Strictly platonic male friendships can be somewhat of a challenge once you leave university and move onto long-term relationships - but don't be so keen to jettison your male mates just yet.

Just like your female friends can be the bedrock for emotional stability, experts suggest that male-female friendships can be an essential part of a fulfilling social network.

The tricky part, of course, is how to avoid a When Harry Met Sally situation, to stop it from spilling over into a romantic one.

Relationship counsellor Cat Williams says women need to be honest with themselves about what they want from the friendship, before encouraging a man to get too close.

"The ultimate success of all relationships boils down to how they make us feel about ourselves. So how they influence or affect our self-esteem.

The author of Stay Calm And Content: No Matter What Life Throws At You adds: "There are several obstacles to having a strong platonic ‘cross-sex’ friendship, namely mutual sexual attraction getting in the way, unrequited attraction, sexual tension, possible feelings of power inequality.

"Be clear from the beginning that ‘crossing the line’ into a sexual relationship is not on the cards, either because you are not attracted to each other, or because you are already involved with someone. You can make it clear you see your male friend as a ‘brother’ or family member."

Eve Menezes Cunningham of the Feel Better Every Day Consultancy adds that having male friends can also help you find a healthy relationship, if you're single.

“I've had several clients who said they wanted to meet someone but who, it turned out, thought very negatively about 50% of the population.

"A good male friend will help you keep your opinion of men high enough to attract a good one in a more romantic capacity.

"Knowing a good man (or ideally, more) as a friend will help stop you stereotyping and sighing 'men!' They, just like us, are not all the same. No matter how many times your heart may have been broken. And he may be able to introduce you to his sexy and equally good friends.”

Here are 7 more reasons to cultivate male friendships.

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  • Insider Perspective

    <a href="http://www.davidsamson.co.uk/" target="_blank">Clinical hypnotherapist David Samson</a> says: "Gaining an insider's perspective on how men think, feel, and behave is one of the advantages of an adult female-male friendship."

  • Cuddles

    <a href="http://www.feelbettereveryday.co.uk/" target="_blank">Eve</a> says: “Physically, a male friend's bear hug may well feel that bit more protective and stronger than your female friends' equally but differently supportive hugs." "Hypothetically, having a good male friend who you can count on, be yourself with and cuddle platonically could help your love life, too. "By having this safe taste of male physicality and releasing oxytocin (the care hormone) with a good, safe friend, you're less likely to seek emotionally unsafe sex and release it with someone who, intellectually, you know isn't right for you and who you don't want to bond emotionally with.”

  • Emotional Baggage

    <a href="http://staycalmandcontent.com/" target="_blank">Cat</a> says: "Women are more likely to bring their own emotional baggage to an issue, and so will be portraying what they would think or do, rather than fully listening to our perspective."

  • Straight Talking

    <a href="http://www.davidsamson.co.uk/" target="_blank">David</a> says: "Men can be more 'what you see is what you get' straight talking, so women get a logical, straight answer... versus debating for hours with girlfriends." Cat adds: "Men use less words than women and can often be better listeners. And usually a man’s perspective and response is clearer, less emotional, and more straightforward, which can be very useful."

  • Learn From One Another

    <a href="http://www.feelbettereveryday.co.uk/" target="_blank">Eve</a> says: “Women having men as good friends (and visa versa) means we can learn from each other. Although Delusions of Gender author Cordelia Fine has done wonderful work showing that, in terms of our brains and biological wiring, we're more alike than different and most 'men are from Mars' type claims are down to socialisation, we have been raised differently." “So, typically, a male friend might encourage you to be more assertive and direct (while, again, typically, you might allow him to build emotional muscle in the talking about his feelings arena). We often gravitate to people who are like ourselves so the more diversity amongst our friendship groups, the better.”

  • Fewer Arguments

    <a href="http://staycalmandcontent.com/" target="_blank">Cat</a> says: "Men are often less likely to be ‘hurt’ by small misunderstandings."

  • Lighter Side Of Life

    <a href="http://www.davidsamson.co.uk/" target="_blank">David</a> says: “Men can be 'lighter' to hang with less deep emotional chat more banter." Cat agrees: "A friendship with a man can be more lighthearted and fun, with less emotional expectation."