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Call me naïve, but I think that men and women can have strictly platonic relationships. This is even after losing a few guy friends who had bigger plans for our relationship than just an occasional movie and discussing our relationship woes about the people we were dating.

So yes, I know that strictly platonic relationships are rare; and chances are, if you are a woman who has ever had a male friend, you have or might experience the anguish of losing him because he wanted more than just a friendship. Whether it was sex or a commitment, either can be tricky if you don’t feel the same way. Still, although rare, there are ways to address his feelings and sustain a friendship, even if it means you’ll need to take a break from each other.

This is how the story goes. I am guilty of leading one of my guy friends on simply because I wanted to maintain his friendship. Sounds contradictory, right? After a year into our platonic friendship…well, at least I thought it was platonic…he began to state in different ways that he wanted to be more than friends.

After he began to address his developing feelings, I came up with different excuses as to why we should wait on that (still not sure what we were waiting on, because clearly my feelings weren’t the same). All of these excuses eventually led to me hurting him and our friendship suffering as a result.

I quickly learned that as cliché as it may sound, honesty is the best policy; and more importantly, delayed honesty is almost equivalent to a lie, at least to the person on the receiving end. So, I quickly learned that if your feelings aren’t the same, you have to state them upfront, as uncomfortable as it may be.

It usually comes with some repercussions though. Your friend will either want to end your relationship or act as if he can handle just being friends, despite the fact that he said he wanted more. In either case, I learned that allowing him to have space is necessary; and just like love, if the friendship is real or worth it to him, he will come back.

But I wasn’t about giving space. After I eventually told my guy bestie that I didn’t want to be anything more than friends, I selfishly wanted him to continue on as if nothing happened. Now, I know I knew better, but I wanted him around. Of course he needed space and by not allowing him time, I only fanned the flame. Everyone needs to take a breather from the person that hurt them.

Surprisingly, after his breather, my friend and I were able to rekindle our friendship. Unfortunately, his breather took two years, but nonetheless we’re friends again. We were only able to get back to where we started after I acknowledged that his feelings were real, even two year later.  And of course, a few apologies accompanied that acknowledgement. By downplaying and ignoring his feelings at the time, I only made matters worse. If I could do it all over again, I would have acknowledged them and been immediately honest with him about mine. I would also have ditched the ‘all about me’ attitude and allowed him the space to get over his feelings of rejection.

While I’m glad I have my friend back, things are definitely not the same and probably never will be. Unfortunately, this usually happens after a situation like this.  But since that incident, I’ve handled my friendships with guys who want to become more than friends much differently. Sad to say not all of them have ended with a happy ending, but no one ends up feeling lead on or deceived, a combination that always leads to feelings of resentment.

While every situation is different,  the next time a guy friend falls for you because you’re just that irresistible (sarcasm), be considerate and acknowledge his feelings. More importantly be honest about how you feel and allow him space to get over his feelings. After a while maybe the two of you can rekindle your friendship, even if you have to start over from scratch. On the flipside, I’m sure that if you ever become the one who wants more than friendship from a close male friend, you would want him to be  just as open and honest with you.

What has been your experience when dealing with a guy friend who wanted to be more than that? Has this experience changed your image of platonic relationships?

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