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Sex + Relationships

Guys and Girls Can’t Be Friends: True or False?

If you’ve ever seen the romance classic, “When Harry Met Sally”, you know that, according to Harry, men and women cannot be friends.
“No man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.” –Harry
This seems a little extreme, doesn’t it? Are men really that all-sex-minded that they want to sleep with the girl they’ve been best friends with since 5th grade? Does the same go for college guys? Can you ever have a truly platonic relationship with a guy?
Well, as far as the answers suggest, there’s no easy answer. We surveyed 30 college guys from various schools around the country. Here are the results:

  • 84% say it is possible to have a just friends relationship with a girl.
  • 48% say they’ve either liked, or been involved with most of their girl friends
  • Another 30% say they’ve either liked, or been involved with at least a few of their girl friends
  • 78% say, when they like one of their girl friends, they sometimes get the feeling she likes them too, but they’re both too afraid to do anything about it.
  • 83% say it’s possible for a girl to switch from someone they just want to be friends with, to a romantic interest, and back to just wanting to be friends.
  • 43% say if they have a girlfriend already, it’s easier for them to have platonic girl friends
  • 49% say if they like a girl friend, they try not to let her realize, to avoid potentially losing her or their friendship

Guy friends are a real blessing in the life of a college girl. They’re down-to-earth, are great for getting guy-advice, and give you that needed break from your beloved girls every once in a while.
With about 90% of my friend-base as male (both at home, and at college), I know what it’s like to have guy friends. I can truly say that, for far more than the majority of those guys, I have never wanted to sleep with any of them. Who knows if they feel the same.
“There is always sexual tension between guys and girls,” says Eugene Park, a senior at Syracuse University.
As far as girls are concerned, it seems we’re either oblivious to the sexual tension from our favorite male buddies, or we just ignore it as best as possible.
“It’s great to have someone to fall back on who isn’t just trying to get in my pants. Guys are different than girls, and having a close guy friend can be like a breath of fresh air,” says Her Campus Contributing Writer Maddy Harrington.
Guys certainly are a breath of fresh air, and no, not all of Maddy’s guy friends may be trying to sleep with her, but if she changed her mind, they probably wouldn’t object. 
So what do the experts say? Can we still keep our 5th grade boy best friend?
“It depends on whether or not they previously had a relationship,” says Patti Feinstein, America’s Dating Coach. “If they did, no, probably not. If they didn’t, there is usually sexual attraction from one of them.”
Usually that sexual attraction is from the guy.
“Platonic relationships are one-sided with one pining for the other,” Patti says.
This ‘pining’ doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all dying to get you in bed, although it certainly could. A more reasonable, and less frightening, explanation is that your guy friends could have serious crushes on you.
Thirty-one percent of the guys surveyed said there may not always be an interest in a sex-relationship with their girl friends, but there is usually some level of attraction.
“In order to be friends, you have the same interests, and likes,” Henry Chu a Syracuse University freshman said. “It’s the same for a relationship.”
Most of the guys in our survey agreed with Chu. Fifty-two percent said it’s hard to have platonic friendships with a girl because friendships tend to be close relationships, where you care about the other person. If that other person is a girl, it makes the guys think about possibly dating them.
Friendship, and the feelings of closeness that come with it, are similar to those we feel when in a romantic relationship. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the two.
Here’s what one guy from our survey had to say about the difference between girls as friends and potentially date-able girls:

“It hard to describe, you just don’t have that sort of feeling [for them]. It’s purely caring, almost like a sister type of feeling. However let’s not be naïve, I’ve also had female friends that have been quite the contrary and have had the potential of being date-able girls. I mean, it’s only natural, since many relationships often occur after initially just being friends.”
He’s right. Often how-we-met stories consist of a “we were best friends and then he told me he loved me,” plotline. Your best guy friends can often be the perfect potential partner. Just take a look at Her Campus Contributing Writer Carlene Helble, whose best friend became her boyfriend (you can read her story here).
So how do you keep your guy friends separate from guy-friend-potential-boyfriend? Is it even possible?
“You may end up discovering that the friendship has potential to also be a couple-relationship,” says Susanne Alexander, relationship and marriage coach. “It’s hard to go backwards into being just platonic though, so talking first instead of kissing can help!”
Unless you’re willing to possibly lose a friend, it’s best to keep things PG.
One guy said, “I never put myself out there because it could change our friend status, and if they don’t like me it could make things weird.”
If you’re in a relationship already, being a guy himself, your boyfriend is probably more than well aware of the potential crushes your guy friends have on you. So do you have to ditch all of your guy friends if you’ve got a BF?
“I find that being in a relationship definitely takes the pressure off. I’m very content with my boyfriend so talking with other guys doesn’t require as much analysis as it used to,” said Her Campus Contributing Writer Rachel Dozier.
It seems the same applies for the guys. Forty-three percent of the guys surveyed said being in a relationship made it easier for them to have platonic girl friends.
Whether they’re in a relationship or not, there are the rare guys out there who won’t be looking for anything more than a friendship with certain girls. “Some girls you’ve just known forever or can’t ever see yourself being with,” Adam Middleton, a sophomore at the University of Vermont said. “Anyone you saw eat Play-Doh doesn’t really move to the top of your list.”
Refreshing, to say the least.
With some guys, like Middleton, you will know there won’t be a future for anything more, but, as HC Contributing Writer Rachel Dozier says, “with others there will always be that question of relationship or not.”
One guy from our survey answered the question of the platonic friend in the simplest of terms, “sometimes we just want to be friends in the face of attraction.”

How could we not want to be friends with that?
Susanne M. Alexander, Relationship & Marriage Coach, Author of All-in-One Marriage Prep and Can We Dance? Learning the Steps for a Fulfilling Relationship
Patti Feinstein, America’s Dating Coach
Eugene Park, Syracuse University student
Adam Middleton, UVM student
Rachel Dozier and Maddy Harington, HC Contributing Writers
College guys from various schools

Heather is a 2012 graduate of Syracuse University's Newhouse School with a degree in Magazine Journalism. Growing up in southern Vermont, she learned to appreciate the New England small-town life. During her time at SU she served as Editor-in-Chief of What the Health magazine on her college campus and was a member of the Syracuse chapter of ED2010. This summer Heather is exploring the world of digital entrepreneurship at the Tech Garden in Syracuse, NY where she is Co-Founder of Scrapsule.com. Aside from social media and home decor, she loves vintage jewelry, strawberry banana smoothies, running, and autumn in Vermont.
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