Can men and women be 'just friends'?

Dorothy Black finds out that platonic relations between the sexes may be nothing more than wishful thinking.

I found myself in a rather uncomfortable position at a small downtown soiree the other night.

We were well into the evening and enjoying the generous quantity of drinks and canapés, when I found myself cornered by Irate Wife who was two decibels away from causing an uncomfortable scene.

She was fuming because her husband was spending a substantial portion of his evening with an old friend of his – a girl friend... as in friend of the female persuasion.

Sure, they’d drunken shagged once, like, a million years ago, but that was in the past and let’s face it, they’d been friends for a million years.

Surely the ‘friend’ bit should’ve counted for something.

But Wife was having none it.

Wife was Pissed Off in big capital letters and her hubby was perfectly unaware, engrossed as he was by the animated discussion of his friend – or as Wife likes to refer to her, the Eastern Block Whore.

As I calmed Wife down with cooing and compassionate rationale, it occurred to me that this wasn’t just jealousy talking. This was a very fundamental sense of snubbery; his emotional connection to another women was a far greater threat than any moonlight dance their genitals could’ve done.

Wife simply couldn’t understand why he needed to talk to EBW when he’d chosen to marry her. Why, even after she’d discussed her feelings about this with him in such depth over the years, he still insisted on speaking to the hussy who was clearly only after one thing (what with her skinny jeans and hooker heels and hair flicking).

It was like he was doing this on purpose. Or wasn’t giving it (or her) a second thought at all. It’s like she could figure out which was worse. Poor thing. I didn’t think he was giving it a second thought. There was, after all, nothing to give a thought to – he was just talking to a friend right? Men can have an emotional, sexually platonic connection to more than one woman, right?

I’m firmly in the camp of thinkers that believe men and women can actually be friends; that not every interaction is a veiled message to get jiggy with it.

Hell we’ve built the Hadron Collider and will all be going to Mars soon, surely we’re capable of bypassing our reptile brain every so often? RIGHT?

But then that study came out. The one revealing that, in fact, men and women were not capable of being ‘just friends’.

Last year, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, US, ran a test where pairs of opposite-sex friends answered questions about each other.

Turns out that while the women were cool with seeing their male friends in a purely platonic light, the guys in turn saw a wealth of possibility for ‘romance’.

That given the opportunity, they’d jump at the chance of jumping their girl friend.

Did it mean that Wife had reason to freak out? Does it explain why I probably have more gay men as close friends than straight men? Does it mean there is some basis for petty jealousies?

I went out on a few dates once with this guy who didn’t want to be friends after I’d hooked up with someone else. Not because his heart was broken, but because he ‘doesn’t do that’ (have girl friends) and the only female in his life apart from his family would be his wife.

At the time I thought it pretty narrow-minded and sad, actually. So we parted ways and that was that.

And now I wonder, was he right? I mean, the white coats are suggesting that thousands of years of evolution still win out against this crazy social notion of ‘just friends’. 

And while I have many straight guy friends, I don’t have many that are close. In fact, in my experience, the guys that get ‘close’ to their female friends end up trying to hook up with them.

Maybe instead of placating Wife down to a more acceptable volume I should’ve suggested going into full battle mode and tearing hubby away from his so-called ‘friend’.

But then I remembered, we’re all adults here and men are capable of polite interaction without the distraction of their romantic notions. At least I’m pretty sure of it. For an honest answer I’ll go ask my close guy friends, all two of them.

Read Dorothy's blog, like her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter.

Follow Women24 on Twitter and like us on Facebook.


Share this page (What are these?):

Read Women24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
22 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
We reserve the right to maintain the quality of the discourse on the comments board as much as we can.
By posting comments you agree to our Terms & Conditions.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.