During high school or middle school we all probably had at least one good friend from the opposite sex. He was there for us, supporting our decisions and providing us with precious tips from the so-called enemy’s side.
Can Men and Women Be Friends Without Falling in Love?
We probably became aware of this question when seeing the famous movie When Harry Met Sally, when Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan’s characters struggled to find an answer. Since then, psychologists struggled to find an answer to the cliche question ‘Can men and women be just friends?’
A new men and women friends study, called Benefit or burden? Attraction in cross-sex friendship introduces some findings concerning what heterosexual women and men experienced during platonic friendships.
This study was mainly performed on a college campus. Researchers took 88 pairs of opposite sex friends and then separated them. After that, they started asking each participant questions about their romantic and physical attraction towards their friend and how attracted their friends were to them. They used a 9 point rating scale, starting from 1 (not at all attracted), 5 (moderately attracted) and 9 (very attracted).
According to this study, men seemed to feel attracted to their opposite sex friends, while women considered their male friends just pals. So physical attraction can be one of the reasons why men can’t be friends with women.
Moreover, the study also revealed that men’s attraction to their opposite sex friend was a mean 4.94 while in the case of women it was of 3.97. Furthermore, guys thought that their female friends were more attracted to them than they actually were (4.54) while women tended to believe that their male friends did not find them as attractive as they turned out to be (mean 4.25).
Both men and women projected their own attraction feelings onto their friend: so, if women were not attracted to their male friends, they considered it was also the other way around.
Another important information the study provided was related to relationships. When the opposite sex friend was involved in a relationship, women tended to be less sexually attracted and did not want to date him. But this did not apply to men: if their female friend had already a partner, she became a lot more sexually attractive for their male friends. Somehow like the ‘forbidden fruit’!