Friendship between man and woman

Friendship Between a Man and a Woman Is Possible


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A platonic friendship between men and women is absolutely possible.

However, it can be complicated at times. Male/female friendships can arise in a variety of ways. Quite often, it forms when men and women attempt dating and realize that sexual compatibility just isn’t there. (Back to searching on the best dating sites 2021 for you!)

Other times, men and women may become work buddies or form a friendship based on mutual interests or hobbies. Whatever the case, friendship and gender can be an awkward pairing to navigate. We look at some of the challenges and pitfalls that often come up in male/female friendships.

Problems That Male/Female Friendships Face 

  • Jealousy

One of the main problems that cross-gender friendships face is jealousy. People, in general, have a hard time believing that men and women can just be friends. This can lead to spousal jealousy or to jealousy from potential partners. 

In fact, surveys show that close male/female friendships actually put some people off dating potential matches. For instance, if a woman finds out that a man’s best friend is female, she may have reservations about dating him.

Meanwhile, friendship with the opposite gender after marriage can seem impossible. Spousal jealousy can even end friendships between men and women.

Sadly, people often find it easier to appease their jealous partner than to maintain their relationship and their friendship at the same time. 

  • Attraction 

In some ways, it’s easy to understand why people struggle to get their heads around male/female friendship.

If a man and a woman get on well together and are both attractive, it’s hard to see why they aren’t a couple. However, there are many different types of friendship and, sometimes, people who make great friends don’t necessarily make great lovers.  

Sometimes though, this line becomes blurry between male and female friends.

As friends spend more time together or become more intimate, they may start to feel romantic attraction to each other. This can be complicated if the attraction is one-sided and can lead to painful friendship breakdowns. 

  • Differing Friendship Expectations 

Say a man and a woman are both attracted to each other but are just friends – how do they judge the situation and make this call?

While there are many different types of friendship between men and women, there are male/female friends who do find each other sexually attractive. Sometimes these friendships can chug along perfectly happily for years with neither friend crossing any lines. 

However, problems can arise if men and women have different expectations of what constitutes friendship and what constitutes romantic interest.

For example, women tend to value emotional closeness in friendships and won’t necessarily take this as a romantic come on. Men, in contrast, may view emotional closeness as something uniquely romantic and may misinterpret certain friendship behaviors, like emotional vulnerability or sharing. 

These friendship gender differences can create confusion and may lead one friend to make a pass at the other when they are not expecting it.

Meanwhile, the other may not think they have done anything to encourage this and can take it as a violation of trust and friendship.

While some friendships can bounce back from these misunderstandings, sometimes these situations lead to resentment, which can, unfortunately, ruin relationships.

How to Have a Good Friendship with Someone of the Opposite Gender

  • Set Boundaries with Yourself

Friendship is organic, and not many friendships involve a discussion about boundaries, especially early on. However, strong male/female friendship pairs tend to have good boundaries.

They likely do not have many moments where they feel in danger of crossing over into romantic territory or, if this does occur, they move on from it quickly.

Friendships like this usually involve both parties having strong boundaries.

They may just not feel attracted to each other, or they may emotionally compartmentalize their relationship with this person as platonic, not romantic.

These cross-gender friendship boundaries allow for friendly intimacy without unintended subtext or confusion.

It’s important that to maintain this type of friendship, you are honest with yourself if your feelings change and become romantic. In strong cross-gender relationships, friends give each other space to deal with these feelings or take their relationship to the next level if the feelings are mutual.

  • Communicate Expectations

If you feel that you and your friend are getting romantically close, don’t be afraid to tactfully bring this up.

Tackling this topic can be scary as you may worry about doing harm to the friendship. However, it is important to be open if you notice a change in the relationship and can allow you both to get your feelings across.

Acknowledging these opposite-gender friendship boundaries can help avoid confusion later and can allow you to take space if needed.

  • Take Space

If you find yourself falling for your friend, it can be tough if they don’t feel the same way. Romantic rejection is never easy to swallow but, with a friend, it can sting a little more. You may be afraid of losing the friendship but find it too painful to be around them. 

Asking for space is important here. You must give yourself time to get over the attraction. Although this might be difficult for your friend to hear, it’s vital that you don’t allow your attraction to spiral, as this can threaten the friendship long-term. 

  • Give Space 

If you’re the friend on the receiving end of the unwanted attraction, make sure you give your friend space when they ask for it. Don’t badger them and hope that they’ll just get over it.

Accept that these things happen sometimes and keep your door open for when they want to come back. Be sure to maintain your boundaries, though, and don’t be tempted to lead them on if you’re enjoying the attention. It may feel harmless to you, but it can do lasting damage to friendships.


When it comes to friendship, opposite-gender relationships can be tricky.

