Harry: You realize of course that we could never be friends.
Sally: Why not?
Harry: What I’m saying is — and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form — is that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.
Sally: That’s not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.
Harry: No you don’t.
Sally: Yes I do.
Harry: No you don’t.
Sally: Yes I do.
Harry: You only think you do.
Sally: You say I’m having sex with these men without my knowledge?
Harry: No, what I’m saying is they all want to have sex with you.
Sally: They do not.
Harry: Do too.
Sally: They do not.
Harry: Do too.
Sally: How do you know?
Harry: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.
Sally: So you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?
Harry: No, you pretty much want to nail ’em too.
Sally: What if they don’t want to have sex with you?
Harry: Doesn’t matter because the sex thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.
Sally: Well, I guess we’re not going to be friends then.
Harry: Guess not.
You all recognize this, right? Good. It’s flawed, because it’s from a movie where the two WEREN’T friends – well, not ultimately, anyway, they ended up being in love with each other, so, more than friends – but it’s an interesting argument. One that’s been going on for a very long time.
Can women and men be friends? Can they really? Or, as Harry thinks, is it completely out of the realm of possibility?
Well, according to Scientific American, the answer is…Harry was right. Men and women cannot be friends. Not just friends, anyway.
Shit. This is terrible news. What am I going to tell…well, hell. All my male friends. Who actually outnumber my female friends, because, ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been better with male friends than female ones. Not because I want to get in their pants (or, as far as I know, they want to get into mine), but because, due to deep and abiding childhood trauma, I have a lot of trouble trusting women. I’m not saying I don’t have SOME female friends. I do, and the ones I have, I love a great deal. I’m just saying that childhood issues take a long time to resolve, or possibly never get resolved, and what you’re comfortable with is what you’re comfortable with.
My best friend is male. We’ve known each other for…how long, now, BFF, fifteen years this year, right? Fifteen years in August? Damn, we didn’t even celebrate that. SORRY BFF! Fifteen years is…what…crystal? Huh. Did you need me to send you some crystal, BFF? I mean, I could. But I don’t know that you’d want it. I don’t think you’re sitting around sippin’ from crystal wineglasses. Or are you? I haven’t seen you in YEARS. (BFF, I hate that I haven’t seen you in years.) Maybe you’re all fancy now, I don’t know. (Please don’t be all fancy, what would we have in common?)
But Scientific American says we can’t be friends. And, why? Why can’t we be friends?
Because of science.
Researchers (where? I don’t know. The link is broken. That’s suspect. Also, I find it strange I can’t find this on the Scientific American site, but only on Yahoo and mentioned here and there on the interwebs. Is my Google broken, or is this all one big scam?) brought 88 pairs of same-sex undergraduate opposite-sex friendship pairs into the lab. They told them they couldn’t share the results with each other once they left, and they interviewed them separately, so as to minimize the potential bias.
What’d they ask them?
Sounds like they asked them, “So…I know you say this chick/fella’s just your friend, but you really want to bone him/her, right?”
The results were:
- Men seemed to want to have sex with their female friends (so, Harry was right)
- Yet, women seemed much less likely to want to have sex with their male friends
- Men seemed to think their female friends were attracted to them, even when they weren’t
- Women had NO IDEA their male friends wanted to sneakyfuck them
- Men were willing to go after female friends whether or not they were in a relationship; women were more respectful of their male friends who were in relationships
This bothers me. Let me tell you why.
Although the university wasn’t named (SHADY) they said these people were undergraduates. So, using what we know (college students and undergraduates) let’s assume some things. They are probably ages 18-22, and they have probably known each other from 1-4 years.
Now, I don’t know how many of you went to college, I’m going to guess probably quite a few of you. What’s the first thing I think of when I think of college?
HORMONES RUN AMUCK.
(I’m exaggerating, it’s not the FIRST thing, but it’s one of them. At least one of the top five.)
These are 18-22 year olds who are extendedly away from home for the first time in a living situation with OTHER 18-22 year olds and sex is EVERYWHERE and NO ONE CARES IF YOU ARE HAVING IT. Of COURSE they want to screw their friends. OF COURSE THEY DO. Also, how good of friends can they be if they’ve only known each other for a brief period of time, and at that age? At that age, you have goldfish-memory.
I’d like this study done properly, with people who have been friends for longer and who are not hormone-riddled. Well, we’re all hormone-riddled our whole lives long, but you know what I mean. Not AS hormone-soaked. People in their, say, mid-to-late 20s, early 30s, who have been friends with people of the opposite sex for 5 years or more. Would the results be the same, I wonder?
This study just makes people reading it say, “MEN THINK WITH THEIR DICKS” and that bothers me. I’m not saying I haven’t said that at one point or another in my life when I’ve been frustrated by the actions of the opposite sex; of course I have. I don’t know if you’ll meet a woman alive who hasn’t. I just think men are a little more complex than that, and I think it’s a disservice to them to just dismiss them out of hand as being controlled by their cocks. I mean, we as women fight CONSTANTLY not to be defined as “emotional” or “flighty” or “hysterical” or “attracting bears due to our lady-menses” or I don’t know what else the hell, right? This isn’t that much different. We’re all PEOPLE. We are complex and we have a lot more going on than our XX or XY chromosome pairings.
OK. Rant over. Sorry, I have to stick up for my guys. Guys can be frustrating, sure. But so can women. We all can. It’s one of the things about humans. We do weird, stupid nonsensical things, whether or not we have an innie or an outie downstairs, you know?
Also – ALSO – another reason it’s shitty to be all “ALL MEN THINK ABOUT IT SEX” is…well, why do we assume women don’t think about sex? Shh, top-secret news: WE DO. We TOTALLY do. I don’t know the statistic or anything, but I’d assume women think about it just as much as men do. Sex is awesome and why would you NOT think about it, male OR female? This whole thing is ridiculous.
