Men & Women Can’t Be Friends…..Really???


By Kenneth Justice

~Can men and women be friends? Is it possible?

When I was younger the movie “When Harry Met Sally” came out….I ended up seeing it via VHS video as a teenager….

The film largely exists to make one single point illustrated by the friendship between Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan: Men and women can not be friends…it always ends up in sex.


Is this the way it has to be?


Let’s be honest for a moment….no beating around the bush; human culture has been dominated for thousands of years by men.

Women were not given equal rights until the 20th century and it really wasn’t until the past 40 years that women have finally begun to receive more equal treatment at the workplace and in social settings.

The way life used to be….reinforced the concept that men and women could not and should not be friends;

–) Men and women sat separately during religious services

–) Men hung out and talked…while the women stayed in the kitchen and cooked

–) Men were the providers….women stayed home and cleaned the house

–) Men got to be judges and lawyers….women were given the grunt jobs of laundry, cleaning, and changing diapers

–) Men could be politicians and business owners….women were permitted to lead knitting groups

For thousands of years men treated women like s**t…as though women were second class citizens….

In most cultures women could not vote, nor could they even testify at a trial!

In many ways….women were treated like servants

Therefore, everything about the way society was designed in the past influenced people to believe that women were not equal to men……

People didn’t even bother to question whether or not women and men could be friends….because society was structured in such a way that made the very thought impossible!

But, it’s the 21st century!


At what point can we stop being influenced by the negative elements of past societies…..of cultures that we no longer agree with?

Can’t women and men be friends now?

‘But Kenneth’ you say, ‘If men and women are friends it can lead to them having an affair’

Really? Are we such ridiculously horny and out of control creatures that if we get too close to someone of the opposite sex our clothes suddenly come flying off and we go at it like bunnies in heat?

What about gay couples? Should a gay woman in a relationship not have any close friends who are female?

Isn’t having an affair more to do with the quality of the relationship with your significant other and other elements connected to who you are as a person?

Whether or not you have a close friend who is not your significant other….if you are going to have an affair….you are going to have an affair.

‘But Kenneth’ you say, ‘shouldn’t we only be close to our significant other?’

That is a good question.

I guess it depends what you mean by ‘close’.

–) Are you spending more time with your friend than with the significant other?

–) Are you spending more time in conversation with the friend than with the s/o?

–) Are you more attracted to the friend than to your s/o?

If those three things apply to your situation….than one would ask; why are you in a relationship with the significant other??? Because it would sound like you are not doing a good job in the relationship!

If your significant other feels threatened….then your relationship needs work

If your significant other feels jealous………then your relationship needs work

If your significant other is unhappy……….then your relationship needs work

If you are having friendships with other people at the expense of a healthy relationship with your significant other….than obviously you are making some pretty big mistakes.

Unfortunately, for most people the Harry met Sally principle applies; most people in our culture are not ready to move beyond the things that were sewed into us from previous generations.

Most people are still connected to past societies where men and women were led to believe that women were inferior to men.

But as I drink my coffee this morning, here’s to hoping that some of us can progress,


Categories: relationships

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

31 replies

  1. I just wrote a poem about this very topic. I was thinking how when I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s my mom had her job as home maker and caretaker and dad worked. My parents lived that 1950’s leave it to Beaver life. It had it’s charm. My parents are still with me and they are shocked at the world and still have those same beliefs. Mom was okay with it. They are and always have been best friends. Which goes to show me that if we are just dogs in heat and only attract to someone out of chemistry it won’t work out in the long run. Great post.

  2. It’s a tough question. But one of very best friends is of the opposite sex. She’s hetrosexual, intelligent, and a strong personality. I have a girlfriend. I’ve known my friend for over 10 years and have been with my girlfriend for over 3.

    Are we ‘just’ friends? Yes. Absolutely. Could anything ‘more’ happen between us? I couldn’t imagine how that would ever happen. Was there some attraction when we first met? Not at all for me, I have no idea for her. But the point remains that we are very close… as friends. Our relationship is almost identical to the relationship I have with my close male friends. I think my girlfriend was slightly weirded out when we first started dating but now sees just how platonic my relationship with my friend is. It’s just not an issue.

    I’m not saying that everyone can have this sort of relationship. But it is definitely possible.

  3. To make a relationship work, you need to be friends with that person. That being said, why can’t you be friends with your best friends husband or wife. Surely we aren’t attracted (sexually) to everyone.

  4. I am single after 20 years married. Whenever I make a new male friend but eliminate him as a romantic partner it is very important for me to look at Why? My male friends can have many different opinions from mine, on things in this world. I seek a humorous and supportive male friend. Romantic attraction for me involves so much closer matching of ideology and temperament. After my divorce the wife of my buddy started to make “rules” about us hanging out alone together. It hurt my feelings a bit that after so many years she thought I might jeopardize her marriage. I let time pass. He and I recently went to a Sierra Club meeting without her. She hasn’t got a thing to worry about but I am respectful of her feelings.

