Why it's very difficult for men and women to just be friends

Some of the more extreme examples that Byrd strains to characterize as commonplace, such as admonitions against sharing an elevator with the opposite sex, I’m not familiar with at all. The problems I am aware of tend to be those that result from a lack of boundaries, not too many of them.

As for men who follow the Pence rule, it’s grossly unfair to portray them as having unreasonable hang-ups that cause them to want to avoid women. Setting guidelines for specific circumstances does not amount to carving the opposite sex out of your life completely. A follower of the Pence rule might decline lunch alone with a woman, but gladly catch up with her at a group event.

The Pence rule and similar boundaries aren’t about avoiding women entirely, they’re about avoiding situations that can put both men and women in awkward, potentially compromising situations. While I don’t follow a female version of the Pence rule to the letter, I wouldn’t be offended if a man—be he a co-worker, boss, or fellow church member—worked around meeting alone with me or invited a third person to lunch or dinner. If women want to be better friends with men, we need to show greater appreciation for where they’re coming from, and not be so quick to view the boundaries they set as a personal slight or a slight against women.