To the outside observer, it seems clear that these vastly different views about the potential for romance in opposite-sex friendships could cause serious complications—and people within opposite-sex relationships agree.
However, men and women differed in the extent to which they saw attached friends as potential romantic partners.
Although men were equally as likely to desire “romantic dates” with “taken” friends as with single ones, women were sensitive to their male friends’ relationship status and uninterested in pursuing those who were already involved with someone else.
Males were significantly more likely than females to list romantic attraction as a benefit of opposite-sex friendships, and this discrepancy increased as men aged—males on the younger end of the spectrum were four times more likely than females to report romantic attraction as a benefit of opposite-sex friendships, whereas those on the older end of the spectrum were ten times more likely to do the same.
Taken together, these studies suggest that men and women have vastly different views of what it means to be “just friends”—and that these differing views have the potential to lead to trouble.
Can heterosexual men and women ever be “just friends”?