Why Can’t Men and Women Be Friends

- | 98 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Love & Relationships

a man and a woman be friends with each other

Have you ever thought why men and women can’t be friends? Or do you feel they can be friends.

Men and women can be friends, yet not become friends in the real sense.  Isn’t this the biggest paradox in the relationship of men and women?

So, I best thought to write about this controversial topic today!

I wonder if you remember the good old movie When Harry Met Sally. In it, Billy Crystal tells Meg Ryan that a man can never be just friends with a woman because attraction gets in the way.

Who could have guessed how that question would become a much talked about topic for researchers.

Can Men and Women Be Friends – What Studies Show

A number of young men and women were asked to rate their attraction towards each other in a survey conducted by the University of Wisconsin.

It was discovered that men were more attracted to their female friends and were keen on dating them, than the other way around.

Simply put, if men were given a chance they would want to take more opportunities with their women friends.

However, besides these researches and surveys, many women still believe that men can carry on a pure and healthy friendship with women, free from any other kind of thought.

“Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Why Men and Women Can’t Be Friends

There are two sides of the story. Let me try and explain the view point from what both men and women feel about being friends with each other.

Women generally feel that it’s impossible to have real friendship with men. This is because as the friendship develops, men will want something more than a plain platonic friendship.

They would want to elevate the relationship to a romantic level, or take it further sooner or later – in most of the cases.

Similarly, men feel that it’s impossible to be friends with women, especially when they find them attractive and spend time with them.

However, I feel that if both men and women want to be friends they can, but they need to have trust in each other.

For a woman, a friendship is more about having trust that anything else.

When she says she needs a hug, she simply just wants a hug. However, when a man says he wants a hug, he might have other motives in mind. (Sorry guys, this is just a general observation!)

Both, men and women have to learn to confront and control the existing feelings (sexual tensions and feelings) they have.

They need to talk out things on a straight level and learn to deal with it. But again, you can’t dictate your terms, nor can you be sure that they will agree to be friends without such thoughts and feelings.

I wonder if you’ve seen this recent video that went viral, which tells you more about why men and women can’t be friends. Look at what it has to say!

[youtube id=”T_lh5fR4DMA” width=”620″ height=”360″]

Why Men and Women Can’t be friends ~ YouTube Video

Did you notice something in the video? Funnily, in the beginning of the video all the women said that men and women could be friends, while the men said no.

Later, when the same women were probed further, they agreed that men and women can’t be friends, because they re-thought and felt that yes, their male friends could have feelings for them.

The men however, always said that they can’t be friends with women because most of them have hidden feelings for their friends.

“Men kick friendship around like a football but it doesn’t seem to break. Women treat it like glass and it goes to pieces.” ~ Anne Morrow

Bottom Line:

Everything depends from person to person and how they take their relationship. It depends a lot if you are single and married, and that’s when a major difference comes up between men and women being friends.

You can be friends with the opposite sex. However, chances are that either one of you might want to take things a step further. And when that happens, be ready to lose a friend.

Sometimes, just as we see in the movies, misunderstanding takes place between men and women when they are friends.

This happens because for one of them the relationship transforms from being friends to a romantic one. Such one-sided change of thought in a men-women relationship often breaks up the friendship.

So, if you are willing to keep your safe distances, handle your feelings and remain in control, there’s no harm being friends. Just be honest with each other.

“Friendship without self-interest is one of the rare and beautiful things of life.” ~ James F. Byrnes

Hey! Let’s take a poll and see what you all feel about today’s post and question raised.

[polldaddy poll=6627177]

Did the poll result come your way or was it contrary to what you thought? Let me know your reaction in the comments.

A lot depends if you are ready to live up with your decision of making friends with the opposite sex.

Remember, you just need to be honest with each other, keep a safe distance, and not to cross the line.

Over to you

Do you think men and women can be friends? Have you been friends with the opposite sex, if so, did you find being friends easy? Share your comments below.


Photo Credit: Freedigitalphotos

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98 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Dianne Politud

    2015-01-15 at 10:09 pm

    Men and Women can be friends when they don’t have feelings from each other, when they’re already involve with other people and most importantly, when it’s clear that they only want friendship from each other. I have a platonic friendship with one of my officemates.

    Friendship is not possible when one of them are interested with each other, or both.

