Can Men And Women Really Be Just Friends—and nothing more?

Dear Duana,

A guy friend of mine made a very hard pass at me.  I’m stunned…I thought we were friends and nothing more.  Was I asleep during the men-are-always-interested lecture?  How do I make a male friend who understands that friendship is *all* I’m after?    



 Dear Anika,

Can men and women ever really be Just Friends—without sexual tension? 

When Love Science readers answered informally, most women said Yes; one even has a BFF from high school who, with his wife, vacations with her and her husband. 

But the #1 answer men gave referenced this famous scene from When Harry Met Sally—where Harry insists that even with unattractive women Friends, “You pretty much wanna nail them, too.” 

Who’s right—if anyone?  Did we *all* miss the opposite sex’s lecture? 

In a set of studies where young heterosexual adults were asked about their actual behavior with—and what they value about—their opposite-sex Friends, these three conclusions stood out:

  •           Men and women primarily want the same thing from their Friends:  Friendship.

For instance, one man wrote me that, “Sure, I’d have sex with my [women friends] if they offered.  But asking isn’t worth the risk.  I can always find someone to have sex with….Good friends aren’t so easy to find.” 

  •          Not all men want sex to be part of their Friendships.  But men are muuuch likelier to envision the potential—and twice as likely to act on it. 

Indeed, research shows that over half of men desire sexual involvement with their women Friends—whereas very few women feel likewise.  And about 1/5th of men say they’ve actually had sex with close Friends—double the percentage of women who claim the same. 

  •           When someone in the Friendship wants *love*…again, it’s probably the man.

It may seem against common stereotypes, but here it is:  Men often name the potential for a long-term romantic relationship as a plus of having female Friends. 

Perhaps due to the oft-unrequited nature of these feelings, men then have other uncomfortable emotions—such as confusion about whether the relationship really is Just Friendship or something more, and sadness if their love is not returned. 

Meanwhile, women enjoy a relationship that is remarkably free from complexity—for them.  They say they love the Friendship in part *because* of the lack of sexual or romantic pressure/possibility—and find their happiness marred only when they perceive an attraction they can’t or don’t return.  


So, if you want a Friend who’s on the same page regarding the Just-Friends deal, what are your options?    


Option 1. End your Friendships: 

Actually, that’s a really dumb idea. 

For one thing, most of us, regardless of gender, genuinely like our Friends.  For every man who *is* on the make, it appears there’s another who *isn’t*.  And most men value their opposite-sex Friendship much more than its potential for sex. 

For another, Friendships give everyone a shot at emotional Intimacy—plus, according to the research participants:      

— someone to respect;

— someone to speak openly with;

— someone to go get dinner with;

— a self-esteem lift;

—good feelings when we help a Friend;

and—uniquely—insider-info about the opposite sex—advice research participants say they *don’t* think a same-sex peer could give as expertly. 


Option 2.  Announce your unavailability up-front:  

Although I’ve heard this suggestion before, I think it’s bad advice

Stating point-blank that you’re Not An Option when you barely know someone (or even when you do, but they’ve never made a pass) communicates a lot more than your unavailability. 

It can also convey your status as a snob, egotist, and/or weirdo.  And it can hurt and anger someone who really wasn’t Interested anyway. 


Option 3. Cultivate Friendships with gay men: 

It may not be PC, but this is probably a pretty smart idea, and one that Love Science readers introduced:   


From a straight woman:

“I like having men as friends, but I prefer gay men because [we can relate] without being an affair risk…” 


From a lesbian woman: 

“I don’t have any straight male (good) friends right now. I often get the kinda sexual/creepy vibe pretty quick.”


Bonus:  Befriending a gay man means never having to explain to him, to your (rational) sig other, or to anyone else that really, you *are* Just Friends.   


Option 4: Go forward with your Friendships, knowing there’s a strong possibility that some times, with some men, you conceptualize things a bit differently.

I see this as your best bet.  It keeps the Friends you have, removes shock that a man could turn out to be pursuing you, and avoids selecting Friendships based solely on demographics. 


Specifically, assume your normal friendly behavior is often perceived as sexual interest.  And accept that.   

