“We’re just friends.” Whenever I hear this statement it leaves me looking like Mr Bean at his last attempt to smile. Not necessary because I don’t believe it can be true, and not even because I remember ambiguously claiming it myself only several months ago, while I must admit it was not exactly true. As we all know well, exceptions are like love - 'always in the air'. We hear many cases, stories, glories about it, but there is always a big room for debate – can men and women be ‘just friends’?
Surely, being too categorical and flat about close friendships between opposite sexes is not ideal for a greater analysis about this issue. However, having a strong belief from personal experiences that it’s not possible for men and women to be just friends because of sexual reasons as well as a dozen of people and psychology lecturer’s opinions combined, this feature challenges and unravels that matter from its ground.
Around 20 students were interviewed and most of their thinking sounded far too optimistically innocent. Several said they believe it’s not possible for men and women to be ‘just friends’ without sex getting in their way. According to many more, such friendship is very possible and they admitted having different sex friends themselves. Although the matter of how much time they spend together with their opposite sex friend was not included in the questionnaire. Could it be the case?
It might be argued that it’s enough for the opposite sexes to spend much time together to make them fall in love with each other. “The more time you spend with someone the more you find him or her attractive”, psychology lecturer of University of Sunderland, Dr Daniel Farrelly says.
It appears that this is especially the case for males. “They have a high level of testosterones that leads to being more likely to be looking for any sort of sexual relationship.”
Moreover, males can be wrapped around the finger much easier if you’re flirting and giving them signs. According to Farrelly, people, especially males, do pick up on that. And is this where the status ‘just a friend’ vanishes?
“Probably could be. For more long-term relationships”, he continues, “it’s definitely a good idea to have a good understanding of what person is like first” rather than going straight into relationships.
I won’t start crying now complaining about how “just a friend” managed to steal my ex-boyfriend’s heart from me by spending much time playing football together with him and his mates (what I was physically not able to do being 2000 kilometers away). That made his “I won’t ever need any other and moreover I don’t want nothing but you” statement not valid. However, that does say a lot.
On the other hand, according to Dr Janet Reibstein, professor of psychology at Exeter University quoted in Psychologies (April issue 2012, UK edition I picked up in my way to University this morning) feature Just good friends, sometimes “you become so used to someone you can’t see them as a sexual object.”
After interviewing three “couples” a journalist Zoe Strimpel discovers that men and women can be friends of the closest and most non-sexual variety. However, a confession of one pair of friends featured in the magazine: “We used to sit and cuddle and watch films” do not convince me at all as it doesn’t sound very innocent and promising.
It’s a clear fact that different sexes attract each other. Thanks to the physiology and the natural gravity of attraction there’s nearly no chance that none of us have ever dreamt of ‘what if we could be together?’ when in practice the spoken language should be translated to "I want him or her in my bed!"
(Journalism student Raminta Paukstyte asks students from University of Sunderland do they really think men and women can be just friends without any sexual connections getting in the way)