  2. sherill

    2014-12-11 at 4:59 am

    Hi this is really very interesting. I think men and women can be friends, but after watching the video,generally, men think it is not possible, probably because of physical attraction. I love your post, very informative. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Rajat Gaur

    2014-10-30 at 8:20 pm

    Men and women can certainly be friends. The real problem that you face in having a truely platonic relationship (of friendship) with someone of the opposite sex is that we usually don’t behave with our opposite sex friends the same way we do with friends of the same sex. This difference in our behavior pattern causes the real problem. This is even more of a problem in a conservative society like India. When a boy talks to a girl, he has this thing at the back of his mind that he is talking to a girl and therefore he needs talk in a certain way. Opposite sex friendship is not possible unless we treat our opposite sex friends the same way we treat our same sex friends.

  4. Anis Chity

    2013-07-19 at 6:16 pm

    Hi Harleena this was an awesome post I really loved it
    I watched the video with a huge interest it was cool too 🙂

    I think men and women could be friends in fact I’ve many friends in school and online including you Harleena 😀
    Why men and women can’t be friends ? They can! 🙂

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-07-20 at 11:34 am

      Hi Anis,

      Glad you liked the post and the video as well 🙂

      Yes, men and women can be friends, just like we are, provided they keep their friendship to a very simple level and don’t go beyond it. Often times, men start taking their women friends more than that, and that’s where the friendship really ends.

      Thanks for stopping by and for sharing this post too 🙂

  5. Emma Blogs

    2013-07-09 at 11:36 pm

    Nice topic Singh! Why not? why can’t men and women be friends? it’s just a pity that from the part of Africa I come from, being friends with a woman means only one thing, that you’re dating her! meanwhile you have no such intention, its just an innocent and platonic friendship with no strings attached. I guess it’s the method of upbringing that as kids we should shy away from the females, and now when we grew up, it was not easy to change that thinking mentality, if you know what i mean Singh? but on the long run, indeed, why can’t men and women be friends just for the sake of friendship?

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-07-10 at 12:21 am

      Hi Emma,

      Glad you liked this topic of discussion on why can’t men and women be friends 🙂

      Yes, most places and people misunderstand the friendship between a man and woman. However, if the friendship stays within limits, it’s all well and good, but the moment they cross the line of friendship – it really doesn’t stay the way it was initially.

      I agree with you, a lot depends on how you are brought up and the way you deal with the opposite gender. I guess if you keep it to the level of a simple friendship, it is possible, not otherwise. Do go through the interesting comments above where a few commenters have mentioned how they are carrying on their friendships with the other gender for years – so, a lot depends from person to person and their demarcation lines 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your views. 🙂

  6. JYBlind

    2013-06-02 at 3:02 am

    I see this is an older post, but it’s so well done I have to comment. I don’t think it’s possible for men and women to just be friends on a broad scope because of dishonesty. I wrote about being “Friend Zoned”, and it talks about both men and women being aware of what’s going on around them and communicating clearly.
    I loved the backtracking some of the interviews did when they were questioned further. That leads me to wonder about the level of honesty we have with ourselves and the other person.
    I guess it going back to what you said Harleena, we need to be honest, keep a safe distance, and not cross boundaries.

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-06-02 at 2:34 pm

      Welcome to the blog JY!

      Glad you liked the post and could relate so well to it. Yes, it’s an old post but I think this topic remains evergreen 🙂

      I agree with you there, though more than dishonesty it might be also because both, men and women aren’t able to communicate their true feelings to each others, which I doubt they can, unless they only remain till the friendship level – in both their cases. Honesty and keeping a safe distance is what they need to do if men and women want to be friends with each other.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

      • JYBlind

        2013-06-02 at 10:31 pm

        You’re right. Using the word dishonest may not be fair to those of use who are less skilled in communicating feelings.

  7. Sebastian Aiden Daniels

    2013-05-26 at 2:01 am

    I think it is possible under the right circumstances, but it is very difficult because men often do have hidden motives. I think for it to be possible both sides have to be aware of their attraction. I have female friends who I am attracted to and who I know I won’t get with and I am okay with that. Once you address the feelings of attraction they tend to just sit there and don’t fester. Whereas if you push them away they come back stronger.

    I think it is important how much time you spend together. If a man spends a lot of time with a woman who is a friend, he is most likely going to develop feelings. It just happens that way.

    I really liked this article. Another thing about this men and women friendships is attraction. If the man is more attractive than the female than it is easier for him to be friends with her, but if a girl is more attractive than a guy than forget about it.

    I have many female friends from age 20-60.

