Can men and women be friends?

In the movie ‘Harry Met Sally’, Harry tells Sally that men and women can never be friends, sparking the age-old debate can they, or can’t they?

I’m never sure about this as I have quite a few male friends, single and in relationships. I’ve experienced a few awkward situations in the past where my friendships have gone a bit lopsided and the line between platonic and romantic have been blurred but its been rare and it hasn’t stopped me having male friends.

Dynamics in the male/female friend zone can change over time; I have a male friend that I’ve known for years, we knew each other when he was single and I was in a relationship.  He then began going out with someone when I split up with my ex, so we swapped situations. We had never been single at the same time.

We arranged to meet up after a long period of time; I was looking forward to seeing him for a good catch up.  As the meeting approached though, I started to feel like I was going on a date – it wasn’t because I harbored any romantic feelings for him, it was the fact that we were two single people meeting up. Was I meant to feel something different now? Was it okay to be attracted to him? I suddenly whipped myself up into a mini frenzy in my head – he’s good looking, intelligent, funny, why shouldn’t I be attracted to him?! It was unknown territory, I wasn’t sure what how to act or even what we would talk about without the buffer of our relationships.

Luckily as the drinks flowed, we eased back into our normal flow and the friendship was back in the place it always was, but it did make me look at him a bit differently, just a little bit.  It has made me wonder if there was any truth in Harry’s theory.

I recently had another situation where I had been in same social situation with someone for a few years

Harry Burns: You realize of course that we could never be friends.
Sally Albright: Why not?
Harry Burns: What I’m saying is – and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form – is that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.
Sally Albright: That’s not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.
Harry Burns: No you don’t.
Sally Albright: Yes I do.
Harry Burns: No you don’t.
Sally Albright: Yes I do.
Harry Burns: You only think you do.
Sally Albright: You say I’m having sex with these men without my knowledge?
Harry Burns: No, what I’m saying is they all WANT to have sex with you.
Sally Albright: They do not.
Harry Burns: Do too.
Sally Albright: They do not.
Harry Burns: Do too.
Sally Albright: How do you know?
Harry Burns: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.
Sally Albright: So, you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?
Harry Burns: No. You pretty much want to nail ’em too.
Sally Albright: What if THEY don’t want to have sex with YOU?
Harry Burns: Doesn’t matter because the sex thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.
Sally Albright: Well, I guess we’re not going to be friends then.
Harry Burns: I guess not.
Sally Albright: That’s too bad. You were the only person I knew in New York.
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