The age-old issue that has been plaguing the likes of males and females for centuries…Is it possible for a man and woman to be just friends? Due to human interaction and instinct, it is nearly impossible to keep yourselves from developing an attraction to one another, especially if both parties are of equal aesthetic appeal and connect on similar levels. It sounds like the perfect situation…guy thinks girl is attractive, girl thinks guy is attractive…guy thinks girl is fun, girl thinks guy is fun…guy likes girl, girl likes guy. If both parties are single and it makes sense, this can be a godsend…friends that are not only attracted to one another, but get along incredibly well. Hello long-term potential and copious amounts of copulation. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Sometimes friendships that were supposed to be platonic turn into a gargantuan mess of sexual tension, frustration, and overall mental chaos. One great example would be…one of the people is already in a relationship! Due to our monogamous society, if either party is already involved, polygamy is not only frowned upon, but illegal in most states. Other factors can be situational, such as it being a person you work with, a friend’s ex, a student, etc, etc. In these situations, it is better to tuck your tail between your legs and run the other way, but sometimes that is impossible as well.

Here are some ways to avoid this conundrum of life known as platonic pandemonium:

Avoid one-on-one situations

Usually this is the best option in a first meeting stage. You see a really attractive girl walk into your office on her first day, you go out to lunch as a group, and she is just a really kick-ass-and-take-names kind of girl who knows the name of every linebacker in the NFL. You are smitten. She’s hot, she’s funny, and she’s smart in all the ways that matter. All of a sudden you walk back to your desk and notice a text message from your girlfriend calling you the pet name that annoys the crap out of you, asking you to pick up her dry cleaning. Pictures start playing through your mind of the possibilities. You and the new girl in the office after dark, participating in activities that would make Spitzer’s call girl blush. There is nothing wrong with playing out these fantasies in your head, but make sure you realize that these need to stay in your head. Yeah, she is cute, but you and your girlfriend have been together for six years and you really do love her. At this point, the best is to admire from afar if possible. Only hang out with her in a group and when necessary. Yeah, it sucks you guys can’t sit there and talk football, but that’s what you have all of your guy friends over on Sunday nights for.

Avoid Alcohol

If you haven’t realized this yet…ALCOHOL LOWERS YOUR INHIBITIONS! Alcohol can be great in certain social situations, but when you are on shaky ground with another human being, alcohol is the most detrimental substance in the world. Knocking someone out for yelling “STEELERS SUCK” is one thing, but “accidentally” waking up naked next to your hot coworker after Happy Hour turned into Happy Hours is an entirely different situation. When drunk, people have a tendency to do things in a more impulsive manner. Alcohol takes us to our most Neanderthal-like states, and we are less likely to do what our brains are telling us to do. Whether this leads to blurting out your undying feelings of lust or waking up next to her the next day and awkwardly asking if it’s OK to car-pool to work, think about the consequences before acting upon them. Just because at that moment it feels right, doesn’t mean that it is. If you lack self control with alcohol, you will definitely lack self control when your hot friend starts coming on to you. Sometimes it is best to avoid the situation altogether.

Avoid Opening Pandora’s Box

There comes a time in every instance of platonic pandemonium when both parties realize that they have feelings for each other. This usually leads up to the “honesty talk,” especially if alcohol is involved (see rule #2). If this is a situation that you know cannot become more than a friendship, even if just for the time being, DO NOT HAVE THIS CONVERSATION! In fact, if it seems like she is about to bring this up…CHANGE THE SUBJECT! Yes, initially it might make you feel better to get things off of your chest, but all this does is open Pandora’s Box, my friend, and that is not a box you want to open. Having feelings out in the open will only lead to more complication. Feelings don’t dissipate because you share them, in fact, they’ll usually just intensify. If anything progresses at this point in time, you’ll only have yourself to blame, because you’re the one who opened up Pandora’s Box.

Avoid the Situation By Distracting Yourself With Someone Else

The whole idea of “soul mates” seems to be a little bit outdated, especially now. There are over 6 billion people in this world. If .0001% of them are like you, this means there are at least 6000 people out there that have enough in common with you that you may either fall in love with or completely despise them, depending on your own sense of self-worth. If a relationship doesn’t work the chances of meeting someone else with the exact same qualities that you are looking for are fairly high. That said, it’s usually harder for people to survive in monogamous relationships because they feel like there’s always someone better around the corner. Regardless, if you are single, and hung up on your friend that you know you just can’t be with, distract yourself with someone else. There are so many people out there, and as long as you keep an open eye and mind, you are bound to find someone fairly quickly. If they can successfully distract you from your friend, then this was just a slight disconnect from the friend-zone barrier…if you can’t successfully be distracted by anyone or anything, maybe it’s time to reevaluate the situation altogether… Is this really a person you can’t be with, or is it just someone who will make your life a little bit more complicated?

Avoid the Situation Until You End Your Relationship

If the tensions mount exponentially, and all you can think about is mounting her, maybe it is time you reevaluate your current relationship. Cheating on someone is one of the most disrespectful things you can do to another person. If you feel like the office football guru possesses what you want more than the girl you are with, at least make sure to end things before pursuing something else. If this is a girl whose only appeal is providing you with a chubby while she walks by in an A-line skirt, you may want to just discount this as lust and stick with what you know works. Just be wary that if you must act out on the tension or urges, there is generally no happy medium. Either the tension is released, and is never brought about again, or it leads to an increasing sense of tension. Just remember the consequences of this one moment of passion, and though very cliché, it never hurts to remind yourself that the grass isn’t always greener.

Platonic Pandemonium is unavoidable. In fact, I’m willing to bet that most people have already encountered it on multiple occasions. Lets face it: friendships are relationships. In same-sex relationships there are usually no problems with attraction, but when relationships are between two members of the opposite sex, attraction happens. However, if you keep these basic tips in mind, you should be able to keep platonic pandemonium from ruining the real relationships in your life… at least until it happens to your significant other…

Originally published on PureStyle Magazine