Answering the age-old question: Can men and women be just friends?

| August 2, 2012 | Comments (0)

A study conducted by researchers from the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire revealed that men are more sexually interested in their female friends than vice-versa. This attraction could present difficulties in their friendship. Lead researcher April Bleske-Rechek observes: “I think men and women do want to be friends, they do want to engage in platonic friendships. But the data I’ve been collecting suggests that attractions can get in the way.”

Bleske-Rechek and her colleagues interviewed 88 pairs of opposite-sex, college-age friends to determine their responses to sexual attraction between them. Aside from finding that men were more likely to be attracted to their female friends, the study also found that both married and single men considered their female friends attractive. They are also more willing to go on a date with them. Married women, on the other hand, are not as open to the idea of dating their male friends.

The researchers further expanded their study to older adults aged 18 to 23 years old and those 27 to 55 years. While there were fewer heterosexual friendships among older-aged adults, both groups considered these friendships “overwhelmingly beneficial.” Both groups almost always considered attraction a “cost” “were less likely to call sexual attraction to a frienda cost than women were.”

Could friendships among men and women in the workplace suffer from this kind of attraction? Meghan Casserly, writing for Forbes, thinks so: “While this unique insight into the male brain is troubling for male-female friendships around the world….the findings are much more disturbing when put into the context of the workplace. What about the platonic relationships you have with your male colleagues? Do male supervisors believe their female subordinates are in love with them? How does that shape corporate culture, the assessment of female employees and women’s advancement in the office? My gut tells me this: Not well.”

Not all her readers agree. Jonathan Blair thinks that she is generalizing: “I think the argument is too black & white…. Men will generally want to sleep with female colleagues they find attractive (High value) regardless of their relationship status – because they are genetically hardwired to propagate the species by sleeping with as many high value women as possible. Women, however, are generally more discerning – they will resist, test, and ‘befriend’ those men they see as providers (Beta males) in order to ensure that they and their offspring are looked after. When an alpha male (High value) comes along, a woman will happily sleep with them regardless of relationship status – and will rationalise their actions post the event.”

Tags: college, friendship, marriage, men, platonic, sex, University of Wisconsin,

Category: News In Review

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