What are boyfriend-female friend boundaries? To answer that, let’s first ask the classic question, “Can men and women be friends?” Yes! Movies make us feel otherwise though. When Harry Met Sally is one of them. The notion that all opposite gender friendships always turn into romance is bizarre. The truth is that men need platonic female friendships in their lives and women need platonic male friendships.
In Sapadin’s study, men rated cross-gender friendships higher in overall quality, enjoyment, and nurturance than their same-gender friendships. What they reported liking the most was talking to women (it helped them gain perspective on the opposite gender) — something they can’t do with their male buddies. However, these friendships can only be sustainable if healthy boundaries are set.
15 Boyfriend-Female Friends Boundaries To Swear By
According to research, engaged-to-be-married individuals, compared to single, dating, and married individuals, have the most negative attitudes regarding cross-gender best friendships. Another study found that 64% of men and 44% of women reported that their cross-gender friends became their sexual partners at some point during the friendship (the classic ‘friends to lovers‘ situation).
So, a friendship has the possibility of turning into a sexual relationship if there is a lack of boyfriend-female friends boundaries. Here are some tips for all the women who are dating guys who have a lot of female friends:
1. He needs to be transparent with you about his female friendships
There is nothing wrong with a boyfriend who has a close female friend. Being in a relationship should never mean bidding goodbye to your mates. But the real problem arises when your boyfriend starts hiding stuff from you, like when there’s a sudden arrival of a new female friend that he purposefully doesn’t tell you about. So, simply put, he needs to be completely honest. Guys who have a lot of female friends need to be transparent in the following ways:
Related Reading: 17 Signs There Is Someone Else In Your Partner’s Life
- “Hey, I’m going to lunch with Rita today”
- “She was having an anxiety attack, so she called me at 1 a.m.”
- “We hooked up once but this was before I’d met you”
2. He should involve you in group plans sometimes
I was once with a boyfriend who had too many female friends. He would never make an effort for us to mingle. I always felt like I was on the outside and this made me feel very insecure. Trust me, when your boyfriend doesn’t introduce you to his female friends, it feels downright disrespectful.
So, if your boyfriend is too close to an old or new female friend, he needs to make sure he establishes a rapport between the two of you, that is, if you both want that as well. Here are the things that he should do when the three of you are hanging out together:
- He shouldn’t make you feel invisible and should want to enjoy the company of his partner and friend equally
- He shouldn’t talk over you in front of his friend or suddenly stop with all the usual PDA
- He should break the ice between you and his friend so that you don’t feel out of place
3. Female friends shouldn’t be used as proxy partners
Imagine this scenario: You have gradually lost a heartfelt connection with your boyfriend. But he doesn’t even realize it because his female friendships are fulfilling all his emotional needs. Subconsciously, he is using those friends as a cover-up, to distract himself from the impending doom in your relationship.
So, make sure that he is not using his friends as buffers. One fine day, if he removes those friends from the picture, the truth about your relationship would hit him hard. All the weaknesses and flaws in the bond would get magnified and he would end up seeing your relationship for what it truly is.
4. He must not gaslight you regarding his female friendships
What could be worse than breaching boyfriend-female friends boundaries? Him making you feel like you’re crazy! If you’re dating a guy who has a lot of female friends, here are some gaslighting examples that he should avoid using:
- When you ask a perfectly legitimate question about his whereabouts, he might say, “Babe, why do you need to know? Don’t you trust me?”
- “You’re always insecure and jealous. There is something wrong with you”
- When you catch him flirting with his female friend, he might say, “Will you stop overreacting? She’s just a friend!”
5. Boyfriend-female friends boundaries to swear by – the great balance of social media
One of the most important boundaries for boyfriends with female best friends is to keep up the social media etiquette. If he posts photos/stories with his female friends and doesn’t mention you at all on his social media, it’s natural for you to feel like he’s hiding you from the world. Have a conversation with him:
Related Reading: Social Media And Relationships – The Pros And Cons
- What does he feel comfortable sharing with his followers about his romantic relationship?