Around the world, men see mere friendliness as a sign of sexual interest (whereas women perceive it as mere friendliness).  And the #1 thing a woman can do to advertise availability is simply to smile. 

So unless you’re willing to avoid straight men, frown constantly and dress like a nun, a certain amount of unwanted interest may be part of the deal. 

What *isn’t* part of the deal is the on-going expression of that interest.  If a kindly-put “I treasure your friendship, but I don’t want any level of romance or sex in this friendship” doesn’t bar future advances and keep a buddy just that—

It’s time to make some new Friends. 





Related Love Science articles:


The author wishes to acknowledge the following scientists and sources:

April Bleske-Rechek and David M. Buss, for their research into what opposite-friendship really means to men versus women—and how it fits into evolutionary psychology. 

You can read their articles here:

Bleske, A. L., & Buss, D. M. (2000).  Can men and women be just friendsPersonal Relationships, 7, 131-151.   

Bleske, A. L., & Buss, D. M. (2001). Opposite sex friendship: Sex differences and similarities in initiation, selection, and dissolution.  Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 1310-1323.


If this article intrigued, surprised or enlightened you, please write a comment and/or click “Share Article” below to link it with your favorite social media website.

All material copyrighted by Duana C. Welch, Ph.D. and Love Science Media, 2010

Do you have a question for Duana?  Contact her at

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Reader Comments (31)

Duana - I love this topic! Its probably the most common scenario I face in the working world. As a man, I meet women often and sometimes the attraction is what captures your attention but most often its the ability to get to know someone personally (their heart and mind) that gives you a sense of comfort and willingness to want more of them. It can get confusing when the opposite sex becomes your confidant. Sadly more of a listener and understanding than you would often get in a relationship. Your options #2 and #4 I would agree with. Knowing up front is important. Managed expectations. But sometimes you don't see it coming and it clouds things as you didn't intend to have that "want" that has manifested itself without the physical. Actually a more powerful means to have bonded without any intimacy. Well...not physically anyway. Sometimes the shared mind is as attractive and tempting as anything that could be advertised on the surface!

But if both are mature about it, and the initial association was not false and without agenda in the beginning, the friendship can be salvaged if both are respecting the friendship and expectations. If not, you have to sever ties because it can no longer be geniune when one is in a holding pattern for you while you stay grounded to the friendship.

I've been on both sides and its a conveyor belt of helplessness when you get wrapped up without realizing you're there. To lose the could have been when they are actually the never was due to frienship, puzzling.

A friendship as a there's a concept!

Thanks for another great topic!


June 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterQuinn

Love the article. For one-on-one friendships with men, I choose Option 4, befriending gay men. That was my strategy all through college and early (unmarried) adulthood. No sexual pressure, no weird vibes, just enjoy the friendship. I had women friends, too, but the guy friends were special --they offered another perspective.

Post-marriage, I find that my guy "friends" are actually the husbands of my women friends. At this point in my life (no longer in college, or part of a large workplace), I don't have any one-on-one friendships with men that exclude my husband.

How about enjoying friendships with men as couples? I can still enjoy the guy's company, and feel safe, if his wife (and my husband) are sitting right there in the same room :)

June 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoan

Hey Duana - what a great topic and article. I think this is on a lot of people's minds. I enjoy actually both, male and female friendships a lot. Of course, I have more female friends than male ones but that's alright. I enjoy my male friends though too. If they are truly your friend then they will accept you as you are and honor your status. I know, this sounds too great to be true but I truly believe that a man and a woman can be great pals too. As long as the wife or husband of the other is alright with it, then there should not be a problem. That is just my opinion. I also think that having a friendship with a man could be of benefit because it's hard enough for us women to understand our men. So, if you can talk to your male friend about a certain situation then you might see it a bit better and clearer and that goes the other way around. too Women give each other comfort but can't really figure out why their hubbies are acting that way or doing things a certain way. Now, if my friendship with a man is so open that I can talk to him about anything and everything, then I would contact him instead. and hear it from a man's point of view. Trust and confidentiality is of course a big must in any friendship (and yes in a marriage and relationship too).
Now, regarding that "attraction" thing - yes, it is quite possible that the friendship between a man and a woman might end up between the sheets or even be just cyber sex talk, but if that happens, I think their friendship is scared or even damaged and they might not be able to trust each other any longer and this once so great friendship will fall apart which would be a shame.
Again, this all is only my opinion. I feel like that I am a quite easygoing person and could hang out with anyone as long as there is trust among us.

