Can Men and Women Really be “Just Friends?”

There is a scene in the movie “When Harry Met Sally,” where Harry (played by Billy Crystal) tells Sally (played by Meg Ryan) that Men and Women can never be friends. Sally, of course, is insulted that he would say such an awful thing and rejects the notion. Ironically, they end up being friends for years before sleeping together, which changes everything. If you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t spoil the ending for you.

Does Harry have a point? The writer of the movie, Nora Ephron, poses a question through this dialog that few people consider: Do intimate but purely platonic male-female friendships exist or are we just kidding ourselves?

I would assume that most people, especially women, agree with Sally and take for granted that they do exist. I, on the other hand, see some truth in what Harry is saying. While I am not so naïve as to believe that these types of friendship have never existed, I would be willing to bet that they are much less common that most people think.

Before I offend the entire readership of this blog, lets define “intimate but purely platonic friendships” for the sake of this article. I am not talking about friends who hang out occasionally or share laughs together at work. I am not even talking about people who count on each other in a time of need. I am talking about people who fit these three criteria:

1) They spend a lot of leisure time alone together, not just a few lunches every now and them.

2) They trust each other to the point where they share private information with each other that few other people know.

3) They share an emotional bond but neither is sexually attracted to the other.

This definition describes most “best friends” of the same sex, but how frequently does this definition describe a male-female relationship?

In my experience, I have seen many examples of women who enjoy keeping male friends around because they like being able to access a “man’s perspective” without the complications of sexual attraction. Some women actually prefer to have male friends because they can avoid the cattiness and social competitiveness that exists in some female friendships. Even though these women are perfectly happy with their intimate relationships with men, I wonder how many of their male “friends” would sleep with them given the opportunity.

On the other hand, I have also seen many examples of men who, after failing to get a favorable response from their advances toward a woman, continue their pursuit by befriending her. The befriended woman doesn’t realize that by carrying on the charade, she is slowly ripping his heart out.

I know a woman who used to take a guy friend shopping with her every week to tell her how she looked as she tried on dresses and swimsuits. She thought that he was just a really great friend who was sharing some great insight with her on how she looked to men.

He finally couldn’t take it anymore. One night after having some wine, he broke down. He told her that she had been slowly torturing him, he was secretly in love with her, and this so-called friendship was driving him crazy! She was completely blindsided. She never considered that he was sexually attracted to her. At least he had the courage to say something. Many men never do.

To all the women out there who are shaking your heads like Sally and are listing all the men that you have as friends as proof against this notion; I would just say that you might be surprised as to how many of these men are attracted to you.

You see, when men look for someone to be friends with, we look for someone with whom we can watch TV, play sports, go fishing, or have a barbecue. Men bond over activities. We tend not to talk about our emotions, ask each other for advice, and we certainly don’t go shopping with each other if we can avoid it. You might be thinking that these are the very things that are wrong with us (and you might be right) but this is the way we are.

On the other hand, many men mistakenly befriend the women that they are secretly in love with only to get hurt emotionally. Since sharing emotions with someone is not something that comes naturally for us, when we do share our emotions it takes an enormous amount of energy. Sharing our feelings leaves us feeling vulnerable, so we save this sacred gift for the woman we want deeply. Women often mistake this emotional exchange as an act of friendship, because that is what comes naturally for them.

To all the men out there who have spilled your guts out to some woman in the hopes that she will someday see that you are meant to be together: I’m sorry. Although I empathize with you, I must tell you—she’s never going to come around. While emotions come naturally for women, sharing activity doesn’t, so a woman tends to only share activity with the man she wants. I think you know what I’m talking about when I say, “share activity.” Basically, if you have a purely emotional relationship with a woman that you want, without any activity, you’re probably not the one.

“Swingers,” my favorite movie of all time, has a scene where Trent (played by Vince Vaughn) is trying to give some advice to his friend Mike (played by Jon Favreau). Mike made the mistake of getting emotional right away with a girl that he was interested in. Instead of being clear that he was interested in her, he spills his guts out to her about his ex. Trent warns him of ending up on the “friendship tip,” meaning that once she sees him as a friend, she will never see him as anything more.

This brings up an interesting view of how men get hurt in relationships. Everyone is familiar with a common way that women get hurt: a man sleeps with her and never calls. While women get hurt by sharing something that is sacred to them, their sexual activity, men get hurt by sharing what is sacred to us, our emotional energy. While I am not trying to make excuses for men, or convince anyone to feel sorry for us, I do think that people should be aware of how this works.

Understanding the fundamental differences between men and women can go a long way to promote communication between us. Men and women operate in completely different paradigms. I recommend reading a book by John Gray called “Women are From Venus, Men are From Mars.” It helps to explain the differences in thinking between the sexes. When it comes down to it, we really do seem to come from different planets!

A man who doesn’t know this information will just assume that women think the way he does. He might go around sleeping with them like it’s no big deal, leaving a wake of scarred women. On the other hand, a woman who doesn’t know this information will just assume that all men think the way she does. She might go around befriending men to make up for her boyfriend’s emotional void. She saves her sexual activity for her boyfriend and gets to express her emotions to her guy “friends.” While this seems perfectly acceptable by societal standards, she doesn’t realize what she is doing to these men.

When I was in college one of my favorite classes was on interpersonal communication. The class really opened my eyes to the different ways that people think. As you can imagine a class on human relationships tends to breed close friendships within the class. We formed a tight-knit group of friends and continued the discussions after class.

I made an especially strong connection with an attractive girl in our group. We would take long walks and spend hours on the phone discussing what we were learning and sharing our beliefs with each other. Even though she had a boyfriend, I was absolutely convinced that we were meant to be together. At the time, I felt like she was the only person in the world who completely understood me.

The more we talked, the more I was hooked. This went on for the rest of the semester. It started to get really ugly when she began to bring up her relationship and ask me for advice. We could both agree that he was a jerk and that they shouldn’t be together but she continued to stay with him. As we talked I felt like we were on the same page, but when we hung up I was no better off than before.

When I look back on the situation, I realize that she had no incentive to leave him. All her needs were being met. He was fulfilling her physical needs and I was fulfilling her emotional needs. I was incorrectly projecting my own paradigm on her and thinking that we were on the same page.

When I finally figured out what was going on, it was a huge relief. While I still hung out with her from time to time in the group, I stopped spending the intense, emotional, one-on-one time with her that was killing me. In fact, I wasn’t even angry at her anymore. I was able to see past the situation and realize that she really wasn’t even my type.

These types of stories are very common, in fact, I know many men who have been in the same situation. These experiences foster the impression that nice guys really do finish last. Some men get hardened by these experiences and decide that the only way to get the girl is to be a jerk.

I am not advocating the “jerk” mentality, but I am suggesting that there is a duality that exists between nice guys and jerks. The “nice guy” mentality hurts men, and the “jerk” mentality hurts women. The answer, as in most dualistic situations, is not somewhere in between, but above. Men should be advised to take the emotional part of relationships slowly. Just as women are often advised to hold off until they get physical, men should hold off until they get emotional. I am not saying that men should never open up, because that would sort of be the “jerk” mentality. I am simply suggesting to ease into it.

Taking it slow has several advantages. First of all, it creates a little mystery. Women like the challenge of finding out who a man really is and if he tells her all at once the mystery is over. Second, a man who plays all his cards at once, by law of attraction, comes off as desperate. By trying so hard, he is simply reaffirming the fact that he doesn’t have her. Law of Attraction states that a person gets more of what he thinks about, so as he is dwelling on not having her, he continues to experience that result. Third, he is protecting himself from ending up on the “friendship tip.”

Most of all, men need to learn how to be tough. If a woman isn’t interested in you, move on. If you are interested in a woman, be clear about your intentions. Don’t try to sneak into a relationship by befriending her first. This just leads to confusion and heartache down the road.

To women, I would just suggest being aware of this phenomenon. Most men aren’t looking for a woman to go shopping with. This especially applies to exes. A lot of women have the idealistic view that no matter what happens in their relationship, they will always be “friends” with their partner. They break up, enter a new relationship, but keep in touch with their ex.

Many people will disagree, but can’t think of anything positive that comes out of maintaining an intimate friendship with an ex after you move on to a new relationship. There are a million reasons why this might not be practical, such as kids or shared property, but holding on to an ex tends to only complicate things.

First of all, in most cases men have no reason to remain emotionally close with an ex except to keep the door open. We don’t like to spend emotional energy, and only do so for someone we want to be with. With exes, the emotional energy spent is multiplied exponentially and the man has even less reason to remain close unless he has other intentions. This at best is unfair to her new partner.

Secondly, remaining close with an ex only increases doubt and mistrust in the mind of a new partner. This is especially true for men. We know how other men think, so we can see right through the ex’s attempts to be “friends” with her. This can be extremely painful for us because we know what is going on, but she is oblivious.

Lastly, it diminishes his sense of manhood when his partner spends excessive time with an ex. We feel best about our relationships when our partners make us feel useful and powerful. While we have come a long ways since men went out and killed the food while women stayed home to cook it, we still instinctively have strong feelings about being able to provide for our partners. Spending time with her ex makes us feel like the ex is fulfilling her needs instead of us.

