Can Men and Women Just Be Friends?

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According to recent research, over one half of the people in cross-sex friendships report sexual attraction or sexual tension (Afifi, 2000). Not only is sexual attraction present, but it can also be perceived as a benefit in such relationships. In a study done by Bleske (2000), “men evaluated the potential for having sex with their close opposite-sex friend as more beneficial than did women.” Men are also more likely than women to view their cross-sex friendships as precursors to a romantic relationship (Reeder, 2000). The current research tested the hypothesis that men, more often than women, think of their opposite-sex friend sexually. A survey was distributed to students in General Psychology and Intermediate Spanish. The survey asked 12 questions to determine how often the participants thought of their opposite-sex friends sexually. Results showed that the differences between men and women were statistically significant, supporting the hypothesis that men, more often than women, think of their opposite-sex friends sexually. Introduction

“What I'm saying is -- and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form -- is that men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way” (Reiner, 1989). This statement about relationships was boldly made by Harry in the film When Harry Met Sally. Historically, relationships between men and women have always been thought of as romantic. However, recently, researchers have been focusing on cross-sex friendships. Much of the research has been aimed at investigating the statement that Harry made in the film When Harry Met Sally: “Can men and women just be friends?” (Reiner, 1989). According to recent research, anywhere from 58% to 62% of people in cross-sex relationships report sexual attraction or sexual tension (Afifi, 2000). This finding makes it seem that, at least for most cross-sex friends, a sexual element definitely is present, and perhaps Harry was right...
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