Messaging Man Friends: Are you doing it wrong?

The previous post about a BF’s ex who “keeps in touch” got me thinking —  Even if we think it’s harmless, where is the line between friendly and flirty?

The messages from Elec’s ex always seem inappropriate from my standpoint, but I realize that the way I talk to male friends (including exes-turned-friends) isn’t all that different. Even though these interactions are *completely* innocent from my POV, I can see how a female outsider might not agree.

It’s debated whether men and women can “really” be friends to begin with, but at least one thing is true: A lot of women think of guys as friends. Or, call them friends, anyway.

flirty just friends

I’d be interested to hear if other women they keep their distance with guy friends, and if they feel like people are on the same page. From my experience, there’s a lot of stepping on toes — most girls don’t mean any harm, they just aren’t acknowledging the boundaries. Especially for guys in relationships, though, there’s a right and a wrong way to keep it kosher, and certain messages to “taken” men are a bad idea.

For example, when a guy starts dating someone and goes MIA, that doesn’t signal a good time to post, “Misssss youuuuuuu!!! We need to have another crazy beach night soon lol ;) xoxo” on his Facebook wall, or to text him anything similar. There’s no point in going there — Not seriously, not casually, not in any capacity. Not unless you’re married and he’s been your friend since you were both in diapers. Actually, even then. If you’re using innuendo, winking emoticons, or too many exclamation points, it just sounds wrong.

Getting flirty with men in relationships is playing a game, and that game eventually bites us all in the ass. It tends to follow the same story, and one way or another the collective karma comes back around:

Guy and girl start dating. Guy and girl get serious. Guy stops hanging out with other women, even the ones he was “just friends” with (according to research, he was secretly thinking about banging some of them anyway… But that’s another story for another day).

All is well. Briefly.

Mysterious single vixen posts some LOL-inside-joke-sexual-innuendo crap on guys wall.

Girlfriend sees it and gets upset, wonders why vixen feels the need to get up on her kool-aid, says something to guy.

Guy says it’s nothing, they’re just friends. (But…Internally remembers those drunken hook-ups they had in the past.)



Girl’s radar goes off, thinks um yeah this is bullshit, starts the interrogation.

Guy gets defensive, wonders what he did wrong, questions sanity of girl and relationship.

Girl gets upset by guy’s “defensiveness,” does something stupid like look through his phone, inevitably finds something she doesn’t like, e.g. drunken texts arranging rendezvous.

Girl sees it as proof they aren’t “just friends” (even if these texts were from months ago), drops an atom bomb of estrogen, demands guy stop speaking to Vixen.

Guy, now equally furious with invasion of privacy, goes into full-on Fort Knox defense mode and says No, she’s my friend.

Girl sees this as sign he’s chasing vixen tail, starts wanting to know where he is every 15 minutes, blah blah blah, generally starts acting nuts.

Guy breaks up with girl he formally liked but now finds completely cray-cray, starts to regard entire female gender with caution.

Girl thinks guy ended relationship for slutty vixen, seeks emotional validation, posts some LOL-inside-joke-sexual-innuendo crap on a taken male friend’s wall.

And we’re back at square one with someone else’s relationship.

ron burgundy

It’s not always this dramatic, but female friends make waves even when they’re not trying to (the ones who do it intentionally have a whole other set of issues). I’ve been on both sides of the situation, and learned as a GF, untoward flirtatiousness is not appreciated. Maybe it seems ridiculous to change how you act just because a guy starts dating someone. But, no matter how friendly we intend our words to be, other women might not see them that way. We’re doing everyone a favor by keeping the exchange as sparkly-clean-and-clear as possible, and that, ladies, usually means no winking.


4 responses to “Messaging Man Friends: Are you doing it wrong?

  1. Well, I guess it’s true both ways. Most women aren’t good at setting boundaries with men. Most men on the other hand, aren’t good at suppressing testosterone levels towards the opposite sex.

    In general, I would say that platonic relationship can’t exist between men and women. If all the test subjects from both sexes are equally attractive.

    Again, for most but not all.

    I’ve gained quite a few female friends for the last 5 years since I went out of my anti-social, introverted cocoon. I find female friends a lot more sensible and comforting to talk to with matters of the heart without involving alcohol consumption in contrast to the male counterparts. I’ve learned a lot on how women thinks, how women reacts, what women wants, how I should treat women both in general and for my own relationship.

    As a rule, I don’t be-friend females who impose potential risks such as:
    a) Females who are clingy, has absolutely no boundaries whatsoever
    b) Females that I’ll potentially get attracted to
    c) Females that are potentially attracted to me (which can be resolved by the “friend zone”)

    Now that catch is, my long term girlfriend and now wife, have little to no idea of these friendships I have with the opposite sex. I don’t feel obliged, to divulge every single detail of my friendship and every single conversation I had with them nor do I feel it’s necessary. I believe it’ll just cause unnecessary ruckus and I don’t expect her to understand.

    Just this Saturday, I was bound to tell her that had lunch with my female friends since my other guy friend bailed out on me the last minute. The picture of a married guy surrounded by females isn’t exactly pleasant for some. Hence, I ended explaining the whole history of the friendship and every single personal detail. And I’ll bet she did her CSI thing on their Facebook profiles cross referencing it to mine.

    PS: She’s still mad at me, for telling the truth. LOL
    If I were to make out with my female friends, she wouldn’t have a clue that it’s happening under her nose. I’m not that stupid. (Sorry to vent out)

    If only women are a lot smarter and more rational about handling these scenarios, that’s greatly appreciated. This is in reference to your previous post.

    • Thanks for the detailed, insightful response, and it sounds like you’ve got it pretty well figured out. Ha, but… it sounds like you’ve experienced the exact problem I mentioned in the previous post re: disclosure leading to interrogation. It’s interesting — you mention that generally men and women can’t make friendship work (if they’re equally attractive), but also that you have female friends and find those relationships valuable re: being able to talk to women in ways you can’t talk to men. Your position is somewhat unique because you’re married (as opposed to single), but I hope somewhere in the future guys can get over the angry-and-in-the-friend-zone thing, and just enjoy that relationship for what it is…

  2. I’m pretty self-conscious about flirtation levels with male friends and afraid of sending the wrong message. Interestingly, the two guys I probably pushed the boundary the most with was a married coworker and a gay coworker. Between ourselves it was clear that flirtations were NOT serious and just playful ways to pass the time. No room for misinterpretation. Obviously we’re not going to hook up. I didn’t think twice with my gay friend but one day it dawned on me that my married friend had a wife and therefore there is room for misinterpretation. She may misinterpret.

    As someone who has been cheated on, I never want to be the “other woman”. I also never want to put another woman through the pain of thinking there’s another woman. That pain is the same whether it’s true or not. Needless to say, flirtation was dialed back to what I hope is acceptable level.

    • Thanks for sharing your story, PostModern — yeah I’d bet you were safe in flirtation with a gay co-worker, but I’d be interested to hear what the married guy thought was going on… As you pointed out, even though it was totally innocent to you, someone from the outside might have a different idea – wife or husband :\. (Especially since they’d have no idea about your personal perspective and history with a cheater)

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