I am a female having a wonderful 2-year friendship with a male.
Lately I've noticed that our friendship has had sexual overtones. I am aware
of the popular belief that once sexuality enters the picture, men and women
cannot remain friends. Is it possible to have a sexual relationship with a
friend and still remain friends?
A purely sexual relationship is different from a friendship, as a
friendship is different than a sexual relationship. When you bring the two
together and have a friendship to which you have added sexuality, you have
made a significant change in the nature of the relationship. Some people seem
to be able to dissociate sexuality from relatedness. They are also able to
separate friendship from sexuality. When the two are combined -- a sexual
friendship -- we associate that relationship with more permanence, as
boyfriend-girlfriend, marital track, etc. And these relationships have
different expectations. We tend to feel more proprietary, jealous, and
possessive. We tend to think more like a couple.
One of the major problems in trying to introduce sexuality into a friendship
is that as the intimacy develops one person may become more involved than the
other. If one person is viewing the relationship as simply a sexual
relationship between friends, and the other is feeling more like a couple, a
conflict exists. Frequently people begin such relationships believing either
that they can handle the situation or that the partner will come around to
their way of thinking. Too often, however, there are different expectations
of the relationship, and one person becomes more attached, resulting in
someone getting hurt and the need to separate.
If both parties end up moving in the same direction, that is as in the movie
"When Harry Met Sally..." where two friends become lovers, then it can be
wonderful. What better basis for a marriage than starting out as friends?
Hence, people often have to either decide whether they wish to risk the
friendship or choose to maintain the friendship and pass on the sexuality.
And that decision, whether to pass on the sexuality or take a chance on losing
the friendship, should be a mutual one.
Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus is a Clinical Psychologist,
Marriage, Family, Child Therapist, and Sex Therapist. Dr. Dreyfus has been providing
psychological services in the Los Angeles-Santa Monica area for over 30 years.
He offers individual psychotherapy to adolescents and adults, divorce mediation,
couples counseling, group therapy, and career and vocational counseling and
assessment.His book, Someone Right For You, is available in the Amazing
Dr. Dreyfus can be reached at: (310) 208-5700.