“why men and women can’t be friends”

thank you, Stefani, for emailing me this!

 

discuss!!!!

i will jump in on convo after i get your thoughts…

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52 comments on ““why men and women can’t be friends”

  1. Ed Blonski says:

    In the immortal words of Harry Burns, “Men and women can’t be just friends because the sex part always gets in the way.”

    I’m thinking that we need a working definition of “friends.”

  2. Evan says:

    I think this is different for married people, but you still can’t become best friends with an opposite sexer when you’re married because that would be weird.

    Also, I think this speaks to our culture’s sex obsession. Just because a college guy would hook up with a girl doesn’t mean he wouldn’t actually rather just be good friends. But we’re constantly told to want it so guys feel like they have to say yes.

    In conclusion, I think guys and girls can be just friends, but the closer together you get the more difficult it is to stay that way. Also, I agree with the video that guys are much more likely to “like” a girl who is just a friend.

  3. Brian says:

    I’m usually the minority in a discussion on this topic. I saw yes, men and women can be friends. The world has sexualized and romanticized everything between a man a woman, and the church followed.

    • Jennifer C says:

      Yes. The church followed. What happened to treating and loving each other as brothers and sisters? When it gets away from that, no men and women cannot be friends.

  4. If there is someone of the opposite sex whom you enjoy talking to and don’t have any physical attraction towards them, wouldn’t that be considered a friend?

  5. elizabeth says:

    I’m curious about people older than college-age – like in their 30s? These men – well “boys” – seemed a bit immature about the whole thing. I have few male friends that are just good friends. Most are either happily married or in a long-term relationship. I think that brings another level/side to things. Don’t you?

  6. ThatGuyKC says:

    I love how honest the guys are and the girls have no idea.

    I would say this was true as a single person. However, as a happily married man all my female friends are just that. Friends.

    My favorite part was when the interviewer asked the guy at the computer if he would hook-up with his “friend” given the chance while she was sitting right next to him. Priceless.

  7. wobsy says:

    Yes. I have female friends who I’m sexually attracted to but I also have those to whom I’m not attracted. I notice the folk in the interviews were a lot younger than me. Maybe I would have answered similarly at their age.
    Rob.

  8. megeletto says:

    I think it’s rare for a true “friendship only” relationship to exist, but I believe they do. I have one friend who I’ve known for over 10 years. We’ve had this conversation before, neither of us are sexually attracted to the other–it’s simple a friendship–and it’s a good solid one too.

    On the other hand, I’ve had numerous guy “friends” over the years who I’ve known had feelings for me (or vice versa) at one time or another.

  9. Friends when both are single…yes. But it’s always complicated no matter what either says.

    Friends when either is in a relationship…NO. Anyone who tries to justify it to others is usually just trying to justify it to themselves.

    • To clarify, it’s not JUST “friends” I’m referring to. I mean CLOSE friends. Like booty buddies. Like “I had a fight with my boyfriend/husband, can you talk?” buddies.

      Friends isn’t a problem as long as you have healthy boundaries (not rules, I hate rules).

      • I think when one is in a relationship, it changes the friendship by using new boundaries, but doesn’t have to result in a lost friendship. I do believe if you’re in a fight with your wife (use any form here), you should never call another woman. Neither should she turn to another man. That’s the moment to see what the boundaries are for. I do think we’re on the same page though.

        • Agreed. But I see one of the boundaries as being “best friends”. Can my wife be friends with a guy? Sure. Can she be best friends with a guy? No, it crosses a boundary that we both agree on. Neither of us would sacrifice the intimacy with each other to give it to someone else of the opposite sex.

          If other people do it, that’s up to them. I don’t judge their relationship. That’s between them. The best friends of the opposite sex deal just doesn’t work for us. It didn’t work for a lot of other people that I know, too. Some lost marriages because of it.

