Can Men and Women Ever Really Just Be Friends?


It’s the age-old question. Made famous by the cult classic (and my personal fav), When Harry Met Sally: can men and women really have and maintain a purely one-on-one platonic friendship?

I held the belief for a long time that men and women simply could not be just friends, even more so if the friendship was one-on-one.

I was adamant that at some point or another, one or both of the two would develop feelings for the other and it would either consequently ruin the friendship, or they’d realise they were meant to be all along. After all, Harry and Sally eventually ended up together, right?

As much as this may be the case in some situations, I realised that I was being exceptionally naïve, narrow-minded and hypocritical. I had let personal experience cloud my judgement.

All I had to do was think about all the friends I have who just happen to be men. From living in an all-boy household for my final year at university, to one of my closest tennis friends, to all of my girlfriends’ boyfriends, did these men not count amongst all of the friends I am closest to?

Despite my realisation, I do still believe there are a number of factors which have to be in place for a one-on-one platonic female/male friendship to function:

• There must be absolutely no sexual attraction whatsoever – if you see the person as a brother/sister figure in your life, then all’s well!
• Current or future partners may get jealous or feel threatened by the friendship, if this is the case, things could get messy. Your partner may be wondering what they’re not giving you that you need to get from your friend.
• If you are friends within a friendship group, with other people as close mutual friends equalling the level of relationship you have

Alarm bells should be ringing if…

• You like the idea of ‘one day you’ll end up together’
• When you are drunk, you are tempted to kiss or sleep with them
• You get jealous if they start dating someone new
• You find yourself comparing your partner to your friend, with your friends qualities being more appealing

It is near impossible to be just friends with someone whom you fancy, or who fancies you. The consequence of such a situation is the waiting game: waiting to know if they feel the same way, constant jealousy of anyone taking ‘your’ place, and at the end of the day the friendship is ultimately doomed.

So I think there is a fairly simple answer to the question posed: yes, men and women can be friends. Just watch out if the friendship lingers into feelings territory, or if you are conscious that either of you have feelings.


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