Remember the woman who used to take the guy shopping with her? She revealed that story to me after a long conversation on this topic. At first, she reacted like Sally. She started naming off all the men that she considered friends; but after explaining my theories to her, a light went off in her head. She realized that of these friendships had ended after they made an advance on her. Learning why this was happening was a huge relief. Now she makes sure that her intentions are clear when entering relationships with men, therefore avoiding confusion.

In this article I have used a very dualistic tone, making it sound like every man thinks a certain way and every woman thinks another. Relativistic people will point out that there are not only exceptions to every rule, but often many shades of gray between black and white. Of coarse examples exist of intimate but purely platonic male-female friendships. Again, I am just suggesting that they are less common than people think.

While I understand that a relativistic perspective is an important part of critical thinking; I find that the best way to understand a situation is to start by looking at it dualistically. After I identify the two opposing forces at work, I then use relativistic thinking to help me understand the gray areas in between.

The most obvious exception is the gay and lesbian community. I can only write from a heterosexual perspective, but it would be interesting to know if any of these principles apply to the homosexual world. (Comments, anyone?)

Maybe men and women will never understand each other. Maybe women will continue to think that they can be “just friends” with men and men will continue to think that these friendships will turn into romances. One thing I know for sure is that not understanding each other helps keep us attracted to one another. The excitement in a relationship comes from continually learning about each other and growing together. Someone once said, “If two people agree on everything, then one of you is unnecessary.” It wouldn’t be as fun if we all were the same.

Good reading by other authors:
Guidelines for Platonic Friendships


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95 Comments

  1. RJ December 11, 2012 at 12:22 am #

    @ “Justanormalguy”: >>I always thought that a make/female close friendship was impossible without the guy wanting to have sex with the girl all the time. But I proved myself wrong last year – I became really close friends with this girl who’s cute and stuff, but for some reason I’m not sexually attracted to her. All my friends want to bang her but I like being just friends with her. Her boyfriend’s a pretty cool guy too. And on top of that she’s friends with my girlfriend. We share an emotional connection that I’ve never shared with a girl who I didn’t intend on getting in bed with. It’s sorta weird actually.

    Maybe I’m a closet homo and I don’t know it yet.<<

    Don't look into that too much, I've noticed the same thing on multiple occasions "she's attractive but I'm not really even sexually attracted to her.." it's happened with women you'd see and instantly (male or female) know that she's usually one of the hot ones all the guys drool over (Megan Fox-style..) And I'd be like "okay, what's wrong with me? Am I gay?" haha.

    It's difficult for me to tease out because honestly I like intellect as much as the typical physical stuff, but I've also had that experience where I find myself wondering why I don't want to sleep with someone who's smart and who I'd have a really hard time calling unattractive.

    I have a kind of…intense sex drive, I think I've kind of always been like that. So oddly it's been kind of beneficial because I can pretty much recognize right away whether I'd want sex or not, and it prevents a hell of a lot of awkwardness.

    Sadly though no one ever really discusses the female end of this, i.e. when women can tell you aren't kind of secretly trying to get in their pants, they like feeling like…they don't have to be paranoid. And also they seem to think I seem confident. I usually just end up scratching my head "what kind of men are they used to talking to?" haha… I say "sadly" because I'm the one that ends up paranoid that I inadvertently brought a bunch of emotional crap upon myself I did not sign up for..I guess in the way this article describes it I'm the male version of a slut, LOL, I open up to girls almost too easily and then end up beating myself up for it and feeling kind of violated when it's used against me. :P

    Reply

  2. Amboyace September 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    Absolutely spot on. It’s that emotional connection thing that complicates it.

    Apparently, if a woman wants to “just have fun”, the last thing in the world she wants to do is hook up with a sensitive guy she’s formed an emotional bond with. It’s dangerous, because she’s knows the “fun” is going to end at some point, and if she’s bonded with the dude, it’s gonna get ugly. That’s why the “player” types and booty calls are preferred. As long as SHE doesn’t get attached, she doesn’t have to worry about hurting the guy’s feelings, as he’s only really interested in one thing from her anyway.

    For a guy like me, who was raised in a religious background, and taught to respect women as more than just a piece to get over on (not meaning to sound pious, but that’s what Christianity teaches young men to think) it hits like a slap in the face.

    Reply

  3. OwlCitizen96 July 30, 2012 at 5:56 am #

    I agree totally with the article. It chilled my spine at the beginning when I saw how accurately it described my situation. I have found however, that it is possible to suppress the (possibly culturally constructed) urge to advance on females who you are friends with – especially if done for the sake of the girl as she may have a boyfriend or maybe just does not want to be in a relationship. From my experience, the earlier from the beginning of the friendship that this urge is suppressed, the easier it is to be around the girl-friend without longing for emotional connection.

    I loved a girl for three years without success and I now find it nearly impossible to be just friends without wanting to bring up feelings, but another girl who I liked more than a friend for a week or two I am now comfortably friends with, and may only every now and then have the thought to make an advance which I can easily suppress for rational reasons.

    Reply

  4. Justanormalguy July 15, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    I always thought that a make/female close friendship was impossible without the guy wanting to have sex with the girl all the time. But I proved myself wrong last year – I became really close friends with this girl who’s cute and stuff, but for some reason I’m not sexually attracted to her. All my friends want to bang her but I like being just friends with her. Her boyfriend’s a pretty cool guy too. And on top of that she’s friends with my girlfriend. We share an emotional connection that I’ve never shared with a girl who I didn’t intend on getting in bed with. It’s sorta weird actually.

    Maybe I’m a closet homo and I don’t know it yet.

    Reply

  5. wecanbefriends June 27, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    I know men and women can be friends. I have a group of friends (guys and gal) that get along with each other just fine. Most of them did confess that they had feelings for the opposite sex, but they manage to overcome those feelings and stay friends with them. I think being friends with the opposite sex will only work when there is a netural agreement.

    Reply

  6. owlgnome June 15, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    Fabulous article by the way.
    So, what do you think it means when a (shy) 17 1/2 guy who is my friend tells me that he thinks we’re just friends (after I finely get up the guts to tell him that I like him and ask if he feels the same way or different.)?
    I only asked because I truly love him, more than friends, and was positive that he at least liked me a lot.
    So my initial thought when it happened was that he was just too timid and surprised to say if he was having feelings for me if he was. He didn’t even answer my question one way or another. I’m trying not to torture myself with it, and we’ve remained firends. But it seems like he’s given up… he used to be really good at replying to texts and emails, but now he isn’t. But when I see him in person he seems the same, just quieter.
    Aghhhh… I’m so confused! Ideas anyone?

    Reply

  7. RJ May 10, 2012 at 2:19 am #

    Hmmm… I’m struggling to find the answer I’m looking for for my own.. i dunno, social tendencies? lol. maybe it’s something men don’t like to discuss (especially somewhere like the internet) b/c they don’t want other people questioning their sexual orientation? :P Anyway, I’ve lately been wondering if my introverted personality has something to do with my most “intimate” (in the sense it’s used in this article) friendships are with women, not with men. (bear with me) It’s quite ironic actually, b/c the thing is, first off, most men — mostly straight men but males in general, really — I find uncomfortable to be around. Because in my mind I feel like about 75-90% of what I say is too “intimate”, I dunno it just feels.. unnatural to me. Female friendships I find complementary, which is often needed because of how emotionally distant I am…. like more so than the male stereotype would imply. lol. Same goes for introverted-ness in general, I find people who are introverted hard to be friends with, at least if they are as much so as I am… it’s kind of a stalemate situation because neither person is going to be “open” enough to initiate anything of enough substance to evolve into “friend” closeness.

    I always joke with people about it saying things like “I can’t talk to men” or “men confuse me sometimes” lol. And it seems like a total contradiction to say you’re an introvert, or that you find women easier to become closer friends with, or that you’re uncomfortable around men/with the idea of close male friendships, even more so if they’re heterosexual — and then turn around and say in many ways your personality is HYPER-masculinized, and you are straight as an arrow, and also become more open/outgoing around attractive women (subjectively! taste varies by individual, obviously)….but all of that is accurate for me!

    lol, there’s this stand-up bit, it’s called something along the lines of “the gayness of straight men and the straightness of gay men”, and it basically opens up with this joke about a friend asking the guy if he’s gay, and he replies by questioning why someone who showers in a locker room together with a bunch of dudes is asking if someone who works in a bakery surrounded by women, is gay. haha. that’s pretty much what a lot of it is like for me… sometimes I’ll find myself saying things that superficially sound somewhat..I dunno, effeminate? lol. Like I’ve made analytical comments about a woman’s lipstick colour, like “she’d look better with the darker red..” (hypothetical, don’t remember the exact context, haha); or “black suits her better? why’s she wearing yellow? who wears a yellow dress?” but I usually do this if it’s someone I think is very physically attractive! So I end up being very straightforward (often humourously self-deprecating) about it, so that people don’t start talking about how obvious it is I need to come out of the closet and that explains why I talk about women so much…ha. then again anyone who knows me well enough, at least to my knowledge, doesn’t second-guess me if I say I’m straight. :P