- If he’s not comfortable with that, but still posts about his friends (regardless of gender), you can either share how that makes you feel, or introspect on why that’s making you feel bad
- Discuss the digital boundaries that he should keep when posting a picture with his close female friend (for example, he should write friendship quotes/captions and nothing more than that)
6. Don’t let his friends encroach on your date nights
Setting boundaries with female friends means conveying to them how important your date nights are. His friends should respect your sacred couple time. If they encroach on your ‘us time’ on a regular basis, it can lead to fights in your relationship.
If he doesn’t set boundaries with female friends, you will end up feeling like you’re the third wheel. You don’t deserve to spend your romantic date night listening to their childhood stories.
7. He needs to monitor his physical affection and proximity to his female friends
Yes, we get that he believes in platonic intimacy. But for the sake of a peaceful relationship and until you familiarize yourself with his female friends and start to trust them, he should keep his hands to himself. Dancing too closely with his bestie might lead to a long fight on the drive back home. He doesn’t want that, does he?
So, even if he is too close to a female friend, he should not engage in physical contact beyond casual intimacy. And it goes without saying, he must avoid a friends-with-benefits situation. That would obviously count as infidelity if your relationship is monogamous.
8. He should not gossip about you to his best friend
Gossiping can be fun and entertaining. But how would he feel if the tables were turned? Wouldn’t it be gut-wrenching for him if he found out that you badmouth him?
In fact, a study found that discussing romantic problems with the partner in question had the most positive impact on the relationship, while “turning away from the partner to a friend may only exacerbate relationship problems and contribute to romantic instability.”
Maybe gossiping is his unconscious habit or he doesn’t feel secure enough to open up to you. Whatever his reasons are, frivolous gossiping can have a detrimental impact on trust/intimacy in your romantic relationship. Here are some things he should NOT tell his friends about your relationship:
- The nitty-gritty of your sex life (sexual fantasies, how often you have sex, etc.)
- Your secrets, insecurities, and past relationship failures
- How much you earn/who pays for what
- Your bad taste in gifts
9. He should not speak for his female friend
If he makes decisions for his female friend, he needs to stop that right now. Not only is it disrespectful, but it’s a sign that he’s trying to be possessive and controlling. Yes, they are good friends, but he doesn’t have to go proving just how close they both are to everyone else by speaking on her behalf about her likes, dislikes, and opinions.
Related Reading: 10 Must-Follow Healthy Relationship Boundaries
The way he treats his female friends could ultimately trickle down to you too. So, observe his behavior and attitudes around them carefully.
10. He must form his ‘own’ opinions about you
According to research, you are more likely to have a stable/healthy relationship if your mates approve of it. That being said, always remember that his female friends’ approval is not the only litmus test. Sometimes, even friends can get it wrong, right?
Maybe you are shy and his friends aren’t making an effort to draw you out. Maybe they are making a massive mistake in their judgment. He can always listen to what his friends have to say. But in the end, he has to form his own opinion, based on ‘his’ experience. His friends don’t know you like he does.
11. He should balance his time between you and his best friend
For boyfriend-female friend boundaries, he doesn’t have to pick sides. He can simply create a fine balance. Anyone forcing him to choose between you or his best friend surely does not have his best interests at heart.
- He shouldn’t ditch plans with you at the last moment for their sake
- He must not hang out with you only when his friends are not available (and vice versa)
- You should not be made to feel like you’re the second best and you’re not his priority
12. Boyfriend-female friends boundaries to swear by – He must avoid leading his friend on
Maybe he likes her attention or maybe there are some unresolved feelings and he is too afraid to express them. Whatever the matter is, it’s wrong to give her mixed signals. Here are some signs that he is leading his female friend on unintentionally:
- Telling her every single detail about his life every single day
- Unknowingly flirting or calling it ‘healthy flirting’
- Displaying jealousy when she hangs out with someone else/is being hit on
For him, going on a long drive with her with music on could be just one great drive. But she might be mistaken into believing it’s a date. She might be reading between the lines or finding subtext in his simplest of actions, and believe that he is giving her the ‘vibe’. This can backfire really badly. Unrequited love hurts, after all.
13. He should not have relationship problems with someone he is not in a relationship with
If he showers a particular friend with compliments and gifts, it could mislead her. He has let barriers and boundaries go because he is comfortable with her. But she might interpret it in a different way altogether.
