Can men and women ever be just friends?

How long’s a piece of string?

Age old question, usually revolving around far more factors than sex.  Have I missed any below?

1. The nature and compatibility of the two for a start – outgoing, introspective, likes casual affairs, is the faithful type, same type of humour and so on. If this isn’t right, there’s nothing.

2. Do you like a specific feature in that person, sufficient for it to outweigh the negatives?

3. What do you need in a friendship? Are you looking for a prop, someone to just have a laugh with, mutual interests, a prelude to a relationship, what? A golfing partner?  Sometimes I think that a man’s and a woman’s concept of friendship differs. Whereas he just appreciates a mate to knock around with [the platonic meaning of that word], she might want something deeper and more conversation based.

4. How intimate can it be? Handshake, hug, kiss, casual sex?

5. Does it coexist with another full on relationship and how much can your partner take?

6. Do you see it changing and do you intend it to change? Can you keep it in the groove you’ve agreed?

7. Is there some form of obligation to it? That is – do you have to get along, according to a boss?

8. Location – is it a sports friendship, a work colleague, what?

9. Would certain personal habits or attitudes in the other or even in you kill it off? There only have to be one or two. With a friendship, you can then scale back face to face time but in a partnership, you can’t.

10. Then the biggy – the attraction gap. I might immediately fall for her but she certainly might not feel the same way. This precludes the friendship because I can’t stand the idea of it not going further – she is just too beguiling. I’d try to just sit the other side of the cafe table and act all platonic but if that’s not possible, then I’d have to get out of there quickly.

Gender differences [I’m not going to call them sex differences]

Men: I believe that men fall into two camps – those who like to play the field and have as many lovers as possible and those who fall madly in love, hopelessly in love with the one lady and want to make love as often as possible. There’d be a small minority who’d find a halfway position but most men don’t.

If it runs deep, then when it ends, it devastates him for months. It took me a couple of years to get over one lady.

Women: I believe that the majority of women want something more serious than casual flings [although it’s definitely changing]. They put far more of a premium on the “onwards and upwards” and if he doesn’t respond to that, feeling that he’s done the hard work and can now rest on his laurels, she’ll move on to the next partner, in a form of serial monogamy.

It usually only runs deep for her if he’s a bad boy or a hunk [in which case he can do whatever he likes to her and she’ll still come back for more], then when it ends, it devastates her for days or not at all because she’s already moved on in her head.

These gender differences spill over into friendships too. If a woman feels the male friend is no longer providing that which she needs, she moves on and he can be puzzled by this.

I work on the basis that she’ll be the very best friend a man can have for some time, putting effort in which your mate [male] just doesn’t but all my friendships with women have had a shelf life – either she eventually tires of it, as she gently extracts herself or else her own life changes onwards and upwards and she moves on or else one of us wishes to redefine it beyond that which the other will accept.

It’s never easy.  I appreciate friendships between men and a women but understand that they can be ephemeral.  On the other hand, knowing this, in itself, can create a barrier of fatalistic cynicism which can be equally as damaging as any of the factors above.  This is a surefire recipe for dying alone.

Is it possible?

Under certain circumstances, for some time, usually [but not always] determined by her.

No way would I ever be caught dead in something like this, no matter how I felt about her.

16 comments for “Can men and women ever be just friends?

  1. March 5, 2011 at 15:49

    Words you never want to hear… “We can still be friends.”
    Show me a sad sack who thinks that a plutonic friendship with a woman is remotely possible and I’ll show you a man who would go to a brothel in search of romance.

    Reminds me of a highly intelligent/educated but shy friend, who many years ago joined a dating agency in the hope of meeting his soul mate. He never got past his initial phonecall, especially when he revealed that he had an off-peak bus pass. I told him to say that he had the use of a chauffeur driven 6litre Daimler. It worked a charm… on the first date at least.

    This whole premise is a feminine trick. Whereas men tend to be programmed for ‘pump ‘n’ dump’, women like to rack ‘n’ stack like a fog bound airport… to keep their options open, especially if they haven’t got a male psychopath, with a 10″ wonger and Gold Mastercard in their life.

  2. QM
    March 5, 2011 at 18:43

    I have loads of women friends, mostly because I and they know they’re off limits to me. It’s a case of “not that I can’t, just that I wont.”

  3. March 5, 2011 at 19:21


  4. March 5, 2011 at 20:18

    QM said… “I have loads of women friends, mostly because I and they know they’re off limits to me. It’s a case of “not that I can’t, just that I wont.”

    Still waiting for permission to land… eh captain ;o)

  5. March 5, 2011 at 20:39

    There was a little bit of trouble over this post today. Thanks, lads, for those comments. QM – that certainly helps.

  6. March 5, 2011 at 20:46

    Were you mobbed by lots of women wanting to be your personal friend?

  7. March 5, 2011 at 21:41

    Sadly no.

  8. March 5, 2011 at 23:34

    Good grief, James -you don’t think women can be davastated for years too?!

  9. March 5, 2011 at 23:34

    I meant “devastated”. As to whether we vcan be “just friends” , I think it is very difficult.

  10. March 6, 2011 at 00:54

    To answer that question ‘can men or women just be friends’ you need to think of people as people and not differentiate between male and female.

    Friendship is a little spark of understanding which leads to the two people being enhanced by the encounter. Everyone has different thoughts, but friends can explore the differences and be enhanced by the experience

    I have some very good female friends, but over the years most of my friends have been male. The reason for that is my interests and topics of conversation or more orientated to male thinking.

    So yes men and women can be friends.

    That addresses you initial comment, but then you seem to be mixing up friendship with sexual experiences and encounters…

    The two thoughts are quite different!

