Can men and women be "just friends," or is sexual attraction between the sexes always inevitable? According to Rabbi Shmuley, men and women can
be friends with members of the opposite sex, as long as they follow certain rules. He talks about platonic friendship between the sexes and shares his ground rules for opposite-sex friendships outside of marriage.
If a person isn't married, Rabbi Shmuley says it's perfectly all right to have friends who are members of the opposite sex. Society has moved away from polarizing the sexes, and today, men and women work together, go to school together and should
be able to be friends, he says.
Things are different if you are married, Rabbi Shmuley says. It is
possible to have an opposite sex friendship, but you cannot compromise certain borders:
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- You can't go out to late night dinners together. You can have lunch together in a public place, but you should not order alcoholic beverages. "The embers of attraction really can grow in situations like that, and suddenly it's not so innocent, it's not just friendship anymore," Rabbi Shmuley says.
- You can't take long drives or long flights with the other person, even if it's for work. "Even if you have to work with a colleague [of the opposite sex], there are still certain boundaries you need to preserve," he says.
- You cannot place yourself in any situation where romance can grow. "Romance grows when people are alone; romance grows when people tell secrets," Rabbi Shmuley says.
- You can't share secrets with a platonic male or female friend that you don't share with your spouse. "Because then you're sharing an exclusivity with a member of the opposite sex that you're not with your partner, and that can lead to a big no-no," he says.
- You should not be friends with ex-lovers.
"Men and women can be friends as long as they maintain proper borders and boundaries separating the casual from the intense and the romantic from the friendly."