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-05-26 at 5:21 pm

      Hi Sebastian,

      I agree with you there, and I’m glad you mentioned about the hidden motives which really does happen in most of the cases 🙂

      You raised a good point, but is addressing the feeling and letting it sit there right- i t is curbing your desires I guess. Are you sure those feelings don’t show up and make you go a step further? But I get your point and perhaps this is what really works for those who are friends with each other without going beyond their level of friendship.

      Oh yes…if you spend too much time with each other, feelings are bound to develop and you really can’t hide, nor deny those.

      Even if the man is not more attractive, he can still be friends with a woman and vice-versa too, which again I think depends a lot on how they both take each other and what their purpose of getting together or being friends is. However, I understand what you meant to say here, though I wonder whether a man would fall for a women less attractive than him, or just might because of other reasons 🙂

      Nice to know about your friends, and yes – that’s quite an age range!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your views 🙂

      BTW – Why don’t you grab yourself a Gravatar? It’d be nicer to see who I’m talking to through these comments 🙂

      • Sebastian Aiden Daniels

        2013-05-27 at 1:00 pm

        I think it is true that it is about what their purpose of getting together and being friends is about. Yeah a man would fall for a woman less attractive than him for other reasons for sure.

        It is quite the age range, but I love people. What is a gravatar? How do I get one?

        • Harleena Singh

          2013-05-27 at 8:48 pm

          Nice to know that you love reaching out and connecting Sebastian, and the online world might just be the place for you.

          A Gravatar is is an image that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things like comment or post on a blog. In short your image would appear when you leave comments, just like all other people, and you can visit the link en.gravatar.com to learn more and register yourself there.

          Hope that helps 🙂

          • Sebastian Aiden Daniels

            2013-05-28 at 2:27 am

            Okay I set up a gravatar. Let’s see if it works : D.

  8. Ferb

    2013-02-03 at 8:24 am

    Hi Harleena, I think is depend on how a person think and different people have different opinions so some might say yes and some might say no.

    To be honest, I don’t know why I hate girl so much now. What I’m seeing on girl friends with me now they’re just trying to make guys to like them and never care whoever is like them. It’s hard to explain but I really don’t know how to explain.

    Can Men and Women be friends? I’d say YES because in a relationship both should know what each other think and others stuff will not be important.

    Love this post – Ferb

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-05-26 at 5:05 pm

      Hi Ferb,

      I agree with you there – depends a lot on how people take their friendship and to what an extent they take it too as well 🙂

      Ah…so you seem to be going in a roller coaster ride it seems presently! Perhaps those girls, just like some guys, are out for having fun, and not really serious about the relationship. I guess it works best to keep away from such people.

      I wish they could be real friends and not get attracted to each other, as they things really don’t work. I guess if they cross their boundaries – there can never really be true friendship anymore and in most cases, one of the two do cross their limits and step beyond friendship and end it all.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your views 🙂

  9. Hossain

    2013-01-31 at 8:33 pm

    I am totally agree with you that a man and a woman can’t be 100% pure friend. Nature has made man and women to just for procreate like every leaving creature. And that is why they are always attracted to each others by sexual attraction. This is nature..

    We can’t stop our natural habits for ever. For example- we can hold our breath for some time, but we can’t stop this. Exactly like this we can hold our sexual feeling for a certain period of time while we are with opposite sex friends but nobody can’t stop that sexual feelings.

    Here a question will arise that- how many people are still maintaining their friend ship without any sexual feeling? Here I would like to say that who says they’re still maintaining 100% clean relationship without any sexual feeling, they would be abnormal or they are unable to feel sex or they are tailing lie.

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-05-26 at 5:00 pm

      Hi Hossain,

      Sorry for the late reply – seem to have missed this one somehow, though I’m glad am here now.

      Yes, by the way you mention they can’t really be friends, but just as a few commenters mentioned, they have very good friend’s from the other gender, though how that works out I wonder. If you can keep your distance in your friendship then perhaps you can be friends, which again only some can keep – isn’t it?

      I agree with you there – the natural urges and feelings that come by cannot be stopped, and in that case the friendship doesn’t really remain the pure friendship you desired earlier – the stats change then.

