PM

My husband doesn't want me going out on "dates" with the opposite sex. I don't want him going out on "dates" with the opposite sex. A man ask me to go out for ice cream, coffee etc. to chat, I say no thank you.

(44) Manya Hose, January 27, 2012 5:38 AM

I totally agree with you.

Today I got into an argument with a friend who doesn't believe that at some point in friendships between men and women the man or woman has feelings for the other person. She kept arguing with even though her current boyfriend was her best friend last semester and she swore then it was nothing but friendship. She is stubborn and it infuriates me that she doesn't see my point at all. What do I say or do?

Anonymous, March 22, 2012 2:09 AM

Her relationship proves your point!

personally, i think the fact that they are now dating is proof enough!! I mean maybe for a while they were just friends, but look at them now; dating. there's now way she can deny this, she just proved your point!

(43) Avigayil Perowitz, January 27, 2012 4:43 AM

Avoiding temptation is the best bet, but understanding what true friendship is, is almost as important.

Lori, this is a very complicated topic. There is no question that the laws of Negiah and Yichud are important and should be adhered to. They are not there to tie people down, they are there as protection. Date rape being the most obvious concern. Even if there is no physical damage, there is the possibility of "maaras eiyin", giving a bad impression. Having grown up in a more modern environment, I always had male friends. There were times when friendship was challenged because of attraction, but I found it to be a good learning experience. The first thing to understand, however, is that all friendships are based on attraction, male or female. It doesn't have to be a physical attraction, it could be strictly emotional. The way people handle those attractions, vary, and those feelings can evolve. I've had male friends that wanted more of a relationship. If they were able to take no for an answer, we remained friends. Sometimes they weren't able to, so we parted company. If the person reacted badly to the rejection, I gave them no further opportunity to do damage. It really boils down to character. There were times when I was attracted to a male friend, and it wasn't reciprocated. I always felt that if I found someone's personality attractive, I wouldn't want to lose them as friends, because of my interest, so I worked on getting over it. Having friends of the opposite sex gives you a totally different perspective. If you're not given the opportunity to interact with the opposite sex, there is more likely to be a mystique that can cause problems later. After marriage, people are better off doing things as a couple, if they are going to maintain friendships with the opposite sex. It's unfortunate that people have affairs, but realistically, most affairs are because someone is unhappy, not because of propinquity. It may be easier to find, if you run in a mixed crowd, but chances are, you're already looking. If you find yourself tempted, you should avoid the situation.

(42) Yossief, January 26, 2012 6:10 PM

Can complete separation insure fidelity?

I wonder how many of the people who consult Lori weekly, because either they are having an affair, or their spouses are having an affair, come from the frum community where the separation of sexes is practiced. I think that we DO have to be careful, but sitting family style at a Kiddush with other married people doesn't necessarily lead to affairs, and sitting separately doesn't necessarily guarantee NO affairs. We all have to take responsibility for ourselves. By the way, my Rabbi, who is an oldtimer from Lithuvania, and went through Japan during WWII, told us that in the old country men and women sat together at weddings, and he always enjoyed sitting with his wife.

(41) Anonymous, January 26, 2012 5:51 PM

Shame on you !! You are realloy calling your mother, sisters,wife and daughters all those nasty names. I hope Lori has an appropriate response for you.Looks like you have had a bitter experience in life but with that attitude, how could you not !!

(40) Anonymous, January 26, 2012 3:31 PM

well put

thank you! i feel that this is a topic which needs to be put out in the open. So many people are unaware of the reality of male female 'friendships' and its really a cause for much disaster from a Torah point of view, especially among Jewish teens. pG much beracha and hatzlacha

(39) Betty Moses, January 26, 2012 3:01 PM

Lori, I think in today's world, the relationship between man and woman has boiled down to just sexual attraction. That is so unfortunate. Men and women can be friends just like 2 men or 2 women. I have had a few negative comments because of my friendship with a man. I feel just because two people are married, they don't necessarily share the same interests. It would be wonderful if they did but that is not always the case. Example, I read and discuss best sellers an dother books of interest.My husband is interested only in sports and can talk all day about it. Why would I force himto take interest in my interest if it doesn't come naturally ? Similarly why would he ask me to take interest in sports which is of no interest to me at all,neither do I underst and most of it ? My husbandandI do share other interests and enjoy each others company onother matters.I think if you stressed the importance of morality , commitment etc rather than fear of sexual attraction, it woulod serve a better purpose. In todays world where men and women work together, go onbusiness trips together it is hardly possible to keep away from the opp. sex. If a healthy attitude is maintained, I don't think there should be any problems. My 2 daughter were raised to be friends with both girls and boys. They had wonderful friends of both sexes. Neither of my daughters married any of those guys because they were great friends. They married men who were never in their corcle of friends. That somehow negates the fact that if menandwomen are close firends,they could end up together. Comments please.