          • Alise says:

            I would disagree that they lost marriages because of best friends, but rather that they lost marriages because expectations that male-female relationships must have some kind of sexual outcome. We don’t expect (generally speaking) that same-gender friendships will end in sex, so we’re free(r) to pursue closeness there. We assume that this will happen with cross-gender friendships, so we’re constantly “on alert.” And then we blame the friendship rather than examining the expectations.

            Which is not to say that all should have cross-gender friendships. But Jesus said that we’re all to be one (John 17:21). Why that oneness can’t apply to cross-gender relationships is something that I don’t understand.

            • It doesn’t have to be about sex, though. If you have cross-gender friends that are closer to you than your own spouse, you’re in dangerous territory. I think that’s what Tony’s referencing. Sex can be involved, yes,, but there can be friends that you are more intimate with than you are with your own spouse, without anything sexual or romantic being involved, and it can leave a spouse feeling like they’re on the outside of a wall that another guy is being let inside. That creates security tension.

              • Brian says:

                I agree and disagree. Having a a cross-gender friend that you are closer with your spouse is dangerous. On the other side, having a same-gender friend that you are closer with your spouse is also dangerous. A spouse can feel like they’re on on the outside of that wall no matter what gender the friend is.

                • Alise says:

                  Yeah, that. ;-D

                  I have the same boundaries with my male bff that I have with my female bff. If I’m ever quicker to call a friend with good news than I am with my spouse, then I need to evaluate the relationships (both the one with my friend and the one with my spouse).

                • To me it seems important to whom you turn when you have a fight with your spouse. I think sex(ual attraction) doesn’t even have to be involved at all for turning to a cross-gender friend to become a pitfall. Although I don’t want to cross your argument that your spouse should be (in relationship depthness) your best friend.

                • I can agree with that, Brian. Same-gender can also become threatening in the same way, when closeness exceeds that to spouses.

          • Keri says:

            Tony, I have to say that I believe {and know from personal experience} that deep intimacy with someone of the same sex can remove and detract from emotional intimacy with your spouse.

  10. Ed Cyzewski says:

    Great video! I really like all of the above comments, and I think they hit on the almost situational nature of male/female friendships. I had some female friends in college where the lines were very clear for both of us. I’ve had others that were less clear. However, being married certainly changes the dynamics of female friendships for me.

    If I can lay on the couch for a minute… while I saw my dad on occasion, I grew up with divorced parents and spent the majority of my childhood in a home with my mom, my aunt, and my grandparents. That meant I had 3 strong female influences in my life. It has always been easier to just casually chat with women than with guys, and I can’t help thinking that I’ve made easier friends with females because of that. Having said that, the guys who are my friends are the most important friends in my life. They’ve just been harder to cultivate over time.

  11. Alise says:

    Well, I’ll be the voice of dissent here, but yes, men and women can be friends. I know this because my best friend is a man. Even if there’s attraction, I STILL think that men and women can be just friends. Heck, I think they can be more than “just” friends.

    We’ve so sexualized everything that we can’t even relate to one another as men and women without it being about sex. We look at all close friendships as suspect, and that’s unfortunate. We are missing out on so much depth of friendship because we can’t see past someone’s boobs and penises.

    Dan Brennan’s book “Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions” has been rocking my world big time. He addresses the issue of cross-gender friendships through history. Absolutely brilliant.

  12. I think a lot of it matters on where you want to be as friends. Two of my best friends are girls, and because we’re pretty close, the dynamics are different than with guys. First, I passed the stage where I was wondering ‘what if’. I’m not saying I did totally, but I’m now on the same level as looking at a beautiful girl for a second too long feels like cheating on my girlfriend. It happens every now and then, but I can choose not to follow up on these first thoughts. Denying these dynamics would have an opposite effect, I think.

