Can men and women be “just friends”? This question has long been debated, most notably in the critically acclaimed romance film, “When Harry Met Sally”. The truth is that the answer is so fluid and will be interpreted in a variety of ways, depending on who you are asking and what the relationship dynamic is.
I wanted to break down the general modern day male consensus on the topic, to see if Norah Ephron’s famous dialogue still stands as the benchmark opinion on the subject: men think it’s impossible, while women think it’s possible.
There are so many factors to consider.
To start with, it’s near impossible for a guy to be “just friends” with a woman if he’s attracted to her.
A guy can try. I mean try really, really hard. And when I say try really hard — I mean, he will stifle his desire by masturbating to her in private, so that he can respectfully operate as her friend in public. On the surface his intentions are genuine, but deep in the confines of his man brain, he can’t deny and hold back his attraction for long. He’s banking on a friendship fling, not a long-term friendship. When guys have attractive female friends, they’re really just girls they haven’t fucked yet, or girls who won’t fuck them, or girls they hope they get to fuck eventually. She might be into the friendship for the long haul, but it’s highly unlikely he will be able to keep his true feelings in his pants forever.
Even if he’s not attracted to her, there is still almost always some sexual tension.
In a way, the only fighting chance for a friendship is when the guy isn’t attracted to her, or doesn’t view her as his “type”. But…even still…there is always some level of sexual tension below the surface that he has a hard time shaking. It’s just the close proximity to someone of the opposite sex over a long period of time. The occasional bump or graze, being drunk and alone together, even sleeping in the same bed, or engaging in flirtatious behavior, which makes it difficult to shake those underlying, nagging questions: “Does she find me attractive?” “Does she want to hook up?” “Will we ever hook up?” The curiosity can paralyze him to the point of confusion: where he blacks out one day, only to regain consciousness with his pants at his ankles and be rubbing one out in her honor.
Men would probably ruin the friendship if it means they get to HAVE SEX.
Most women wouldn’t sleep with their male friends because they wouldn’t want to jeopardize or compromise the “friendship”. But I have news for you: men will ruin the friendship the first chance they get, if it means they get to HAVE SEX. This fact has actually been proven through various interview experiments, where guy and girl friends were interviewed separately — as predicted, men were more likely to say they’d be willing to have sex with their female friends than the women were to say about their male friends.
Women control the physical nature of opposite sex friendships.
I have a few really good female friends. I’ve thought about them sexually on numerous occasions. Would I sleep with them? Honestly, I probably would. The thing that keeps us friends is that they wouldn’t sleep with me. Men and women can sustain a platonic friendship when the woman prohibits sex from entering into the relationship. This is because women have more willpower than men do. Women have an easier time compartmentalizing sex from friendships with the opposite sex. For us, it all just blends together and we get confused about things rather quickly.
This could be because of the classic biological imperative: men strive to spread their seed to many, while women want to find the one strong seed in the pack. Or it could be because of bullshit social stigma that’s attached to women sleeping around. But it’s important for women to be aware that it’s more common for them to underestimate their male friends’ level of attraction toward them, while it’s more common for us to overestimate our female friends’ level of attraction toward us.
If they previously slept together, men can (almost always) only be friends if they were the ones who put an end to the sex.
The male ego is a fragile thing. Most men have a hard time reverting from a sexual relationship with a woman to something strictly platonic, if they weren’t the ones to put an end to the sex. If the woman cuts the sex off, it always feels like a demotion. It’s near impossible for a guy to go from fucking to friends. Friends-to-fucking? Sure, but men don’t move backwards on the sex hierarchy very easily. We’re like sexual kangaroos in that way. It’s because we’ve already been inside of the castle, eaten gourmet grapes and knocked silk sheets with the Queen, and now we’re being thrown outside the castle walls, delegated to fighting for breadcrumbs with the peasants. What’s the natural male reaction? Fuck this castle; I’m going to go find a new castle.
But there are exceptions.
For example, a guy grew up with a girl and has known her for forever. You know, they used to take baths together and put on pretend Spice Girls concerts in the basement at family dinners. This is a situation where a platonic friendship can definitely be pure and genuine. It’s because he saw her naked before she hit puberty. If you see her tits before she even has tits, that’s an undisputed lifelong sentence of platonic friendship.
Or a guy and girl are platonic friends by default. You know, it’s his buddy’s girlfriend, or his girlfriend’s friends. In both cases, those are strictly platonic friendships. But those are the types of friendships where you’re more just friendly, than actual friends. You don’t really ever hang out with them without your girlfriend or buddy, and you never really get that close, for obvious reasons.
It’s not that men can’t be friends with women. There are so many male-female friendships out there to prove that it’s possible. I’m just saying that it’s difficult for guys (more difficult for some guys than others), and from the guys’ end, can usually only happen when there’s zero sexual attraction. And if a guy tells you anything different, he’s lying to you. But, the truth is that it says a lot of positive things about a guy if he’s able to develop and maintain platonic friendships with women. It shows that he’s mature, evolved, and can get to know and appreciate women in their humanness— as opposed to sexual objects who only serve sexual and physical value to him — and not take it as a shot to his ego just because a woman won’t sleep with him.
The secret to men and women being friends: make a choice. You have to decide to fuck or to be friends. Because once you fuck, your friendship is fucked. You can’t unsee each other naked. You can’t unknow the face you both make when you cum. You have to make a choice and stick to it. A male-female friendship is completely dependent on the guy and girl not fucking. Once that happens, the friendship is forever compromised. At that point: you either steal a page from Harry and Sally’s book and marry the shit out of your best friend, or you say bye forever to your friend. For us guys, friendship with a woman can happen but it does require us to process and eventually come to terms with the friend status. It might not be easy. There might be some resistance along the way, but once we know with utmost certainty that it’s not going to happen, we’ll put our dick in the vault and be the guy friend you’ve always dreamed of.