One pretty old cliche may be true after all! Heterosexual men and women can't be friends without sexual attraction getting in the way, according to a new American study.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire took a closer look at the friendship of a little more than 400 men and women, between the ages of 18 and 52. Their conclusion, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, was that these friendships often spell trouble after all, and that the old cliche about men and women being friends has a lot of truth to it. Especially men readily admitted that they were sexually attracted to their female friends. Women tended to deny they had such feelings.
The study also found that, the stronger the sexual attraction someone feels for a friend of the opposite sex, the more likely that they are unhappy with their intimate life they have with their current partner. The lead researcher and psychologist April Bleske-Rechek made a rather bold statement, and claimed that there was "at least a low level of attraction" in the vast majority of platonic male/female friendships.
She also said that men were basically wired to jump at any sexual opportunity. Evolutionary speaking, individual men "faced the risk of being shut out, genetically, if they didn't take advantage of various reproductive opportunities." Apparently, men tended to overestimate the attraction their female friends felt toward them, while women did the exact opposite. Does that sound like a recipe for disaster to you, too?
I'm pretty sure that most of us women have a good few examples of this very thing to draw on, both from personal experience and from looking at female friends and siblings. That's never been a reason to refrain from having this kind of friendship, though the study noted this, too, saying that people "find fulfillment in these friendships". Ha. Fulfillment and frustration aren't that different, are they?