    Secondly, even if you feel like my sister sometimes, you’re not. There’s no walking around in underwear in front of me and if you’re missing a guy in your life: that’s what chocolate’s for. I think grasping the guy’s first instincts and honestly validating the impact and seeing where any boy-girl friendship could be weird can tackle most, if not all, problems in the relationship. Getting back to my first sentence: if none of you has a hidden agenda, it can work out as long as you realize it’s different from a same-sex friendship. That’s probably why the guys and girls in the video had different approaches.

  13. Julie says:

    I think anything’s possible with good communication. We just aren’t taught how to communicate well anymore.

  14. JBen says:

    Haha, this was funny. I will send it to my friend, Trina because we talk about this a lot. She would be the reason I think men and women can be friends. But I think that video was very telling about how difficult it can be and how much we trick ourselves.

    Though, it is interesting how much value we give our desire. Why can’t a guy be friends with a girl he finds attractive? Why does the sex drive win out over friendship?

  15. I think the big problem here is that “have feelings for” and “would have sex with” are being defined as the same thing, as others have indicated. Excluding moral considerations or perceived consequences, the average guy would consider sex with ANY girl he doesn’t consider physically repulsive. Just because he’d have sex with her if the opportunity opened doesn’t mean he considers her a romantic prospect or would even actively *pursue* sex with her. It doesn’t really factor into whether he considers her a friend or not.

    So it looks to me that the girls are answering whether it’s possible to be around the opposite gender without wanting to romance that person, whereas the guys are answering whether it’s possible to be around a pretty girl without finding them sexually attractive. And that’s at least part of why they’re getting opposite answers.

  16. Ed Blonski says:

    The concept of “friends” is the sticking point here.

    The current culture has been taught that there are “friends,” and then there are “friends with benefits.” The culture is further taught that most of the time – at least in the movies and TV shows – “friends” almost always leads to “friends with benefits.”

    We should also look at the differences of “friends” between men and women. Men have “friends” where they can “do” things with. Guy friends to go bowling, play poker, go fishing, hunting, race cars, etc. Women tend – though this is only a perception on my part, not being a woman myself – to have “friends” they can talk to, relate with, commiserate and celebrate with.

    Yes, that’s a pretty broad brush I’m using, but I don’t think I’m over-exaggerating it.

  17. Bethany says:

    Aaand this is why girls are reading into your Christmas presents.

  18. asoulwalker says:

    This video is priceless. You have made my day. There are so many great moments it is hard to pick one out as my favourite. Clearly, though, men and women perceive things differently and it can cause hilarity (or problems, depending on your point of view). I think that there is a bit of equivocation here because we haven’t defined friends (and it can be pretty hard to do).

    I have to say, though, that I don’t think sex is the only (or even the biggest) obstacle to a man being “just friends” with a woman.

  19. Was that Heath Ledger at the :57 mark?

  20. First up, I don’t trust any film of this type, because I always suspect the makers of leaving on the cutting room floor (or virtual equivalent thereof) any interviews that don’t serve the narrative that they want to present. Secondly, as other commenters have pointed out, there’s quite a large selection bias in the video on age and quite probably on economic background as well.

    A few things struck me about the situation.

    They never asked the girls if they “had feelings for” any of their guy friends.

    As other commenters have mentioned, no distinction was made between romantic long-term interest and one-off “hook-up” interest.

    It was taken as read that the women’s assumptions about their male friends “liking” them were in fact correct assumptions.

    It actually puts quite a severe bind on a guy to ask “do you like female friend x?” (almost the same kind of bind as “do you think your guy friend is sexy?” but inverted). If he says he doesn’t “like” her (in the sense used in the video) then he’s going to come across as calling her ugly. If he says he does, then people assume that it’s not “just friends”, there’s sex involved too. (This was highlighted quite clearly for me in the clip where they asked a guy in front of his female friend!)

    I am convinced that I have had female best-friends who were “just friends” (and one where we both desired each other but were each convinced the other wanted to take it no further!) and that I have seen others doing it, too.