    If you want a great idea of how I relate to other straight men, check out the episode of family guy, where chris and meg work at that convenience store, and chris and the other guy behind the counter who works there, end up always talking and making meg do all the work… but (for anyone who hasn’t seen it and is reading this) all they talk about is a bunch of films, and comparing which ones had hotter actresses, better nude scenes, more female nudity, why one of the movies sucked because there wasn’t enough nudity, which actresses should be in more nudity and/or sex scenes in films… and then eventually they run out of conversation material and just awkwardly stand there in silence LOL. Pretty much the only thing I talk about with men, just like those two, is women! Whereas with women I talk about pretty much anything… the only downsides I find are 1) a lot of women get sick of you talking about how hot so-and-so is, unless they’re lesbian (for some reason I don’t know many of those though, haha); and 2) I actively avoid becoming friends with women I am physically attracted to, a majority of the time… like the article says “Don’t try to sneak into a relationship by befriending her first.” (usually for me though it’s more about sexual interest, not looking for a “relationship”, in the conventional definition. :P) I read another article recently where someone called it “getting over yourself.” haha! I ask myself “if I wasn’t into her sexually would I still pursue a friendship?” perhaps though, pursuing is the wrong word, because that’s the thing about being very introverted: I can’t be arsed to “pursue.” I just let things happen “naturally” — which is why I actually have a problem with the concept of dating someone who’s essentially a hot stranger you chatted up at a bar then asked out and she accepted… my personal theory about that is that it can often be the explanation, ultimately, for many failed or otherwise not-good relationships. But back to the “getting over yourself”: I will always be honest in answering that question, which is difficult when you don’t have a “control” to use to answer it, for instance, similar circumstances, with the only difference being I wasn’t into the girl, and we ended up friends. :P

    so the way I’ve always dealt with it I guess, I mean I don’t know if this is totally weird or if it’s very typical for straight men, but I never really have the issue of developing romantic and/or physical attraction to someone later on, basically if I am interested from the start, I’ll be interested long-term (hence the avoiding, lol and yes it can be a bit self-limiting friend-wise/socially, because sometimes I’ll underestimate the likelihood of friend-potential I guess out of fear of self-deception and denial :P); and conversely if I’m not interested to begin with, I’m not gonna “get feelings” for someone just by becoming “intimate” as far as emotionally-close (platonic) friends. So yeah it’s pretty absolute, so I can kind of make those decisions ahead of time, maybe that’s where I don’t have the difficulty a lot of men seem to with opposite-sex friendships and sexual tension?

    and also I guess I’m kind of shallow/superficial in the sense that fundamentally, a relationship would only differ from my platonic friendships in that there’d be a sexual factor…. I see the emotional closeness/bonding/whatever to be the same in either case, maybe it’s because “romantic” stuff kind of makes me nauseous. :) haha. I guess the exception would be I am in that way a little more open-minded with platonic stuff, because I’d be more likely to be friends with a girl who’s into sappy romantic crap (I have/have had female friends that are like that to some extent or another), than to be dating someone like that…lol actually I’d probably avoid dating someone like that at all costs because clingy-touchy-feely-ness kind of scares me. ;) as far as the nice guy-jerk duality, I dunno, I’ve always been contradictory there too. I think that’s kind of apparent by everything I’ve said here so far. I don’t befriend women with “ulterior motives”, but I tend to be shallow, however I’m able to recognize and acknowledge when I’d only be opening up emotionally if I had to as a means to an end, because of a (mostly-to-entirely) sexual interest; I have a lot of platonic female friends (many I’ve lost touch with simply because… high school, jr high, people losing touch with each other, bla bla) but I never really had that nice guy issue, at least not in a situation with any “good” (i,e closer than a friendly acquaintance) friend; and then despite the shallowness it’s the ones I’m also into emotionally who I actively try not to deceive (or deceive myself with, or both) with the “just friends” BS. I think along with introversion comes subtlety, and likely also that sense of mysteriousness. I have an appreciation for witty humor, and wittiness in general, so as far as flirtation I kind of universally humor people with innuendo. I’m just a bit less subtle about it when I actually mean it… That’s the thing, I thought the stereotype was men were the “rational” or “logical” or “pragmatic” (or whatever other word you want to use) ones, but I think the whole concept of deceiving yourself and/or another person about where you stand with them, how you feel, etc., to be kind of… not realistic at all? it’s also kind of the opposite of being straightforward/direct… if it were the opposite of the typical nice guy situation where a woman was interested in something very serious that I didn’t want, I’d probably say from the beginning, in order to prevent that scenario, “don’t let this go any further if you think you’re gonna get some sort of romantic involvement with me, I’m only interested in sex, if you want a friends with benefits thing that’s fine though.” but as far as flirtation, I tend to find many, many situations I see, to be like, “he’s trying way too hard”; “he’s being too direct, that’s why she’s creeped out”.. so the exact opposite — I’m constantly finding men to be TOO direct!

    anyway, that’s what I think, but I’m a living contradiction of so many things in regards to this topic, so I’m not sure how insightful any of this is. haha. at the very least now you can see where the stereotype about introversion and over-thinking comes from…. wonder if that serves an advantage (or maybe I’m secretly kind of cocky) ;) I mean look at the thought and strategy I’ve put into this, simply because this is where my mind goes when it has nothing better to think about. LOL.

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  8. Friendship Quotes April 11, 2012 at 8:52 am #

    This is a very interesting topic. I have mixed feelings on this. I have been friends with males and have had no inkling of any sexual thoughts but then with some others there is that sexual tension there.

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  9. free site of dating October 15, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

    wow this is like the most common question
    usually the answer is
    from guys perspective: no guys and girls can’t be friends
    from girls perspective: yes we can be ‘just’ friends

    my 2c

    Reply

  10. houstonia October 14, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

    Interesting article – I do wonder though about a few things:

    1) generational impact/age impact – I suspect that for people in their 20’s relationships/friendships cross boundaries more often than in the 30’s/40’s – but I do wonder if it catches up again to single people in their 40’s.

    2) like the author – gay/lesbian community – I suspect the rules are very different. also different for straight people with gay/lesbian friends

    3) personality disorders – always a cause for chaos and misunderstandings in relationships. :-(

    My story – 22 years ago – dated a guy – did not get intimate (almost) but fell head over heels in love with him – lost touch until a couple years ago when we found each other. He has a girlfriend and he has been “saved”.

    I spent the weekend visiting him – he never mentioned the girlfriend and only reluctantly brings her up – BUT if I push him on relationship definition he says he has a committed relationship with a little more – with her – and a committed/firm friendship with me. And that the two paths will never cross and will never interfere with each other. I should mention we live several states apart while the girlfriend is in the same city.

    The “girlfriend” doesn’t let him in her house/broke up with him/kicked him out/blah blah blah..

    So – I think.. there’s something in the original article that talks about emotional investment – and I think that’s prevalent here – he get some sense of the physical fulfillment (not much) with her. Emotional/spiritual fulfillment with me – and he can always look like the victim and he REALLY doesn’t have to commit or take responsibility for anything.

    I love him dearly, but I am still learning to accept the limitations of the relationship (ironically the same thing he says about his relationship with his girlfriend – that there are obvious limitations), and most importantly, I am trying to take the things I find attractive in him and find a man who really wants a relationship instead.

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  11. KO August 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    Men and penises. Women have vaginas. Once we look past new age feminist talk of acceptance of men and women being friends, we’ll understand what’s really going on. Women who fancy themselves on maintaining friendships with their ex boyfriends all often fill an emotional void that was or is no longer there.

    I’ve experienced the girlfriend with male friends dilemma. I’ve found women with primarily male friends are attention seekers and only get that positive reinforcement from males. I can tell you that if your girlfriend is good looking, they want to be with her, physically and/or romantically. They will wait around for years in the friend zone for their moment of opportunity. If your girlfriend wore tight jeans, they would look at her ass. Why? Because they are a guy and will play the friend role until they can have it.

    I’ve found women who attempt to have a real man as a boyfriend, as they simultaneously keep their group of male friends, end up losing their man. The reason this occurs is because a real man smell a poacher a mile away. When the man explains the man’s true intentions to his girlfriend, the girlfriend will either 1) get rid off these guys or 2) tell you you’re being jealous or irrational. The latter option is where relationships fail when such opposite sex friends are introduced. The man, being a man, will not tolerate an immature women thinking otherwise. He may initially tolerate it but if the behavior doesn’t change, he will discount her and think she’s not marriage material. In the end, the real man she’s looking for leaves because she kept all the ones she really didn’t want in the first place.

    Anyone who disagrees my posting will either be a woman or new age emo male with a pot belly an skinny jeans.

    Reply

  12. MP3 August 24, 2011 at 3:17 am #

    That was pleasure to see your posts, I’m looking forward to seeing the other soon, as well. I’m going to visit the blog again next week so I could read the remaining entries. Hope that’s okay…

    Reply

  13. Jason August 20, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    @confused…

    The unrelated and cool thing about this thread is I found the article and commented a couple years ago and it sends me posts over time. Its like the blog topic that never dies. Alas, I checked “notify me of followups”, though it never occurred to me the posts would go on and be active for years to come. I appreciate it though.

    Especially to here of a person who actually wants to share logical opinions on the subject. I decided to reply because if you were being honest I sense there is a lot of emotion – both pain and likely anger – going on. Thats normal.

