Can Men and Women Be Friends?

This weekend I spent an afternoon with my long-time friend, Nike.  Nike and I have known each other for about 14 years.  We met when our firstborns ended up in the same kindergarten class.  Two years later our second born kids also shared a kindergarten class and the boys became close friends.  We live about a block apart but in different neighborhoods.  Our families have gone on vacations together over the years and shared many kid and adult activities together also.  Every summer we have a tradition of meeting down at the beach early on Friday evenings.  We hang out and watch the sunset while we chat and nibble on appetizers, maybe sip a cocktail ,and then we head off for dinner once darkness arrives.  I savor those summer evenings.  Nike is the type of friend that you know you can call up in an emergency and count on without hesitation.  She and I are very different in many ways but the bond of friendship runs deep.

Nike had a birthday last week so, as we always do, we went out to celebrate.  It was supposed to be drinks on Friday night, but kid events intervened and we ended up out for lunch on Saturday.  Lunch itself probably only took 20 or 30 minutes.  The conversation, however, went on for 3 hours.  Three hours of catching up and it had only been a week since we had seen each other.  Our conversations tend to cover everything from day to day life to deeper issues on life, marriage, politics, personal convictions, etc.  Nothing is off limits.

The big topic of the day was a discussion of male/female friendships.  Nike and I find ourselves on polar opposites regarding this.  It is a discussion I have been having with several people lately and I find the responses from everyone very interesting.  I decided it would be a good topic to bring to the blogoshpere so I have been informally polling friends for their opinion. 

The question is … can men and women have successful friendships that are JUST friendships?  I say yes – absolutely.  Nike says no – absolutely not. 

I named off some men that I know have been in Nike’s life for years and she insists they are not friends.  They are husbands of friends, but not her friends.  I grew up in a neighborhood of mainly boys and have always had close male friends.  In fact, I have always felt like I relate more to men than women and can’t imagine not having my male friends in my life.  Not that I don’t cherish my female friends because I absolutely do.  However, I have always been able to turn to male friends and feel a connection that is not impacted by any of that girly stuff that can get in the way.  I am not a girly girl and never have been.  Men tend to be honest, real, blunt … qualities I appreciate.  Possibly it is the way I grew up, but I can’t imagine life without my male friends.   

I do believe that male/female friendships are probably easier to form and maintain prior to marriage.  I also believe that male/female friendships in the work place are more likely to last over time just because there is ongoing contact to help maintain those friendships.  However, I do believe that it is entirely possible and beneficial to have opposite sex friendships at any point in your life.  Granted, if you are married you have to be with a spouse who is not threatened by opposite sex friendships.

In talking to people about this subject I have heard every type of response imaginable.  From one man who told me, "Sure I can have female friends, but I still want to #$% them.", to another who said, "I’ve had female friends with no sexual undertones MANY times in my life."  One woman told me she has given up on having male friendships because, "Men always ruin it and try to make it something else."  Another girlfriend told me she has several male friends that she counts on as her closest confidants.  What do you think?  Do you have successful friendships with the opposite sex?  Do you believe men and women can be just friends?       

      

12 Responses to “Can Men and Women Be Friends?”

  1. Jan

    I love men. The things that irritate other women about men, I just find endearing. I am the only woman in our office and it doesn’t bother me a bit – in fact, it tickles me to no end most of the time. And I have lots and lots of male friends – out of my three closest friends (not counting Beloved), one of them is a man and we’ve been friends for 30 years.
    So yeah – I do believe in the fabled platonic friendship between men and women, although I think it has a lot to do with the people involved. If the men and women involved tend to think of the opposite gender only in sexual terms, it kind of blows any chance for being “just friends” doesn’t it?

  2. Jan

    I love men. The things that irritate other women about men, I just find endearing. I am the only woman in our office and it doesn’t bother me a bit – in fact, it tickles me to no end most of the time. And I have lots and lots of male friends – out of my three closest friends (not counting Beloved), one of them is a man and we’ve been friends for 30 years.
    So yeah – I do believe in the fabled platonic friendship between men and women, although I think it has a lot to do with the people involved. If the men and women involved tend to think of the opposite gender only in sexual terms, it kind of blows any chance for being “just friends” doesn’t it?

