Can men and women really be friends??

I am sure most of you remember the great 1989 film ‘When Harry met Sally’ and Billy Crystal explaining to Meg Ryan that men and women cannot be friends as the sex part always gets in the way. However, is this really true for 21st century society? Opinion seems divided on the matter.

I’m a heterosexual male and have many heterosexual female friends who have been close friends for many years without any sex/romance issues ever occurring. I don’t fancy them and they don’t fancy me, we are just mates. However, several of my male friends think this is complete rubbish and that maybe secretly the women fancy me or I secretly fancy them.

They also say that ultimately men and women cannot be friends as the friendship is always doomed as one will always end up being unhappy as they will have unfulfilled romantic desires on the other and will need to end the friendship to move on. Think about your own friends, don’t you have a friend that sometimes you think about in an amorous or lustful way or that you suspect that they think about you in that way?

I am certain that many male-female friendships are hiding romantic feelings, especially at the start of a friendship, but it cannot be the case for all of them and even the ones that do begin in such a manner, these feelings can pass and a genuine friendship can be formed. It is not an easy situation though, as I know of a few recent cases where friends have been disappointed when an apparent close friendship has fizzled out due to the other party having feelings for them that were not returned and as a result they were not able to be as close to them anymore.

The worst situation is when a long established friendship falters, which my male friends say is inevitable, due to one developing feelings for the other. This is very tricky as the natural approach is to bottle these feelings up for fear of ruining the friendship but can this really be maintained long term without it effecting the relationship?

I firmly believe that men and women can definitely be friends, I have the proof! However, you need to be careful of these friendships in the beginning, as if one person develops feelings it could end up with both being sad and disappointed.
Jake McMillan

3 responses to “Can men and women really be friends??

  • The Entertaining Bachelor

    Wow! I couldn’t agree more. Not only is it totally possible, it’s the best way to live (in my humble opinion). If you’re honest with a new woman friend up front, “not looking for a girlfriend, but love to have great friends to do things with” it sets the tone and expectations. My friends say the same thing. But why not have friends that are girls, and lots of them? Why not have a women friend call and ask you to a movie, or over for dinner, without the expectation of anything more?

    Meanwhile, my guy friends sit at home wondering when they’ll find that someone special. Life’s too short. Make all the friends you can. And, if you have time, visit my new blog and let me know what you think? It focuses on this kind of stuff: You and I are on the same page (sorry for the pun).

  • Carps

    I’ve got some totally wonderful friends-who-happen-to-be-chicks, but I can understand why some people think it isn’t possible to maintain that. Hell – if you’re relaxed enough and enjoy a bit of banter you can get close enough to borderline “flirting” with your male friends.

    Overall, I think that any friendship between a man and a woman has a flirtatious element to it. Managing that is all you have to do to avert disaster.

  • dudeship

    Well I dunno… I guess I’ve always found it interesting that people use the same word for things that are completely different. For example, the “friendship” a male has with male friends is, and will always be platonic. There is, and will never be anything more to it. The relationships started this way, and will always be this way.

    The same cannot be said for male relationships with females because its so much more fluid. For example, as you said, it may start out with one person liking another, then go platonic for awhile, then feelings may arise later or maybe not… I guess my point is that you never really know… The only thing you CAN be sure of is that men tend to like women, and women tend to like men… romantically. In fact, I would even go out on a limb and say that nearly everything a man or woman does in life is meant to attract and keep a special someone around in their lives. Think about the vast multitudes of movies where the plot is to find the true love… now try to count how many movies there are in the entire world in the history of humanity where the plot is to find a friend of the opposite gender and have a great friendship…

    Some examples…
    If you’re a guy-
    Have you ever approached a woman with the intention of beginning a friendship?(lets be honest here)

    Have you ever been approached by a woman and not immediately decide whether or not she would be future girlfriend material?(again… lets be honest)

    If you’re a girl-

    Have you ever had to deal with putting a guy in the “friendzone”, and had to deal with his feelings for you over and over?

    I guess here’s my point folks… we need a new language to describe this kind of stuff because well… it’s new. The idea of men and women being friends as they are today is a very recent development that began in the 20th century. This mainly started with women in the workforce(and hence men HAD to treat them as “friends”… but as we’ve learned from the show Mad Men… this doesn’t always pan out.)

    As you can probably tell, my buddies and I are quite passionate about this topic, and want everyone else to start thinking about it too. At the very least… its a great conversation topic over dinner. To see the conversation continued…

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