The age-old question arises every time the best friends fall in love in a rom-com: Can males be just friends with women? What happens when something platonic oversteps its bounds?
It’s not just movies, though. Men and women may not be friends in real life because of the challenges in handling heterosexual relationships. In addition, evidence suggests that when men and women become friends, their friendships encounter issues that same-sex friends do not, such as the possibility of sexual attraction and the propensity to interfere with other romantic relationships. Nevertheless, as long as proper communication and boundaries are set, a male and female can become best friends.
Even when two people are merely friends, there will almost always be some level of sexual tension between them. While this tension may be pretty evident and strong in certain cross-sex friendships, which raises questions, it may only come to the surface on rare occasions in other relationships. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch your cross-sex pal after a breakup and when their barriers are down, such as during a drunken encounter.
Again, the point isn’t to imply that men and women lack self-control or are susceptible to manipulation. Instead, the goal is to show how dangerous cross-sex friendships maybe if they aren’t approached with caution.
Sapadin carried out an experiment in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, interviewing more than 150 professionals. The aforementioned sexual tension ranked highly among women’s. Women were more likely to say they started a friendship because of a mutual attraction; men were more likely to say that they continued a friendship because of mutual interest. Whichever way you look at it, 62% of those who participated in the study said they had experienced sexual tension in their cross-sex relationships.
One party is more invested than the other
Many men maintain friendships with women who have a romantic or sexual interest in them, but nothing could ever progress because of the woman’s emotions. As a result, the guy remains friends with the lady, hoping that something may happen in the future.
Women tend to keep men as friends even if they don’t have the same sexual interest for them as they have for them. So when things are tough, these guys will be there to provide a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on, as it should be in a friendship.
Revisiting the friend zone
Men and women may have completely distinct aims and ambitions in opposite-sex friendships. Although both may be searching for little more than a buddy at times, their intentions may diverge at other times.
To make things worse, each sex perceives the advantage of the other as a cost to themselves. As a result, when male friends want sex and romance, it may be expensive and time-consuming for women. But, on the other hand, men find the demands on their time and money costly and irritating, exceptionally when their love aspirations are not returned.
So, how does this affect the “friend zone”? As I previously said, the friend zone is fundamentally an uneven relationship in which neither friend’s demands are addressed equally. It may exist in the setting of “just friends,” with resources shared (typically to meet the needs of the woman), but sex and romance are not a possibility (usually frustrating the man). A mismatch may also develop in a “friends-with-benefits” situation, in which sex is shared (typically to the man’s satisfaction), but resources and protection are not provided (usually frustrating the woman).
Although these are the most typical patterns, it is vital to remember that either sex might be affected by any of them. Some ladies may want unrestricted sex with a buddy. Some guys may want to have a long-term connection with a hook-up pal. The misalignment of objectives is crucial to note.
Tips on how Men and Women can be friends
When all people involved develop self-awareness, I think men and women can be friends. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind.
Be clear of your motivation
Along with your marriage or committed relationship, it’s OK to have a breathtakingly good-looking man or female companion. But it’s crucial to be quite clear about why you’re friends with them. This is fantastic if the only motive is friendship. If this isn’t the case, be honest with yourself about your feelings for this individual. It doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with them, but acknowledging your feelings for them and knowing your boundaries will come in handy when your friendship starts to grow.
No Flirtatious Behaviours
This applies to both men and women. If you are confident that you do not want this to go beyond a platonic relationship, don’t give the other person reason to hope. Don’t be rude, but don’t engage in flirting behaviour that maintains a sense of chemistry between you.
When it comes to cross-sex friendships, try to avoid specific scenarios no matter how emotionally intense they are. For instance, even though it seems like the most innocent and innocuous thing to do at the time, avoid sleeping in the same bed. Likewise, if you have a significant other, refrain from insulting them in front of your buddy. This might incite jealously and make them feel inferior.
Spend less time together
This is perhaps the simplest of the steps so far, and it does not make it any less difficult. When you first met your friend, she was there for everything: movie nights, trips to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Sundays in the park, late-night phone chats commiserating about how no one is out there for you, and you’ve both come to terms with the fact that you’re going to die alone. However, as it should be, one or both of you now have a new partner with whom to engage in those activities. So, given the tiny amount of time you have, come up with creative ways to visit each other in person. An excellent example is a group of people getting together for lunch throughout the week.
For their birthday, give them something either too expensive, too closely related to your shared history, or that makes their love partner feel threatened. Of course, if his new partner is a terrible gift-giver, things will be much more challenging. But when she gives him an OfficeMax gift card for his birthday, and you give him the first edition of a book that he coveted in a bookstore window three years ago, she isn’t going to be the most enthusiastic supporter of your endeavours.
Don’t be offended if someone vanishes off the face of the earth.
*This may happen in any relationship, whether it’s a male or female connection. As a friendship develops, you begin to contemplate adding your acquaintance to the FBI’s missing people database. First, however, you must be patient. The light will fade over time, and when it does, you’ll be glad you didn’t file a federal complaint against it. The best action is to wait a few weeks and then give them a call or text to see how things are going. At that time, he’ll almost certainly have much to speak about. And if you’re the one who’s vanishing into the new relationship, just keep in mind that you have a buddy who’s eager to hear from you.
Friendships come in many forms and sizes, and just because yours is changing doesn’t mean it’s over. Maintaining opposite-gender friendships (and actual friendships where both individuals are not attracted to one other) takes patience, but I believe it is essential to becoming a well-rounded person. Plus, fingers crossed that you’ll end up in fantastic partnerships and form a beautiful friendship. Someone has to keep the Saturday-brunch business afloat, after all.
So Can Men and Women Be Friends?
Is it feasible for a man and a woman to just be friends with each other? It’s not always simple to provide an honest answer to this question. Friendship that is seen as a stepping stone to mutually satisfying love, sex, and/or commitment by both parties may be a healthy development. Other times, a man and a woman may just be friends if one is looking for anything more than just a casual relationship with the other. Unfortunately, men and women’s clashing objectives lead to situations in which one person’s wants are honoured at the expense of the other, resulting in an unequal friend zone between the genders. Friendship problems are often reported as a consequence of evil occurrences, and the frustrations that accompany them, not surprising.
Men and women may quickly become friends if they put out the effort. It does, however, need the identification of someone whose friendship ideals coincide with your own. The importance of communicating well and leaving if you do not feel comfortable cannot be overstated. You may also want to avoid picking friends involved in other romantic relationships if you wish to be “just friends” with them. Thus, you will be a lovely friend while also avoiding annoyance in the course of doing so.