I thought that daytime NPR call-in shows could be awfully banal, but the BBC show I heard on the way home today had them beat. The hot topic of the hour was “can men and women really be friends (or does the inevitable sexual tension make it impossible)”, and they had people calling from all over the world, as well as various “experts” commenting.

From my point of view it’s an absurd question to even ask, like “can jelly and peanut butter really be combined in a sandwich”. If I didn’t have female friends I’d have had precious few friends in my life. And just about everyone I know has a number of healthy platonic friendships with the opposite sex. I mean, why would it even occur to anyone to ask such a question, at least in the West? Do male/female relationships tend to be more strained in the UK? Or is my vision just skewed by my circle of friends?

I’ll say one thing for BBC call-in radio though: the sexy-Irish-accent factor is much higher than in our local product 😀

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  1. In defense of the question, my answer would be “Only if they are not attracted to each other.”

    Despite the fact that I have a baby and I am practically married, I still size up every person I meet (male or female, in my case) as potential relationship material. Some relationships will only develop in certain circumstances, so I keep an eye out for those circumstances, and if it suits my purposes, I either seek them or avoid them.

    I’d also be lying if I didn’t say that I know several of my friends have crushes on me, or at the very least a repressed interest. The only way for anyone to deal with this kind of thing is to pretend to be clueless.

    Of my group of friends, I am confident that if I chose to do so I could develop an intimate relationship with 90% of those whose sexual orientation compliments mine (straight/bi men, or gay/bi women).

    So can men and women really be friends? Of course they can. Just like I’m friends with any number of exes that I still want to jump in the sack with whenever I see them, no matter how much I know our relationship didn’t work. Are men and women ever going to stop being attracted to each other in confirmation of the predefined boxes of societal categorization such as “friendship?”

    No, of course not.

  2. I’d have to kind of defend the question as legitimate too. I have male friends I have no attraction to whatsover. I have male friends I do not hang out with privately. or limit my interactions with in other ways, because some attraction exists. I have no friendships where the situation re sexuality has not in some way been assessed prior to deciding to pursue a friendship or not.

    1. Unless I’m much mistaken, though, you’ve never looked at that fact and said “because the question of sexuality is always there, it is not possible for me to have a real friendship with a man – they are all just window dressing for sexual”. Which was the slant of the show when they asked “can men and women really be friends”.

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