It’s the age old debate and one that never seems to fizzle out – can men and women ever be friends? Is it possible that men can get on with women in a purely platonic manner? Well, believe it or not, prior to the 19th century this question wouldn’t have even raised it’s head and the answer to it would have been a firm “no”. But now, things aren’t quite so cut and dried.
Many years ago, men and women would never have been friends. They would have met, fallen in love and married and that was it. They were unequal in every other way. It was only as more women started to leave the realm of the house to go out to work, joining men in offices, that things started to get more interesting.
Research seems to suggest that these days men and women can be friends, but only up to a point. Men think that they might be able to get on better with girls rather than members of their own sex, but, notions of romance (and let’s face it) sex are never far from their minds.
An interesting study was carried out in the USA – some researchers requested a core group of eighty eight men and women, all of whom were friends, to take part in a private question and answer session regarding their “friendships”. This was to test whether men were genuinely being honest about whether or not they really could be friends with females or not. The men and women were asked an identical set of questions regarding their friendships and told not to talk to each other at all about the study or any part of it. Afterwards, the results were collated and the results surprising.
It seemed there was a genuine difference between the sexes and how men viewed getting on with women, and vice versa. For the most part, the men who were in friendships with women admitted that they were attracted to them, whilst on the opposite side more women said they were NOT attracted to their male friends. The men also believed that their feelings of attraction or lust would be reciprocated, too and were more or less oblivious to the fact that they might not be returned. However, for women, the opposite was true – they firmly believed that if they weren’t attracted to their male friend, the same would be true of them, that they would feel exactly the same.
In a further study that was carried out by the same team, another two hundred and fifty strong group of married couples were asked about the potential difficulties of opposite sex friendships. Most of the women who were interviewed felt that opposite sex friendships could be totally platonic, but the men who were interviewed were on average significantly more likely to admit that romantic feelings were part of the equation, stating that in some way, they were attracted to all the female friends they had, Most men felt unable to separate “friendship” and “romance” as two different variables!
So it seems that on the surface men can get on much easier with women, but, deep down, they are always going to be sizing them up as a potential future relationship, or as being somebody that they might like to sleep with at some point too. If all men thought like women, then the answer to the question would be a definite “yes”. But scratch the surface and it seems like there is something else bubbling underneath, a more complicated desire to turn the friendship into something more…