Can Men and Women be Friends?
Short answer: Yes, they can.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be romantic undertones; in fact, there usually are. Typically, “he” starts a relationship hoping for sex, but “she” isn’t interested. Yet he stays friends because he likes her. And he’s often expecting that more will come of it.
Naively, I’ve been in cross-sex friendships without noticing the “underlying attraction” part.
Before I married I had more male than female friends. I now realize this was simply because I’m an introvert (I gain energy from being alone) and am perfectly content reading, writing, painting, or biking. But men would call to chat or get together for lunch or a movie. With these guys there was no physical affection, no kissing or handholding. We talked of nothing romantic. I just thought they enjoyed my company as much as I enjoyed theirs. Until each eventually made a move and I pulled back. Yet we remained friends.
After I married and lost my men friends I realized I’d actually have to take some initiative to have women friends. It was all so disorienting, and I’m still not consistently good at it. I was lucky to have my men friends.
In some ways cross-sex friendships mirror same-sex friendships, but they’re different, too.
These relationships can offer an “insider” perspective on the opposite sex. Especially when all involved are unconcerned with charming each other and can let their hair down and tell the truth about their own sex.
They are strong in trust, respect, acceptance and enjoyment. But they are less satisfying, maybe because they don’t fulfill the underlying sexual tension that is so often present.
And intimacy can be hindered when friends create space to protect against romance, since sexual involvement becomes a threat to the relationship. Over time, sexual tension wanes.
Yes, men and women can be friends. But as Harry warned, the sex part can get in the way.
Posted on August 20, 2012, in gender, men, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged cross-sex friendships, gender, men, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, women. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.