    However there is something that is unfortunately not normal going on. I thought hard about how to say this, but sense I am a stranger as well as a man, straightforward honesty wins today. What you have defined and opened your heart to emotionally is not a healthy relationship. So your relationship as you define it is not healthy. This is because she is not in the same relationship based on the assumed perimeters you have. Let me be clear with what I just said: it is not a normal loving comitment because she is not fully commited. This in fact is by far NOT abnormal.

    The question really comes down to what YOU want. And dont pull the “man, I love her, so I want what she wants, because love is unconditional.” Let me say right away that if you think these thoughts your right, love is unconditional. The caveat in a healthy and loving relationship is the reciprocation. If she does not walk away from her past and embrace her future/present relationship there can never be a healthy, ideal, i.e. normal, relationship.

    So, @confused, do you want to hold open the treasure chest of your heart and soul like a fine suit vest held open – but this will feel like your very ribs. And when the cold wind of reality blows on an open heart, it feels like the open would you just evisioned. It is only when another person holds open there heart and the two come together is it not a wound, but a glorious beginning. A beginning. Where different kinds of pain and joy, struggles and victories can flow, but you are not there.

    Your waiting for her to leave her last one. And your really alone, though she visits with sweet nothings on her lips and flowers in her hands, she is not embracing what your offering.

    Your a good man, in what you say about your thoughts and softer side allowing her to decide, but your friends are right. If all you really wanted was our opinions on that. Close your heart, your love will still remain, it probably is true. Be proud of that. Hurt should never be shame. Accept the hurt and allow yourself to move on, showing her how what you are giving her is meant for only one women. [at this point you might even read my old two posts to understand more!] All your logic and love seems real and accurate from what I am shown by your post. Teach her by freeing her. Its not poetic, its good advise. Make it clean.

    In time, maybe, let her come to you when – and if – she wants to. Thats love my friend. Hurts like a b***, but man…..when someone, probably not her, does reciprocate….mountains will move. The earth will shake. I promise.

    Reply

  14. Confused August 10, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    Hey everyone ive recently found myself in the above situation and have been having a lot of difficulty with it and hoping for some feedback/suggestions.

    I met my gf a few months ago and we have quickly fallen for each other adn have a connection like I have never experienced. When we started dating I actually had to go away for work for 1 month and we stayed in touch a lot everyday and I started to find out a lot about her including that most of her time was spent with her best friend, who is a guy. I commented that male and females never truely have a “best friend” relationship that is genuine without one having interest in the other and her reply was that he is just the male version of her and they have been best friends for years.

    Facts:
    They spend a lot of thier spare time together and regualry alone, including, shopping, getting hair and manicures, doing tax returns together, all social events are together, they work together, every saturday is “meow meow” day they have little pet name for each other that makes me feel sick when they say it to each other in front of me.

    They are very touchy feely, openly talk about loving each other (in a friendship way) kiss hug and always talking, they are basically the perfect couple to look at that do not have sex.

    A few years ago he has also told her he was in love with her but she said they didnt talk for a while after that and that its all worked now and its just a friendship.

    I have been extremely uncomfortable with the relationship they have and kept my mouth shut until the last few days where I have been trying to get feedback from friends and online opinions.

    We have had very heated discussions about it but I have managed to point out enough facts that she can see now that he is in love with her, and she was just so close to it that she couldnt see it.

    She has since admitted that she is completely emotionally dependant on him and feels she needs that love from him for support and her security blanket but she has also said she wants to break free from it as I am the one she wants to be with.

    I believe in male female friendships but not at this level and I find it extremely disrespectful to our relationship and do not believe a good long term relationship can be formed and progress while she is still spending time with the guy that is in love with her and she is emotionally dependant on, this is especially difficult as I work month on month off (away) and her time left behind is often spent with him alone and socially.

    She told him yesterday that they need to ease up and they cant call each other meow meow any more (I dont even know the truth of where that name came from, im told they both like cats hmm) she said it went well and he understands. My opinion: Of course he understands, he will do anything for her, he has stood by her for years and will do what ever she asks but this does not change that he is in love with her and she is emotionally dependant on him.

    So now she thinks its fine but wants to continue the friendship and thinks its completely fine that they spend alone time together still just not as often or as intimately as it has been for so long.

    Im not comfortable with this at all, in fact considering everything in this situation I am not comfortable with them in any manner, this is not a friendship, it is an emotional relationship and she admitts that. I believe you can only have one special person in your life (at this level) and this whole situation is completely wrong.

    Note: after talking to all my friends going back home this week they all said cut it away and that it is absolute bulls#*t but I dont want to, she means too much to me

    Thanks for taking the time to read this, i may have missed a few things feel free to ask anything and all opinions on the situation would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply

  15. Killer B August 9, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

    This article in a nutshell:

    Men are sexual extroverts and emotional introverts.
    Women are emotional extroverts and sexual introverts.

    Reply

  16. Customized Fat Loss July 19, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    I have a best friends who’s a female and we’re not attracted to each other. And I’m straight. It really depends how you got to know each other. We were friends since we were young, I see her as a little sister.

    Reply

  17. Myrna Mctiernan July 19, 2011 at 7:19 am #

    nice website..great information! I’ll check back soon!

    Reply

  18. Greatful June 21, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    You wrote a very well detailed and so to the point article. I wish more men and women read this. Personally, I have to share this with a couple of my women friend who seem not to understand that there are uniques differences between men and women and the way a man views friendship is not the same as a woman view friendships. Sure two people of the opposite sex can be freinds but not on a intimate level or emotional level like you so brilliantly pointed out.

    Reply

  19. James Hemphill June 20, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    I came to that conclusion in college myself. My quote was “Men and women cannot be friends unless they are both not physically attracted to one another.”

    Reply

  20. Laura April 11, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

    Wow, this is so brilliantly written! I had so many “Ah ha!” moments it’s insane. I might be deluding myself – but don’t think so for many reasons – about actually having a couple of guy friend exceptions lol, but I do think so. If I’m wrong, I hope I find that out soon and there remains a happy solution for all! But seriously, thanks for this article. I couldn’t get enough of it! Wow, unreal.

    Reply

  21. Melanie P March 7, 2011 at 7:14 am #

    I am a great believer in whatever happens will happen for a reason and I think you are absolutely right to just keep living the life. I have never had a problem having male friends who are just friends; it is other people who seem to have the problem.
    Good luck.

    Reply

  22. Phil March 6, 2011 at 7:56 am #

    New poster, very late to the discussion. I was in the exact same position in college. Was best friends with a girl for two years and gradually fell in love with her. Girls can definitely be friends with men, not the other way around if the man is even slightly interested at the get-go. And I highly, highly agree with your point…just like women shouldn’t get physically involved too fast, men shouldn’t get emotionally involved too fast.

    I’m married now to a woman I’m utterly crazy about for the last 5 years running. And now I have women friends with no friction, though I do keep an eye on myself in case I’m starting to develop feelings. But, there hasn’t been even a spark with other women. My wife is the woman I confide my secrets in the most.

    Phil

    Reply

  23. SK March 1, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    Hey Red Red- ur friend must be a lil gay…to tell ya if he is hiding his feelings..When someone shares bed and lives toger, there are feelings as a part of nature which is obvious and would arouse in a pair of opposite sex..
    .and well the Article posted by BRAIN LEE is a real cool one. And all his points are very well Marutured and written.
    Hats off and u spoke the truth out.

    Women are complex and men are despos.. :-)
    But women mostly cant bear a female company where they usualy prefer a male for various reasons. But not a good act by women thou!
    They got to spend more time with their femin company…and stop confusing guys!!

    Reply

  24. Hannah November 21, 2010 at 5:19 am #

    enjoyed reading this write-up on whether men & women can really be friends … thanks, Brian

    Reply

  25. Red Red September 9, 2010 at 10:29 am #

    Thanks Everyone for your comments/opinions on my “situation” if you can call it that.

    In the mean time I’m not going to worry about our friendship. I’m just going to keep living the life :D I guess whatever happens will happen for a reason. I appreciate the feedback especially from Drawn in and G. You have pointed out some good perspectives for me to think about.

    Reply

  26. g September 5, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    I have been thinking about the word “just” and think that one cannot “just” be friends with a woman but one can be friends with her, even if one is attracted to her. I guess it has to do with how strong the feelings are and whether one can rise to being a friend rather than a lover. I think I would personally prefer to be friend but I would think that I want to clarify how I feel but accept that the woman I like/love is aware that I am not “just” a friend but a friend. It is about accepting friendship where more is not possible, for which reasons ever. One would have to be quite sincer about this and be able to work out mentally that this is perfectly alright. I think the suffering of men (or women) in such situations only comes from the little word “just” in it. So, if one removes the “just” one can be friend with the woman one would like to be intimate with but can’t really because she doesn’t want it for which reasons ever. One shouldn’t be unhappy about this because the unhappiness is a form of selfishness one can transcend by accepting friendship as a real alternative. I guess if the selfishness can’t be overcome the suffering stays and the little word “just” qualifies exactly this. In such a case it is better to end the suffering and break up the contact.

