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Open Mike           May/June 2000

Welcome to Open Mike

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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Survey Says:

Can Men and Women Just Be Friends?
Results from our May/June 2000 Three-Minute Survey

From the survey, the bottom line is YES - they can be just friends! A large portion of both sexes agreed that close friendships are not necessarily fated to become physical.

But the other bottom line is that most respondents have not been just friends with their friends. So while there is faith in the theory, practice would seem to indicate that many times, friendships with the opposite sex tend to steam up at some point.

Both women and men agreed that close friendships with persons of the opposite sex don't necessarily have to lead to sex. However, for a large majority there had been at least one episode of sex or near-sex with one of those friends...

...And for those who didn't quite become intimate, it was probably not for lack of desire. Almost all men indicated that they have always or sometimes been attracted to their women friends. Women presented a more balanced picture: while most had been attracted to their guy friends sometimes, a good portion had only had one such episode. Still, those that had never been attracted to a friend were in a very small club.

Most friendships between men and women appear to be of the 'confidante' variety. Nearly all men said that they have very intimate discussions with their women friends about each other's relationships. For women, it was a split between very intimate discussions and frequent discussions about relationships. Very few of either sex don't use their opposite-sex friends as relationship sounding-boards. Interestingly, it was more likely for intimate discussions to take place between friends who are single than those who are married.

Also noteworthy is the different way that women and men see their opposite-sex friendships. A significant number of women, mostly the younger group under 25, think that their relationships with men, or with other women, are the same. The rest are split between thinking that either their male friendships, or their female ones, are closer. Men, for their part, didn't really think their friendships with men and women were equally close - it was almost always one or the other.

On the issue of whether a physical relationship will ruin a friendship, the overwhelming response was that our question was too broad. The most typical answer was that 'it depends,' which of course is true. Most of those that said 'yes, it will ruin the friendship,' or 'no, it won't,' qualified their answer by saying things like 'yes, unless they are both emotionally detached,' or 'no, if one can separate emotional love from the blissful physical act of sex.'

So, while it's not obvious that an opposite-sex friendship will turn physical, there may always be at least some potential for that outcome. And, if it does end up that way, there's no inherent reason why the friendship should fail. As one respondent put it, you can be lovers for a while, then go back to being friends, and then lovers again...

Note: Numeric results are not quoted, so as to preclude the appearance that this is anything else other than an entirely non-scientific survey.

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