It is an age old question, can women and men just be friends? Where did this concept begin and why?
For as long as humans have existed, women and men have had very specific gender roles. Women raise the children and take care of the home. Men work outside the home and bring home the money. In the past, women and men really only came together for romantic purposes, or to start a family together. This idea that the only way men and women can interact is through romance and procreation has changed over the last couple decades.
“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,” explains Linda Sapadin, a psychologist in Valley Stream, New York..
So what has changed? Well women and men have definitely come out of the bubble of the 1950’s roles they were in. Men and women are working together, going to school together, and sharing many activities together like sports, and socializing together more than ever. If this is the case then why is there still a myth that women and men cannot be friends?
One thing that may perpetuate the idea that women and men cannot be friends is the media. Movies and television shows rarely have characters that are just friends. We expect the man and woman to get together, not as friends, but as lovers. Does that skew our perception of how these friendships cannot last? Well I think it does.
It is totally possible to have a close male or female friend of the opposite sex as long as you are both aware of your boundaries. You first have to define that. Are you friends or do you like each other? This is pretty crucial because if you do have feelings for someone and you tell them you don’t this could create problems and someone will get hurt.
Keep the lines of communication open and make sure that you always treat each other the same way you treat your other friends. Really, both genders should be treated equally regardless, but it is more difficult in a male/female friendship.
Both men and women can benefit from cross-sex friendships. These types of friendships can be lighter and more fun than other friendships, also men confide in women and women confide in men differently than they do with their other male or female friends. When it really comes down to it, male/female friendships do not have to be all about sex. They can become some of the most valuable friendships someone can have!
Make sure that if you do start to feel something for you friend you tell them and you work through it or pursue it! Some of the best, most long-lasting relationships start of as friends!