    Reply

  27. g August 27, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    Well, perhaps it is not love like between a man and a woman but more like between children or siblings. Is rather sweet – but aren’t you both a little old for that? On the other hand, why shouldn’t it be possible to have such a friendship between a boy and a girl. Perhaps you are both scared to find out whether it is love? I have no idea but what I do know is the following: you are not just friends, neither of you! Well, this is what I think, but I might be wrong, of course. I thought what Red Red said was quite good. I am not sure at all whether your friend ever had sex in his life. If this was true, and he is playing the field all the time and behaving they way you discribe it towards you – he would not be in love but just playing games. Anyhow, being friend of your family and all the rest, it possibly rather the other way around. He is scared and can only talk straight when drunk, and so are you. I think it is about time to grow up a little and stop playing brother and sister.

    Reply

  28. Drawn in.... August 27, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    @Red Red..

    You need to keep reading some of the comments, started by this great article. They describe viewpoints of kinds of “love & sponge” friends that you seem to find yourself in.

    I say he may love you and may be to immature (relationship wise) to want more from those other girls you say he could always have. You know, noncommittal in his feelings towards you cause boys dont look at whole package. The “dont settle till you explore the sea” mantra. Thats possibly why he never had the guts to want you and say its only you. Fear of not getting something elusive that he thinks you dont have. Dont let my opinion hurt you, but you both have crossed the “simply friends” line so just give up that explination and face some reality. Twenty something young men dont sleep and kiss a girl in her bed and not at least think about sex. Just a thought.

    Crazy as this sounds, and you can tell I’m a guy, but its like that movie “Kick Ass”. The young dude pretended he was something he was not and the audiance all knew what he was thinking….or maybe I just rented it recently and it came to mind. Whatever. Worth comparing to your sleeping and kissing and dont mean anything comments though.

    Anyway, there is always two sides too every story though, so maybe the same thoughts can be said of you in this. Search yourself a bit before you demand answers from him. Good luck in your struggle to understand what you have and what you want. I hope you dont loose a good thing, if it is one. But remember, if you have both been truly honest, there would be no confusion in all this. Honesty is often mistaken for openness. You can be very open but still hide truths inside. It is that last little bit of truth that defines if someone is really being honest …..put that in your pipe and smoke THAT thought for awhile! :)

    Reply

  29. Steve August 26, 2010 at 7:26 pm #

    Of course he is in love with you, especially if he’s telling you everything…

    Reply

  30. g August 26, 2010 at 5:12 pm #

    Perhaps you love him but he doesn’t love you?

    Reply

  31. Red Red August 26, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

    ok….first of all loved your article and view on things…and everyone’s opinions. i’ve always felt girls and boys and be best friends because i have one well….read below because now i’m not so sure.

    I have a male best friend. He’s an AMAZING person, i’ve never met a guy like him before. Ex’s of mine have thought we dated before and are jealous of our friendship…We tell each other EVERYTHING..things I never need to know about (due to gross out factor) he’ll tell me. I love our friendship. He knows me better than anyone and vice versus. He knows all of my family really well and they all love him and vice versus.

    Right now we’re both young (i’m 22 and he’s 25) and single and enjoying it..we share a bed when we sleep over at our each other’s house and cuddle sometimes when we’re watching a movie..that’s just how our friendship has always been..we’ve always been extremely affectionate with each other…hugs, cuddling, kiss on the cheek..whatever. we’re just super comfortable with each other and we’ve always told each other I love you, as friends of course. we’ve never had sex and he’s never made a pass at me at all, just affection because, at least myself, am a very nurturing type of person.

    But recently everyone, my family, my other friends, strangers all assume we’re dating because they all believe that men and women can’t just be friends…everyone cracks jokes like “oh you two are going to vegas this weekend? don’t get drunk and married..although you two might as well get it over with because you’ll end up married eventually anyways.”

    Soooo to get to the point…a few months ago we hadn’t seen each other in a couple months and i went to a birthday party at some club for one of our friends and we hung out and got really drunk and you know he kissed me (not make out) but that’s not unusual for us..we’ve once again always been affectionate..and we get to house later to sleep and we’re cuddling and he starts drunkenly rambling about how “he’s so glad im in his life and that he’s so happy im here with him right now. and how he loves me so much and how he doesn’t really trust anyone but he trusts me completely and would do anything in the world for me. and I’m his family in California (since his family lives in Ohio, where he’s from) and that he’s mad at himself for letting me date my ex boyfriend for so long (it was a VERRRRRY bad relationship to which he was my shoulder to cry on most times…) because i’m such an amazingly good person..” and so on.. so the next day we laugh and i tell him what he was saying because he asks me and he’s just like “aww i guess i love you hahaha”…so we drop and continue on with life…

    well now when he gets drunk (not every single time but often) he texts me the same types of things ..how much he loves me and how he’s so happy im in his life and yada yada…(i text him when i’m drunk too that i love him and am so happy he’s my best friend…it goes both ways) which he never used to do…yes tell me in person but not while he’s out with other people….

    my best friend, is good looking, and a fun awesome person and gets ANY girl he wants when he’s out. and I am not his type of girl he likes…i’m the only girl he has never tried to have sex with let alone his only TRUE 100% strictly friend that is a girl, if that makes sense, and his CLOSEST friend…so i’m just confused as to if he possibly loves me more than a friend deep down but is “sewing his wild-oats” if you want to call it that or what? (Men’s opinions please…)

    i only started to question this friendship because i told this story to my closest girl friends and another one of my guy friends and they “planted the seed” in my head that the only reason they can see it that he “keeps me around” is because he does truely love me more than a friend…

    I don’t know what to think …i’d love to hear anyone’s opinions :] thanks for listening!

    Reply

  32. g August 16, 2010 at 2:00 am #

    This is not good news my friend. You better wean yourself off this relatioship. I wonder whether you are single or in another relationship. If you are single, I would get girl friend as soon as possible. You need to face up her being upset. It is her being upset and you are not responsible for that. I assume you told her how you feel abou ther, if not, you certainly should. You are obviously getting rather depressed about this. It is also possible that you are dealing with childhood feelings of seperation from the mother and it might not be at all about your “friend”. The only way to find out is to fall in love with someone else. My experience is that unsatisfied desire can lead to fixation and it is better to detach and open up to other women. This can be a most healing experience. Don’t worry too much about how she reacts to this, and anyway, it is none of her business. You are in no obligation to tell her. However, if you are actually in a permanent relationship already, then you are in deeper shit than I thought. In this case, you have to resolve this first!

    Reply

  33. Steve August 15, 2010 at 7:26 pm #

    Wow! I have been going through this for 5 years with a coworker. It has been ripping me up. I don’t sleep anymore. Everytime I try to back away she gets upset at me for not being her friend or acting too emotional, I have been in denial and don’t know how to get away. I can’t leave the job especialy with the present economy, but it seems to be the only way to get away. I know it will kill me… Anyone have an ideas? She is there every minute of the day and outside of work.

    Reply

  34. g July 9, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    Of course they can be just friends as long as it is not unrequited love, which is a terrible desease!

    Reply

  35. g July 9, 2010 at 10:09 am #

    I found this interesting. I guess it is alright to be friends for a while but if she doesn’t feel similar after a while it might be difficult to continue to be friends, unless it was only a crash. It would be mad not to disclose quite early how you feel towards her otherwise you get hurt. I guess it is a delicate phase at the beginning of any relationship and the bloke should be considerate and control his emotional state for a while, also to explore what the nature of his feelings really are. Most of the time he will disclose too early anyway and she will suggest friendship at first in order to test him out. Don’t wait for too long but don’t act to quick – the feelings should be true and not some kind of replacement therapy. I am sure she will come around and if she doesn’t, move on; don’t hang around for ever.

    Reply

  36. Jason June 9, 2010 at 6:55 pm #

    Its almost comical, if you think of 8 year old kids on our big kid lives, when you put everything back to the simplicity of childhood. We all want to be loved, I think that is universal. We all want to be accepted. Ironically they are not mutually exclusive, but there is always the “joint probability” – I like little Suzie, she is my friend, she acceptance that I like star wars figures to barbie dolls. Yet she plays with me on recess. One day she plants a kiss on my cheek and wowsers, I make in intimate connection (its not sex, im 8!, but I just seem to like being around Suzie a lot more!?!?). Of course I d0nt say anything to her.

    However, Suzie, after talking to her girlfriends at the hop-scotch court, she realizes she likes Johny, cause he’s dreamy dont ya know.

    So even though I am offering to now play barbie dolls with her after school at her house (as long as she doesn’t tell anyone) she tells me the kiss was just good friends who trusted each other, cause she is waiting for Johny to notice her. Better yet – she and Johny ARE in love, but since he wont play barbie dolls with me, your my friend still on the side.

    But now Suzie says “at recess now, I’m watching Johny play wall ball, I will see you later to play barbies thought, still, right?? Cause, thats the kind of friend I need, Ok?”

    HAHA!! Its so true. Because I will never be satisfied as who I am until I love myself. And Suzie probably wont be just due to Johny’s attention at the wall ball court either. Its when you can love yourself, then give all of yourself to one person – thats emotional maturity. But tell me, intimate friends, like me and Suzy playing dolls, would you advise me as an 8 year old to keep that relationship going or move on to finding joy without giving so much effort to Suzie??? I dont know, Im laughing at my own soap opera, hope it adds to this discussion.

    @guy-girl friendship just ended — I empathize for you! I hope you find some joy in your new season of life and smile more for you and life than for who or who isnt with you! I say, hope your spouse in life turns out to be your best friend!

