Can Men and Women Ever Be Friends?

Do you or your partner have friends of the opposite sex? If so, have you ever worried that there might be more to the friendship than meets the eye?

A recent study from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire suggests there might be. Researchers surveyed men and women ages 18 to 52 and asked them to rate their feelings about their friendships with the opposite sex.

The results were surprising. Most of the individuals did admit to some level of attraction for their friends, and the higher the level of attraction, the lower the level of satisfaction they felt with their significant other. 

The results differed based on gender as well. Men were more likely to admit to a higher level of attraction, and they also were more likely to believe that their female friends felt similarly. Women reported lower levels of attraction and they also believed that their male friends would report equally low levels.

Hence, even if you think that your friend is just your pal, he might have different intentions and vice versa. While these feelings might forever remain buried, they could lead to major issues in situations where alcohol or low inhibitions are involved.

Even if the feelings don’t lead to physical infidelity, this intimacy and hidden desire can easily lead to an emotional affair. An emotional affair might not include sex, but it can be just as hurtful and damaging to your relationship because you will channel all of your time, energy, and spirit into connecting with your friend, instead of your mate.  

Does this mean that men and women can’t ever be friends? Of course not. Yet I think it is very important to always proceed with caution when establishing friendships with the opposite sex, and to ensure that the friendship never becomes a risk factor in your relationship.

Not only should you make sure that your partner is okay with the friendship, but you should also strive to include him in your outings and to make sure that he feels comfortable with your friend. Look out for red flags that suggest your friend might have hidden motives and don’t put yourself in situations where bad decisions can occur. In other words, don’t leave a dinner with friends in order to have a one-on-one nightcap at his apartment and don’t allow conversations or situations to become tinged with sexual innuendo or flirtation.

It’s also important to make sure that you safeguard your relationship on an emotional level as well. You should never gossip about your partner behind his back, but especially not with a friend of the opposite sex and especially not about what happens in the bedroom.

And make sure that you aren’t investing more time and energy into the friendship than you are in the relationship. If you catch yourself thinking more about your friend than your mate, or if you find yourself going out of the way to put makeup on or a sexy outfit before you see your friend, it definitely might be time to pull back.

Ultimately, men and women can be friends, but there is no denying that male-female friendships are different than same-sex friendships, and as such, it is crucial to proceed with caution and safeguard your relationship against these potential risks.


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