Can a man and woman be 'just friends'? Experts explain why it can't happen

May 24, 2016, 15:13 IST | midday online correspondent

It's true! Researchers say that a man and woman can never achieve a completely platonic friendship. Most experts feel that our mating instincts, which have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years, may get in the way.

Can a man and woman be 'just friends'? Experts explain why it can't happen
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Over the years, friendships between men and women have reached unprecedented levels thanks to the impact of work, hobbies and university.

Sex gets in the way?
In the 1989 Hollywood film, 'When Harry Met Sally', Harry, played by Billy Crystal, tells Meg Ryan’s Sally “Men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.”

Recent studies have confirmed this opinion. Researchers from an esteemed American University further opine that films and TV programmes and over indulgence in social media helped instill the idea that normal friends can easily become ‘friends with benefits’ – friends who have sex with each other.

A survey in which 88 pairs of young male and female friends were asked to rate their attraction to each other in a confidential questionnaire found two things:

>> Men both single and attached were physically and emotionally attracted and looked forward to dating their female friends and assumed they would reciprocate.

>> The women, who were surveyed (both single and attached) displayed the same level of attraction as their male friends but wanted the feeling to fruitful in the event of a relationship issue.

In a second questionnaire, 140 married middle-aged people found attraction levels between male and female friends fairly equal. Although, most of them termed a secret crush were five times more likely to see it as a problem. Despite this, most of the men, who were surveyed felt it was a perk.

Researchers mainly discovered that the participants revealed they gained benefits from friendship with the opposite sex including getting good advice and boosting their confidence.

Some researchers believe that because platonic inter-sex relationships are a relatively new concept in the history of human evolution, men are still controlled by their mating instincts.

Attraction in whatever shape or form is perhaps unsurprisingly, named as an interference when it comes to other relationships, more often than as a benefit, and the more attracted someone was to a friend, the lower their satisfaction with their romantic partner.

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