Can men and women have platonic relationships?

Just Friends: Tony Rebel and Swade

Can’t see we’re just friends, they say I’m bunnin’ my lady

Some criticize and say, mi ha mi cake and ah eat it up

They can’t see we’re just friends, they say I’m secretly loving you (Oh no)

They say we coulda never live so and nuttin nah gwaan

This is the chorus of a 2002 reggae song by Tony Rebel and Swade. The song addressed common perceptions that men and women cannot be just friends without there being more to it. Indeed, when some women know that their boyfriends have a lot of female friends, they may be somewhat uneasy.

Guys might be even worse, since they know the tricks that fellas (including themselves) may try with “friends.” In fact, some might argue that it is what female friends are for. As the reggae tune suggested, many persons just don’t buy the notion of men and women being “just friends” too cheaply.

Whether it’s because of the “friends with benefits” phenomenon, or knowledge of how the bonding process occurs, there may be some overtones to relations between the sexes. That many relationships commence with friendships also reinforces the idea that friendship may be just a starting point for greater things.

Many persons refuse to believe that it could just be, without anything else happening. However, there are several obvious reasons for the existence of truly platonic relationships.

No romantic attraction

Not everyone is heterosexual, so that fact automatically undermines the idea that men and women cannot be friends. However, even a heterosexual male or a heterosexual female may not be attracted to each other for various reasons.

Perhaps it’s the absence of physical attraction or maybe you don’t think the person is the type that you can have an intimate relationship with. After all, the dynamics of a romantic relationship are much different.

When one or both parties is not interested, it would stay in the friendship zone.
When one or both parties is not interested, it would stay in the friendship zone. | Source

The only issue with low levels of attraction is that it can morph into attraction later on, especially if a strong emotional bond develops. Even though there are different levels and types of attraction, there are some friends whom you would simply not perceive in that manner.

The type of love that obtains here is Philia, as opposed to Eros. Often, it’s the case that one friend has some level of attraction while the other does not, but sometimes mutual non-attraction may exist.

Friendship history

Some friends may have tried dating, or were actually a couple once upon a time. This can alter the perception of the relationship to others, or can have bearing on the nature of the interaction between the pair. However, it does not necessarily mean that it’s impossible to be friends with a person of whom you have carnal knowledge. However, the situation would be a tricky one, since there could easily be residual feelings or the temptation to drift back to the golden days.

The friendship foundation

I knew a fella who required his female friends to be within his physical attraction threshold. The funny thing was that he resembled a Rugrat more than a stud, but that’s beside the point. In that case, the friendship is not completely platonic to begin with. However, if it is based on good conversation, empathy and shared experiences, thoughts or secrets, then it has a better chance of remaining platonic.

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Have you experienced truly platonic relationships with the opposite sex?

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Fidelity and high-mindedness

What makes humans superior to other animals is our mind. We do not have to be victims of our impulses and desires. Unfortunately, some folks do not have that mental fortitude to ignore lingering feelings, regardless of whether they’re in a relationship or not. However, even if there is some level of attraction, a disciplined mind can ensure that a friendship remains platonic, especially if it is patently apparent that pursuing more would not be ideal.

Conclusion

Although many persons might raise eyebrows at your friendships with the opposite sex, it is possible for things to be strictly platonic. Sometimes, friendships develop into more, and the chances of that happening may exist for some time. You may even hear of friends who were married to other persons getting together after they divorced their spouses.

It is in our nature to wonder what it would be like with a friend of the opposite sex. Some psychologists argue that it is merely a process called “love mapping.” Just because this occurs at some point does not mean that it not platonic; your mind merely toyed with the possibility.

Someone I knew used that as a basis to convert a friendship into an unlikely relationship, with unhappy results. They did not want to just be friends, but for those who make more prudent decisions, there’s nothing wrong with being “just friends” with the opposite sex.

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Do you agree that men and women can be "just friends"? 10 comments

Stone Gifts profile image

Stone Gifts 5 years ago from London

Thanks for the interesting hub. To my opinion, opposite sex people may pretend that they are friends, but somewhere deep in their souls they are still drawn to each other just at the level of instincts.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

It has been my experience that claims of 'just a friend' when referring to someone of the opposite sex are almost always covering up far more that that.


Jaspals profile image

Jaspals 5 years ago from India / Australia

In my Opinion, it is quite possible to be friends with opposite sex. Attraction has certainly different forms. You may see relationship more than just friendship with some one but it again it not possible with every body. In society we live with many perceptions. Sex is not the only criteria to see all relations. You hubs is certainly interesting.


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

SpiffD, Great Hub!

I agree with your Hub. Friendships can happen.

Most guys have experienced this: females saying...."Let's just be friends" LOL. The females mean it!

So from a female point of view, sorry guys, not every female is attracted physically to their male friends!

There is value in someone who is fun to be around, someone who shares common interests.

The big difference I would say is that male/female friendship is always public and never behind a partner's back, if there is a partner in the picture...but then that applies to all friendship doesn't it!


SpiffyD profile image

SpiffyD 5 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks for the comments everyone! It might be interesting to see if there is a split amongst the genders. I feel men might suggest that there's always something beaneath the surface, but women may be less inclined to think there's always something beneath the surface.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

A 'platonic relationship' usual denotes more than just a casual relationship, and it has been my experience that close heterosexual friendships more often than not eventually end with intimacy. That's just the nature of such relationships.

Not always of course, but most often.


jellygator profile image

jellygator 4 years ago from USA

I think when two heterosexual people, one male, one female, become friends, there *is* an underlying awareness of sexuality that influences their interactions, but that doesn't mean they will act on them. I've had a number of great platonic friendships with men, but that dynamic was still present.


SpiffyD profile image

SpiffyD 4 years ago from The Caribbean Author

I agree with your comment jelly, although it depends on the degree of attraction between the two as well. That way, in select cases, there may be little or no attraction.


jennshealthstore profile image

jennshealthstore 3 years ago from Florida

I have to say that I think that it is very possible to be friends with the opposite sex. I had many male friends growing up, some I though about having relationships with, others I did not. Though I think it is very true that great romantic relationships can start by becoming friends first. Thanks for the hub, really enjoyed it!


SpiffyD profile image

SpiffyD 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks for the comment jenns. Indeed, friendship and teamwork are important aspects of romantic relationships. That's probably why the view exists that friendships between members of the opposite sex will blossom into more over time. I remember one lady suggesting that her husband must have no female friends (a bit on the extreme side). Her argument was that since she would be the wife and best friend, there's no need for other female friends. Thankfully, not everyone goes to the extremes. Thanks for your practical perspective!

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