June 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

I miss my guy friends. Don't get me wrong, we're all still friends, but I don't have my "go-to guy" anymore because I am married. My feeling is that, regardless of intention, marital relations ebb and flow and there are emotional openings that invite closeness with the friend. It's just too risky.

June 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPenelope

Hi, Penelope ... Well said! I miss my guy friends, too.

Though I do keep in touch with my favorite one on Facebook, a wonderful gay guy in NYC, whom I've known since High School. (Long live Facebook!)

As for straight guys ... well, now that I am married (with child), straight guy friends are too much of a risk.

Today, I would likely pursue a friendship with a gay guy, but I don't meet that many gay guys anymore. Whereas the pickings were more plentiful in college and law school, today I'm married and work at home, thus my social circle is limited to: 1) extended family; 2) friends I meet through my daughter's school; and 3) friends I meet though church. There aren't that many (openly) gay guys as the local elementary school or local Catholic Church.

I enjoy male company. For me, guys fill a gap that girls cannot. But the solution for me is enjoying male company only when the guy's wife is also present.

June 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoan

Duana, I know you don't make the rules, but the thing about smiling at men is stupid. Smiling at a man conveys sexual interest? Wow.

What if I smile *and* wave? That means I want to be his love slave forever?

Come on, guys. We are just trying to acknowledge you as people.

This tidbit of information inclines me to ignore men entirely. For example, being a humanitarian at heart, I used to acknowledge strangers on the road of Life. I would smile or wave at the trash guys or postman, simply to acknowledge and thank them for their work in keeping society going.

Maybe that is different, and the smiling depends on the setting? Surely the postman doesn't think I'm signaling a sexual interest ... um, right?

July 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGillian

Quinn, so good to hear your voice again. I love your musings on the nature of Friendship becoming Love.
Friendship is indeed the best route towards establishing lasting love.
And Friendship is actually a kind of love, as several men readers (but—interestingly—zero women readers) pointed out to me privately. To wit:
"I think [whether men and women can be Just Friends] depends on the people involved in the friendship. I've seen heterosexual-friends who kissed all the time but were not exclusive. Seen friends who were comfortable being naked in front of each other but were not having sex. Seen extremely close friends who were coworkers. Known "Friends with Benefits" that were good people just a bit alternative. I personally believe that friendship is love.”
In fact, the most famous model of love is Robert Sternberg’s, which you can see here: In a nutshell (or, rather, Triangle), it shows three core components of love: Intimacy, Commitment, and Passion. Combining the three elements forms the most common forms of adult love.

Friendship all by itself is Intimacy—nothing to be scoffed at, now that a raft of health and psychology studies show that the sharing of one’s emotional self with another can be literally life-saving, and loneliness is a huge detriment to health-and-longevity.

Commitment all by itself is Empty Love—you know, the people who never speak at dinner, live separate lives under the same roof, and stay married only because they said they would.

And Passion alone is just Infatuation—ineffable, ephemeral, and impossible to hold onto without an anchor to concrete similarities and commitment between two people.

Most of us embody only two of the concepts at a time in our adult sexual relationships; Passion + Commitment early-on, and Intimacy + Commitment later on. Relatively few of us grasp the brass ring: Consummate love, which encompasses all three components. Why not?

Perhaps because so many of us launch our intimate relationships with Passion before Intimacy.
My guess, based on arranged-marriage studies, is that those relationships that *do* wind up with Consummate love often started out with real Friendship that lasted long enough to equate Intimacy + Commitment…(accidentally) adding Passion only after it was crystal-clear that they had enough genuine similarity and liking to make a Life together work.

Unfortunately, our dating structure that emphasizes Passion before all else may not help us gain Consummate Love…

And ironically, our work environment, which throws highly similar, and often highly married, people together is the situation *most* likely to lead toFriendship and then accidental love you and so many in this Q&A describe.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, Quinn.