  11. March 6, 2011 at 00:57

    Spammed againd 🙁 🙁

  12. March 6, 2011 at 03:40

    When Cherie wrote: “You seem to be mixing up friendship with sexual experiences and encounters,” I knew she’d misunderstand what I wrote but at least she said “seem”.

    This is more a case of how I wrote it in the post rather than Cherie’s own misinterpretation and it’s not the first time, of course. Often I’ve had to clarify what I meant and so it is here.

    I’ve a post coming up this morning which has been forming in the mind and this addresses my own point, which Cherie also wrote of “you need to think of people as people” – precisely what I was going to say and the reason that I have such friendships.

    However, there is this tendency with women, as a sex, to make the error Cherie does next, a very female thing to do, when she writes “and not differentiate between male and female”.

    Ah but that is the nub of the matter – the female wishes for this not to be so but the male knows it IS so and you can see this in the male comments on this thread. The very fact that there is a difference between the thinking behind the male and female comments shows that there IS a difference between the sexes.

    Just why the female wishes to deny the existence of this difference is interesting in itself – and you all know “vive la difference” has much to do with a woman’s worldview, which has distinctly female overtones in how she interprets things and acts on them. Now there are other differences as well between people, for example political differences and those of personal interests but they’re not as interesting as a topic. It’s only the gender differences which cause the trouble and as this is a blog, then those are the ones which get an airing.

    I have mates of the male variety too but I don’t write about them because they’re just … well … my mates, aren’t they? Women are a far more interesting topic and their differences from the male of the species are well known by the males and many females too.

    Hence the anti-feminist movement arising from women first, not from men. The greatest enemy of the feminists is women, with men on the sidelines, looking on and making their own comments from time to time.

    Personally speaking, I think friendship between men and women is possible but as I said, just as in intimate relationships, it is the woman who decides when to move on from it. I have a very specific reason for saying that and it involves a young lady I know. This will be covered in today’s post.

    On the other hand, I have ongoing friendships with various women too, at this moment – very strong friendships, I’d like to think – and I’d characterize those friendships, not as a pilot light on a combi-boiler because pilot lights can go out but more as an eternal flame in one of those shrines to commemorate fallen heroes.

    At any time, we only need turn up the dial and the flame springs to life again. However, those women are the determiners of when it ends or if it doesn’t, which is what I said in the post.

    I have never been betrayed by a true friend, male or female but I have been by faux friends – wolves in sheep’s clothing. Any friendship I ever had with a woman – real friendships, I mean – will never die. There are just specific reasons why certain ones can’t be at this time – external reasons but nevertheless, compelling.

    As I wrote in the post – the fact that it is a female DOES complicate the issue and it’s never easy, as Welshcakes touched on.

    I’m well aware that this will not sit well with various people, while others just want me to shut it and get onto other more interesting topics but we blog about things which concern us at the time and the nature of friendship between man and woman is very much an issue at this time in my humble existence.

    Hence these posts over a few days. Who knows what the topic du jour will be next week – I suspect it will be Common Purpose. A little bird going tweet tweet tweet tells me so.

    [By the way, Cherie and Welshcakes are two of those friends – we might debate some issues but that has no effect on friendship, at least in my book. :)]

  13. March 6, 2011 at 03:53

    Welshcakes – that one was a bit thin in the post, admittedly. It really comes down to how deeply involved we were at the time.

    So yes.

    However, there’s no denying that many women can gather themselves together more quickly and move on. Hence the proliferation of male and female on the net saying just that.

    And just because someone’s on the net, does not mean they’re telling porkies – they can be very real indeed, in earnest about what they say. You certainly are and I am too. My post later is a conscious decision to open up about something.

    I might wind people up [a guilty plea is entered, m’lady] but I do believe what I write, all the same. You do too.

  14. March 6, 2011 at 18:19


  15. March 7, 2011 at 06:10

    I agree entirely with Cherie. One can have friends without being sexually or romantically attracted to them, and then it doesn’t matter what sex they are.

    Sometimes it does matter. Once I was in a “gang of four” (not Chinese), two males and two females. I was madly in love with one of the females in the group, who was herself madly in love with the other male, and my main relationship with her was comforting her in her unrequited love. I found the company of the other female in the group much more relaxing, since there was no sexual or romantic attraction on either part to complicate matters.

    If there is a mutual sexual or romantinc attraction, then there is a lot more to it than being “just” friends, and the same applies, though in a different way, if there is a one-sided attraction.

    But I’ve had lots of friendships, male and female, where I would not differentiate between them on the basis of sex, because there has been no element of sexual attraction at all, we have been “just” friends. We’ve shared common interests, had interesting conversations, and enjoyed each other’s company.

  16. March 7, 2011 at 07:14

    This has been a very useful exercise. Nothing written above is wrong in itself, even where there is apparent contradiction, e.g. Cherie and Harry/Rick.

    From my personal point of view, I needed to know this because I needed to know if it was possible to sustain one of these for a couple of months and a subsequent post shows where my concern lies.

    It does come down to the nature of the attraction. If you take age out of the equation, would you want that person sexually? With me looking at her, I’d say she wouldn’t be my first choice – there are some negatives which are useful. With her looking at me, almost certainly not – I think it’s just security and fun.

    So, if that’s correct, then it can go ahead. Rossa said it comes down, in the end, to communication and she’s been absent from this discussion. It’s a factor which hasn’t been mentioned yet, in any great detail, above.

    H.Insciens alluded to the lack of it and in my book, if that ability to communicate and know exactly where one is is absent, better to walk away because it is a minefield and a recipe for disaster.

    Thanks people, both for the general discussion – immensely useful and for the clarification in my own mind.

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