Can Men and Women Just Be Friends?

The idea of “just friends” can be tricky territory. How we view friendships between the two genders has evolved over time, with new findings suggesting that men and women might actually want different things from their relationships.

The “what do guys think of their female friends” is a question that has been asked many times. The answer to this question is that most men would like to be friends with women, but it’s hard because there are so few women in the world who are interested in being friends with men.

Vintage guys arm wrestling co-ed party 1940s 1950s.

Is it possible for men and women to just be friends?

You’d think that a quarter-century ago, When Harry Met Sally would have answered this question, but you’d be incorrect. The argument resurfaces again and time again.

Because this is such a novel question, it’s one of the main reasons we haven’t found a solid solution yet. Males and women essentially lived in homosocial worlds until they married throughout the majority of human history, meaning men exclusively hung out with men and women only hung out with women. Males and women had different social lives even after marriage – men would hang out with other dudes all day on the hunt in primitive times, and at business or at male-only universities in more modern times; women would remain at camp or at home and hang out with their gal buddies. Cross-sex friendships didn’t truly take off until the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Men and women had to find out how to establish connections with each other that weren’t romantic or sexual as more women joined the once-dominantly male industry and academic system. We’re still trying to figure it out a century later.

What the Study Says

Everyone has an opinion and a tale to offer when it comes to this hot topic. So, first and foremost, let’s see what genuine scientists have uncovered on the matter.

Social psychologists all across the globe have spent a lot of time studying “cross-sex” friendships, and what they’ve discovered is that old Harry may have been right when he said, “men and women can’t be friends because the sex aspect usually gets in the way.”

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin gathered 88 pairs of cross-sex buddies into a lab for one experiment. The partners had to vow in front of each other that they would not talk about the research once they left the lab. They were then separated and given a series of questions to determine their love sentiments towards their sex opposites.

While women were typically not attracted to their male friends and considered the connection as entirely platonic, males developed romantic thoughts for their female friends, according to the researchers. Not only were the males more attracted to their ostensibly platonic female friends, but they also felt the emotions were shared, and they were more likely to act on their erroneously perceived mutual desire.

As a result, the research reveals that women believe men and women may “simply be friends,” whereas men secretly hope their relationships with their female friends can grow into something more. In a nutshell, this research provides a scientific basis for the “friend zone.” When it comes to cross-sex relationships, women and men are often on entirely different wavelengths!

This isn’t to argue that true platonic male-female friendships are impossible to form. Sociologists have demonstrated that men and women may simply be friends, and that cross-sex friendships can provide advantages that same-sex friendships cannot, such as knowing how to best attract a partner from the opposite side. These same sociologists, however, temper their findings by pointing out that cross-sex relationships are often more intricate than same-sex partnerships, requiring much more communication and openness.


Is it possible for men and women to be friends?

As a result, it seems that the research’s conclusion is one that is backed up by almost everyone’s own experience: it all depends.

Every person’s circumstance is unique, and there are several (and sometimes vehemently held!) viewpoints on this topic. However, I would respectfully argue that the best method to assess the feasibility of cross-sex friendships is to use a sliding scale based on two broad principles.

The first is that having cross-sex friendships gets more difficult as you advance through middle school, college, and eventually adulthood. Male/female friendships are simpler and more easygoing to manage the less individuals worry about entering into serious partnerships. Friendships between boys and girls in elementary school? It’s no issue. Are you in high school? The majority of the time, it’s fairly natural and simple. Are you in college? It’s still very simple, however there are extra questions regarding whether you’re actually “just friends.” When you’re older and more people in your network are getting married or planning to get married, do you still have cross-sex friendships? Things start to get sticky after that. That takes me to my second piece of advice: The deeper the obligations one or both of the friends have with their love partners, the more difficult cross-sex friendships become.

So, if you’re a young, single guy, go ahead and make as many girl pals as you want. As previously said, opposite-sex friendships provide insight into how the female mind operates, which may help you navigate the dating environment more effectively and simply make you a more insightful person in general.

Another advantage of opposite-sex friendships is that they may lead to satisfying love partnerships. Many strong marriages have their roots in strong friendships. But bear in mind what the study shows about the chances of your cross-sex friendship going down this road: you’re considerably more likely to develop emotions for her that she doesn’t reciprocate. Being friend-zoned may cause a lot of rage and frustration. However, if you control your expectations and recognize that this mismatch is a fairly typical occurrence that has been proved in the lab, it doesn’t have to be. What are the intricacies of telling a female friend about your sentiments in order to test whether they’re mutual? That will have to wait for another post.

If you’re older, married, or in a committed relationship, proceed with caution when it comes to opposite-sex friendships. Personally, I believe that when you are married, you should not spend time with an opposite-sex acquaintance without your spouse. I understand that this is a controversial viewpoint for some. “I have a wonderful female buddy with whom I spend a lot of time. They declare, “My wife doesn’t mind, and we both know nothing will ever happen!” The issue with such declarations is that they are usually made when one’s marriage is rock solid and going well — your love is so strong that the concept of having romantic emotions for a friend, as well as the chance of adultery, appears completely out of the question. However, you never know what the future holds. Marriages have their ups and downs. When this happens, individuals often seek emotional support from their friends. If those pals are of the opposite sex, a comforting embrace might easily escalate into something more physical without either party’s knowledge.


When the preceding scenario played out, Kate and I know a few folks — both men and women — who ended up cheating on their spouse with a close opposite-sex acquaintance. They were passionate proponents of the concept that men and women may just be friends while married…until those connections led to their marriage’s demise.

That’s why I feel that after you’re married, you should only hang out with same-sex friends, or opposite-sex friends with your spouse (outside the work setting, naturally). I don’t believe that every cross-sex friendship that a married person has will result in an affair, but I also don’t believe it’s good to take that risk. Rather, try to stack the deck in your favor in order to have a happy, long-lasting marriage.

Is it possible for men and women to be friends? Sure. There are several caveats. After all, it’s the caveats that keep this intricate problem intriguing and assure that we’ll be debating it for another hundred years!

Is it possible for men and women to be friends? Sure. There are several caveats. After all, it’s the caveats that keep this intricate problem intriguing and assure that we’ll be debating it for another hundred years!

Verily Magazine, a women’s lifestyle website, published a version of this story.



“Why do guys want female friends” is a question that many people ask themselves. The answer to this question is not one-size-fits-all, but it can be boiled down to the idea that men and women are different. Reference: why do guys want female friends.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a man really be just friends with a woman?

A: Yes! Men and women can be friends without romantic feelings being involved. Romantic relationships should also not come between friends, but that does not mean a man needs to date one of his friends female partners for it to remain platonic.

Can a guy and a girl be best friends without falling in love?

A: That is up to the individual and what they believe

Is it possible for a male and female to have a platonic relationship?

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