Is it possible for Males and Females to be just Friends?

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Platonic love or friendship is marked by the absence of physical or sexual desire. Plato, a classical philosopher, did acknowledge physical desire but thought that if two people truly inspired each other, their spiritual or ideal love would bring them closer. I strongly believe that males and females cannot be just friends. Only because of one little thing, one will always find the other person attractive.

New research suggests that there may be some truth to this possibility that we may think we’re capable of being “just friends” with members of the opposite sex. The opportunity or perceived opportunity for “romance” is often lurking around the corner. Researchers brought 88 pairs of undergraduate opposite sex friends into a science lab. The results suggested large gender differences in how men and women experience opposite sex friendship. Men were much more attracted to their female friends than vice versa. Basically, males assumed that any romantic attraction they experience was mutual and were blind to the actual level of romantic interest felt by their female friends. Women, too, were blind to the mindset of their opposite sex friends because generally they were not attracted to their male friends whom they assumed that the lack of attraction was mutual. Thus, men consistently overestimated the level of attraction felt by their female friends and women consistently underestimated the level of attraction felt by their male friends.

I honestly cannot say I have never been in a “just friends” situation before. I have a lot of male friends. I have a lot of male friends that I have had a crush on and vice versa. For example, there was a time where I became real close with this guy in my high school band whom I had known since we were Freshmen. We became so close that I developed feelings for him. As a result, I was left heartbroken because he did not feel the same.

I realize that sometimes a person may give off the wrong signals. Being overfriendly from a male and female perspective, it may trigger that empty space to have hope for fulfillment. In some situations, attraction and misleading one another can be the cause of males and females not having a platonic friendship.

Attraction is not an on-off switch. One might be aware of some attraction towards a person at certain times but eventually will have more than platonic feelings. In these situations, it can be relatively easy not to act on the romantic feelings and maintain your platonic relationship. However, when an individual is highly attractive to their friends, those feelings might become a force that cannot be ignored or suppressed. Then they must ask themselves whether being “just friends” is too painful.

Male and female relationships are complex. (And, just to be clear, the same goes for same sex relationships. It is the platonic versus romantic feeling that can be difficult to manage.) So, to help clarify with anyone including myself, one should be honest with themselves. The chemistry between a man and woman is natural. If there is absolutely no physical attraction between a male and female, then, it is a chance that that man and woman can have a platonic friendship. But, once a man is attracted to a woman, or a woman is attracted to a man, or both are attracted to each other, the friendship cannot and will never be platonic.

Jakia Hardy is a Sophomore Broadcast/Mass Communications major from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She will be an Advice Columnist for The Campus Chronicle for the Spring 2017 semester.

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