Tina, January 26, 2012 10:50 PM

The best relationships begin with friendship

I understand what you're saying, but I find it sad when people have the impression that someone who started out as a friend could never be a potential marriage partner. I have always felt that friendship is the very best foundation for any good relationship, and that married couples ought to be friends first, and (here's the kicker) stay that way. Friendship ought to be enhanced by a romantic relationship, not replaced. If people are brought together because they genuinely like, respect and trust each other, I think that's an infinitely better foundation than people who come together because of physical attraction or that "gushy" feeling.

betty moses, January 27, 2012 6:27 PM

Tina I agree with you. If men and women are friends and then end up together,so what ? How are they ever going to meet a lifepartner if they are to stay away from the opposite sex. If they have healthy relationships with the opp. sex, one could turn up to be the person you want to share your life with. Without that how is oneto know if the other person who they may be attracted to physically, could reallybe able to share likes and dislikes,hobbie etc. You are so right. They shoulod remain friend aevenafter marriage. that is more important than anything, if it is to be a happy marriage.

(38) Anonymous, January 26, 2012 4:52 AM

Just in case it's not fire, let's stay in the house

Women, men! You just don't know! Living with the possible exception that your particular situation/relationship is totally cool/platonic and has no issue in this matter is like living your life in a smoky zone just in case the fire is elsewhere. It's a spiritual fire out there and if you want to play with matches, it's almost guaranteed you'll suffer the consequences; even if you don't feel it in this world, it will harm you in the next. So do yourself a favor, and stay away from fire!

(37) Shoshana-Dvora, January 25, 2012 9:42 PM

friends

Men and women can be "just friends", but Lori is right: you have to be cogmnizant that something might be in the air. lori addressed the issue of married people having affairs. This is an issue for singles,too. You might feel that you and your opposite sex friend are just buddies, but how will you respond if s/he hints at wanting to take it a step further? Or if s/he says so directly? Again, I think that usually men and women an be friens, but you have to always be aware .

(36) Sunbeam, January 25, 2012 6:38 PM

A very noetic rabbi was instructing us to be careful just like Lori has in her talk. When we are in shekhinah, we are experiencing a ziwag that is so powerful, we are experiencing God's love and we are full of God's love, leaving a moment as that and then being in the company of the opposite gender, our guards can be down that someone else may not be in the pure love of the shekhinah or otherwise saying, love is in the air so be careful how that love is being directed to the opposite gender. The opposite gender may misinterpret or you can be to comfortable that could lead to something else. It is best to have plenty of people around us that keeps us accountable. A safeguard, to keep us in check. Lori's talk is one that should be used as a check, to examine ourselves. It's not a matter of answering the question, for some will say yes and some will say no, however, to look at our relationships and let Lori's words keep us accountable, to keep them on the up and up. Since this is online, it's to keep relationships online from getting to casual. There are faces behind the screens, ppls thoughts can go roaming, fantasies can erode in the mind even over someone you have never met but you communicate with typed words. First thought this talk brought to my mind was a co-worker who we joke around sometimes. Someone overheard us last week that didn't know this is how we relate to each other sometimes. It isn't a question that it could lead to more, however, what are others perceiving from our jesting. We have to think what others could pick off of. Online, communicating with the opposite gender, thru an experience on another website, was made aware their are some non jews that fantasize over jews, and not in the pure sense of the word, and yes on the site we were discussing Torah (it wasn't a Jewish site, but a multi faith site). Overall, thanks for the talk Lori, an I am using it as keeping me accountable, an I thank God for all those who do. They are God-sent.

(35) Anonymous, January 25, 2012 5:44 PM

Hi Lori, I am not Jewish however was led to AISH.com by a Jewish friend several months back and I enjoy most all that I read & hear. Most of your videos tend to hit a topic as we encounter it and seems alittle scary. Can Men & Women be friends is no different. I have had male friend most of my life infact I have one that I would say is the best friend I have had in LOTS of years.(We have been friends approx 28 years-no romantic connections) Recently I have reconnected with my sons father (he pursued me) and I thought it was for a relationship but he then changed his mind well I enjoyed the time we shared so I suggested to maintain a friendship.... I CAN DO IT but he seems to be driven by the what ifs and he is pursuing a previous relationship and does not want the temptation. If 1 is aware and the other COULD stray is it still not possible? As long as he is not married or in a committed relationship I am OK if we become more than friends. The connection that we had many years ago was so different than now. Is it really that bad of an idea?

(34) Anonymous, January 25, 2012 1:23 PM

Regarding Mike's comment

I got the feeling, while reading your comment, that you are quite angry and agitated about an issue relevant to his article. I feel that your statement, about the majority of women being selfish and disloyal, was inappropriate and offensive despite the fact that you could merely be coming from a very emotional place. My advice to you: get over the fact that in every society, amidst both genders, disloyalty, stupidity etc. will eternally exist to some degree. step 2: find yourself a moral, righteous Jewish girl...there are plenty out there!

