Can men and women really be platonic friends? Of course. As long as you and your buddy are on the same page about your friends-only status, there’s no reason you can’t consider someone of the opposite sex your closest confidant. In fact, the benefits to having a BFF of the opposite sex are so great, you might keep your best friend for life.

Your best friend can help you pick out thoughtful holiday gifts for the opposite sex, open your eyes to a different perspective, and even act as a stand-in spouse if you’re fending off unwanted attention. Best of all, you probably have enough inside jokes to stay entertained for the rest of your lives. The close friendship is what counts; the fact that your buddy is the opposite gender is just bonus.

And cross-sex friendships are the norm for lots of people now. "The belief that men and women can't be friends comes from another era in which women were at home and men were in the workplace, and the only way they could get together was for romance," psychologist Linda Sapadin told Psychology Today. You're likely to meet your cross-sex best friend the same way you would meet same-sex friends: at work, school, or kickball league. In addition, these friendships speak to changing cultural ideas about gender, sexuality, and identity. In other words, men and women can enjoy one another's company just for its own sake, apart from romantic or sexual aspects. “When we value friendship for the sake of collaboration and community, rather than sex, then friendships can flourish," psychotherapist Silvia M. Dutchevici told Huffington Post. And that's a very cool development worth celebrating with all of your BFFs.

1. You Have A Backup Spouse


Whether you're trying to get seats together on a plane or just ward off an overly flirty stranger, your best friend is always there. You can always pretend to be a couple whenever it's convenient or necessary.

2. You Get A Whole New Perspective


When your BFF is the opposite sex, you get to spend a lot of time seeing the world through their eyes. This gives you tremendous insight (and empathy) into how "the other half" lives.

3. You Have A Pre-Date Cheerleader


Sure, it's one thing to have your same-sex friends say you look fantastic before heading out on an important date. But if you're a het person, getting an honest opinion on your presentation — not to mention a great pep talk — before a nerve-wracking date is extremely helpful.

4. Underlying Sexual Tension


OK, for some friends this would be a definite negative. But according to social psychologist Dr. Dylan Selterman in Science of Relationships, some people enjoy the ambiguity of the relationship, or they may feel flattered by some understood level of attraction. As long as you're upfront about the friendship and no one is leading the other on, this is a harmless benefit.

5. Gift Selector


Need some advice picking out a gift for your SO or family members? Your BFF is the go-to person for insight. Whether you need help navigating Sears or Sephora, they can probably help you out.

6. Transcend The Friend-Zone


You and your BFF prove that men and women can be platonic friends, and there isn't always an ulterior motive behind your buddyhood. Sometimes you just enjoy one another's company for its own sake.

7. It Makes A Statement


If the personal is political, can you subvert gender norms just by hanging out with your opposite-sex best friend? In a way. As Kathy Werking, author of We're Just Good Friends, said in Psychology Today, "Women and men engage in an equal relationship, or they aren't friends." In a small way, you and your BFF can help make the world a bit more egalitarian.