Things like jealous partners or unwanted attraction can throw a spanner in the works. Strong boundaries and mutual respect are great friendship tips for tackling these problems, however, and can be the key to a lasting friendship.

Final Call: Do you have close inter-gender friendships? How do you make it work? We’d love to hear more, you can share your tips in the comment’s section below!

  • Bio
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Aria is a family photographer, relationship psychology writer. A wife and a mother of two adorable kids who won't get bored even for a minute. She completed a photography course in college. Since then photography is her passion. As for a writing passion, she loves personality psychology, helping people with advice on the relationship between a man and a woman.

  • Friendship Between a Man and a Woman Is Possible - October 5, 2021


What Drives Friendship Between Men and Women?

Friendship is highly important for most people. While the research on friendship has lagged behind that on romantic and parent-child relationships, and developmental research, we know that having good friends from a young age—experiencing lifelong friendships—is of tremendous value. Enduring friendship is a source of stability and growth, pleasure and remembrance–a way to enrich one’s life and be fuller as an individual.

In many ways, friends are closer than spouses, equally intimate if not more so, perhaps by virtue of spending less time together and generally avoiding romantic complications. While many assume that cross-sex friendship is really about sex, or having a side- or back-up beau, those may not be the only reasons. Sex may complicate some friendships, but for people of all sexes and gender identities, friends simply are compatible. What is that compatibility about?

Friends with Benefits

The existing research on friendship, according to Tobias Altmann in the Journal of Individual Differences (2022), suggests that friendship is associated with resilience, well-being, life satisfaction and perhaps even enhanced longevity. Friendship comes in a few different types, based on how close people are, the function of the relationship, and shared characteristics such as age, interests, or other traits.

Most people prefer to have same-sex friends–but most people also have a significant subgroup of cross-sex friends. Women mainly have women friends, and some male friends (up to 30 percent), and similarly for men. Cross-gender friendships is a phenomenon psychologists call “heterosociality," an area of research little explored.

It’s important to know what factors drive friendship in general to look at cross-sex friendship. Prior research has shown that the Big Five personality traits of openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism are not big predictors of who befriends whom (Altmann, 2019). However, core beliefs—values—do predict affiliation, a finding from studies using the Portraits Value Questionnaire.

How Do Personal Values Influence Cross-Sex Friendships?

To research how values, sex, and heterosociality interact, Altmann recruited over 1,300 participants, 68 percent female, to participate in survey-based research. To measure heterosociality, subjects made a list of all their friends, scrubbed it of family, acquaintances, and sexual partners. Researchers counted up the number of women and men to derive a score for analysis.

Personal values were measured with the Portraits Value Questionnaire, which defines 10 personal values clustered into four groups. The overarching four groups are: Conservation, Self-Enhancement, Self-Transcendence, and Openness to Change. The `10 specific values are self-direction (including freedom of thought or action), stimulation (need for thrills, novelty, change), hedonism, achievement, power, security, tradition, benevolence and universalism (seeking welfare for all people and the environment). Analysis looked for significant relationships between degree of heterosociality, sex, and clusters of personal values.

Both men and women valuing tradition and conformity had lower heterosociality—such men had more guy friends, women more gal friends. Regardless of personal preferences (e.g. a woman who might actually want to have more guy friends), such values incline people to follow expectations, even if it might mean suppressing authenticity. Breaking the mold by having cross-sex friends would be too uncomfortable emotionally, psychologically, and socially off-limits.

For women only, self-direction predicted greater cross-sex friendships, suggesting that greater autonomy can overcome conventional prohibitions. Other values—including the need for stimulation and novelty—were not associated with heterosociality for women or men. Demographically, women in relationships had more male friends than single women, and older men had more women friends than younger men.

More Questions than Answers

The strength of these associations was significant but not strong enough to explain the whole story of cross-sex friendship. Evolutionary psychological theories suggest that cross-sex friendship would be driven by reproductive and survival needs, to provide expanded mate choices and protection. Having cross-sex friends, for heterosexual people, could provide a back-up mate in case the primary mate is no longer available.

While sexual tension is common though perhaps not universal in cross-sex friendships, stimulation was not associated with heterosociality in this study. In addition to replicating the findings in future research, the authors point to the need to directly assess factors such as dissatisfaction in romantic relationships as a driver of cross-sex friendship, and infidelity, as well as whether factors such as sexual frustration or dissatisfaction play a role. in the current study, openness to change was not correlated with heterosociality, although it might be expected to play a role, especially when change is desired.

Self-enhancement and self-transcendence were not associated with heterosociality in this study, though they might be expected to play a role in seeking a greater breadth of relationships and experiences. Only for women, greater self-direction was associated with having more male friends.