Anonymous, January 25, 2012 2:55 PM

seems to me he should stay single at least for now

you're too kind.anyone that angry and judgemental should not be married.marriage is hard enough for "normal" folk. seems too many damaged people marrying and having kids as it is and society suffers. while marriage offers great opportunity for growth one needs to be at least minimally ready and he seems not to be. Would you lend your car to someone to drive your children if he was known to be a reckless idiot?

mike, January 25, 2012 4:24 PM

Not really

I understand how you might think that. But I'm very happliy married for 28 years to a wonderful faithful Jewish woman who has given me 7 great kids. But what I see going on around me makes me want to scream.

(33) shafibenkhader, January 25, 2012 1:09 PM

very good advice for this generation

Thanks for this advice...it is very valuable for this time...and i think a man or woman that no matter that he/she is married or not, must keep a distance from the oposit gender..otherwise it leads to lust,unwanted emotions etc.

(32) Anonymous, January 25, 2012 4:45 AM

besides

besides all that, if one is at all interested in Torah level Judaism, you should just seek to understand and connect with the wisdom behind it, because that is what Jews came from, and thats what held us together....the wisdom of the Torah

(31) Anonymous, January 25, 2012 3:56 AM

if you clear what friendship is sex is not relevant

"Lonely" is a very scary example here, it's like to say "I wish to buy a dress but have no money so I'll just take it from the flatmate". We can share workplace with all kind of people, we can read same books,listen to same music, have same views on politics, children, weather. And all the interests and thoughts can be shared with the person who is your true friend and at this stage this person becomes asexual. I'm a woman and my best friend in the world is a man and I would never wish for a better friend. I have girlfriends but I don't have as close friendship with them. And we love and respect each other the way the real friends should. Sexual difference has no relevance.

(30) Anonymous, January 25, 2012 12:31 AM

inappropriate behavior in marriage

when married people exhibit inappropriate behavior, they not only ruin their marriages but harm their children in so many ways. what message are they sending their children? and after 120 years, they will have to answer for their actions. and they will have to answer to the question- Was It worth it?!

(29) mike, January 24, 2012 10:31 PM

Nope. Never

Any married women who creates an emotional relationship with another man deserves a divorce with no alimony and no child support. It is faithlessness. Today's women, in the great majority, are clueless, stupid ,selfish and lying to themselves. No wonder there is so much divorce and heartache. Good luck Lori. You are 100% right, but you are talking to a wall.

(28) Judy, January 24, 2012 9:23 PM

It depends on the circumstances.

I think it really depends on the circumstances, and even, to some degree, on how you define "friends." E.G., I used to attend a yearly Jewish educators' conference where I made many friends, some male. We were all mature, mostly (like me) married, not kids or young adults still dating, and this was, after all, once yearly. E.G., I have several male internet friends with whom I correspond regarding religion, Israel, and other abstract issues. Most of them I've never met, and our discussions never get into anything even remotely intimate, but I do consider them friends. E.G., my husband and I have friends who are couples, as well. I consider both the husband and the wife to be friends, but in that format, there's truly nothing "out there." What completely blows my mind, however, is co-ed roommates. I know of a situation like that several years ago - two guys and two girls sharing one apartment, the guys in one room with their own bathroom and the girls in another room with their own bathroom. One of the girls either became involved with one of the guys or wanted to (I don't recall exactly) and the other one swore "never again" because she couldn't feel comfortable in that situation. She did and does, however, still have male friends, although most of her closest friends are female. In a word, it depends - on age, maturity, context and degree of intimacy.

(27) Rhonda, January 24, 2012 8:11 PM

Separation is Good

I've been religious for 15 years. Before I was observant, and when I was single, I could never understand how one or more men and one or more women could share a house or apt. as house (apt) mates platonically. When one comes out of the shower, is feeling lonely, etc. it must get so uncomfortable. Issues such as sharing an apt don't seem to phase some people, but they sure phased me. I guess some people have an easier time being around the opposite sex platonically. Personally, I feel more comfortable with some separation. But not for meals or other non-required things.

Aida, January 24, 2012 9:48 PM

balance means know themself before thy brother

it is truly ridiculous in medical emergency to be upkeeping same-sex laws!! IF no medical emergency, then there does need to be laws in place, even in the US & Cdn to avoid males/females co-habitating in same house, esp. in a student environment where there are many young unmarried. This is an oil and water issue: biochem at best & there isn't a day that doesn't go by on a college campus where there is NOT a date rape/assault/rude remark, stalking incident, & the rest of the gauntlet of misunderstanding of the notion of consent. these could greatly be alleviated if even landlord/tenant acts were upgraded to disallow same sex co-habitation between students/tenants. simple. no temptation & violation cannot occur. human hormones? i'd like to see viagara banned across the board ... but is this likely in our capitalist world? Affairs are serious & yes they don't just happen between college students: law is Law & if you can't obey here; how are you going to obey in HIS kingdom?

(26) Anonymous, January 24, 2012 7:35 PM

Yes you can be friends

Yes man and women can be just friends and nothing more. When you have known someone all your life why can't you just be friends?

abood, January 25, 2012 2:26 AM

it depends on your community's culture

As a middle eastern Community there is no way to be a friend with a female, sharing your secrets with her, asking for her advice, unless she is your mother or your sister but Unfortunately not your wife !!!!!!!!!!

yossief, January 26, 2012 6:15 PM

Why not your wife?

