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Can Men And Women Be Friends?
Or When Harry Met Sally Did He Really Just Want to Jump Her Bones?
Of course not.
There’s invariably that pesky sexual tension to handle. And what about the spouse, significant other, or partner who’s sure to be jealous?
Plus, there’s the biological/sociological nesting line of duty that women contend with and the hunting imperative that seems to motivate men.
A few of years ago, a landmark study published by Dr. Don O'Meara, a sociology professor at Raymond Walters College, established the following four key obstacles to the success of male-female friendships
(This is all of the above rolled into one: What’s going on here? Who do they think they are? They just won’t admit that they’re hot for each other!)
Let’s face it, when you come right down to it – there are just too many obstacles and too many differences between the genders for cross-gender friendship to work.
Wrong, wrong, wrong – at least in today’s world.
Fifty years ago, when Harry met Sally, he was a wage earner who worked outside the home and she was a stay-at-home mom (or homemaker).
Their paths never crossed except at a church social, perhaps, or in situations that were specifically created to foster love romance and, therefore procreation and the continuation of the species. (Not the stuff sonnets are made of, perhaps, but good for society.)
That is how it worked then. This is now.
21st Century men and women follow their feelings inside and outside the home and place shoulder to shoulder as the same in most situations.
In 2002, Harry and Sally work side by side at the office.
They fight head-to-head at the boardroom table and run hip to hip on the jogging trail.
They may not see eye to eye on every issue, but they freely debate them in Internet chat rooms.
Today, not only do Harry and Sally have a real foundation of shared interests on which to build a solid friendship, they also have time and space to pursue a cross-gender friendship and a community that encourages them to do so.
In fact, experts tell us that in today’s world, men and women in platonic friendships take advantage of several benefits from their relationships.
Interestingly, it is men who seem to get more out of cross-sex friendship.
In a study by a psychologist in private practice on Long Island in New York State, men ranked cross-sex friendships higher in overall quality than their same-sex friendships.
Men reported they most enjoyed talking and sharing with their women friends - something they didn’t do with their male friends.
That sharing that men find appealing – organic though it may be to women -- can be a bit of a drain, so women say they turn to men for a different dynamic.
With men, women say they appreciate the lightness of not having to bear someone else’s emotional ‘baggage.’
Women may also gain a sense of safety and protection from their male platonic friends – much as they might from a brother.
Interestingly, women say the chance to learn ‘what guys are REALLY thinking” is ranked as the number 1 benefit of cross-gender friendship.
So does Harry WANT Sally?
But if he can’t have her ‘that way,’ friendship will do.
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