He Wants Female Friends

Q: I am just coming out of a marriage. My ex and I are the best of friends because we share two children and I will always love her. However, I feel this need to move on with my life and start new, refreshing relationships. Not so much dating, but I would like to have female friends in my life. Just persons whom I can converse with and not have any extra drama. What's the best approach to a woman without giving her the benefit of the doubt that I want to start dating her? Sincerely, Fresh Starter

Dr. Susan: First you should probably figure out why these "friends" have to be female if you have no interest in a possibly romantic longer-term relationship with them. Most single men who are ready to move on will at least consider the possibility of something special developing from any relationship they have with a female who's available. I'm a little worried about your assuming that "drama" comes with all relationships. Well, sure, anytime you get emotionally involved, it feels somewhat dramatic. But perhaps not enough time has gone by since your marriage, and you merely want to tip-toe out there and don't want anyone to expect anything from you yet. Fair enough, for now. Join a hiking club, take a class, volunteer somewhere or get yourself on a committee at some group you care about. That's how you meet people of any gender. If you limit your conversations to safe contexts such as those, no one is going to get the wrong idea. Just chat the same way you would with a guy friend, and perhaps a genuine friendship with a female will blossom. But know that once you ask someone out for coffee or dinner, they may suspect or assume that you mean it to be an actual "date." And if you allow the friendship to turn physical, expectations of emotional commitment may follow -- and then if you don't follow through, expect some of that drama you fear.

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