I feel sorry for you, if you can't confide in your wife, especially, if you can confide in your mother and sister. Maybe you are married to the wrong woman.

Anonymous, January 25, 2012 6:05 PM

AMEN

Anonymous.....thank you !!!!!! Respect for each other is how you are successful at this. If it is meant to change address it then not until

(25) Anonymous, January 24, 2012 6:00 PM

Great advice!

Very wise advice and I agree 100% with you. Very good to be aware of that and in my 60 years old life I have experienced that reality.

(24) Anonymous, January 24, 2012 5:32 PM

feeling afraid of extremism

Dear Lori, I had the pleasure of spending a Pesach in a program that you attended. I made aliyah last year and I find myself resenting how difficult it is to get together with relatives becasue of all the chumrot associated in kashrut in the charedi world in Israel. I have always been respectful of chalov yisrael but it seems that in the States all my relatives eat at my house and here either they don't say anythingand meet us a t a restaurant and have a stomach ache or we find the most unappealing eateries or they will only eat in two restaurants in geula, and these are people who are studying here for the year. Of course I am polite but it puts a strain on getting together. I beleive in kol Yisrael areivim ze la ze , I don't understand the need to separate so much from an all Jewish society . Obviously I have chosen not to live in the Chareidi world. Meeting with young people studying in seminaries I want to yell at them. Think for yourself, thsi isn't the only approach to Judaism. My neice saw a man have a seizure and told me how upsetting it was to feel so helpless. She was trying to figure out why Hashem had put her there . I suggested to her maybe so that she would study first aid.She told me a story told to her by a teacher and it involved a child protesting going to the airport becasue he didn't want to be exposed to women dressed immodestly. Just as immodesty limits the way people react to someone by sexualizing them, this approach limits exposing children to anything of value in the nonchareidi world. How are we going to bring the geula if little children are taught not to see others who think differently or dress differently. Or to only notice how they look, frum or not. Not to mention those who are violent to the nonchareidi.It makes me want to return to the States where people have to act civilly.My neice's seminary didn't tell the students about what happened in Beit Shemesh. I feel she is being brainwashed but I kep my mouth closed.

Pauline, January 26, 2012 1:38 AM

To comment #24

In Judaism, life is a priority. And I believe one may break all but three of the commandments to save a life. (Ask your Rabbi for details on the three if your interested.) If your niece could have gone over to the man having a seizure and help him in any way, she should have.

(23) Michal, January 24, 2012 5:17 PM

Interesting, what Lori said.

In Israel I feel save and secure, keeping the mitzvah of not touching a man. Outside of Israel my husband and I we had two couples as very good friends. We hugged each other, as we very much liked each other. Then, when my husband died, they stayed my friends. One of the couples divorced. The former husband wanted to stay my friend. I immediately I turned into an Israeli woman. We could not be friends. Impossible. No touching any more. I felt thankful that there is this mitzvah. And - like in Israel, I feel safe and secure.

(22) jgarbuz, January 24, 2012 5:13 PM

Can men and women be friends? Highly unlikely, but not impossible.

It happens occasionally, but modern society has destroyed the traditional roles, and men and women today compete for jobs, for power, for childlren's loyalty, etc. It's mostly a power struggle for the most part. The end of patriarchy, and the supposed democratization of the family structure is proving more difficult than had been hoped. Family can still work for the rich who can afford outside help, but I don't know if half the population can sustain family life as we once knew it without the traditional patriarchal structures. Only time, not theory, will tell.

Anonymous, January 26, 2012 5:56 PM

I think its the other way round. It is because ofthe patriarchal structure that the world is inso much turmoil today.They have ego, they can't take rejection and the competitive attitude they have has all ended in the downfall not only of families but of nations. the world is upside down today because of men domination.

(21) Zyygy, January 24, 2012 5:12 PM

Human. ?.. Rights?.womens rights?. Wats thedifferences...

Say, either we define The dame rights to ALL humen beeings, or aré we infffering any difference excepto gender natural dífs? If culturally men and womans have The dame capacity of reasoning, and GROW into separating The hormonic impulses,(were NOT plain animales) and recognize OTHERNES, and evoluting The we have nodifference withthe The muslims negativ separation¿ Human rights among ALL and for ALL. Its a matter of adulthood, and growing into becoming real human beeings, and Learn and building since schooldays The separation of hormonic and cultural actitudes, and honestly confronting them in real time!! Yes se have differences. ,we should be concient of say Levinasse, alterity!,

(20) Anonymous, January 24, 2012 5:12 PM

Insight from men?

I was wondering if one of them men reading these comments could give some insight on how effective halachot like shemirat negia, yichud, ect are when it comes to being friends with women? If a similar survey was done with men who talk to women, but are observant of halacha, would the answers be different? Can men and women be friends if halacha draws the boundaries for that friendship?

