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do you think it is really possible for a man and woman to be friends and both of them are straight? How do you deal with your female friends? -NEDRA

MY REPLY: Yes, it is possible, but one of the two better be extremely disciplined and prepared to handle the emotional weaknesses of the other without crossing the line because that line will always be flirted with in some manner no matter what lies are told to others or to themselves. Men and women who feel safe enough to be friends often get too comfortable in that safety and start relying on each other on levels that should be reserved for mates and that is not healthy because levels of expectations are created which set the friendship up for challenges when someone finally finds a mate.

There are some things you have to do just out of general principle to keep it 100. There are lines that I draw to make certain there are no misunderstandings. Like I don’t let my female friends call or come over anytime they want night or day. When men and women who are friends don’t exercise discipline, it creates problems the same way as I tell women to stop letting kids take over their bedroom just because they are single. It sets the man up to be the bad guy when the bedroom returns to being the sacred spot for a man and wife because you spoiled your kids using them as an emotional replacement for a man instead of you being the authority figure.

Likewise, you can’t let your friend of the opposite sex occupy time that should be reserved for a mate even when you don’t have one. It is a setup. I also don’t let my female friends get too comfortable in my space. Females are quick to start caregiving and the next thing you know, they are cleaning your house, washing your clothes, and what not. They even know the brand of underwear you buy- stuff that only your mama or your girl should know. Bad idea.

If I have a friend over for dinner or I am sick, sure it’s ok for friends to look out for each other helping out around the house, but I don’t allow it to become a routine. Just like a woman can’t allow it to become a routine for a man who is a friend to tell her what to do. It’s disrespectful to her future when she gets involved with a man.

I am also extremely sensitive about a female friend being on my bed. To me that should be reserved for family, mates, or potential mates, no matter how innocent. There are just too many mixed signals there. I remember a close friend who was going through something with her man. I knew the dude. He was a player. He wasn’t threatened by my friendship as a man. He was threatened because I knew how he was.

But as y’all women can be, she had to find out by herself and came over crying. So she sits on the couch and I am taking laundry to my room. She comes in, gives me a more than friendly hug then lays very seductively across my bed. I left the room and watched TV. She came out 30 minutes later and thanked me for letting her rest and left. Well she stayed with the fool for several more months, even ended up in the hospital psych ward over it. She called me after she finally got him out of her system and thanked me for being friend enough to not take the bait. Can you imagine the hot mess it wuda been if I had?

I’m just saying there are natural occurring sexual tensions that exist in EVERY male female relationship regardless of the label, even among coworkers who can believe themselves happily married. So I am careful to keep my life prepared for a mate by not entitling my female friends to things that they will lose once I find someone. And I prepare myself to respect when they find someone and to never give false hope that it will be me by saying things out of emotional weakness to lead them on, which happens a lot in such relationships. I also don’t deal with any female in a relationship unless I am also friends with their significant other. If that person seems uninterested, I already know to back away from both people because it’s gonna be some drama down the road. -NEO