    • That’s definitely something to remember, not only with these films, but also with surveys, scientific studies, and news reports. They’re all vulnerable to being edited to fit the narrative of the editor’s thoughts rather than raw reality. Whether intentionally or unintentionally.

      And a good call on the assumption that the girls were correct about their guy friends. That reading into it thing, as Bethany pointed out.

      • Well, scientific studies publish method, analysed statistics and all sorts of things so either you can rely on them being fair, or else you can spot the biases much more easily. That’s basically what the peer review system is all about. It has its flaws, and there is bias in the choice of what to study and which reports get published and which don’t, but the reports themselves are more reliable (or you can see why they’re unreliable).

        Unfortunately, you’re right in that most people’s access to scientific reports is from news writers either misunderstanding, or misrepresenting, them with a particular bias (I recently read of a paper that showed that on average men think more about most bodily functions than women do, but a lot of women think about these things more than many men do, too; but the news reports of the study said it showed that men all think about SEX more than women).

        • Bethany says:

          Ah, even peer-reviewed studies…. Scientists have admitted to just passing studies through because they trusted the author. That number is hopefully a small minority, but you’ve got to be pretty careful with any kind of study. Don’t believe it just because “scientists say.”

          (And now I sound like some conspiracy theorist. Sorry!)

  21. Joe says:

    A few things to keep in mind with regarding this video: 1. It is confined to a small subset of Americans, college students at a specific college, most of whom probably have a secular worldview. People of different ages or demographics may have different thoughts on this, but we never hear from them. 2. His litmus test for NOT being friend-compatible was if the guy would want to “hook-up” with the girl, something that is entirely different than actually being in a real relationship with them. There are plenty of guys out there who are more than willing to “hook-up” with a girl but aren’t willing to be that girl’s boyfriend. The two aren’t the same thing, and the interviewer is treating it as if they were. 3. We never hear from anybody who disagrees with him, but we have no proof everybody he talked to made the final edit. How true of a sampling is this?

    From my own life as a single guy, I have several close, non-romantic female friendships that I’ve worked incredibly hard to build. It CAN be done, but in most cases won’t happen automatically. On my end I have to keep watching my heart and making sure it is not leading me astray, asking God to help me keep clearing out the debris we find there. I’ve also learned to be overly clear in my communications, particularly communication of my honest intentions, setting and living by appropriate boundaries. Without those building blocks I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to have the wonderful cross-gender friendships I’ve been blessed with.

    • Keri says:

      Joe…that’s admirable. I’m wondering if you can expound on what you mean by “appropriate boundaries”. What does that look like for you and your female friends?

      • Joe says:

        I started to answer your question, only to find myself getting in to themes that take me way deeper than your actual question. The concept of “boundaries” vs. “transformation” is one that has been developing in me over the past few years and goes deep into the very core of my understanding of the gospel. Which…this isn’t the place for, nor do I really have time at this moment to dig into. So instead let’s try this bullet point style and see if I can come up with something that helps answer your question.

        ~I don’t think I have a universal set of boundaries; each one of my friendships are different and what is safe territory in one friendship may not be safe in another.

        ~the boundaries I DO have all are extensions of principles I hold. Even better boundaries are ones that are extensions of principles we BOTH hold. As such they are agreed upon and held to together, which is one of the things that makes them “appropriate.” Excellent and careful communication is key here, or at least it has been for me. Also, the boundaries that are wise for us in one season of life may not be wise in another. I’m single now, but when that changes the boundaries will need to change as well.

        ~I don’t trust the boundaries to actually guard either of our hearts or even to make the relationship “safe.” They don’t have the capacity to do that. All they can do is show us where danger is and inform us when we’re approaching it. Real safety in cross-gender friendships (or anything) comes not from an excellent set of boundaries, but in a transformed heart that just isn’t interested in doing those things the boundaries are protection against.

