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Open Mike           May/June 2000

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Open Mike is a forum for readers on a specific topic that will change every one or two months. The forum includes Your Turn, an opportunity for readers to share anecdotes and opinions related to the chosen topic. Conversely editors and writers select the most interesting entries and post them the following month In This Corner!

For our readers who don't have time to write but want to share their opinions, Open Mike also features a Three-Minute Survey - not the typical, simplistic Internet poll, but a set of five questions related to the monthly topic. When the survey is completed, we will publish Survey Says: a brief article analyzing the results.
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In This Corner!

During May and June Open Mike asked readers to share their views on whether or not men and women can just be friends. Opinion on the matter is divided. Several convincing analyses were offered on both sides of the issue, and are posted below.

We expected most people would say it is possible for opposite-sex friendships to thrive - after all, it takes only one successful friendship to prove it. And yes, several respondents felt strongly that these platonic friendships are quite possible. Still, we had readers whose experience has convinced them that biology will always triumph over psychology. Most interestingly, various respondents said that women and men could be just friends - if there was no sex. Which, by definition, would seem to be true... Click here if you want to read the results of our survey.

The dissenters...

From Patty

For years I've been a firm believer that men and women could be just friends, but now I'm not so sure...

I've tried it lots of times and ended up feeling awkward around many formerly good friends after things crossed the line. Or, the friendship has simply ended.

And recently I made a great guy friend. In fact, one of the reasons I liked him was because there was no sexual tension. We had this great unspoken understanding that things would be purely platonic. No worries or mind games so we could just be ourselves. Unlike other so-called guy pals, he would never hit on me...or so I thought.

Just last Thursday we were hanging out watching a flick and all of a sudden he leans over to kiss me. Now I'm no prude, but this was my bud! So naturally, I freaked. Not at him, mind you, I tried to act normal so he wouldn't feel like such a jerk. Later he apologized and I said it was all right. But now things will never be the same.

Maybe I'm overly dramatic or just plain naive. I don't know. All I know is that I won't feel comfortable just hanging out if no one else is there with us. Now I'll always be wondering if he wants more, or if I'm sending signals or something.

And since this sort of thing has happened to me more than just once, I've had to revise my view on the matter. So if you want this girl's opinion: NO, men and women can't be just friends. Sorry guys, I tried.

From Christopher

Well, I should start this by saying that I do believe that it's possible, as long as one of the parties is not too attractive. The question should have actually read: Can two attractive men and women be just friends? I think that it's possible as long as they both want friendship and if they enter into their friendship without hidden agendas. It's possible if both are in secure relationships outside of their friendship and truly take their friendship for what it's worth. I'll add again that it's possible, but most times not probable and not what happens. Usually it's the man who may want to move into an area outside of friendship and although nothing may happen physically, it destroys the fiber of what was once a solid friendship. I'll end by saying that it's possible, but not probable.

Yes they can - unless they have sex

From Sue

Absolutely. If you both understand the terms from Day One, there should be no confusion as to if there is "potential" for anything else. Although, sexual tension may exist, but that is only natural, right? At least you know that you are straight. The trick is not acting up your desires if you know it will change your friendship.

From Kimberly

I am a firm believer in friendships between men and women, however just as I would not become intimately involved with my female friends, I don't think that sexual relationships can exist between friends of the opposite sex. Once that line is crossed, things change and I've seen situations where either one or both of the "friends" aren't being honest with each other regarding the new dynamics of their relationship. I am not a proponent of casual sex.

Having friendships with people, regardless of gender, enriches your life and expands your experiences.

From Doreen

My take... most men would rather have sex than cuddle and chit chat. If women can handle this then they'll do fine with their boy friends. Considering myself a lady, most of my male counter parts, whether associates, cool friends- new and old - or co-workers, 97% of them have visited the thought (aloud) of being more than just friends. The jokes, snide remarks, and the subtle innuendoes may be in fun, but they're dead give-aways. I always have a thought bubble depicting them spontaneously tearing off their clothes given the opportunity to be as dirty as they want to be.

Being prejudiced by a few male-female relationships is not my style. My references are based relationships with men of multiple races, ages and status. Married, single, coupled, intelligent, nerdy, retarded and handicapped, all get the yellow light when it comes to being just friends. Women can relate because they practically have the same thoughts only it's more cut and dried... either we'll take the red light or stop and chill. It's possible for the opposite sexes to be friends... if they can steer clear of the other possibilities.

From Peter

Of course they can!!!! I mean, after all, a major network did create a television program about just that, women and men being friends, and ironically, they called it "Friends".

But wait a minute, Chandler and Monica started out as just "friends" and now they're a couple. And even Rachel and Ross were just friends but then THEY paired up, so umm..errr..umm...maybe men and women cannot simply be friends!! Oh, it's so confusing.

No, it's not confusing. It's simple biology. Men and women gravitate towards sexual relations. Put two people in a cage like rats and they'll interact until they find something sexually stimulating about the other person and "bada bing, bada boink", it will happen. The only way that it won't happen is if both people (or at least one of them who has strong will and discipline) realize that the sexual tension in the air is nothing more than biological urge, just like craving junk food at 3 AM after dancing one's butt off. You don't really NEED that junk food, but it's an undeniable temptation.

Being platonic friends with a member of the opposite sex simply requires a little self-control when sexual need clouds the borderlines of the friendship. Attached men and women are forced to utilize that resistance and self-control in their daily lives when they find themselves attracted to someone who is NOT considered their friend and they succeed at NOT having sex...well, most of..., I mean, "some of" the time.

Logically, it would be easier to resist sexual temptation with a friend of the opposite sex because, in most cases, they are originally classified as "friends" because there is NO initial sexual interest. That's why they are "friends" and not "lovers".

But, of course, from time to time, two platonic co-ed friends might find themselves in a state of sexual attraction. At that point, all it takes for it not to happen and the friendship to remain intact and uncomplicated is for one or both parties to use their inherent power to resist the urge, just they like do every day with their attractive co-workers and those interesting strangers that they run into through daily life. Natural or not, humans can say "no" to sex, regardless of what happens on daytime television.

The supporters...

From Teena

Yes Yes and Yes!

Not only do I think that men and women CAN be friends, but I believe that they make the BEST friends!

I have had many male friends in the past and have found the relationships to be much less complicated than the girl/girl thing. There's no competition, jealousy or petty bickering. And when I have a problem with someone I'm dating ... who better to get advice from than a trusted male friend? Besides that ... men generally don't talk behind your back, they don't borrow your clothes and they won't try and steal your boyfriend. What more could you ask?

From Vincent

I don't see why men and women can not have a friendly platonic relationship. For someone like me to say this may seem a little odd, but every relationship between a man and woman should not just be based on sex. I feel that when the two persons involved have a mutual respect for each other it will make their friendship something for them to cherish. And in that way, they won't risk it by inviting sex into the friendship.

Because sex between two friends is the foundation for destroying harmony between the two.

From Heather

For me some of my closest friends growing up, were men. And I loved them with all my heart. It really was amazing how much more I trusted and loved my male friends vs. some of my female friends, some of being the key word here. As I stated earlier I loved my male friends with all my heart and throughout the many years of being close to a particular two - we hung out almost everyday - there were attractions between us. I believe it is complete human nature, especially pertaining to the fact of love. When you have a man and woman whom are extremely close, mix in understanding and knowing everything about each other, then add having the perfect friendship, then throw in LOVE, well now you have the recipe for the most beautiful relationship anyone could ask for. This is the way I see it. Though I was attracted to my friends, I never acted upon those to know if a relationship could turn out as perfect as it sounds, But I was completely happy just being friends!

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