RH, January 24, 2012 10:10 PM

Reply to 18

The Halacha also states that men should not talk excessively with women. Obviously, this is referring to friendships. To what extent one should apply this should be discussed with one's Rabbi. The thoughts of a man are a sin in themselves, even enjoying the 'warm' feelings of interacting with an attractive woman are considered a sin by many Rabbis. If one has no feelings for or attraction to a particular woman, he may be able to interact with her more, but with caution as Lori states. This area of Halacha is where our Rabbis put the most strict barriers because it is the greatest weakness of man. You have to be blind not to see how true this is ( I know it to be true for myself). Just look at all the advertisements or turn on the news ( better yet don't do those things if possible). The reward for taking precautions in this area is great in this world in terms of more genuine, loving and lasting relationships with our spouses and even more so in the world to come!

(19) Aliza, January 24, 2012 4:43 PM

Separate events

While I agree to an extent about men and women being friends (I can't tell you how many times guy friends that I *only* wanted as friends, asked me out or asked to be more than friends), I disagree with the separation at events. There is no reason spouses and families can't sit together at weddings, brit milah, lectures, classes, etc. I personally know a happily married couple who were introduced by friends at another person's wedding. That can't happen at a separated wedding! We take it too, too far. How are young people supposed to learn to behave around the opposite sex in a tzniut manner if they are NEVER around the opposite sex, except for immediate relatives?! I have a young chareidi female cousin who sees every single man as a potential shidduch, without regard for his background or suitability, because of being brought up in a completely separate society. Why don't we mingle? Because men and women together might lead to .... So she thinks that when men and women DO get together it's strictly for a shidduch. What happens when she grows up, gets a job, gets married and finds herself potentially in a work environment with a man? We need to go back to mixed environments, where we can SHOW our children how men & women interact in a modest manner - with other people around. Keeping them cloistered is not the answer.

(18) Anonymous, January 24, 2012 4:31 PM

depends

The guy who did that 'research' only asked young, pretty girls, so of course their guy friends would want to go out with them. I think men and women can only be friends when there is no physical attraction. If there is attraction, there will always be a bit of tension going on. I agree with setting boundaries and being formal, but some people take it too extreme and forget to be polite. Once I asked a Rabbi a question and he purposely looked away the whole time i was talking to him. I think that's a bit rude.

(17) Sarah, January 24, 2012 4:09 PM

Very tough subject

I didn't grow up observant either. Thus, I know what it is to be on both sides of this issue. First, I have to say that from my own experience and some of other people's experiences, that it is good to promote separation of genders to a certain extent. I don't believe married couples should be separated in every case. However, I can certainly understand it while in the sanctuary, because your focus should be on Hashem and not your spouse, at that time. However, at parties and wedding receptions, I think having married couples separate, is a bit much. That being said, I do, however, think that it is very necessary to keep singles separated during these times. I think kids (especially teens and pre-teens) should be separated while on buses, going on trips, and for sports, etc. In my own experience, I had a colleague that was my friend. He really was. I really respected he and his wife and they looked at me as if I were like a little sister (because he was considerably older than I) We did jazz music together. My husband knew them, and we were like a family. To this day, while, the man has passed away, recently, I stay in touch with his widow. She used to babysit my two daughters while we would do wedding gigs. My husband was fine with it. Of course, it depends on the circumstances. I had been working with this gentleman since I was a kid. He and his wife were at my wedding and we were really like family. So I think he looked at me as, well.....a kid. Now, most guys aren't that self controlled. But, suffice it to say, nothing even remotely ever happened, not even an off word of disrespect. In fact, he really acted as if he was like my big brother. He would often threaten to tell my husband, and my mother, when other men would come up to me to inquire. So he was kind of like a guard of sorts, like a brother. I realize this was an exception. Keep in mind that we didn't spend our days together talking like best pals, because that would be wrong.

(16) marci rapp, January 24, 2012 4:05 PM

male-female friends

I believe that male and female can be friends, as long as they are shomer negia and never be alone with each other. I'm thinking both as teenagers, and as married adults. Work situations can get complicated, as I happen to know a few long married couples who divorced because of a Dr./Office manager relationship developing. I'm not sure how one prevents that from happening. In the secular world, the idea of dancing with someone else's wife appauls me. I also hate sitting separately from my husband at wedding, and we end up leaving early. And I would love to see eligible males and eligible females sitting in a "singles" section at wedding so at least one could enquire about the other for shidduchim. Oh well, I'm glad I'm married (for 28 yrs B"H) and my husband promised never to divorce me. He is "friends" with some of my friends, but wouldn't get together with them without me.

(15) Michal, January 24, 2012 3:56 PM

Separation sometimes too much

Coming from a very religious background in which I hadn't talked to a male until high school, I saw the effect that it had on my friends and I when we began to mingle with males. For some this happens in high school and for others this could occur in University or when they enter the working force. I saw how caught up people became. Restricting contact between males and females to such an extreme can be a detriment in the long run because it becomes something forbidden and when something is forbidden, it becomes very desireable. Shomer Negiah goes out the window. As far as friendships are concerned, I agree that there have to be clear boundaries. If you're not on your guard, a friendship will turn into a relationship so if you're not willing to invest the time and self-control to make sure that the friendship remains a friendship, then you have no business starting a friendship with a person of the opposite gender when a relationship that may come out of it would be forbidden (either on your end or on theirs). But I think the orthodox world has taken the separation to a whole new level that I think very extreme. I think it can be toned down just a little bit.

