Can men and women be friends?

First published in Helen Mead Chorley Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Lancashire Telegraph columnist

Can men and women be friends? That was the question in When Harry Met Sally, and the reason I bought the film for my 16-year-old daughter.

The subject is pertinent to her life, which currently revolves around boys and, vitally, whether girls can be friends with them without leading them on.

She’s got some lovely boy friends — as opposed to boyfriends. Good-looking, funny, polite, caring — I’d take any one of them down the aisle (call me Mrs Robinson.

Thankfully, my daughter hasn’t seen The Graduate), but she is adamant that she isn’t interested romantically and likes them as mates.

Only this arrangement doesn’t sit well with some of her female friends, who have advised her to tread carefully and not spend so much time with groups of lads.

“You’ll be seen as a ‘player’,” said one, using what nowadays seems to be the popular schoolyard term for someone who puts it about a bit. Or, as others would say, a ‘slapper’.

Understandably, my daughter wasn’t happy about this and has been fretting about whether she’s giving out the wrong messages.

I thought the film would help put her mind at ease, but it didn’t.

It was so long since I’d seen it, I forgot that, although Harry and Sally start out as friends, they end up having sex and later getting married.

And the message throughout is that men and women can’t be friends because, as Harry repeatedly points out, ‘the sex always gets in the way’.

Research by a leading psychologist found that 75 per cent of men believe the opposite sexes can be friends. Yet there is still a sizeable school of thought that dismisses this.

At 16, I had quite a few male friends and collected more during my years at university and work.

I’m a bit disturbed by the idea that they find me hideously unattractive, but this could work both ways.

We obviously don’t fancy our friends, otherwise that WOULD get in the way, but romantic attraction is based on more than just looks.

Relationship experts say that the belief that men and women can’t be friends comes from another era in which women were at home and men were in the workplace, and the only way they could get together was for romance, but now they work, share sports, interests and socialise together — so it IS okay to be pals with a man.

I just need to convince my very confused daughter, and move her friends into the 21st Century.

Comments (3)

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4:13pm Mon 22 Oct 12

Ken Shuffles says...

I would say it's impossible to 'just be friends' with a man. I am a man, so I should know. Too much time with a man, and a woman can run the risk of pregnancy, especially if he is the romantic type, which according to the way I'm likely to think I always usually am.

Men and Women, are not designed to be friends. The male and the female are designed to regenerate and no amount of friendship is going to stop or interfere with that process. Regenerating is always going to be easier for a man than maintaining a friendship with a female pal and keeping a lover, is always going to be more emotionally challenging and therefore more attractive to romantics.
I would say it's impossible to 'just be friends' with a man. I am a man, so I should know. Too much time with a man, and a woman can run the risk of pregnancy, especially if he is the romantic type, which according to the way I'm likely to think I always usually am. Men and Women, are not designed to be friends. The male and the female are designed to regenerate and no amount of friendship is going to stop or interfere with that process. Regenerating is always going to be easier for a man than maintaining a friendship with a female pal and keeping a lover, is always going to be more emotionally challenging and therefore more attractive to romantics. Ken Shuffles
  • Score: 0

4:16pm Mon 22 Oct 12

Ken Shuffles says...

Hetero-romantic men are romantically attracted, and will often have no clue why.
Hetero-romantic men are romantically attracted, and will often have no clue why. Ken Shuffles
  • Score: 0

11:38am Tue 23 Oct 12

Ken Shuffles says...

Women use sex to get romance and men use romance to get sex.
Women use sex to get romance and men use romance to get sex. Ken Shuffles
  • Score: 0

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