Ask Amy: Can a man and woman be best friends?

June 14, 2013

DEAR AMY: I’m dating a guy whose best friend is a woman. They used to date in high school (we are both in our late 20s now), and she has happily been dating someone else for three years. She and I have been friends for four years, and she introduced me to my boyfriend.

My boyfriend and I didn’t start dating until two months ago because I was wary about the friendship between the two. They’ve never acted as more than friends, but for all I knew there were still feelings pushed way down for either one of them. I finally decided that there weren’t feelings between them, and we have been happily dating ever since.

Here’s where my problem (or paranoia) comes in. I just found out that another “best friend” couple I know have been secretly hooking up. The woman has been single, but the guy has been in a relationship the whole time. I’m starting to wonder if a guy and girl can be best friends without some sort of “more than friends” feelings being there. I’m starting to doubt getting into the relationship with my boyfriend in the first place.

I really love the guy I’m with, so please help me out and tell me it is possible for a guy and girl to be best friends without underlying feelings. -- Paranoid in Nebraska

DEAR PARANOID: It is possible for a guy and girl to be best friends without underlying feelings. For proof of this, do not watch the great film on this subject, “When Harry Met Sally.”

I do firmly believe that men and women can be close, long-term friends without having simmering and buried sexual feelings and without cheating on their partners.

Best friends maintain a special status, but everyone in the friendship circle needs to respect the relationship between the couple, especially the couple themselves. After only two months, you two are still dancing on the fringes, but for true intimacy your relationship needs to reside at the center.

I need to point out that you and your guy could cheat on each other at any time and with anyone. But as far as you know, he and his female friend have handled their friendship appropriately for many years. If you’re going to start plumbing people’s inner lives for long-buried passions, then we’re all in trouble.

DEAR AMY: Several years ago I became acquainted with a woman. I had no interest in developing a friendship, but she pursued one, sending me e-mails inquiring about my life and inviting me to a few events. All these efforts clearly established that we had nothing in common other than being biped mammals.

Over the years, it became clear that she was full of impractical plans, ideas and actions. I find her extremely irritating. I was able to keep her at bay for a couple of years because my husband was terminally ill, but when he passed away, she stepped up her efforts, most of which I ignored, but accepted a few invitations that ended in utter disaster.

I evaded her for several years, because one of her baffling quirks is changing her e-mail address frequently. However, she tracked me down through a post I made and has contacted me again, wanting to resume what she perceives as “our friendship,” which for me is nonexistent.

I don’t want to hear from her ever again but am unsure how to say it without being blunt and ugly (“I want nothing to do with you because you’re a spineless idiot.”) Any suggestions? -- Jane

DEAR JANE: You could be blunt without being ugly. Just reply, “I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in being in touch any longer. I wish you all the best.”

DEAR AMY: My father is impossible to shop for. He’s a great dad. Can you suggest good Father’s Day gifts? -- Devoted Daughter

DEAR DAUGHTER: Anything homemade: A photo album of you and your dad through the years, a bouquet of handpicked flowers in a Mason jar and a card that expresses, sincerely, what a solid gold dad he is.

Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads out there — you make the world go round.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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