(14) Anonymous, January 24, 2012 3:28 PM

I totally agree w/ you lori. I've had many "friends" that were girls and I was totally attracted to them. Maybe it's just me but, like you said, G-d made a force in this world of attraction b/w guys and girls and anybody that denies it to be there is thinking irrationally.

(13) David, January 24, 2012 2:48 PM

Wrong.

I have women friends, and have had them for years without anything else happening. And the claim that "something more" could happen if it were offered proves nothing and is so silly as to be insulting; I don't steal from my rich friends, so I don't cheat on my wife with my women friends. Period. We-- men and women-- can control our behavior. To suggest otherwise is to endorse what, in various western traditions (notably Judaism!) amounts to a series of rules designed to marginalize women. Sit in the back, stay on your side of the shul, cover your hair, don't wear this, don't sing, don't dance, don't take this job, don't spend time near men, etc.

Amy, January 25, 2012 9:28 PM

The best relationship I had was with a guy that kept his guy friends at a distance, they were not top priority of our relationship with each other, therefore i didn't have to make them my friends on a friendship level. This guy put up fences in our relationship, and he didn't put me in a position to have to make his friends my friends. On the other hand, I have been in a relationship with a guy that his friends were top priority to him, they were at our house all the time, all of us would go out to eat together, go play sports together, go to bars, his single friends and some other couples friends as a group. One of his guy friends, who was around all the time, I had more in common with him than my man. Sure got me thinking I wasn't compatible with the man I was with. Which I wasn't, his single friend opened my eyes to that. I have had guy friends when I have been in relationship with a guy and I have had them being single. It's possible sure, have they always been the best thing, no. Defining a friend is someone you go out and do things with not someone you like as a human being. I would say it is true, if any of the guy friends I have had, ones of my own and those that came along with a relationship with a guy--his friends, if I would of said I wanted something more than a friend they would of jumped on it. One guy friend he was divorced, turned religious then turned gay. He was over fixing the hot tub one summer night and something strange happened, there were some sparks flying on both ends, I put the brakes on, I wouldn't of thought that could of existed, so no guy is safe ground. The guy who put up fences I knew he cared about our relationship, and the guy who didn't, I knew he didn't care about "us and we". Either one will be elevated and the other suppress when you have friends of the opposite sex when in a relationship. On one side or the other or both, sparks can fly, when you least expect them and with whom, for this reason, fences are good.

Anonymous, January 26, 2012 9:04 PM

David I agree with you. These folks who are so adamant about men and women not being able to maintain a friendship without "something happening" must have either very little self control, have an unhealthy relationship with their partners or are just plain philanderers in the firat place so they know they cannot control themselves. I bet many of them do have relationships on the side but :friendship" NO!!

(12) Suzanne, January 24, 2012 2:37 PM

Excellent insight; solid advice

Great commentary on the intrinsic nature of men and women. Despite good intentions to remain platonic friends, an invisible force can create unintended consequences. I agree with Lori!

(11) Anonymous, January 24, 2012 2:12 PM

thank you

I really wasn't aware of this. I worked with a man and a couple on an Israeli project. We were very careful while we worked on the project. We were never alone. Later on we ended up spending many hours on the phone. Since I don't date at all I just never thought of him in that way at all. The phone calls and emails caused a lot of problems with his wife. It just wasn't a thought to me. I enjoyed his spiritual knowledge and that is what we talked about. Even my daughter who has not led a pure life at all, found my behavior appauling when I told her.

(10) Rachel, January 24, 2012 1:54 PM

What if the question was asked of more mature people?

Interesting that the survey was amongst college students, who are mostly unmarried and in their late teens/early 20's. I'm in my 50's and have male friends of my own age, as well as older (70) and younger (20). If one works in a typical large organization, it is not unusual also to have gay friends. I think to say that it's hard for a man and a woman to be just friends is too general -- depends in great part on the specifics of the situation, including whether the individuals are married, have similar interests, close in age, etc.

(9) Anonymous, January 24, 2012 1:26 PM

Sometimes, male/female friendships involve one person being attracted to the other, hoping to "hang in there" long enough to get a shot someday. However, other male/female friendships form because the friends simply enjoy each others' company and may not even find the other person particularly attractive. Plus, when you've known someone long enough, you achieve a comfort level where you might say, "You look nice," without being attracted to that person. It's kind of a detachment. As far as separating the sexes at shul or wherever, I can't stand that. If I go to an event or synagogue with my wife and daughters, I want to be with my family, not on the opposite side of some barrier. If some in the crowd can't control himself, it should be his problem, not my problem.