      Ah…good question. but if you read some earlier readers comments, they are doing very well and still have friends with the opposite sex. What feelings they have hidden within themselves – is a point to ponder I would say. Perhaps they are hiding their urges and feelings, and portraying they are good friends, while from the inside those little sparks are alive. Differs from person to person, though frankly speaking, I doubt such a friendship if there are no boundaries laid out – to really work.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your views 🙂

  10. Koundeenya

    2013-01-11 at 4:49 pm

    In my opinion, a man and a woman can always be friends. I have seen many such people and they are still friends. But I generally see a problem, when one of them gets into a relationship, he/she might have to face something unexpected. If the third person can understand the bond of friendship, it’s completely okay. But it can be worse, if not. I hope, you get it what I meant.

    Thank you

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-01-12 at 11:34 am

      Yes they surely can be friends Koundeenya!

      However, I think if either one of them begins to have feelings for the other that are beyond normal friendship, things can turn the other way – isn’t it?

      You mentioned a good point, and yes it becomes tough for the third person to accept their friendship, though again there are some cases (and friend’s above who mentioned too) where even their partners are good friends with each other after marriage. Nevertheless, such cases are very rare.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your views. 🙂

  11. Andrew Kardon

    2012-11-24 at 8:53 pm

    Great post, Harleena. And an age-old debate.

    While I think men and women can be friends, as you mentioned, inevitably, the guy’s going to want something more. Sadly, it’s just in our jeans. Er, genes! A guy can have all the best intentions and really care for a woman as a friend, but the moment she shows any affection (a slight kiss on the cheek, holding hands, a big hug) even if meant completely in a platonic way, the guy will misinterpret and set his radar off.

    • Harleena Singh

      2012-11-24 at 9:01 pm

      Welcome to the blog Andrew!

      Yes indeed, they can be friends, though if they keep their distances and keep it at the platonic level. According to the research and video too, it’s generally the guys who mentioned straight away that men and women can’t be friends because their feelings go beyond the platonic ones, whereas the girls felt differently. But I agree, it can work both ways and for the guys too. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  12. Ahsan

    2012-11-09 at 9:51 am

    The perception of friendship differs from person to person. But I agree with your points. Generally, a man starts friendship with woman, then he wants more to develop intimate relationship. I love this lovely word in man & woman – platonic friendship 🙂

    • Harleena Singh

      2012-11-09 at 11:43 pm

      Glad you could relate to the post Ahsan!

      Yes indeed, the perception of friendship depends and differs from one person to another. However, just as the video showed, the men mostly disagree that there can be platonic friendship between men and women, while the women had different views when questioned differently.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  13. Lisa

    2012-11-03 at 3:41 am

    This is a great question and a well written article. Thanks for sharing it.

    I personally feel that men and women can be friends. That isn’t saying there won’t be desires and longings for more but we are adults, after all. We are certainly capable of controlling the feelings we have. Feelings and actions are two very different things. I like this statement, “… if you are willing to keep your safe distances, handle your feelings and remain in control, there’s no harm being friends.” I think safe distances – what I call boundaries – begin in the conversations we have. When topics are safe, actions are more likely to remain safe.


    • Harleena Singh

      2012-11-03 at 12:53 pm

      Welcome to the blog Lisa!

      Glad you liked the article and could relate to it. 🙂

      Yes indeed, they can be friends, though when longing and attractions set in, the pureness of a simple friendship often turns into a romantic relationship – isn’t it?

      If we can control our feelings and stay within our boundaries, and trust one another – it surely does work out. However, we really can’t guarantee that the conversation we are going to have would be a safe one or not, because we don’t know about how the other person is going to think or react to what we say. But yes, if we clarify the limits beyond which our friendship must remain, there should really not be a problem.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  14. Steve Rice

    2012-10-29 at 1:46 am

    This is a great piece, Harleena! I like that the opening research you site is from UW (near where I live) 🙂

    That said, I don’t really know what I think.

    Of course, as a gay man, friendships with women are not a problem generally for me. I navigate them easily because there’s never a worry. If my friend says she needs a hug, that’s all she gets….but when I try to turn the tables on my perspective and ask your question “Can gay men just be friends?” it’s a different ball game.

    Of course, I have gay male friends that are just friends. But there is a definitely different dynamic. Especially if there is attraction between the two.

    That is not to say that it’s ever acted upon, but it is there. My partner and I were talking about this just the other night. We met a new friend in our town and he came over to hang out. We talked and had a drink and got to know each other and it was nice.

    After he left, my partner and I talked about the experience because there was definitely some sexual energy in the room, but it obviously wasn’t the time or situation to act on that. But it was really good to just admit that it was there and be able to talk about the experience.

