Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Can Men & Women Ever Be "Just Friends"?

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.


  1. I kinda agree with you ... I have always maintained that men and women can be friends as long they are extremely unattractive and have food stuck between their teeth, otherwise there is always a chance that one or the other will start feeling something

  2. my my what a pandora's box you've opened here!

    but i think i agree with what you are saying - there will be some form of attraction between sexes, even if it does end up being a most amazing lifelong friendship!

  3. I used to think yes, years & years ago, but then I wised up. The critical point though, which you raised, is spending time alone together.

    Btw, came across this once..
    How to fall in love
    Find a complete stranger.
    Reveal to each other intimate details about your lives for half an hour.
    Then, stare deeply into each other’s eyes without talking for four minutes.

    York psychologist, Professor Arthur Arun, has been studying why people fall in love.
    He asked his subjects to carry out the above 3 steps and found that many of his couples felt deeply attracted after the 34 minute experiment. Two of his subjects later got married.

  4. Tazeen - I've come to believe that as humans, we have the capacity to love literally ANYONE... all that is required is that we be open to it :P

    Prixie - Yeah exactly... some people maintain their friendships and never act on those feelings, but there's almost always a "feeling" from either person and sometimes from both individuals :)

    mezzaterra - Absolutely true. Most people just want a connection or to feel like they're understood... its that form of validation that makes them less guarded and more open to the idea of something more. I was also telling my sister yesterday that I find it amazing that a lot of people will like someone just because that person likes or pays attention to them.

    In one particular incident that happened some time ago, we went out to this trendy place and as we were sitting there, this very attractive guy kept on looking at me... and it was obvious that he liked me... but because I found him attractive (in my eyes), I found that I automatically liked him too... and I've seen this with many people... they simply like people who like them lol.

  5. Women - have sex with men because they like them.

    Men - have sex with women to see if they like them.

    For the most part, heterosexual men don't hang around women that they don't want to have sex with. The guy may not be able to close the deal, but it doesn't mean that he doesn't want to.

    The way a women confirms that is to offer to have sex with the "just friend" and see if he takes her up on it. I'm not suggesting that she put out - only offer to in order to confirm my theory.

    If you want a lap-dog male, the best approach is to find a homosexual male who can be your 'girlfriend'.

  6. I agree that this is the case, but I also maintain that it's possible to, for lack of a better term, "have dominion" over the feelings of attraction. It's possible to quell them and for the friendship to flourish without the awkwardness a romantic inclination would bring :) Found you randomly through Twitter, by the way. Great blog!

  7. neonlights - :)

    LL - I agree with you. On some level every guy is attracted to his "friend" and vice versa...

    Gwen S - Welcome :) & Yes, I agree that we choose to act on our feelings or not... in my case Jason was a classic example since he was interested in me initially as well... but we both decided not to go there & became good friends instead.

  8. I am like you. I would have said definitely they can be just friends some years ago. Now, with experience, I have to say if they are just friends and are content to remain friends - something's wrong! :-D

  9. and Bollywood movies haven't helped! :-)

  10. mezba - I totally agree with you. Our entertainment industry (bollywood and hollywood) have kinda glamourised the whole idea of friends falling for each other. Fact of the matter is that wherever there are hormones, there's bound to be problems ;)