    Reply

  37. Solar June 7, 2010 at 11:20 pm #

    I stumbled upon this quite by accident and am in mild shock. As a younger lady my male friends outnumbered my female friends, most of which ended kind of badly. I could never understand why the boys couldn’t treat me as one of the guys, and the girls were jealous of all the “attention” I received. (I eas so oblivious) I used to swear that men and women could be friends, but in retrospect I have to agree with your views. I remember wishing I was an unattractive women so it would have been easier to be one of the guys, but now I realize the roles would probably just be reversed and I would be the one playing the friendship card in hopes of more?

    Reply

    • Brian Lee June 8, 2010 at 8:26 am #

      That’s a very honest assessment, and a situation I have known many women to have been in.

      Reply

  38. echo May 25, 2010 at 8:07 am #

    thank you so much .you helped me in my study .we have a debate topic like yours . what’s more ,we learned a lot from it .

    Reply

  39. guy-girl friendship just ended :( March 23, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    “Your great, friend, I want this and this that you have and cant wait to find the dream date who has the 10% more that would make a perfect person. The looks and the sex I want combined with the 90% you already give me.”….and with a daydreaming eye, they subconsciously think “…but until then, I will take from you most of what I will get from them, till they walk in the door.”

    Wow, that is sooooooooooooo true!! I had a “best friend” who was male. We’d tell eachother everything! Even that we loved eachother (as friends of course). We would also describe the perfect mate and daydream about our ideal love relationship. I believe this friendship is over. We had a falling out recently, but it had nothing to do with either of us expressing our love to eachother. I know he was attracted to me, however i was not physically attracted to him at all. I thought about how perfect it would be if he was better looking (just being honest). Anyway, I’m sad I lost a great friend, but by reading all the comments, it seems it wouldnt have lasted much longer anyway. I always knew that when he got a girlfriend or I got a boyfriend, our friendship would diminish.

    I honestly did take what I could get from that friendship. I feel very lonely today. It sucks.

    Reply

  40. jef March 11, 2010 at 4:38 am #

    my feeling is men and women are having to relearn friendship as loving sex has failed

    Reply

  41. Jason February 28, 2010 at 11:36 am #

    I get emails with the comments from this thread, because I commented last year. No complaint, just saying why I am back. In fact the last comment was very true, from “unknown”.

    It really is a matter of control, on some levels. If a person, man or women, gets good things like companion ship, honesty, what I call true qualities from the opposite sex friend, they consciously come back to it. They choose to accept it from that person. Often, as pointed out in this thread, when they have relationships with another “romantic” other — or at least are consciously in search of the elusive “other” romantic person.

    So how am I agreeing with Unknown’s control comment? Simple: they choose to take the good qualities for a purpose. They knowingly choose to be that friend, but what they ignore is that conscious choice is motivated by what they get, and that is taking. They further maintain control by setting the boundaries. Unfortunately many of the opposite sex traits in a relationship are half of what a good opposite sex romantic relationship are. NO! Probably 90% of what a good romantic relationship is. The physical aspects and even the romantic feelings aspect actually are very fleeting and short lived. They are evenings here. Nice vacations there. Flowers sent on special days. But there are 365 days in a year. 24 hours in a day. The 90% of life that happens between the romantic emotions and the physical aspects…..is the good that comes from friendship……..and the one in control is willing to take the 90% because they need it. They want it. On there terms.

    Their therms is a) choosing to keep these things from their existing romantic partner because they dont have a strong friendship with them. Lets face it. Relationships are hard work. Why not compartmentalize the the good and the bad – and get your emotional(non romantic emotional) needs from your “friend”. As long as you maintain control…keep that person from that last 10%, your golden. (and because I have way to many friends and see this happen…ex-spouses who miss the friend ship and continue to find comfort being too close with an existing romantic partner who is ignored at the expense of the ongoing deep “friendship” held onto with the ex….keep reading, it will make since if you let me finish my point…)

    Now b) is the same, as I just described, yet the romantic other is an idea. The elusive picture of what you want to find. Think with me from inside their head, thoughts not out loud, but thoughts subconsciously spoken: “Your great, friend, I want this and this that you have and cant wait to find the dream date who has the 10% more that would make a perfect person. The looks and the sex I want combined with the 90% you already give me.”….and with a daydreaming eye, they subconsciously think “…but until then, I will take from you most of what I will get from them, till they walk in the door.”

    It is control. The thought that love and romance is a feeling and a physical act. Love, my friends, is commitment. It is listening when no one else is. It is answering a call when you need to talk. It is laughter in the most mundane times. It is the stick-to-it-tiveness of long time friends that lasts a lifetime. It is the foundation from which real romance and souls stirring physical love is born from.

    It is the 90% frame which contains the picture of your heart. It holds your heart.

    So, Mr. or Ms. Unknown I agree. Control allows one person to take what they will, and with rose colored glasses, assume the 10% is bigger than it is. Not only that, but DISCONNECTED FROM THE 90%….and its not. But in opposite sex friends minds…if one OR BOTH stay in control, they fool themselves to believe these two percentages are compartmentally different.

    To all I say, seek 100% from a partner. From a friend. From a love. Find a whole. …and be brave enough to keep boundaries when you want to take from a friend more than an opposite sex “friend” should give. We all need to be strong alone, whole alone. Then how much more sweet will be love with the one true love? Two complete people committing COMPLETELY to each other.

    Opposite sex friendship, the meaningful stuff, compartmental stuff spoke of in this article….is not possible long term. It either is or isn’t going to grow. Hold on too long, and it will kill something. A relationship one has ignored.

    You have to decide, the readers, with whom a relationship will wither and die….the romantic other or the opposite sex friend…. well those were my lazy Sunday, unedited thoughts on the subject :)

    Reply

  42. unknown February 25, 2010 at 8:20 pm #

    Well, the most important thing of course is if the person always has control, always gets the other person to pursue him or her, then of course they will have a “friendship” because it is based on that one person having all the control…attention is obtained from the other person – the narcissitic way…the way never to feel vulnerability…

    Unfortunately those who show love, are nuturing, sweet, kind, and considerate are “not attractive” because they “don’t play the game,”…but foolishly they continue to love unconditionally, WILL continue to pursue and they LOSE themselves in the process, and the other person will never see their true value. As a result, those people who play the “get the other person to feel attraction for me and pursue me because it feels good game” eventually LOSE out on the BEST quality people…those who express their true feelings from their heart.

    Reply

  43. michael February 16, 2010 at 9:40 am #

    To say a man and a woman can’t be just friends is crazy. All friendships should be based upon communication. If you know where each other stand it is fine. Some of the best friends i have had through life have been women. We communicate regularly and when someone comes into our lives we tell them about our friendships. If you significant other is jealous over your friendship you may need to rethink he relationship. Jealousy is never a good thing.

    Reply

  44. Brian Lee February 16, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    I think that your point on communication is a good one… the problem being that most people have very imperfect communication.

    Reply

  45. Katie February 11, 2010 at 2:39 am #

    I not 100% sure about what the other people have said. In my experence, the man always wants something more, but once they have entered the “friend” zone its difficult for them to show there true feelings for the risk of losing a close friend.

    Reply

  46. Great Pick Up Lines January 29, 2010 at 1:12 pm #

    Sure men and women can just be friends… in my personal experience at least. The difference I think is that a man will almost always want to sleep with a woman he is physically attracted to, lol… while women won’t believe this is true and will have more restraint.

    Reply

  47. Sue from Pelvic Toner Blog January 25, 2010 at 7:38 pm #

    I honestly used to believe that a man and a woman could just be friends. I had a really great male friend when I was younger, but then when he was dating other girls I began to feel jealous and experience feelings I wasn’t expecting, since then we have both got married to other people and when we do meet up now it just feels a bit weird.

    Reply

  48. After a break up January 19, 2010 at 7:55 pm #

    Good points there. The only way a platonic relationship works is when there are communication involved but not so much of time spent together. The moments spent together just kills if there’s no romantic intention. And to reinforce the point, just remember that even the best of these platonic relationships will degrade gradually once the guy has a girlfriend since he has to deal with all the “jealousy” factor. So girls, don’t keep a head up for “just friends” relationship, it’s doomed.

    Reply

  49. Love horse dating January 14, 2010 at 11:02 pm #

    Men and women can successfully become close friends, yes there are good reasons for them to do so.
    However, the reality that sexual attraction could suddenly enter the equation of a cross-sex friendship uninvited is always lurking in the background.

    Reply

  50. successpig December 31, 2009 at 1:10 am #

    I think ex’s can definitely be friends. My ex wife and I are great friends. We have 3 children and we speak to each other several times a week.

    Reply

  51. mae December 30, 2009 at 2:34 pm #

    hi,can u help me to answer this question?…
    if men and women have grown so big,how will they be able to go down on their knees,
    to welcome this truth?
    in the dark night of faith?

    Reply

  52. tristan November 19, 2009 at 10:05 am #

    I think it is hard ….at least to me.

    Thanks for sharing such useful post. I enjoy reading it.

    Reply

  53. best life coaching October 20, 2009 at 3:57 pm #

    Though it seems quite reasonable, but I personally don’t think so. There comes a point when your friendship is converted into love. It is also said that friends can be a good lover. So, I think there is a very rare, I stress, very rare instances where a boy and a girl can be just friends.