  5. You’ve got me thinking….and almost defending myself as I have for more than 30 years. My oldest and dearest friend is of the opposite sex. Someone once asked to see a photo of his wife and children and when he opened his wallet he only had a photo of him and I, taken in a beach photo booth in High School. His wife just laughed. He said, “I see my wife and kids everyday. Arline, on the other hand, is half way around the world now.” I think the friendships are possible, but in all honesty, only when that is all you are or ever intended to be… FRIENDS. I can’t imagine us as a couple. Never have. Which I’m sure, for our significant others, makes our relationship much easier on them. Everyone else just “assumes” there’s more to it which gets very frustrating.

  6. *ahem* Great post Kenny 😀 I’m really glad you put an emphasis on working on your relationship and making sure your s/o doesn’t feel threatened or insecure, as you pursue friendships. You know, yesterday I had a great conversation with one of the bankers, and it was a refreshing to chat with someone of the opposite sex; he’s married and has a child, and there was no flirting involved, but we were sitting there for over an hour talking about all kinds of things. And I left, not feeling disappointed that he wasn’t available, but happy to have connected with someone. I think your post will give people food for thought 😉 Keep up the good work!

  7. You can be friends with anyone you want and if you make a decision for yourself to be friends and not peruse it further (not matter gender, attraction, or sexuality) it wont be in issue. How strong do you want your convictions to be for yourself, everything follows the lead of that conviction.

  8. In my opinion, if you are already in a relationship then you should be very careful about your friendships with others of the opposite sex (or even the same sex nowadays). I believe that if two people are honest with themselves they will know if their friendship is leading to something more, or if it has the potential to. If it does, then out of respect for their significant others, I believe they should either limit their friendship or at the very least keep it within the view and ears of the significant other.

    With that, I will say that there are those times when the friendship is just that – a friendship. I’ve been friends with a previous co-worker of mine for nearly 10 years now, Never once has our friendship even lingered at the door of something more. We’ve always been strictly friends. Even so, out of respect for my husband I do not go out alone with this man, nor do we have long talks on the phone together. If we were to go out, my husband would be there also. To maintain your trust in your significant other, I feel it is very important to keep things in open view at all times. Relationships can already be tough enough. Why make them any harder? My opinion in summary – Be wise.

  9. The green-eyed monster is the biggest inhibiting factor, these days. Also, although it embarrasses most people even to think that way, very close friendships have a kind of love as a component. Then, the potential for a switch into something beyond a meeting of minds is always there.
    The answer is found in relationships where the partners mostly work and play together. There, the friends of both sexes are mutual. Ideal.

  10. I have almost 58 years of experience that completely agrees with you. I’ve had lots of deep friendships with women that NEVER became anything else besides friendship.

  11. i love when harry met sally! the diner scene is the best. 🙂 if nothing else, for me it provides the proof that great relationships start as friendships; that said – i’ve always believed that men and women can be JUST friends. i remember having a conversation with a male friend of mine back in high school who insisted that can’t be. i pointed out to him that he and i were friends and never wanted to move it to a relationship… that shut him up pretty quick… at least for the time haha. i do find myself struggling with that notion a little bit more these days only because of personal experiences and things that have happened that seemed to indicate men and women can’t be only friends. in the end i do think that men and women can be only friends but there needs to be a mutual understanding that friendship is the only thing desired by both and to work at it like any other relationship. i agree with other commenters – it does boil down to choice and being a true person to yourself and the significant other. they say monogamy isn’t natural… perhaps so but that’s the beauty of being human… you can make choices! so make the right ones. 🙂

    • Meg Ryan was so adorable back in the 80s and early 90’s 🙂

      Ultimately, I suspect that issues like this have more to do via a case-by-case ; some people will be more able to have opposite sex friends and others will not ….if only we lived in a perfect world….but then again, if we did what would I have to write about and complain about 😉

  12. Some very interesting points. I believe that healthy, platonic friendships can exist. I especially liked your point, “If you are having friendships with other people at the expense of a healthy relationship with your significant other….then obviously you are making some pretty big mistakes.” Thank you so much for your interest in Gwichyaa Zhee!

  13. I really like this post, it puts forth some very interesting questions and issues that I myself have struggled with. I always have it in the back of my mind despite what my SO says that she just gets along better with males as friends. I do feel like she spends more time with her friends than me sometimes and talks to them nor,however, I do work 36 hrs one wk and 48 the nxt. When I say something to her about this, she immediately takes it as an attack. I wish she could understand and us meet a middle ground on the issue, but idk.

  14. This has been something that has bothered me for years. Working in kitchens you spend quite a bit of time around college age kids. I have been married for longer than most of them have been alive. It always amazes me when you can something as simple as “hello” and it gets turned into a huge thing of infidelity. When did it become wrong to be friendly to others?

  15. Most of my friends are guys and I’ve never had any real issues. Of all of my male friends, there has really only been one that I ever felt any sexual tension around, but we’ve always controlled ourselves. I simply do not hang out with that friend if it’s just the two of us in a private area. I currently have 2 male roommates and it’s not an issue. My boyfriend has female friends too – though, honestly, he doesn’t really “hang out” with them, they’re more co-worker and/or facebook friendships. Still, I can’t imagine being bothered if they did.

  16. I don’t get it. I have friends who are women; the issue of sex never enters the picture. And my wife has friends with men, lots of friends being in a male dominated career, but I have never felt any fear that things would get out of hand. I don’t think we are unusual. Are we? Maybe it is a total myth that men and women can’t be friends.

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