Hi, Joan, Welcome back! I’ve missed you here.

The research that forms the basis for this article focused only on young heterosexual, typically unwed American adults; its purpose was to figure out whether male-female Friendships serve some of the same evolved mating purposes that male-female sexually bonded relationships do.

The answer? Yes. Men, who can breed almost forever but who must find someone fertile with whom to accomplish the feat, are indeed more focused on sexuality in Friendships; and women, who historically need(ed) provision and protection, should emphasize men Friends’ protective plusses. The theory was largely upheld by the Friends research.

But it might or might not fully apply to The Married. And therefore, I refer your questions to other Wise Readers:

What do you think about having your only straight opposite-sex friends being spouses of a same-sex friend?

If those are your parameters, could you hang out with your same-sex friend’s spouse when your same-sex friend was not around?

Or would the relationship be limited only to what was shared in the presence of one another’s mates?

Would that be too limiting for you, or would that feel comforting and safe?

Or both?

Dear Sonja, Welcome to Love Science! Your opinions do have quite a bit of support.

For instance, the research participants in Blesky and Buss’ research –male and female—agreed that having a Friend of the opposite sex was the best resource for understanding the other gender’s mysterious workings.

And other research covered last week showed that many, many times, people who think (and say) they’re “Just Friends” are in reality moving towards an affair. It’s the most common way emotional, and, increasingly, sexual affairs begin today.

And what happens then?
Usually, discovery by the other person’s mate..and, as you surmised, the ending of the Friendship.

Neither relationship—spousal or Friendly—will ever be the same. The Friendship must be utterly sacrificed, not only because the marital recommitment demands it…but also because the two people in the Friendship have now taken the relationship to a level that they can’t back away from.

(We now pause while I think on all the letters I've received from people who are almost desperate to keep both their Friends and their spouses...It Just Does Not Work.)

Perhaps these Friendships, once we are married, are best seen as carrying a huge sign:

WARNING: Sharing things with a Friend that you could not say or do directly in front of your spouse is a risk to your marriage and your Friendship both.

Handle with care.

Dear Penelope and Gillian, it sounds as if you’ve both come up with some similar strategies for protecting your marriages. Although some might consider your boundaries extreme, those “some” are not, to my knowledge, involved in affair research.

Indeed, Penelope, your words bear repeating: “My feeling is that, regardless of intention, marital relations ebb and flow and there are emotional openings that invite closeness with the friend. It's just too risky.”

Science backs you to the hilt. Every marriage, however perfect, has ups and downs in the emotional connection. And those down periods (even the up periods, too, actually) are ripe times for an involvement with someone else—especially a Friend, and especially if we just stumble along sharing stuff with our Friends as if sharing stuff bore no particular significance.

Specifically, as discussed last week, all our relationships consist of windows and walls. In a healthy marriage, the windows allow mates to communicate with a level of intimacy (emotional—not just sexual) that *only* the two of them share. Everyone else is kept out by walls.

As Friendships transition from “just friends” to much more than that, Shirley Glass’ excellent (and heartbreaking) clinical studies show that the involved partner gradually *reverses* the walls and windows. Eventually, the former Friend is in on emotional details of the involved partner’s life that the spouse is walled off from.

It’s a tiny little step from that to full-on consummation.


So what to do? Well, you’ve both hit on a solution that works for you: Maintaining Friendships only in the presence of one’s spouse; having gay Friends; limiting what will and won’t be shared with a Friend.

Although some might find these options a bit constraining, most cultures actually mandate a version of these, *because* they acknowledge affairs as more a function of opportunity than what kind of person we are.

In this assumption, they’re right; we’re wrong. The *norm*, not the exception, is that good people do have affairs, without meaning to, just because they aren’t paying attention to the walls and windows in their relationships.

What, then, is the solution for those Readers who find your solution too restrictive—but who want to affair-proof their unions while still having Friends?

One option is simply to acknowledge with one’s mate that Accidental Affairs are rampant—and then to mutually agree on how you two will prevent that.

For instance, I’ve known couples who agree that they will tell each other everything about their opposite-sex Friendships, and that if they say or do *anything* with that Friend that they could not comfortably say or do in front of their mate, the Friendship is crossing a boundary and needs to be stopped or cooled.

