Can straight women and men ever be just friends? Some say platonic friendships between men and women are dangerous and impossible in the long run. Others say that they are not only possible but that they can actually run deeper than same-sex friendships. Will sexual tension always be an issue? My take is that male-female friendships can be very enriching, but only when both individuals are on the same page. Studies tell us that most often, we are not.
In the past, gender roles separated men and women. Now, both sexes share the workplace, the playground, and the grocery store checkout line, and this has changed how we relate to each another. We are teammates, workmates and friends. It’s a complicated dance of communication, expectations and entanglements.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire conducted a study that showed that in opposite-sex friendships, most men were attracted to their female friends, while most women didn’t share the attraction. Men also mistakenly assumed their female friends were attracted to them, while women were less likely to assume such a thing. Furthermore, women were more able to keep it platonic, even if attraction was involved, while most men tried to act on their feelings. So, according to this study, female-male friendships have a short shelf-life.
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