Can Men And Women Be Platonic Friends?

Written by on June 20, 2012 in Relationships - No comments | Print this page


Countless movies and TV shows in pop culture would say no.   Let’s see, there’s “When Harry Met Sally,” Ross and Rachel on “Friends,” and “Brown Sugar.”  The so-called friends all somehow manage to end up in bed together.

There are several challenges to overcome, but a friendship with the opposite sex can be quite beneficial.  One of the main challenges is overcoming sexual attraction.  One hundred fifty men and women were asked in a study what was the number one thing they disliked about their opposite sex friendship.  Women answered sexual tension.  On the other hand, men frequently responded that sexual tension was one of the prime reasons for initiating the friendship in the first place.  Those deemed attractive have a harder time maintaining purely platonic relationships.

In the journal Personal Relationships, the researchers hypothesized that one function of an opposite sex relationship was to provide sexual access to the opposite sex, more so for men than for women (Bleske, 2000).  They did find some  validity in that statement, but they also found that the men rated companionship, self-disclosure, and information about the opposite sex as higher motivators than wanting sex from their friend.  How many ladies here have been hit on by their guy friends after a year or even 4 years of friendship?

The psychologist Sapadin concluded that men benefit more from opposite sex friendships than women.   A big reason that men rate their opposite sex friendships as higher quality than their same-sex is the self-disclosure aspect.  Women confide in other women and men confide in women.   Men are more group-oriented and get together to watch a game at the bar over beer or play some b-ball.  They don’t want to seem “too soft” and talk out their feelings with their boys.

Sapadin also said that there are indeed benefits for a woman as well.  Friendships with men are lighter and can be more relaxing.  Men tend not to be as sensitive and can joke around more.  There is an absence of the estrogen-filled cattiness that may occur in some friendships between women.   They also enjoy the protectiveness of  a surrogate brother.

What are your thoughts on this topic?



About the Author

M. Yu

M. Yu is a single, working professional who lives in New York City. She has eclectic interests, ranging from cancer research (her day job) to traveling to writing for the Relationship Category on QLR. She has an active dating life and views every life experience as a learning lesson. View all posts about healthy relationships.