Others I’ve known have dealt with this by agreeing that if they feel attraction for anyone but their spouse, they will actively avoid spending *any* time alone with that person—no water-cooler meetings, no lunches out, no phone calls, no office chats.

Still others have a tacit agreement that if their mate is at all uncomfortable with how a Friendship of theirs is going, they will end or cool it--immediately.

Wise Readers, I’m curious—how do you set *your* boundaries?

Hi, Gillian,
I find a tremendous amount of what Love Science has taught me to be irritating, frustrating, annoying…but not often stupid (anymore).

Here’s the repeated finding: Men all over the world do indeed, really and truly, find a woman of open, smiling, wide-eyed, dewey, youthful expression to be not only appealing…

but open to being appealed to.

As with so many other Inconvenient Truths, maybe it’s not PC, but it’s also not really stupid—not at the level of inherited mating psychology, anyway.

Genetically, as we’ve seen in many a Love Science column, men benefit from seeing sexual opportunity more often than it’s really there. Whereas women can only bear one pregnancy per 10 months or so regardless of how many sex partners they have, men can populate their own planet, given enough fertile wombs.

And since consensual sex is (fortunately) the usual kind, men need to be attentive to these cues. Yeah, sometimes they'll be wrong...but sometimes they'll be right, and nab a mating option they otherwise would've missed.

So it’s doubtful that men consciously think, “She is smiling at me. Perhaps she thinks I am hot. And then maybe she will have sex with me and bear my children.” But unconsciously, men act as if that is indeed what is happening.
Whatever interpretation you like, it remains a truism.

Cry and you cry alone—but smile and you might get hit on.

Seems to me the "just friends" deal is doomed from the start. It might last for a while, but guys are hardwired for sex, and sooner or later I'm gonna smile :)

July 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGillian

As I read through these comments it makes me particularly appreciate my husband. Apparently I am a big flirt. I never knew this. Although in my mind I am just being friendly, my husband regularly keels over in laughter and tolerance as I distribute my "niceness" among the gentlemen in town. To him it is amusing (well, only mildly) because he absolutely knows me and my intentions and KNOWS I mean no harm.

I am very grateful that our relationship was based on longstanding and sincere friendship before we ever even considered making a commitment to one another. And it seems to me, that by waiting for an "excellent match" instead of just a "reasonable match" when contemplating marriage, one is better-set to understand his or her spouse's friendships (or, um, flirtations), and also seems to be generally indicative of a more solid relationship to begin with. The other aspect of this is that, because I have such a good thing going in my marriage, I treasure it and do anything I can to avoid getting into awkward situations. If I have a real attraction to somebody, I will pretty much keep my contact with him to the absolute minimum. I don't care how interesting/talented/brilliant/hot he is -- that just makes it worse! If you're on a diet you don't hang out at the Dunkin Donuts, for goodness sake!! I will, in a second, sacrifice a potentially blissful and fulfilling relationship for my marriage. Some people might say, "don't you have any self-control?" Why, yes I do. That's why I don't even go there.

July 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPenelope

Hi, Gillian,

Don't take this the wrong way, but:

My guess is that you’ve gone through your whole life smiling, and usually, it’s worked out well, or at least not badly. The difference may be that now, you’re more aware of what that smile can signify to an attracted hunka manhood.
(And to a young single woman, that knowledge may come as a welcome tidbit!)

As for male-female friendships being doomed:
The world is brim-full of examples of Just Friends who have remained that way. And also, of those who...haven't.

I pause here to consider my own Friendships that have stood the test of decades and geographical separations, without which my life would be much the poorer. I reflect on times I’ve actively avoided contact with men I really liked because I got The Vibe. Or men I really, really liked and avoided because I could see I could grow to like them much too much. One of the things I love most about using the research is learning to make these choices more consciously...less randomly and dangerously.

And I also pause to think of several Friends I’ve known who vacationed and hung out as couples and *only* as couples…and later divorced their mates and (surprise!) wound up together. Tell me those aren’t some mighty pissed-off, betrayed-feeling exes!