    Ultimately, I think that honesty and openness is key, but that’s often not what we’re taught and not what we teach others in relationship with us most of the time. We often punish others through passive aggressive behavior. We harbor our insecurities instead of talking about the reality of what is true.

    Then when a relationship breaks down, we feel betrayed and wonder how it could happen.

    Really powerful insights. Great conversation starter post! Brava!

    • Harleena Singh

      2012-10-29 at 9:50 am

      Glad you liked it Steve!

      Nice to know that the University is somewhere near your place, so you can relate more to it. 🙂

      I can understand the situation where gays are concerned, and yes, they really have nothing to worry where friendship with either genders is concerned. However, when there is friendship between gay friends where there is an attraction between the two, it might turn out to be a similar case as mentioned here – isn’t it? Especially if only one partner is interested, and the other is not.

      I guess if it’s a clean and clear friendship between people and they can share things, just as the person who visited your place, even though you felt there was something more to it but it wasn’t evident or didn’t really show up, it works well.

      Absolutely! Being open and honest is the key in friendship, and in all other relationships too. I wish more people would realize it’s importance and bring a change into their lives by it.

      Thanks for stopping by and your words of appreciation. Nice to have you over. 🙂

  15. Corinne Rodrigues

    2012-10-27 at 9:34 pm

    This is a great choice of a topic, Harleena and I love the discussion you’ve managed to generate!

    I have always found it easier to get on with men than with women, Harleena. Possibly being the only sister to two brothers didn’t help. 😉 I have great men friends who I’ve for close to thirty years now. Yes, at times there have been undercurrents of attraction, but putting the friendship above everything else helped. We’re all married now and continue to be good friends though in different cities. We do make it a point to meet when we’re in the same city. Interestingly, some of my friends wives find it easy to confide in me, even if they’re having problems with their husbands!

    • Harleena Singh

      2012-10-27 at 10:52 pm

      Glad you liked the topic of discussion today Corinne!

      I thought so that it would get a lot of different views because the topic is such. 🙂

      I’ve also often noticed that a single sister with brothers are friendlier with the opposite gender as compared to those who have only sisters as siblings. Wow! 30 years is a nice long time, and I wonder though if somewhere they were also connected with being friends with your brothers, as some of my cousins who have brothers are friends with the brothers friends too, right when they were young, and that friendship carries on to date for them as well.

      Nice to know about your friendship, which sounds quite like what Vidya also mentioned, and you are both lucky to have such friends where even though the undercurrents of attractions remain, yet it doesn’t affect your friendship in any way. Or perhaps the fact that you all don’t meet that often and its occasional is a factor too. Yes, I’ve also seen the wives get closer than the men after marriage, which is great too.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with everyone. 🙂

      • Corinne Rodrigues

        2012-10-28 at 11:51 am

        These guys have no connection with my brothers, Harleena. They were friends I made, we shared common interests, worked together on some common projects and remain friends for life. The undercurrents of attraction were very passing at a certain stage, more from them – now they’re just friends. One of them even took me to meet the girl he eventually married, when he met her for the first time – she came with her father! 😉 But she and the other wives don’t see me as a threat – though the friendship is definitely between their husbands and me. 🙂

        • Harleena Singh

          2012-10-28 at 1:37 pm

          That’s wonderful indeed! I agree, those undercurrent attractions are present in the initial stages I think and as we age it lessens down, and they are more from men than from women too.

          That’s sweet 🙂 I guess he needed the views perhaps from a friend and women’s point before deciding to marry her. You surely are a lucky and unique case, and I am glad for these wonderful friends that you have in your life. 🙂

          Thanks once again. 🙂

  16. akhilendra

    2012-10-27 at 2:31 pm

    A thought provoking post,

    I think men and women can be friends, these issues are more seen in those cases where either of them is looking for a partner. If both of them are settled, then there are no expectations therefore, no issues. And even if either of them is looking for partner, it depends upon the individuals involved in the relationship.

    • Harleena Singh

      2012-10-27 at 3:01 pm

      Welcome to the blog Akhilendra!

      Even if men and women are not looking for partners, they can be friends I think, or else all such friendships would have resulted in a relationship – isn’t it? Yes, if both are married and then become friends, issues can be there or can’t be, though the chances are less likely because they have crossed that phase. It all does depend a lot on the individual and how they define their friendship.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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Why Can’t Men and Women Be Friends

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