Can Men and Women Be Just Friends?

whenHarryMetSally3It’s a question that is the subject of debate amongst scientists, psychologists and sociologists the world over. When researching this post I discovered thousands of different articles on the Internet, all with conflicting arguments and conclusions. I don’t possess any of these scientific qualifications and therefore can only rely on my own thoughts and experiences, and therefore I apologise if this is one of many similar posts.

There is one thing that all of these articles have in common – the film ‘When Harry Met Sally’. In the opening sequence Billy Crystal declares that “no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive”.  But is this statement actually true?

When examining cross-sex relationships in TV programmes we are given the impression that platonic friendships aren’t always possible. There are hundreds of examples of friendships that develop into romance – Luke and Lorelai in the ‘Gilmore Girls’, J.D. and Elliot in ‘Scrubs’, Pacey and Joey in ‘Dawson’s Creek’, Mulder and Scully in the ‘X – Files’… In ‘Friends’, four of the six end up falling in love – Rachel and Ross’s ‘will they, wont they’ relationship dominates the entire show, and Monica and Chandler get married. Even Rachel and Joey have a romantic liaison at one point, with the only platonic relationship being that of the friendship between Phoebe and Joey. Obviously the romantic element of a show is added to the plot to attract more viewers, but it left me wondering whether these sorts of friendships can actually exist in real life.

whenharrymetsallyI am the worst possible example within the discussion of platonic cross – sex relationships as almost all of my long term relationships (not that there have been many) have resulted from a strong friendship first.  My best friend is male. I’ve known him since I was nineteen and we see or speak to each other on the phone several times a week. We support each other, we’ve borrowed money from each other, we ask each other advice. We have no romantic feelings towards each other, we’ve both been in long term relationships over the years and have always liked each others partners. However, when we first met we instantly became very close, resulting in a quite intense (on my part anyway) relationship for several months. It didn’t last long, but I feel that because we got the intimate part of the relationship out of the way we have been able to simply relax and enjoy each others company without anything getting in the way. The Bloke and I have been together for a long time, but were friends for several years before we became romantically involved.

I have lots of male friends, but I have a much stronger friendships with my female friends. I don’t discuss certain things with most of my male friends and the majority of our activities are centred on exercise or drinking. It’s rare that I will meet them without somebody else present, with only two exceptions, my best friend and my fireman friend, who is happily engaged to a lovely woman.

428507874_1387622695However, in my life there are some examples where cross-sex relationships exist and work effectively. I’ve known MM and GB for years – we met as struggling students and have remained friends. MM is male, GB is female and as long as I’ve known them, I (and several others) have always had the notion that they would be absolutely perfect together – they have similar interests, they make each other laugh and they genuinely enjoy each others company. They, however, completely disagree and nothing has ever happened between them. Both are content in their own serious relationships and are happy for each other.

Two of our other university friends are similar in that they’ve always had a strong friendship and have never crossed the line. However, the male quite obviously is very attracted to the female, which isn’t reciprocated although she’s clearly aware of it.

I decided to create a scientific study on the subject (and by scientific, I mean that I asked my friends what they thought). I’ve compiled their responses in the list below.

1. One or both are gay.

2. One or both is in a committed relationship and is not willing to cross any boundaries.

3. One is not attracted to the other (although when my friend suggested this she also added that this eventually may have a negative effect on their friendship as one will inevitably want more).

4. Neither are physically attracted to each other.

5. Both are attracted to each other, but have mutually agreed that they value their friendship more.

What do you think? Do you have a platonic relationship with a member of the opposite sex?

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