Upshot? I think what research and simple real-life observation shows best is that when it comes to sexual tension, folks are taking a gamble when they choose to interact with someone of the gender they’re attracted/ive to.

The gambles don't just come down to affair risks, being come onto if you're a woman, or rejected if you're a man (and to see what a screwed-up Just Friends scenario looks like from a man's viewpoint, I highly recommend the funny and poignant movie 500 Days Of Summer:

The gambles also involve what occurs *after* a woman rejects a man…or merely gets a boyfriend or husband.
Some research indicates men are significantly likelier to ditch a woman Friend if she rejects his advances, and real-life observation suggests to me that even loss of the *perceived (not real) possibility* of sex can drive some men away.

For instance, the woman who wrote this week’s letter wasn’t just shocked by her “Friend’s” advances—she also got rejected; he ignored her after she refused him. And a client of mine mysteriously lost several male Friends when she announced her engagement. Apparently, these guys weren’t really being Friends…they were lurking in hopes of sex.
(Note: These men’s apparent agendas don’t match Most. Most men strongly prefer their Friendship to any sex that could occur. But finding one who is on the make is a risk. Losing innocence and getting feelings hurt are other risks.)

And both sexes name other costs of opposite-sex friendships as well—
such as feeling some jealousy of the Friend’s dates;
and wondering if the time they spend with Friends is time they could be using to find a mate.

Overall, though, Friendships persist across time and many cultures. Apparently, the risks are seen by many as being worth the rewards.

The question is: Is the gamble worth it to you?

Readers: What do you think??? What do you value about your Friends? And what risks have you taken?

Penelope, your entire letter made me smile, perhaps because it seems you and I are cut from the same cloth. (Also, I love a good love story, and yours is one.)

Your comment about flirting is intriguing. Shirley Glass, the affairs expert of whom I’ve lately written so much, was married for over 40 years—all her adult life-- to her husband…and claimed she didn’t flirt. Ever.

Indeed, she tsk-tsk’ed and gave dire warnings about it, saying that flirting conveyed openness to More. And that it’s therefore Dangerous.

Doubtless she was right. Doubtless, that suited her personality, too (she passed away earlier this decade, unfortunately--hence the past tense).

And doubtless, at some level, while I agree with her—I also disagree. I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all for what works or does not work to maintain Boundaries needed to protect a great marriage.

It seems to me that the important thing is to a) identify your Boundaries (preferably with your mate) and b) abide by them stringently.

That’s what you’ve done by minimizing contact with those you find attractive.
I, too, refuse to hang out at Dunkin’ Donuts, lol. In fact, I don’t even tell attractive men that they *are* Dunkin’ Donuts (That’s a no-no. Apparently, a major part of the downward slide towards an affair is admitting to one’s Friend that you have an attraction towards him/her.). And I don’t allow myself in-person contact (even with their spouses present!) with those who seem eager to have pastries at *my* establishment, either.

So here’s to being honest with ourselves about our motivations and attractions; setting Boundaries so as not to rely on our moral character all by itself—and still being whoever it is we are. Even if who we are is a bit of a flirt.

My evening has been made. "Pastry" will be the delight of the evening.

July 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPenelope

I agree entirely with the science in this situation ;-)

You asked what we value about our friends, and what risks we have taken. Hmmm.

I think "man on the make" is as ugly and unnecessary a term as "woman with baby fever" by the way. If I can accept that women are wired to love and desire to be a mother, than women can be a bit less scandalized by the thought that a man admires women's bodies for their very selves. It is NOT a selfish or degraded state of mind.

Thank you.

July 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTom

I don't desire every woman I see, nor do I desire every woman who smiles at me. Many women can now rest easy. On the other hand, I see a lot of women that I desire. Not all men retain intentional control over their innate drives, but I guess I do.

I am friends with a number of women who are also desirable to me. In fact, many of them would be pretty ticked if I indicated that I was *not* attracted to them.

I was faithful to my spouse for our entire marriage, which ended after 20 years at her request. When I became single again, I realized that being friendly and generous (TM) could be tailored to suit any given involvement with another person. As a result I've been physical with people who I also consider true friends. As has already been pointed out, that sometimes does not work for both parties. But sometimes it does.

