Can there be friendship between a man and a woman?

Can an ordinary heterosexual man and woman become friends? In response to this question, most likely, you can hear a dozen dirty jokes, a couple of proverbs and a few examples from the interlocutor’s personal experience. Not to mention the numerous films and books on the subject.

The content of the article

Yes, most men and women live side by side, work and shop together without being couples or even having casual sex with each other. But what if all this is just a pretense and these people are forced to hide their wild sexual desire all their lives, which breaks out?

Scientists say this is partly true. We can really be friends with each other, but the opportunity to have a relationship with a person of the opposite sex will always look at this friendship from behind our shoulder and can manifest itself in all its glory just when people least expect it.

How did scientists come to these conclusions?

To get to the bottom of the problem, the researchers, in their typical fashion, selected 88 pairs of friends of the opposite sex from students and locked them in the lab.

Each of the friends was asked questions about their feelings to each other. Of course, to ensure honest answers, confidentiality was guaranteed. Indeed, hardly anyone would like to talk about their feelings if your friend later found out about it and it turned out that they were unrequited.

In addition to the usual protocols followed in such studies, both participants verbally agreed not to discuss the study at the end of the study. It is not known whether scientists resorted to an extreme – an oath on the little fingers, perhaps they thought that just words would be enough. The friends were then asked whether they had romantic feelings or not.

The results showed a huge difference in how men and women view friendships with members of the opposite sex. It turned out that men were more attracted to their girlfriends. Men were also more likely to think they were romantically attracted to their girlfriends.

Most often, it turned out that the opinion of a man about how attractive he was to his girlfriend was not based on anything at all, except for the desire of the man himself to build a relationship with this woman.

Can there be a friendship between a man and a woman?

Men, for some reason, assumed that if they themselves felt some kind of romantic attraction, then women should feel it too. Women, on the other hand, experienced everything exactly the opposite: usually women were not attracted to their male friends and they believed that this was mutual. That is, men overestimate the level of attraction, and women underestimate it.

Men are also more willing to take risks and start romantic relationships with their girlfriends.

But whether their friend is currently in some kind of relationship did not matter to either women or men when they determined the degree of attractiveness of their friend. But men in such a situation would still like to go on a romantic date with their girlfriend, despite her relationship, and women, most often, did not even consider such an opportunity.


Overall, this study shows that it is harder for men to just be friends. And do not forget the essence of the study itself, because the respondents were asked not about some abstract or possible friends, but about a very specific person with whom they were locked in the same laboratory.

This, to some extent, confirms the stereotype of somewhat naive women and men who are always ready to have sex, and also proves that different people experience the same relationship in completely different ways.

For men, any friendship with the opposite sex is another opportunity for a new romantic relationship. But women often consider friendship with a man precisely as an exclusively platonic relationship.

For any person, it is quite obvious that such opposite views on friendship and romantic relationships will sooner or later lead to difficulties, and this usually happens. Another study was followed, in which 249 people took part. This time, people were asked to name all the pros and cons of being friends with a specific person of the opposite sex.

Here, too, there is a difference between men and women. Women were more likely to say that being romantically attracted to a friend was a negative, while men were more likely to see it as a positive. By the way, the older men are, the more advantages they see in romantic relationships with friends.

If you combine these two studies, it turns out that women are quite convinced that it is indeed possible to have a platonic friendship with men, while men are not able to turn off their desire to translate friendship into something more. And the older men get, the harder it is for them to overcome this need.

Some practical advice

But what then to do and how to stay on this fine line, if research shows that it is almost impossible for women and men to remain friends? How to maintain friendship without holding impossible expectations?

  • Understand that different people want different things. Being selfish is generally normal for a person. It is also normal to think that our desires are universal and apply to everyone. Remember that the desires of the person with whom you are in a relationship, even just as a friend, can be radically different from yours. Even the purposes for which a person is friends with you may differ. Someone needs communication, someone needs financial support. Someone sex, and someone affection. And you have to respect the goals of a person if you want to be friends with him. Don’t shame other people for their desires, and don’t let them do it to you;
  • Don’t be afraid to speak your intentions out loud. Otherwise, it will only lead to disappointment and anger at your friend. Talk to your friends, share your concerns and aspirations, and ask questions and don’t be afraid to be a vest. Clearly define what is possible and what is not within your friendship;


  • Be honest with each other. Someone, starting a friendship with the opposite sex, hopes that sooner or later it will grow into something more. Others think that friendship is not a reason to forego sexual pleasure. There are those who are only looking for support and an opportunity to talk.

And all three options are a good basis for friendship with the opposite sex, if both participants are honest from the very beginning in their intentions.

But it’s a completely different matter if you want something more from friendship, it doesn’t matter if it’s sex or a serious relationship, and your friend does not share this desire. In this case, you do not need to console yourself with hopes that everything, including the opinion of this person, can change. Do not torment yourself in vain, it is better to break such a friendship from the very beginning. Don’t waste your time and money on things that aren’t meant to be;

So can women and men be friends? Most often not. Sometimes it’s just a step on the road to romance or sex. And sometimes friendship is impossible because only one of the friends wants something more.

The only option is to find someone whose goals in friendship will coincide with yours and who will be honest about it from the very beginning. And judging by research, friendship between opposite sexes will be real only if everyone thinks like women. And if everyone starts to think like men, then probably the world will soon face serious overpopulation.

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