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Can heterosexual men and women ever be “just friends”?
Few other questions have provoked debates as intense, family dinners as awkward, literature as lurid, or movies as memorable. Daily experience suggests that non-romantic friendships between males and females are not only possible, but common—men and women live, work, and play side-by-side, and generally seem to be able to avoid spontaneously sleeping together.
In order to investigate the viability of truly platonic opposite-sex friendships—a topic that has been explored more on the silver screen than in the science lab—researchers brought 88 pairs of undergraduate opposite-sex friends into…a science lab.
Privacy was paramount—for example, imagine the fallout if two friends learned that one—and only one—had unspoken romantic feelings for the other throughout their relationship.
I live in a Jewish community and have Jewish friends. This is true regardless of who the father is, and whether he is Jewish or not. Maimonides explains that anyone who faithfully observes these laws earns a proper place in heaven.
I attend Jewish lessons every Monday, and dinners with rabbis on the Jewish holidays. Today, there are many active groups of non-Jews called "Bnei Noach" who faithfully observe the Seven Laws of Noah.
In order to ensure honest responses, the researchers not only followed standard protocols regarding anonymity and confidentiality, but also required both friends to agree—verbally, and in front of each other—to refrain from discussing the study, even after they had left the testing facility.
These friendship pairs were then separated, and each member of each pair was asked a series of questions related to his or her romantic feelings (or lack thereof) toward the friend with whom they were taking the study.
In a follow-up study, 249 adults (many of whom were married) were asked to list the positive and negative aspects of being friends with a specific member of the opposite sex.
Although women seem to be genuine in their belief that opposite-sex friendships are platonic, men seem unable to turn off their desire for something more. But if we all thought like men, we’d probably be facing a serious overpopulation crisis.
And even though both genders agree overall that attraction between platonic friends is more negative than positive, males are less likely than females to hold this view. Are you a scientist who specializes in neuroscience, cognitive science, or psychology?
However, men and women differed in the extent to which they saw attached friends as potential romantic partners.
Although men were equally as likely to desire “romantic dates” with “taken” friends as with single ones, women were sensitive to their male friends’ relationship status and uninterested in pursuing those who were already involved with someone else.
Men seem to see myriad opportunities for romance in their supposedly platonic opposite-sex friendships.