Giddy Presents The Naked Truth: How Can We Become Platonic Friends?
I'm an AASECT-certified sex therapist and licensed professional counselor-supervisor in Austin, Texas. I've been in practice for 14 years, including working in corporate settings, higher education and private practice.
If you have questions you want to be answered in future columns, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Privacy in all matters of intimacy is very important to me and any questions answered in this column will be entirely anonymous.
Enough about me, let's talk sex.
I met this amazing girl but I don't want a sexual relationship with her. We have a lot of fun together and she is so easy to talk to, but something is missing, and now I feel like I'm leading her on. How do I keep her in my life but tell her how I really feel?
Jessie in South Carolina
Platonic friendships are valuable and there's no reason to feel guilty about having a connection with someone without a desire for a sexual relationship.
The true issue here stems from a few things:
- Have you stated your intentions and do you update them as needed?
- Did the relationship start or continue as sexual at any point?
- Are your words and actions congruent?
Intentions are important to express verbally in a direct manner. Otherwise, it's very possible for a connection to be misconstrued if you see a future for being platonic and she sees a future with a ring and a white picket fence.
Platonic friends can appear to be "dating." They can enjoy a movie night, have light affection or share happy hours. Showing up for each other during great moments is important, but even more so to be present for the tough moments.
Knowing what you want out of a friendship is important to describe to each other as well.
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- Should You Be Friends With Your Ex?: Give yourself any time and space you need before building a friendship with an ex.
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Sex is often included at the start of many relationships that evolve apart and grow into friendships. Sometimes, it's difficult because you already feel sexually comfortable with each other even though you have agreed to remain platonic friends.
If the sex play does not interrupt the connection and it is exclusive or agreed upon, it may be OK to include. Since you are specifically asking how to tell your friend you do not want sex from her, be clear about your needs and wants, and clarify this is not a rejection of her.
Platonic relationships don't work well if one person feels like they are not good enough or if you bring out their insecurities.
Finally, words and actions need congruence. Small nonverbals such as dancing, flirting, and special attention to gifts or foods can be wonderful in any friendship, but you must make certain these are not steps toward a full-blown romantic relationship.
It's not fair to tell me you just want to be friends and then turn around and be the hottest, sexiest, most flirtatious human who has ever understood me on the planet. Plus, be careful that this person, platonic or not, is not a stand-in while you work through any fears around engaging in a sexual relationship.
Friendships are an investment. Every effort should be reciprocated. You both deserve a happy healthy future, so check in often and provide truths consistently.
Again, I'm not shy, so feel free to ask me anything. Remember, this will always be anonymous. If you have any questions about relationships, sexual activities or your partners, let me know. Tell me your first name and the state you live in so I can attribute your question. Please send me an email at email@example.com. We will always respect your privacy.