Now that the weather is getting colder, a cuddle-buddy is probably looking really good right now—or maybe your guy friend (or simply a friend of the sex that you are attracted to) is starting to look really good right now. Sometimes we can’t tell if someone is just nice or genuinely interested, and sometimes people find themselves “friend-zoned” by someone who never would have guessed that you had romantic feelings for him or her in the first place. And then you find yourself wondering, can [heterosexual*] guys and girls really be just friends?
This YouTube video, filmed on the Utah State University campus, poses the same question to USU students. While most of the girls immediately reply positively, the guys are a lot more hesitant to deny the inevitability of physical attraction.
Ryan M., senior biology major, explains that, “Biologically, males are evolved to be attracted to females to promote species survival. As such, it is difficult for males to view females as something other than viable reproductive partners.”
Camille Chatterjee’s Psychology Today article also asks the question, “Can Men and Women Be Friends?” She defines the challenges and truths of “cross-sex friendship,” and argues that both men and women cannot only be platonic friends with each other—they can benefit from such friendship.
When asked if guys and girls can really be friends, senior physics major Victoria C. replied in the positive and wondered, “Why would you even ask that?” Jared K., senior interactive multimedia major, agreed with Victoria (but not the guys in the aforementioned video): “I don’t see why not.”
So why ask this question? Chatterjee cites the media, specifically “a certain classic film starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal” as causing audiences to think that friendship between men and women can only end in one way. Samantha P., senior English major, also mentioned 'When Harry Met Sally,' and said, “I think our society is so focused on romance and finding a soul mate that I don’t think it’s ever really possible to be completely just friends with someone. Inevitably, someone will develop feelings for the other or have a moment in which they find each other sexually attractive.”
Emily M., junior communication studies major, said, “Guys and girls can be just friends, but I think it's more common for girls to have friends that are girls and boys to have friends that are boys because each one is wary that a friendship with the opposite sex might grow into something more, or is expected to grow into something more. However, I think people are starting to realize that this isn't always the case.”
Similar to Emily’s conclusion, junior communication studies major, Katie S. said, “Yes, guys and girls can just be friends. Not all friendships lead to romantic attraction. Sometimes I just like the company of a guy as a friend.”
When asked for his honest opinion on whether or not girls and guys can be friends, as a friend and not a biology student, Ryan M. said, “It’s definitely possible.”
(*Since the question, ‘Can guys and girls really be friends?’ is inherently heterosexist.)