http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, in print DNA, women are from Venus

Can a boy and girl be platonic friends?



“No, a man and woman can never be friends? On most occasions they would constantly deny that they are more than just friends but somewhere deep inside we realise that it is not really true? ” says college student Abhishek Pai.

The questions about just being friends comes more than often in our lives, especially when we share a really close and platonic cross- sex friendship.
As young school kids the notion that girls and boys were different, was followed religiously like a Bible, so much so that boys would look down upon girls as cranky delicate darlings and consider themselves to be sporty and strong. Girls however, preferred mingling in their own groups and boasted no end about their Einstein like intelligence. Thus, due to peer pressure boys and girls avoided talking and being friends with each other even if they wished to because of such well ingrained differences.
Over the years, these same children grow to laugh out at their self-indulging foolishness and start opening up to the other sex. Yet, somehow they tend to slowly get attracted to each other and ‘dating’ is the first thing that strikes their young minds. So, can a boy and girl then just be friends?
Society has a vital function in defining the roles of the actors of its play. Romantic relationships have always seemed to exist only between men and women but a romantic lesbian and gay relationship is always looked upon as a stigma. Similarly, same sex friendship is encouraged greatly, the activities that a girl-girl or a boy-boy engage in has become clich├ęd too, but what is new and grabbing eye balls in recent times is the growing male-female friendship. Something that society has long since underplayed. Why? Maybe because the existence of such platonic relationship is still deemed as hypothetical and unbelievable. Such affiliations meet with a lot of confusion and get distasteful over time. There are few barriers like our very own Bollywood which churned some super-hit movies like ‘Kuch kuch hota hain’ and ‘Hum Tum’ screening good friends who at some point in their lives realise that they are long lost lovers. Television and other forms of media like print play similar games too. Such cultural and social images force people into believing that this is all very true. “My best pal has this very close male friend for three years now. I somewhere knew that they would soon get hitched, though they always claimed to be only best friends and see how true I was?” says Ritu. She further adds, “Some friendship always have a predictable end but that doesn’t shake my belief about a girl and boy being platonic friends. It is still very much possible.” Though it might be tricky to accept that men and women can be good friends, there are good reasons to believe why they can.

Don O’Meara, Ph.D., at the University of Cincinnati-Raymond Walters College, published a landmark study in the journal Sex Roles on the obstacles to cross-sex friendship. He identified that there were several challenges that a male-female friendship faced which included defining it, dealing with attraction, seeing each other as equals and facing people’s responses to the relationship. Defining between romantic and friendly feelings is always difficult. You might love a persons company but you may not find the person appealing enough to be romantically involved with. “People don’t know what feelings are appropriate towards the opposite sex, unless they’re what our culture defines as appropriate,” said O’Meara.Moreover, there is always a fear of getting attracted to the opposite in a cross-sex friendship, which keeps one guarded. Such attraction becomes difficult to ignore. Society at times too isn’t comfortable with the idea of just seeing men and women as good friends. More often than not, friends and folks force you to believe that there is more to this friendship and you misguidedly are most likely to tread wrong ways. Daniel Fernandez 23, had a similar experience. He says, “I use to often, invite my good friend, Sheetal home, we have been friends for years now, but recently mom suspects me of being more than just her friend. She keeps on questioning me and dislikes her presence at home, this has soured my friendship. In fact I have become so conscious these days that I prefer avoiding her.”

Don O’Meara, Ph.D., at the University of Cincinnati-Raymond Walters College, published a landmark study in the journal Sex Roles on the obstacles to cross-sex friendship. He identified that there were several challenges that a male-female friendship faced which included defining it, dealing with attraction, seeing each other as equals and facing people’s responses to the relationship.
Defining between romantic and friendly feelings is always difficult. You might love a persons company but you may not find the person appealing enough to be romantically involved with. “People don’t know what feelings are appropriate towards the opposite sex, unless they’re what our culture defines as appropriate,” said O’Meara.
Moreover, there is always a fear of getting attracted to the opposite in a cross-sex friendship, which keeps one guarded. Such attraction becomes difficult to ignore. Society at times too isn’t comfortable with the idea of just seeing men and women as good friends. More often than not, friends and folks force you to believe that there is more to this friendship and you misguidedly are most likely to tread wrong ways. Daniel Fernandez 23, had a similar experience. He says, “I use to often, invite my good friend, Sheetal home, we have been friends for years now, but recently mom suspects me of being more than just her friend. She keeps on questioning me and dislikes her presence at home, this has soured my friendship. In fact I have become so conscious these days that I prefer avoiding her.”
Even very much in love couples do not like their partners having close friends from the opposite sex, they become very suspicious and this often results in heated arguments. Studies have proven that men tend to benefit more from cross- sex friendship because although they indulge in a lot of sports and travel with male friends they can rarely share their feelings with them, like they do with their girl friends. While women more often share personal secrets with other girls, their male friends make them feel more protected and secure.
According to Kathy Werking, at Eastern Kentucky University and author of We’re Just Good Friends the truth about cross-sex friendship is that it is emotionally very rewarding. She says that male-female friends are extremely supportive in the hour of need especially when they continuously examine their feelings, opinions and ideas. Somehow, many believe that though good friends can become good lovers. Former lovers might not be able to remain great friends. “I would never want to have my friend as my lover, because tomorrow if our love turns sour we will not be able to stay as good friends and I do not want something like that to happen. But honestly, I believe that a girl and boy cannot remain friends for long.” says 19 year old, student Saniya C. Even a survey of 1,450 members on match.com revealed that 62% have had experiences where their platonic friendship crossed the line and became romantic, while only among 32%, the friendship did not change
Clinical Psychologist, Esther Dubey, very positively feels the same. She asserts, “I feel very strongly that a man and woman, more or less of the same age, cannot stay friends for a very long time. It does turn into a romantic or sexual relationship at some point.” She adds, “In my vast career as a practicing counselor and psychologist in India and abroad, I have seen that platonic friendship doesn’t really stay for a long time, the male-female attraction factor plays the game. You may try to have a friend-friend thing, but the attraction is difficult to ignore.”

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