Can Men & Women Be Friends At Work?

Many years ago, I became friends with a male co-worker who had transferred from another department at our company.  We had met once before he transferred and once we started working together, we quickly became fast friends.  He was (and still is) a great person, smart, funny, articulate and we really hit it off but there were absolutely no romantic feelings whatsoever.  I was already in a 7 year relationship with my now husband and while my friend was not seeing anyone at the time, it was clear that our friendship would be just that – a friendship. 

Fast forward to today and not only are we still great friends, my husband and I are extremely close to his wife as well.  We played significant roles in their wedding with my husband being one of his groomsmen and I was the MC at their reception.  The connection we made so many years ago still continues to endure. 

But let’s go back to the start.  Once co-workers and management saw that we were getting close, the scrutiny was tremendous.  We were asked various questions about the nature of our relationship. I was asked if my own relationship was going well and we were even indirectly warned by our Managers, at the time, about ‘perception’.  It was all quite ridiculous, actually.  We had a few head shaking conversations about how silly it all was, especially when we looked around and saw close male and close female friendships that no one batted an eyelash at but the gossip mill was rife with speculation about us.    

Has this ever happened to you?  What is it about the male-female friendship that causes such concern at work or in different group settings?  Can’t we be friends without the notion of romance or sex entering the picture?  Perhaps we all have examples of male/female dynamics at play, where friendships have been impacted by the presence of feelings or some sort of desire that one might have for the other.   This would obviously impact the friendship but to assume the inevitability of that happening is really just underestimating everyone!

If my situation had involved two gay men or women, would they have endured the same scrutiny and the same gossip?  What would they have been told by their managers? 

There are so many sides to this topic and we can’t wait to hear what you have to say!  Join us on December 1st at “Cocktails and Conversations” where we will be discussing many interesting questions about gender dynamics, including this one!  You can purchase your tickets at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/cocktails-conversations-tickets-39240352952!