Opinion polls: Can men and women ever be friends?
Opinion polls are divided about whether men and women can be “just friends” – but one survey showed they apparently can’t.
According to the survey of people who shared their thoughts in opinion polls , heterosexual men were much more likely than women to begin having sexual feelings towards their female friends, regardless of their current relationship status. Apparently, this changes with age, as another survey which saw you share your thoughts in opinion polls found that middle-aged men and women had lower levels of attraction between friends overall, yet it was more equal between the sexes.
But is this true? Anecdotal evidence on my part (I thought) contradicted this, as I started proudly naming all my male friends to my other half. Once he had removed work colleagues (friends apparently only include members of the opposite sex who you regularly socialise with outside of work and work events), removed the friends who were in fact his, and discounted my homosexual male friends, he was in fact correct that I didn’t have any genuine heterosexual male friends. Those whom I had had were now in the category of ex boyfriends. Eek.
Why is this? Some relationship experts believe that platonic cross-gender friendships upset our romantic relationships as the partner can feel very threatened, so we tend to avoid them. Some blame sexual desire that’s unrequited as a reason for unsustainable cross-gender friendships, and others blame the ‘Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus’ mentality making us seek out the same sex for companionship.
A different survey, which invited participants to share their thoughts in online polls, found that bonds between men and women are evolving, and in a world with increased equality we find more in common with the opposite sex than ever before. Many survey participants found a confidant in a friend of the opposite sex which didn’t necessarily evolve into a romantic relationship. However, the study did show that participants who reported no physical or sexual attraction to their friend had significantly longer friendships compared to those who felt an attraction.
Writer William Deresiewicz shared his opinion in an article in the New York Times, noting that the historical attitude of men and women not fraternizing socially until feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft changed things in 1792 could still be lingering, and that there is a lack of platonic mixed-gender friendships in popular culture (in films, for example, the BFFs usually run off and get married). However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t successful male-female friendships in real life.
Apparently Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio did it. Julia Roberts and George Clooney did it. And Miss Piggy and Gonzo definitely did it. And by “did it” (oi, cheeky) we mean managed to maintain a platonic friendship. So perhaps there is hope after all.
At Opinion Outpost we love hearing you share your thoughts in opinion polls! What do you think? Can women and men ever stay just friends? Have you got a BFF who you would never ever boff? Let us know what you think by joining the discussion on our Facebook page!