  3. Jan

    I love men. The things that irritate other women about men, I just find endearing. I am the only woman in our office and it doesn’t bother me a bit – in fact, it tickles me to no end most of the time. And I have lots and lots of male friends – out of my three closest friends (not counting Beloved), one of them is a man and we’ve been friends for 30 years.
    So yeah – I do believe in the fabled platonic friendship between men and women, although I think it has a lot to do with the people involved. If the men and women involved tend to think of the opposite gender only in sexual terms, it kind of blows any chance for being “just friends” doesn’t it?

  4. Undomestic Diva

    I think women can have men who are just friends, but men cannot have women that are just friends. So… it never works out long term.

  5. Undomestic Diva

    I think women can have men who are just friends, but men cannot have women that are just friends. So… it never works out long term.

  6. Undomestic Diva

    I think women can have men who are just friends, but men cannot have women that are just friends. So… it never works out long term.

  7. jo

    Hmmmmm. I love hanging out with guys and always have. I’m a tomboy at heart…love playing in the dirt, getting sweaty, doing the stereotypical “guy” things. This doesn’t mean I’m not a woman…just makes me feel alive I guess. I could care less about the nails and hair, etc. (with the exception of covering the grays). I’m a certified firefighter (volunteer) and I’d prefer to crawl on the floor dragging inch and a half fire hose and an axe in full turnout gear and air pack than sipping lattes at Starbucks (though I like that very much, too…just a matter of what’s MORE fun). So, one would think that this is big turnoff to guys, right….sweaty girl without makeup, nails, etc. sitting aroung BSing with guys, cussing a bit, etc. Well, turns out I’ve met my last two boyfriends and current husband this way….not intentional at all. It seems that this “I am woman hear me roar” thing is attractive to some guys…who would’ve guessed? So the answer to the question is “yes” and “no”, in my opinion. Perhaps it would’ve been totally different if I wasn’t trying to be “one of the guys”.
    Interesting point to ponder…..

  8. jo

    Hmmmmm. I love hanging out with guys and always have. I’m a tomboy at heart…love playing in the dirt, getting sweaty, doing the stereotypical “guy” things. This doesn’t mean I’m not a woman…just makes me feel alive I guess. I could care less about the nails and hair, etc. (with the exception of covering the grays). I’m a certified firefighter (volunteer) and I’d prefer to crawl on the floor dragging inch and a half fire hose and an axe in full turnout gear and air pack than sipping lattes at Starbucks (though I like that very much, too…just a matter of what’s MORE fun). So, one would think that this is big turnoff to guys, right….sweaty girl without makeup, nails, etc. sitting aroung BSing with guys, cussing a bit, etc. Well, turns out I’ve met my last two boyfriends and current husband this way….not intentional at all. It seems that this “I am woman hear me roar” thing is attractive to some guys…who would’ve guessed? So the answer to the question is “yes” and “no”, in my opinion. Perhaps it would’ve been totally different if I wasn’t trying to be “one of the guys”.
    Interesting point to ponder…..

  9. jo

    Hmmmmm. I love hanging out with guys and always have. I’m a tomboy at heart…love playing in the dirt, getting sweaty, doing the stereotypical “guy” things. This doesn’t mean I’m not a woman…just makes me feel alive I guess. I could care less about the nails and hair, etc. (with the exception of covering the grays). I’m a certified firefighter (volunteer) and I’d prefer to crawl on the floor dragging inch and a half fire hose and an axe in full turnout gear and air pack than sipping lattes at Starbucks (though I like that very much, too…just a matter of what’s MORE fun). So, one would think that this is big turnoff to guys, right….sweaty girl without makeup, nails, etc. sitting aroung BSing with guys, cussing a bit, etc. Well, turns out I’ve met my last two boyfriends and current husband this way….not intentional at all. It seems that this “I am woman hear me roar” thing is attractive to some guys…who would’ve guessed? So the answer to the question is “yes” and “no”, in my opinion. Perhaps it would’ve been totally different if I wasn’t trying to be “one of the guys”.
    Interesting point to ponder…..

  10. alan

    Interesting question and I say “Yes”. Men and women CAN just be friends. Maybe its if there isn’t a sexual attraction there, but I believe we can be friends! (At least, I would like to think so!)

  11. alan

    Interesting question and I say “Yes”. Men and women CAN just be friends. Maybe its if there isn’t a sexual attraction there, but I believe we can be friends! (At least, I would like to think so!)

  12. alan

    Interesting question and I say “Yes”. Men and women CAN just be friends. Maybe its if there isn’t a sexual attraction there, but I believe we can be friends! (At least, I would like to think so!)

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