Apparently, the study went one step further and DID interview older people – just in a weirdly skewed way. They asked opposite-sex friends to list positives and negatives of their friendship. This is written in a very confusing manner – here, I’ll let you read this:
Variables related to romantic attraction (e.g., “our relationship could lead to romantic feelings”) were five times more likely to be listed as negative aspects of the friendship than as positive ones. However, the differences between men and women appeared here as well. 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.
So…men think being into your friends is good, while women don’t? Hmm.
Being romantically attracted to your friends – I’m going to tell you this right now? – SUCKS. And as I’m a woman, I guess I’m in the target demographic. So maybe this is why women list this as a negative; because we’re PRACTICAL.
The movies make it seem SO FUCKING EASY. You already KNOW each other, right? So one day, you just look at each other and you realize BAM, I’ve loved this person ALL ALONG, and now I get to have sex with them AND I know how they like their pizza PLUS I know all of their bad stuff AND I STILL LIKE THEM, plus vice-versa, and then you get married and all of your friends are all “I KNEW IT! I knew it all along. Those two. AW THOSE TWO.”
Only, it doesn’t usually (barely hardly ever) end up this way. Usually, one friend crushes on the other. And the other is not interested. Then the friendship limps along all awkwardly until it dies a sad panda death.
(You all remember Ken’s post about Duckie being a sneaky fucker, right? He was also “that guy”. That sad “I’m in love with my best friend BUT I CANNOT TELL HER” guy. Here, if you didn’t read it, go read it now, you can thank me later.)
But this happens regardless of sex. This happens to men who crush on their female friends, this happens to women who crush on their male friends, and this happens (most likely) to men who fall in love with their male friends and women who fall in love with their female friends. Once someone falls in love with someone who isn’t interested, there’s a power imbalance, and the whole thing falls to shit.
(Exception to this: sometimes you can get over the crush and regain the friendship. I have a friend who was a crush-object once. I managed to get over him and we’re still friends. It was rocky going for a while there, but we’re ok now. So, sometimes you end up ok.)
Now, don’t even tell me you know someone (or are someone) who fell in love with your best friend; I know it happens, and I’m so happy it does, and yay, you. I’m so not dismissing that sometimes this happens. Of course I’m not. However, people are predictable creatures; they see one example of something, and they think, “IT CAN HAPPEN TO ME!” like with winning the lottery or whatever, and it gives everyone hope that falling in love with their best friend CAN HAPPEN TO THEM and then they get all crushed when it doesn’t. It gives people unrealistic expectations, like those movies where the nerdy girl takes off her glasses and ZOMG SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL ALL ALONG YOU GUYS!!! (Tip: if you can’t tell someone’s beautiful just because they are wearing glasses, perhaps you need to get your OWN eyes checked, because that is stupid. It’s why I was always confused by the Superman movies.)
My thoughts on this? Yes. Men and women can be friends. No, not all men want to hump us like overeager puppies. It’s stupid to think they do. I don’t care what this weird and wonky “scientific study” says. I have plenty of male friends that I’m quite sure don’t want to have sex with me. (Guys, if you do, please don’t tell me. I like being oblivious of such things.) I mean, I have some male friends I’ve known since high school. If I’ve known them that long and they’ve NEVER made any sort of overtures toward me, what, are they biding their time? That’s ridiculous. That’s a lot of time to be biding.
Scientific American, I am saddened by this. I really am. This doesn’t seem very scientific. Or overly Merkan.
ANDREAS. You are our Science Fellow. What are your thoughts on this? From a scientific point of view? Or a male point of view. Or both, that’s fine. I’d be interested in both.
Oh, and because what my parents think of something is always of import:
- Mom thinks all of my male friends are trying to get in my pants. EVERY ONE OF THEM. And also that I’m trying to get into theirs. My mother apparently thinks everyone in the world is a sex-crazed lunatic. She says things like “I don’t know if you should talk to your male friends so much; their significant others won’t like that.” Or, “It’s a good thing those friends of yours live so far away; otherwise, they’d come over and try to have all the sex with you. THAT’S WHAT THEY DO.” And then I roll my eyes so hard I dislocate them. Can you dislocate eyes? Mom is VERY RELIGIOUS and thinks everyone’s whorey. Including (sadly) her own daughter. Who is actually kind of the opposite of whorey, to tell you the truth. Don’t you have to be having sex to be whorey? I would think so. Or is it like religion, and you can be a non-practicing whore?
- Dad thinks the same thing, only he thinks it’s fine. And then he says, “Don’t tell your mother.” Because she would be FURIOUS at him. So, apparently, per Dad, it’s ok if I slut it up with all my male friends, as long as I don’t tell him about it because EW WE DON’T TALK ABOUT SEX AMY. When I tell him I have no interest in having sex with my male friends and I honestly think that’s kind of bullshit to assume that men and women can’t be friends without them having all the sex, he says, “Well, I saw it on the news, so it must be true.” Apparently Fox News says men and women can’t be friends? So you know it must be true, then. BOTH FAIR AND BALANCED.
So my mom thinks all men are dogs and I’m a whore and my dad thinks men and women all want to be gettin’ it on and that’s ok as long as we don’t talk about it. I don’t…are we sure I’m not adopted? Quite sure? (Is this a generational thing? No, I’m quite serious. Are there less male/female friendships in older generations because it’s just a thing that wasn’t done back in the day, maybe, and that’s why my parents are so weird about it?)
Also, this piece on The Colbert Report about this report made me giggle. DAMMIT WORDPRESS why won’t you let me embed Comedy Central videos? You are annoying me.
Harry was wrong. Except for about when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible? That part’s ok. I’m down with that, Harry. I’m totally down with that.