(8) yosef, January 23, 2012 10:30 PM

then why is the

shidduch situation in the condition it is in? I noticed this couple of years ago. I have only been being observant for jsut over 3 years. I was at a Simcha event in Monsey NY and I never saw any of the women (except for event). As an older divorced male, I might have been seen or seen someone that could have led to marriage. Yes as others have said needs ground rules but the degree of separation in Orthodox sometimes is too much.

Anonymous, January 24, 2012 7:28 AM

because we're in an era of "frumer than thou"

I agree. While there should be some distance, this idea of everything being separate in not found in halacha. Shidduchim doesnt work for everybody, we need to give people more chances to meet people.

Shoshana, January 24, 2012 7:29 PM

Simchas have to be separated

But there are other ways of meeting. Through a shadchan, through mutual friends, etc.Maybe ask your rabbi if he knows someone. I'm sure that people know that you exist and that you are seen by many people, going to and from work, and whatever else you do. Actually, the next time you are at a simcha, and may there be many, you could ask a married friend of yours to ask his wife, over in the ladies side, to keep her eyes opened and see if she thinks there's anyone there for you. And remember that G-d is running the world and will surely send your future wife as soon as He thinks the time is right. And I hope for you that it will be very soon. Just you have to pray with all your heart and strength. Pray and beg and even cry and He will surely answer you very shortly. ( say "Amen" )

(7) Aaron, January 23, 2012 6:12 PM

This is no chidush. This idea was introduced to the secular world in the movie When Harry Met Sally. Billy Crystal said "Men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way"

(6) Deb, January 23, 2012 6:05 PM

Changed my view

I used to think that I could have close male friends but now I have come to recognize that it is different and you need be very careful. Now older, I can honestly say that all my friends are women and to the extent I have male friends they are through my husband as we socialize as a couple. This might not sound like a big deal- but I did not grow up observant. This is simply me recognizing the reality of my life-

R. K., January 24, 2012 6:34 AM

Me too!

I used to think I had lots of male friends. Then I got married and realized that every single one of those "friendships" involved attraction and the hope of something more than friendly on at least one side. Now I have male acquaintances and colleagues--but no non-relative men I make appointments to see alone socially or phone/text/email with private thoughts or feelings. I save those for my husband and girlfriends.

(5) Tova, January 23, 2012 7:32 AM

Agree and Disagree

I believe that halacha deals with this issue very nicely in terms of yichud / seclusion and nagia / touching, and accordingly, going even further to say that there needs to be separate seating sometimes adds more problems. Why go further than what is required? I very much enjoy sitting next to my husband at simchas, which is sometimes the times we get to go out and get a babysitter. Since it is beyond what halacha actually requires, I see absolutely no issue with this and would actually argue that it helps a marriage.

Anonymous, January 24, 2012 8:19 PM

understand you, but....

It is very important for couples to get out together and it's surely good for the marriage. But the problem is that if we sit together with our husband at a simcha, we are not at our own private table. And there is somebody else's husband and wife also there. And this is the kind of mixing that we try to avoid. Sounds too fanantic? But if we look at the close loyalty and beauty of Jewish marriages over all the years and compare it with what's going on "out there", we will realize that this is really the best thing for a marriage. But nevertheless, we have to be creative and figure out a way to spend quality time alone with our husband. Perhaps a walk ,or a drive, alone some place. or a resturant where you can find a secluded private corner. May you and all the Jewish nation be blessed with love and shalom bayis.

(4) Rosen, January 23, 2012 3:13 AM

platonic relationships/friendships

Platonic relationships and friendships are good when at least 2 people, male and female, can't mutually obtain a more intimate relationship with one another. Thus, there are different levels of friendships and relations going from those intimate who are usually family members and close friends; and then acquaintences, and strangers...All in all, forming friendships and/or relationships with the opposite sex is all a matter of one another's priorities in life.

(3) Linda, January 22, 2012 7:47 PM

can men and women be friends, yes

There are times in the lives of men and women when being friends is impossible. Later in life, I believe it can happen. When one is committed to God and spouse, hormones are not a big factor, then friendships are possible. We must be aware of how close is too close. I have several male friends and I value them. I keep a respectful distance as far as hugging but self control is now a part of who we are. There is also a line drawn about what can be said. If these rules are respected, the friendships can happen. I cherish the friendships I have with my male counterparts.

(2) Anonymous, January 22, 2012 6:06 PM

This is a bit tangential, but I think there also needs to be formality in place between children and adults who are meeting these children for the first time. No child should be forced to hug and/or kiss an adult he/she doesn't know. Both children and adults can greet each other politely while keeping an appropriate physical distance from one another.

(1) Anonymous, January 22, 2012 3:11 PM

Members of the opposite sex cannot be friends! It is impossible. It would suggest we share certain emotional ties and that means trouble. For those who think that you can be friends with a person of the opposite sex, you are playing with fire. It is one of the surest ways to ruin your life. If you have Facebook, do yourself a favor and get rid of it. More and more marriages are ruined through Facebook. It is impossible to have a thousand friends. If you are lucky enough to have 5 then you are indeed fortunate. Life is too short for spacebook and faceless friends.