    Reply

  54. Ajax October 8, 2009 at 11:10 am #

    I think that there are a very few of these relationships.
    I’m not sure if this applies, but there was a girl i was attracted to a few years ago, and we werent very close at the time, but she was attracted to one of my friends, and went out with him. I quickly got over her, and we have become very good friends, to the point where i now consider her my closest girl friend, and we fulfill all of the above requirements, e.g spending leisure time together, and also sharing personal information.
    I am not at all sexually attracted to her now, and we have on occasion shared a bed without the thought even crossing my mind.
    But even though she has now split up with her boyfriend, i could never go out with her, because her ex is also one of my best friends.
    My point is, does this relationship count as one of these very close male/female relationships, or have i become so used to the fact that i cant go out with her, my mind has accepted it, and no longer makes me attracted to her.

    Reply

  55. bondage September 17, 2009 at 7:08 am #

    not is she is hot. temptation is always there.

    Reply

  56. Simon September 7, 2009 at 3:34 am #

    According to your 3 criteria I bet that kind of relationship would end in love affair and may also last long through successful wedding.

    Reply

  57. meh September 6, 2009 at 7:51 am #

    funny, the relationship between a brother and sister or other family members tends to meet those criteria.

    i think its a good tactic to have many female friends as a man and consciously keep them as just friends, because that gives him access to many other women.

    i think its unlikely to happen naturally because if a man becomes befriended with a woman who isn’t sexually attracted with him, hes going to feel like hes inferior all the time when hes around her. so theres more chance that they become friends after having sex.

    Reply

  58. Jason July 8, 2009 at 12:35 pm #

    And to respond to the “Ms. S”….

    What you described and the question you posed to us men for our perspective is pretty clear from my place looking in: You were in a relationship, at some leval. What loss our feeling and pain, if I can be bold, is the pain often attributed to a “break up”.

    You have to find strength in a break up to move on…and yes move on from what you see as a friendship. There is no fault, no blame, yet it did become a relationship because it was so close, as a healthy relationship should be. As a man, I suggest you look at it as a relationship, be honest with yourself, admit the depth of it so you can validate your pain.

    Then, you may find strenght to accept what it wont become and move on….see, it really is a breakup.

    If you accept the depth of the feelings and emotional attatchments you will then be able to accept that its time to find value in yourself, in your abilities to love, and let go of him so you can search for one who will not only replace the best friend portion(which any healthy relationship WILL HAVE)…but find one who will recipricate openly your love. That is not likely to happen until you have the courage to let go.

    That’s my manly perspective you asked for. Hope it helps.

    Reply

  59. Jason July 8, 2009 at 12:19 pm #

    Brian,

    Did you do ANY research or read anything besides the book “women are from venus, men are from mars”?

    You and I aggree completely…except for one key point: Harry, the charecter, as you used, has a point that you dont talk about and that is what men will end up wanting.

    So I geuss I am agreeing with Shaya!! I am a guy and I often have have had many a talk with women friends or girlfriends describing the reality of the dynamic of there “male” friends. And I have had most of them, either at that moment or sometimes long after, but most of them had a light turn on – they like the underlining sexual attention and/or their male friends had held on to hope in the back of there mind for a growth to more.

    Why post a comment if this was brought up by Shaya??

    There IS a in between! Though I agree with Shaya point, the logical response is you cant talk to any men other than your husband?? No, I believe that there are boundaries of some key points you CAN maintain and be casual friends. Your article made it clear we you were talking about deep friendship as you defined in your 3 criteria. I want to point out that those can be considered boundary points. I do believe men and women maintain those without knowing it sometimes, and with mature people who see these boundaries are probably people who respect themselves better than most and respect the opposite sex better than most as well because though they “could” be deep friends, they CHOOSE out of mutual respect to maintain boundaries.

    If this were not true, a women should shun every man who talks to her in public for more than a minute. You have to instead ask:

    * is this crossing the boundary of what is personal?
    —-Huge misconception the world has: if asked a question often people feel responsible to answer. NO! Not every question a friend asks must be answered! Some are worse than others, but take for instance this: If a boss asked you a question about work, we ALL THINK BEFORE WE SPEAK! We dont want to tell them the wrong things, good or bad, we think before we speak. Yet, when things get personal and with friends, we feel obligated at times to speak without THINKING. Some feel they are obligated to give some kind of truthful answer, even if to deflect. We are afraid sometimes to NOT respond, hence protect our personal areas. That’s my humble opinion on this point anyway…

    * is this headed to private time together?
    —-not necessarily alone time, but even in public, like a restaurant or park, yet away from others who may by their presence keep you accountable.

    * is this investment touching on what either person would want to be part of a “relationship”?
    —-any time we say “I dont want anything more” needs to be followed up with action of walking away. It doesn’t matter “why” and we often assume we have to explain, which often leads to the reject person changing to fit into an acceptable place so that person can stay close. So without the follow through, otherwise they are empty words that only make the person who said them feel better about staying and taking what they want regardless of how the other may feel. Its a cop out to say that and stay in a deep friendship without clear and obviously stepping out of that deep connection, again like your and my criteria points too.

    So to sum up – Shaya and you are correct, but I think too that we CAN maintain boundaries, that, if EITHER person crosses, must be followed up with action to step away. Yet, if both people respect each other with boundries, an open (non private) and safe friendship is possible.

    But when some of or all of your 3 criteria take root…than I fully agree with SHAYA!!!! 100%…Harry was right.

    Reply

  60. Brian Lee July 8, 2009 at 12:36 pm #

    Jason- Well thought-out comment. I appreciate the input.

    Research- no, this is just an opinion piece.

    What I see many readers doing is thinking deeply about all of the relative situations of this topic, which is what smart people do. -They have learned to think relativistically.

    I’m pretty good a relativism, but I’ve found in my years that it can get you in big trouble and it takes a lot of energy.

    I haven’t thrown relativism out the window, but I have learned to acknowledge it and decisively choose a practical framework for thinking that can help me get on with my life and limit my exposure to risk.

    Lots of great debate on this post thread. Please keep it up.

    Reply

  61. Shaya July 6, 2009 at 2:21 pm #

    THIS IS JUST MY POINT OF VIEW….I am a female and I say “NO”…you cannot be platonic friends with a male…no way. The reason that people become friends in the first place is because they are attracted to each other’s personalities….so this type of friendship there is already attraction going on…and then throw in the female and male sex drive….recipe for a roll in the hay. Women do like to fool themselves and their boyfriends/spouses in to thinking that it is just a friendship….and not sexual…but at least one of them….if not both…will start to develop feelings…or just want to jump in the sack. Men and women cannot be just friends. Women who say “Oh, I get along better with men” are really saying that they like to get all the attention from men and make other women jealous and they are just playing games with men. Women who say they get along better with men are lying to themselves but more then likely what they are really saying is that the like attention from men more because it is sexual attention.

    Reply

  62. Brian Lee July 6, 2009 at 2:32 pm #

    Wow, Shaya. I’ve got to respect such an honest opinion.

    Reply

  63. Anirudh K. Mahant July 3, 2009 at 1:36 am #

    WOW! Thanks Brian for the appreciation. Very few people like to share their thoughts on their personal experiences esp. in intricate matters like this. I have to give Hats Off to you on this article BTW, because recently I have been experiencing both Insecurity and GF/BF messups ;)

    It helped me understand where I stand now in that relationship. Oh sorry! I didnt wanted to increase your server loads by making more and more comments but expect some more enlightening and thought sharing comments from me in the future :)

    And last bu no least I don’t come from StumbleUpon, I come from Google searching for Insecurity but found a Combo Pack!

    Reply

  64. Anirudh K. Mahant July 2, 2009 at 6:52 pm #

    “These experiences foster the impression that nice guys really do finish last”
    -PS: Thought of the Day

    Boy this article serves a great relief to definately the mans apetite and hopefully the womans too and above all to guys like me I guess :). I did this “jerk” type opening up on 2 to 3 occasions and guess what? Down you go in the Trash Can! But its not my mistake or any of those “nice guys” mistake if they open up, because what I believe is that “You must make sure that you get what you like, otherwise you will be forced to like what you get!”. Besides this might just become your one big time memory you would be proud to advice to your grand children as a Grand Pa maybe?

    There are several traits Brian thats what I can say. Women often get surprised when a good long time friend comes out and asks her for a relationship, they take it as “I am very surprised to hear this from you”. But what If a complete stranger walks into her and tells her the same things, what kind of a blimp size surprise that would turn out to be? I don’t know who to advocate on this one; the Long Time Friend or the Girl? But never mind I learned a lot from this yet another great article! I am a big time fan of this site now!

    Reply

  65. Brian Lee July 2, 2009 at 7:51 pm #

    Thanks, everyone for the comments. Some very good thoughts and insights to add to the conversation.

    There has been a resurgence of interest in this article and “Signs of Insecurity.” I wonder why?

    Are you guys coming from StumbleUpon?

    Welcome, wherever you are coming from.

    Keep bugging me and I’ll finally put out another article.