        ~I really wish one of those guys in the video, when asked if he would hook up with his friend if given the chance, would have said no. Not because he didn’t think her attractive, but because he honestly didn’t want to hook up with her or with anyone (at least not in that sense). Every single one of the women I’ve been blessed to have a close friendship with has become MORE attractive to me since I’ve gotten to know them, but that doesn’t mean I want to hook up with them. I have moments of temptation, as we all do, but it’s truly not something I want and so those moments are a lot easier to dismiss because there’s not much in my heart they can latch on to.

        Well, I’ve typed up far more than I planned to and I’m still not sure I actually answered your question…oops! Oh well, I hope you at least find this helpful.

        What has your experience with friendships of this sort been?

        • Keri says:

          You answered my question to a degree. I was wondering more specifically and practically what the boundaries look like. No physical contact? Not being alone together? Not spending more than a few hours alone?

          I’m married, so I have very strong boundaries about such things. I don’t spend time with men alone other than my husband, my brother, or my Dad. Before I was married, I did have a lot of guy friends. I was a teenager, so it was mostly confusing, like all relationships when you’re a teenager. LOL There wasn’t a lot of communication about boundaries, just a lot of trial and error, and even hurt feelings and some regret.

          I guess what this also leads me to wonder is, if you are close friends with a woman who shares your beliefs and values, why would you NOT date her?

  22. I have said this for years. It makes people angry but it’s the truth. If a guy and girl are “good friends,” one of them is sexually attracted to the other. If they both say this is untrue, one of them is lying.

    • It makes me angry because it’s not the truth, darling. It makes me angry because it’s a lie designed to stop men and women seeing each other as equals and as allies rather than as adversaries. It’s a lie designed to make people miserable. It’s a lie told by people who wish it were true, or who are themselves unable to live any other way and want everyone else to view their way of being as the only way of being.

      It makes me angry because it’s narrow-minded, petty and mean.

      Bottom line: neither you nor anyone else has the magical ability to look at another person’s relationship and tell them what’s “really” going on in their heart and mind. Calling people liars because their worldview is different from yours is just Not Okay.

    • Francesca Sage says:

      does this make them not friends?

  23. alyssaemi says:

    My initial response is a resounding YES guys and gals can be just friends. My opinion mostly based on the fact that most of my good friends are in fact dudes. But when it comes down to it, I was crushing on my best friend off and on for 2 years whereas he’s not interested and I’ve made out a few times with one of my other best guy friends. Though I definitely have some guy friends that are just friends, you’d have to ask them if they were attracted to me though, because I don’t know that answer. So I guess my own experience nullifies my initial answer. “Just friends” only works when there are boundaries.

  24. Francesca Sage says:

    The dude says that he interviewed all of the people at the library. I see him only interview the pretty people. There are so many other people in the background. So, did the other people just not prove his point? or did they just make better video footage? Why are we trusting this guy’s study?
    I have lots of male friends. I’m female. I also have lesbian friends. And I don’t think that all of them have crushes on me. A few of them did in the beginning, but I think that even they value me as a person and a friend now. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone speculate if someone in their social circle “likes” them, but the overwhelming conclusion is that it would be “weird and complicated” to date someone inside of your already happy social circle. And as someone who did date inside of the social circle, I agree. It’s weird and complicated and I don’t want to do it again. But don’t ask me how to meet guys, haha.

  25. Rahul Sane says:

    Completely agree with u guys,i am myself experiencing….after all xperience is life’s biggest teacher
    even trying level best v cannot stable or balance friendship. Somewhere DEAD END comes where both opp.sex persons feel apart. Even Muslim religion don’t support male & female both live together or spend time with each-other unless there z commitment between them.
    Nature have given us beautiful feelings such as love, affection, sex which opposes being-only-friend-concept in case of opposite sexes unless one person is LESBIAN or GAY.
    ABOUT CONCLUSION>>> They cannot be JUST friends OR BEST FRIENDS

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