It’s worrisome if he and his friend have fights and sort them out like a couple would. If they go after each other and beg each other to not give up on the bond, both of them are leading each other on and might get hurt in this process. He is in another relationship without even knowing it. And he has relationship problems with someone he is not in a relationship with.
14. He should keep communication lines open and respectful in case you have valid concerns about his female friends
Maybe you are called ‘possessive’ or ‘insecure’ every time you voice your concerns. Or maybe you have to watch his best friend in love with him at every gathering and social event. Draw your boundary. If the drama is getting to your mental health, and he shows no sign of addressing the problem, then it’s time to break it off.
Related Reading: 15 Signs Your Boyfriend Likes His Female Friend More Than You
You deserve someone who makes you feel seen and heard. You deserve to be treated with respect, as someone’s priority. So, introspect a little and make a choice that would benefit ‘your’ long-term happiness. If that requires you to let him go, so be it.
15. He shouldn’t imitate your relationship rituals with his female friends
Some things are meant for just the two of you. If he affectionately calls you “Baby” but uses that word to address all his female friends, you can definitely tell him to draw a line. Similarly, if you both have a ritual of eating at McDonald’s on Sunday afternoons, he better not imitate that with his female friends.
Finally, don’t forget how to love yourself, while setting boyfriend-female friends boundaries. Yes, you are someone’s partner but this is just one of the many identities that you have.
Don’t forget your own needs. Take some time out for yourself, to explore your identity outside of your relationships. What are your career goals? What’s on your bucket list?
How To Trust A Boyfriend Who Has Female Friends
If your boyfriend has a close female friend, how do you know she’s not the Pam to your Jim? What if you end up being Karen from The Office? Here are some tips on how to trust your boyfriend with female friends:
- Your boyfriend should be honest/transparent/inclusive
- Specify your red flags clearly (late night phone calls with her, him hiding things, etc.)
- Create boundaries that you would follow in the case of your male friends
- Don’t behave in a passive-aggressive manner with his female friends
- Don’t expect him to cut off his friends completely just to calm your insecurity
- Express your feelings of jealousy, “This makes me uncomfortable/I’m worried that … ”
- Give your partner enough space to have a life outside of the relationship
- Try to get to know his female friends (form a rapport with them)
- Talk about your jealousy to impartial people, like siblings/other friends/therapist
Regarding boyfriend-female friend boundaries, a reader on Quora wrote, “An agreement is between two or more people. It is discussed, negotiated, and ideally each has equal say. If anyone breaks an agreement, it is a betrayal.”
As she rightly points out, if your boyfriend has too many female friends, always communicate with your person. If one female friend always wants to hang out with him or if your boyfriend defends his female friends too much, just say, “Hey, this makes me uncomfortable. Let’s discuss/negotiate on some ground rules first.”
- If you are worried about his friends of the opposite gender, he should involve you in group plans and be transparent regarding his whereabouts
- He should not gaslight you by telling that you are “too jealous” when you have a valid concern (your feelings are valid, so he must treat you with respect)
- Set boundaries for your boyfriend that are sustainable in the long run (Would you follow those boundaries if you were in his place?)
- He should not use his female friends as proxy partners who distract him from your doomed relationship
- He must avoid gossiping about you to his best friend and vice versa
Finally, if you’re still struggling with how to trust your boyfriend with female friends, you can always seek professional help. The same holds true for boyfriends who are not able to set healthy boundaries with friends of the opposite gender. Our counselors from Bonobology’s panel are just a click away.
Yes, it’s totally okay when your boyfriend has female friends. But what’s not okay is when your boyfriend doesn’t introduce you to his female friends or when your boyfriend’s female friend doesn’t respect boundaries clearly set by the both of you.
When your boyfriend has a female friend who makes you feel threatened, just address it with him directly so that he can try harder to make you feel more comfortable and included. Try getting to know his friend on a one-on-one basis. Most importantly, don’t give him ultimatums to end his friendship and introspect on your own insecurities.
If your boyfriend’s female best friend is in love with him, it is normal to feel jealous. But don’t end up forcing your person to cut off all ties with her. This might seem tempting in the short run but isn’t sustainable. A committed relationship requires freedom, not suffocation.