I value a persons' humor, intelligence, creativity and integrity. I also value a nice silhouette (preference for females).

I would just hope that men and women would spend less time being fearful of one another in the finite amount of time we have here, together.

July 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Excellent post Tom!

"I don't desire every woman I see, nor do I desire every woman who smiles at me. Many women can now rest easy. On the other hand, I see a lot of women that I desire. Not all men retain intentional control over their innate drives, but I guess I do."

I have women friends, and I appreciate the looks of some, and others, not so much. I know that my commitment and love for my wife mean I would never act on the feelings of attraction. It's called self-control.

I find it sadly humorous that women feel that if they smile at a man, the man wants to have sex with them. On the other hand, when women lose their looks, they're upset that men don't smile at them.

And why is it that when I smile at some women, they turn around and give me a dirty look?

July 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVincent

Yeah, what's up with that? ;-)

July 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Dear Tom and Vincent,

I have wondered where Ye Of Y Chromosomes have been hiding for most of this discussion. Your perspectives are appreciated—and shared.

Assuming a man is interested in every woman is akin to assuming that every gay man is on the make (yes, Tom, I put that in for you) regarding every male of every orientation. It clearly and empirically is Not So.

Vincent, to clarify, women usually *don’t* assume that their smile drives men wild…they assume that they (women) are merely being friendly, and are usually shocked to read otherwise (as Gillian exemplified).
But you both make an excellent point that women can get offended if men *don’t* find them attractive…

and that some women can assume a friendly man’s smile is a sexual come-on when it’s just a smile. I have a very low Bitch tolerance, so I cringe when I hear of women being rude for any reason, and especially for no good reason. But doubtless, it does happen. I cringe on behalf of XX's everywhere.

And—well-said, Tom: “I would just hope that men and women would spend less time being fearful of one another in the finite amount of time we have here, together.”

All this said, one thing that interested me about the many notes sent in to Love Science on this topic was the striking difference in how women and men—of all sexual orientations—framed Friendships with those of the gender they are sexually attracted to. Men were by far more open to thinking of sexuality as being a part—expressed or not—of many (not all) of their Friendships; women rarely mentioned the possibility, and when they did mention it, did so only by way of saying they wanted to avoid it.

Personally, I find sexual chemistry, expressed and not, to be a great joy of life. Like fire, food, water, and Life’s/Nature’s other tools, it’s fabulous when respected for the powerful force it is. And not only do I fail to be bothered that men sometimes have a spark for some of us (and, Ladies With Or Without Baby Fever, let us also admit we also carry the Torch at times), but…

I think the world would be a deadly dull place without it.

So there :).

Chemistry has always been my favorite subject ;-)

July 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Hooray for Tom and Vincent!

I was feeling mightily misunderstood until you guys wrote in.

July 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGillian

Great posts by Tom and Vincent. I like hearing the male perspective. This time, I'm on your wavelength.

To clarify: My choice of words, "the smiling at men thing is 'stupid'" was careless and inaccurate. I was trying to say what you guys said, i.e., that men don't desire every woman who smiles at them. This was not acknowledged until Tom pointed it out.

As for my post that the male/female friendship is "doomed from the start" ... I felt misunderstood again! To say the odds are stacked against it would more accurately express my view and personal experience. And from what I've read here, other people feel the same way. (No Dunkin' Donuts.) And there's alot of other parameters and Caution tape wrapped around it, too (ala Penelope, Duana, and Joan).

As I intended to say in my post, and based on what I've read in Duana's (excellent) articles since this column began, men are hardwired to mate/procreate and women are hardwired to nuture/seek security. Thus, the male/female "friendship" is likely to go that route, absent a conscious exercise of self-control, which trumps the primitive urges. That wasn't directly discussed in the article, and I'm glad Tom and Vincent brought it up.

I hope you guys continue to write in. I like hearing the male point of view. Even with all the Caution Tape around it, that's why women do venture into the male/female friendship: Men have so many great qualities of personality and character, and women are always intrigued by the raw and authentic male point of view. And I mean that in a purely platonic, brother/sister, non-sexual way.

That is all.

July 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGillian
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