Anonymous, January 23, 2012 9:06 AM

Marriages are ruined because one of or both spouses decided to put their self gratifications ahead of their spouses needs. The internet can be a perilous jungle but its up to us to set boundaries not to cross for ourselves. You can't blame porn or technology for destroying your relationship with your spouse. You can only blame yourself for caving into your impulses and being irresponsible. No one asked you to have Facebook,MySpace, Twitter,etc. No one asked you to flirt with your colleague and hang out with him/her.People cheat because they can. They are selfish with high expectations.They don't want to work out their marital issues.They use social networks or other means to seek pleasure that their spouses are unable to provide for them.People still commit adultery and engage in illicit sexual activities in gender segregated imposed societies.A fence is not going to stop people from pursuing what they lust after. Men and women can still be acquainted with each other whilst keeping a certain distance. If you are unable to control your impulses among people of the opposite sex, then don't put yourself in that predicament. Just because I live in a community were people are a little more lax when it comes to gender separation doesn't mean that people are having a romantic clandestine with their neighbor. I think people need to act like mature adults and make responsible decisions rather than controlling other people's social activities.

David, January 24, 2012 1:42 PM

The above 2 comments just confirm the wise words of Lori. I would wager that the first comment was made by a man and the second by a woman. Women just don't seem to understand the nature of men and cannot understand why they need to place walls for themselves. The Rabbanim did understand this which is why the laws of Yichud were enacted

betty moses, January 24, 2012 4:13 PM

Yes members of the opposite sex can be best friends, not just friends. I had a friend who I considered not just my friend but my soul mate. It was like we knew everything about each other before we were told.We knew how and why we would react, our likes and dislikes, we took each other for granted in a way which can only be done when you are most comfortable with the person. This friendship did not come in the way of may marriage nor in his. I have been married for 52 years and he for 50 years. Comments ??

Robyn, January 24, 2012 11:21 PM

Soul mate? Oy vey!

I agree totally with Mrs Palatnik. She is such a wise woman who is not afraid to "tell it like it is". To betty moses who asked for comments on her long friendship with a married man, I will comment. You speak of him as if his is your husband! Is not your husband your soul mate? And who says this friendship did not affect his marriage or yours? Did you ask his wife what she thought of this? I think there was/is a life-long attraction between both of you which you have refused to acknowledge. I feel very sad for your respective spouses.

betty Moses, January 26, 2012 3:02 AM

For your info,. my husband, his wife and he and me were friends too. Neither spouse objected to this because of trust. If his wife or my husband had any doubts they would have let us know. Perhaps in todays world, people don't know the meaning of trust.My good friend, remember a soul mate is not necessarily a spouse. .

Anonymous, January 27, 2012 8:17 AM

self test

Why don't you self test yourself? If G-d forbid your husband died and your best friend's wife died. Would you marry each other?

betty moses, January 28, 2012 8:40 PM

Absolutely not. We value each other's friendship too much to let emotions and other formalaties ruin it. We would always remain friends and perhaps seek other partners for marriage (not at my age anyway) but if I were younger, that's how it wuld be.

Anonymous, January 25, 2012 5:52 PM

AGREE!!!

Betty- I also have had a friend(soul mate) for 28 yrs neither of us are married but have had relationships with others and ALL IS GOOD... I want a friendship with my son's father (our son is 28) and he seems to think impossible any thought on how to convince him he is wrong?

Anonymous, January 26, 2012 2:00 AM

He filled a gap that your husband did not. It wasn't his place to fill that gap. Your husband never had the opportunity to become one with you, for part of you was divided in half, the other going to your best friend. The first unfaithfulness in a marriage, severs a tie of the souls. Marriages can stay together afterwards, the wholeness of the souls together (soul mate) needs mending if can be. This being the seriousness why the separation of genders. Whether something happens or not is up to the woman saying come please. Married women were asking who is the first movie star that comes to mind you go wow over? They all had someone off the tip of their tongues they lust of privately. If your going to lust, lust after your own husband, if you want a best friend, let your husband be your best friend, if you want to talk, to laugh, to share, share that time with the man you picked to spend the rest of your life with. You are withholding him of your best self. Your male friendship in a marriage as you describe could spell disaster if others followed your example. You didn't learn, your bleeding for that man you had as a friend. You wouldn't be bleeding now if you hadn't allowed such a close friendship with the man piercing the skin of your soul, a scab that keeps opening the wound of being friends to such a close capacity that stirred your soul as he did. It is hard for women to admit, we can't always be just friends with males. Women can get emotionally attached, and when a male is part of that emotionally attachment, other things can stir. Confront what it has done to you, get out of the boat of the past and look ahead at mending your marital relationship. First step, admit you were wrong, you couldn't be just best friends with that male, to this day, you are still emotionally attached to him and can't get him off your mind, your still talking about him. Get him out of your system quickly! He's robbing you of your now and your future with your husband.

 

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