    Reply

  66. Catherine Smith July 1, 2009 at 10:56 pm #

    One of my best friends in college was a guy and I thought we genuinely were just friends. We have grown apart now and I think that happens when one person falls in love with someone else and gets married. We are still in contact occasionally, but no longer good friends.
    I agree with your article though. You never really know how the other person is feeling and you risk hurting them. I had a little crush on him for a while and who knows he may have had a crush on me at some point.
    All I know is that now I am married we never see each other anymore, so I guess I will never know what really happened there.

    Reply

  67. Bi Sadong July 1, 2009 at 12:07 am #

    Personally, I never believe men and women can be friend forever. At certain point one of them will fall in love but will never admit. This is from my own experience.

    Reply

  68. Ana l Dating Better March 16, 2009 at 1:56 am #

    Can Men and Women Really be “Just Friends?”..Yes, of course! But then again, there should be a limitation.

    My hubby and I were married for 5 years blessed with two wonderful kids. I have a particular guy friend whose so close to me, we share a laugh, cry as our bonding moments but never alone, I mean, on our own.. Yes, I am so close with him but there should be a limitation to that closeness because I do respect my husband a lot. It is not jealousy that counts, it the respect with your special someone that should matter. :-)

    Reply

  69. girl with guy brain evidently October 21, 2008 at 1:48 pm #

    Evidently I am one of the shades of gray… from this it looks like I have a guy’s mind while I’m a girl. Too many times when I begin a friendship with a guy. I think too much about it and whether he has an agenda that I develop feelings for him. Right now I am even in a relationship like this. We’re close, but he has a girlfriend and I know they’re close and probably will get married one day. I can’t help having these thoughts and feelings towards him though. It’s terrible. As I read through this I just kept thinking, “Wow. I’m the guy and he’s the girl- the oblivious one.” The only time I have ever lied to him was when a friend commented on how it looked like we were in a relationship (beyond friendship) and then he asked me if I was interested in him. He then proceeded to tell me that he knows that he is neither conciously nor subconciously in love with me. He doesn’t see that we’re getting really close and spending a lot of alone time together. It really is tearing me apart!

    Reply

  70. feier September 21, 2008 at 6:10 am #

    When i see this title ,first i think it is possible.

    Reply

  71. Rose April 28, 2008 at 3:50 am #

    I think that one kind of friendship this article fails to take into account is childhood friends. Some people are still friends with someone they met in kindergarten. These types of friendships tend not to involve romantic attraction because of the Westermarck effect, but they can be very emotionally intimate.

    Reply

  72. S March 27, 2008 at 1:04 pm #

    I found this article to be extremely interesting, especially because it came from a guy’s perspective.

    But I am a woman and in a strange situation myself. I was very close friends with this guy for 10 years. Even though for most of that time we weren’t in the same city, we have stayed very close. In retrospect, I suspect he had feelings for me toward the beginning of our friendship but I think I was probably oblivious (willingly and unwittingly as well).

    Any way, I started developing feelings for him last fall, but I wasn’t quite sure how I felt yet. We spent a weekend together and at some point I said something about how we should get married in 5 years if we hadn’t met anyone (we are both about 30). He said “Are you sure you want to wait that long?” to which I responded by freaking out – literally I started talking about my biological clock and how quickly 5 years would come.

    Then after a few weeks I started to realize that I might be in love with him. So I wrote him an email – one of the most important things I’ve said to anyone ever. I said that I thought we deserved a chance & that I had freaked out before but that if I had to imagine the person I would want to be with it would be him. I acknowledged how doing it over email was crazy but I didn’t know how else to say what I needed to say to him, that if he needed time it was fine, but I didn’t want to lose him.

    & he freaked out. & has continued to freak out for the past 6 months. Basically all I’ve gotten have been a handful of clumsy, vaguely incoherent emails and about 3 phone calls, two of which I initiated, only one of which I felt was truly honest (not surprisingly perhaps, this was the one he initiated). Overall I kept reaching out to him, wanting to let go of the romantic thing but just not wanting to lose his friendship. But it became very difficult and even though he said he felt bad that he had let me down in his inability to really talk about it, he still couldn’t talk about it or even really try to be friends again.

    Now, I am terribly distraught because I think I have lost his friendship & I completely regret saying what I said to him. I tend to think he obviously wasn’t ready but that he knows it is a mistake for us to not have even tried … & is overwhelmed by the whole thing. If it is a mistake, though, I am willing to let him make it, even though it sucks, especially because now that I have seen this more selfish side of him I am not sure he is even strong enough for me (you’re welcome for not actually saying “strong enough to be my man” :) ).

    We haven’t been in touch for about a month, and the way I left it was that I told him that t was too hard to try to be his friend again when it felt like I was the only one even trying to keep it. I think he has gone into ostrich-mode … but I don’t know how long he plans to stay there. & I fear I will never see him ever again.

    I share all of this here for two reasons:

    1. To impart that it isn’t true that once a woman puts you in a friend box it is impossible for her to develop feelings for you. Haven’t you ever seen Scrubs? Seriously though. Ultimately, before all this went down, this guy was the one (straight) man who was always there for me, who I knew adored me, who always made me laugh, who would shoot the knees out of any stupid guy who hurt me, whom I probably even took for granted (though I think he took me for granted too). & now, sadly, he let me down more than any man I ever cared about.
    2. To get a male perspective – from men who have apparently thought about this issue – on what happened. I learned recently that another friend of mine had something very similar happen to her – which was even more acute because in the past he had professed his feelings for her. What was most similar though was his utter inability to talk about it. WHY? Why can’t they talk about it? & why do they want to throw away the friendship that was there? The super-close guy-girl friendship that is both silly and serious is very special. I feel terrible that my gamble didn’t work out, mostly because what I had thought would be the worst case scenario was that we would have a mildly awkward 10-15 minute conversation and move on with our lives. I never thought that my gamble would result in the loss of an important friendship.

    /S

    Reply

  73. Jeff February 5, 2008 at 8:00 pm #

    I like the article, it truly does speak the truth. You haven’t posted an article in a long time, I hope you get back to it soon. Men and women truly are different, and although there are exceptions to this rule, it stands true empirically.

    Reply

  74. live in truth September 28, 2007 at 11:52 pm #

    There is an additional comment I must make concerning this article and it’s slant toward the male perspective which does contain the unfortunate side of lying to ourselves and each other in gender relations.

    He claims: “When the men fail to get a “favorable response” THEY befriend the woman. The befriended woman doesn’t realize that by carrying on the charade, SHE is ripping his heart out.”

    I have to ask the question who is deceiving whom here? He is deceiving her, then conveniently assumes she must be aware of the “charade” HE is instigating in his mind and therefore blames her for what HE started in motion. He is transferring the blame. In fact, he set the situation up that way and then feels justified in calling her the victimizer.

    Perhaps we all need to go within and wake up (men and women). Start telling ourselves and each other the truth so this type of psychological warfare and victimization is stopped. Men and women can be friends when they ARE men and women. Men and women are honest with themselves and each other.

    Reply

  75. live in truth September 25, 2007 at 2:02 am #

    I believe this author is telling the hidden, in the closet truth that has been a huge source of conflict, anger and victimization between men and women. I do believe that in certain circumstances men and women can “just be friends”, but more often than not there is a hidden agenda filtered by our unawareness and self deception and this can be very dangerous. I always had male friends, mainly because I found the conversations to be more intellectually stimulating or because I had the opportunity to participate and learn trades that were typically manly. Of course I believed that they were just my friends because that is what they told me. It wasn’t true. This turned into the worst case scenario. A man did not tell the truth to me or himself, I was unaware of the dynamic (as most women are) being too open and friendly. When I started dating someone, I suddenly became the villian abuser victimizer that had destroyed our marriage that I knew nothing about. This man was seriously hurt, angry and devastated. The truth is that we were both living in denial of how it typically works. I felt terrible because I didn’t know the truth and my unawareness contributed to his pain. Ladies, be careful because men can be very hurt and so can you. Deeply repressed emotions can turn into something VERY scary. Men are socialized to be strong and perhaps not let on how they really feel. Even if you tell them the truth, they might not hear you. We are not told the truth of how men typically think and even when we are we don’t want to believe it. Often these men will assume that we “know” in their mind, therefore they feel victimized and sometimes like in my case they will unjustly come after you and hurt you.

    Reply

  76. Jonathan September 1, 2007 at 7:13 am #

    I have a bunch of female friends. I’m not interested in having sex with them. So yes, it is possible. Just depends on the people.

    Reply

  77. Brian Lee July 4, 2007 at 12:10 am #

    I’m glad you stopped by, Alice.

    Reply

  78. Alice McCloud July 3, 2007 at 5:52 pm #

    Great Article. I am a 54 year old female, who has experienced this for years. I never knew that I was setting up some disasters. Too often both the man & the woman gets hurt, one way or the other.

    Reply

  79. Brad May 2, 2007 at 1:30 pm #

    Women do think this way , I have a girlfriend who has these Flings with guys she calls ” Friends” She doesn’t cheat but she also doesn’t know or care that these guys want her . she has no clue what she is doing to be inside . It’s fine to be friends , But it’s not fine to go out with these guys alone .

    Reply

  80. Matthew Jabs March 28, 2007 at 9:04 am #

    lol…cattiness. good word.

    I had a girl like this when I was in high school, but after that didn’t work out…I never did it again. Great article on a very true aspect of interpersonal relationships.

    PS…Swingers is my favorite movie too!

    Reply

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