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mX Column: Can Men and Women Be ‘Just Friends’?

Can men and women ever really just be good friends?

Jealous girlfriends everywhere will tell you no, they can’t.

The media further fuels those insecure thoughts – there aren’t all that many prototype examples of what a cross-sex platonic friendship should look like. And too often, these on-screen friendships turn into Happily Ever After (Monica and Chandler, When Harry Met Sally).

Can Men and Women Be Just Friends?

We are left thinking that underlying in every friendship between a man and a woman, passions burn deep beneath the surface, just waiting to spring up after one-too-many glasses of wine.

And why not? Many a relationship has started as a friendship and flourished from there.

Rumours abound in friendship groups surrounding cross-sex friendships. “You mean you’ve never slept together? Kissed? Fondled? Not even on one drunk night out?” Despite protests, most won’t believe that there’s nothing going on.

It seems like we maybe just don’t have the male-female friendship dynamic figured out just yet.

While a study from a few years back showed that 83% of women believe men and women can just be friends, 59% of the same women admitted to being jealous if their partner had a close female friend.

Some are going so far as to sabotage their partner’s friendships.

Men weren’t polled for this particular one, but from informal polling, most seem okay with their partner’s cross-sex friendships.

So which is it?

Seems like most people are conflicting in their answers. Even the experts can’t agree on this one.

Some say no, it’s not healthy for your relationship. Someone of the opposite sex should never become a confidante or you risk an emotional affair.

Others say yes, men and women can be friends. It’s just a matter of redefining the boundaries between the sexes.

They say the confusion harks back to the 1950s where women and men were considered very separate – men went to work, women stayed home.

If you weren’t married, you were probably pinching bottoms at the photocopier, Mad Men style.

Obviously it’s a different world now. Men and women socialise and work equally, take part in hobbies together and have much more opportunity to develop platonic friendships.

Unfortunately our mindsets when it comes to the way men and women should relate haven’t quite caught up.

There are a few stumbling blocks on the way to building a solid platonic friendship with a member of the opposite sex. Namely, sexual attraction. If you can deal with this one early, it may never have to become a problem.

One writer loves that her good male friends are past lovers because “We’ve gotten it out the way. We’ve been there. We don’t need to go back.” I’m sure many a green-eyed partner would disagree.

Got a friend you’re crushing on? Ever accidentally fallen into bed with one? Do you think men and women can be just friends?

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Author |

Writer, dating columnist, wife, coffee addict, foodie, fashionista... Melburnian through and through. Muser, dancer, blogger, tweeter. Likes to get her head on telly now and again. Sleeper, dreamer, a sucker for romance. And of course... a cheap date.


2 comments for “mX Column: Can Men and Women Be ‘Just Friends’?”

  1. Posted by Migs from married to your boss | August 30, 2010, 5:03 pm

    I agree that men and women can be friends but in a way that the current girlfriend/boyfriend won’t get jealous. There are incident that some men or women would like to be friends to that certain gender for some reason. That’s a big NO NO! If that two individual would be friends then there is nothing behind that friendship,just purely friendship. I know, it’s impossible for others to think that way, but I’d like you to know that I have guy friends, I also have ex and now one of my guy friends. Just let your mind to think purely, be sensitive.

  2. Posted by Emma | August 31, 2010, 10:34 pm

    Migs, I completely agree. Actually, most of my closest friends are guys so I know what you’re talking about. But the debate still rages and people still ask questions… it’s an interesting one and the jealousy from partners definitely needs to be taken into consideration.

    And then there’s the fact that Den and I started as ‘good friends’ too before we got together…

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