If you had asked me this question a few years ago, I would have said yes absolutely. Now I’m not so sure. I’ve come to see (and believe) that men and women can never be “just friends” without one of them eventually (& secretly) fancying the pants off the other and wanting more from the relationship.
Sure men and women can be acquaintances, or cyber friends, or long distance friends, or friends within a larger group of friends… but I don’t think that men and women can claim to be platonic friends of the lets-hang-out-alone-every-other-day variety without fostering *some* kind of attraction to each other.
And sometimes, it may not happen overnight. It may not even happen during the weeks that follow. But what happens on the one day when one or the other is facing some sort of crisis or emotional breakdown… either a failed relationship or severe family issues etc… what happens when that person is rendered vulnerable and turns to his / her friend for comfort? Sometimes when people are desperate or are in seemingly life threatening predicaments, it unleashes a torrent of emotion often directed at the one doing the comforting.
To be quite honest, if I look back at my own personal experiences there’s always been some kind of attraction with most of my close male friends. Sometimes that attraction came from me and at other times, it came from them.
I had one particular friend who was in love with me and I just never knew it. We would hang out a lot in the company of other mutual friends and have long philosophical debates and conversations. At the time, I never took note of his efforts… he’d always make sure I got home safely and buy little thoughtful gifts and leave them in weird places until I found them… and when I eventually found out, I was quite shocked but in any case, it was too late for anything to develop between us.
Then there was Jason. From the moment I saw him I was instantly attracted to him. He looked like he stepped right out of a Dolce and Gabbana print ad from the pages of the latest GQ magazine. Then I found out his name was Jason… and “Muslim” being a large part of my non-negotiable criteria for any potential amorous endeavours meant that I quickly discarded any romantic interest in him and we became "just friends". He turned out to be one of my best friends ever, but it doesn't take away from the fact that there was an initial attraction.
Unfortunately, I know many men who would risk solid friendships running for years, decades even, if it meant that they had a chance to cross those friendship lines in a moment of weakness. It seems inevitable that given substantial time and proximity, every male/female friendship is destined to progress into something more… or it will die a horrible death, crumbling and disintegrating under the weight of ever-changing perceptions and emotions and growing expectations.