Can Men and Women Be 'Just Friends'?

It's a famous conundrum - can men and women be friends? And it's not one of those easily answered questions. Both sides of the battle have good points: jealousy and sexual tension for the "men and women canNOT be friends," crowd, while the other group says, "Why not? Look at me and my friends of the opposite sex!"

And both sides are right. They're also both wrong.

Here's what I've learned about opposite-sex friendships.


The idea that men and women cannot be friends is something that's a bit outdated. When women were the homemakers while men went out and earned the bacon, members of the opposite sex had a harder time being friends. They'd interact in social settings, certainly, but beyond that, it was nearly impossible to have a "male friend" if you were a female and vice versa.

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Nowadays, you'll find men and women working together, hanging out together, doing projects together, and confiding in one another. It's a new era of sexual and social liberation for men and women, one in which opposite-sex friendships can exist.

To have an opposite-sex friendship, though, the boundaries have to be clearly set. I, for example, am friends and only friends with my guy pals. That means no sloppy drunk sex, no flirtation, nothing that can be misconstrued as sexual attraction.

By far, the biggest challenge for people in opposite-sex friendships is other people. It sounds silly, but it's true. Every opposite-sex friendship is eventually scrutinized by other people who believe that men and women cannot actually be just friends.

I've found my male friends to be invaluable - I couldn't replace them with any number of women. Men give me a different perspective, and they're helpful in finding solutions to difficult problems. Best of all, they bring so much less drama to the table. Every time I've had issue with a guy friend, I say so, we talk for a second, and we work it out - no backstabbing, no oblique Facebook statuses, just straight-up conversation. 

So Harry (from When Harry Met Sally), you're wrong. 

Do YOU have any friends of the opposite sex? Why or why not?

Image via Jesslee Cuizon/Flickr

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