Friendship in general is good for survival, both in terms of enhancing health and tying community together. Future research will continue to explore friendship between women and men to see what factors are important. It may be that the either/or categorization of gender as female or male obscures factors that account for who decides to become friends with whom. Understanding how sex and gender relate to friendship may require a looking at a continuum of gender identity.

Facebook image: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Is friendship between a man and a woman possible?



This article is part of the One on One project. In it, we talk about relationships with ourselves and others. If the topic is close to you, share your story or opinion in the comments. Will wait!

Why friendship between a man and a woman is called into question

According to polls, 82% have Be friends with the other sex: the impossible is possible?! Russians have friends of the opposite sex. Among people aged 25–34, this figure reaches 92%; among those who have higher education - 90%. It would seem that there is nothing to discuss here. However, are still being conducted on the Internet. Can there be friendship between a man and a woman? - "Yandex.Q" discussions, and the issue remains relevant.

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Screenshot: Yandex.Q

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Screenshot: Yandex.Q

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Screenshot: Yandex.Q

However, there are not so many arguments why friendship between a man and a woman does not exist. In the end, three remain, which flow from one another.

1. Friendship will definitely grow into love or sex

This stereotype is actively spread through movies and books. Even in the "profile" series "Friends", almost every hero sooner or later was fond of his comrade. In reality, of course, everything is somewhat more complicated. Sometimes love really grows out of friendship, and sometimes romantic relationships become obsolete and transform into friendship. Or nothing happens - and people remain friends for many years.

2. Only one is friends, the other always feels more

The situation when one of the comrades experiences something more serious than friendly interest is indeed quite common. Which, in principle, may not interfere with friendship if the period of teenage maximalism is left behind.

3. A man won't be friends with a woman if he doesn't like her romantically

That is, a woman can't be interesting in any other way - why talk to her about it. And if a man needed friendship, he would be friends with another man.

What psychologists think about it

Experts do not doubt the existence of friendship between a man and a woman, but they believe that each relationship should be considered separately.

One cannot talk about this phenomenon impersonally. Friendship is a relationship between specific people. It arises on the basis of the similarity of characters, interests, hobbies, hobbies, mutual sympathy.

Oleg Ivanov

psychologist, conflictologist, head of the Center for Settlement of Social Conflicts

Clinical psychologist Natalya Manukhina notes that if you look at the interpretation of the word "friendship" Friendship in dictionaries, there will be no notes about gender. But in the definition closeness and trust will certainly be mentioned.

Friendship is designated as something valuable both between same-sex and opposite-sex people. Usually we are talking about long-term, more than one year lasting relationships. At the same time, by the way, often one of the friends speaks about them confidently and firmly, and the other - with doubt or reluctance. That is, recognition of the existence of a strong friendship is not necessarily mutual. But again, this does not depend on gender.

Natalya Manukhina

Clinical psychologist, family consultant, PhD in Psychology

What studies say about it

Authors of one US study interviewed Can men and women be just friends? students to find out the advantages and disadvantages of being friends with the opposite sex. It turned out that in men and women the perception of such relationships converges in many respects. They valued friends of the opposite sex for the opportunity to talk openly with them, to have dinner together, to receive information from them on how to behave with potential lovers.

Among the shortcomings, both men and women noted confusion in the status of relationships, and also situations when one of them is in love, but does not meet reciprocity or cannot build their own romantic relationship, because friendship scares off potential partners.

But differences were also revealed in the assessment of friendship with a representative of a different sex. For example, the possibility that such communication will spill over into something more was seen by men as an advantage, and women as a disadvantage. There was also a different reaction to the situation when one of the friends is in love, but his feelings are not mutual. Men in this position are more likely to feel rejected and used, and women are more guilty. If friendly relations turned into sexual ones, men more often continued to call them simply friendship.

For another study Benefit or burden? Attraction in cross‑sex Friendship, scientists invited 44 pairs of heterosexual friends and asked them to talk about their relationship. It turned out that in such couples, men are much more likely to be attracted to women than vice versa. Moreover, men were much more likely to mistakenly believe that the other side shared these feelings. In fact, both sexes tended to believe that their aspirations were mutual: men thought that their girlfriends were romantically interested in them, women - that there was no such interest on the part of friends. And they all behaved according to their assumptions.

That is, on average, men are less likely to “just be friends” and are more likely to believe that if they feel sympathy, then it is mutual. On average, it means not always and not 100 percent of them.

In another 90-person study, Same- and cross-sex friendship and the psychology of homosociality, men and women reported that, in general, same-sex friendships are similar to those of the opposite sex. True, both of them end up preferring comrades of their sex, since they receive more help from them and feel more loyalty.

Cross‑sex Friendships: Who has More? and gender stereotypes. Research shows that if one person sees another as unequal, they are less likely to associate with them. At the same time, those who are devoid of gender bias easily make friends with members of the opposite sex.

Of course, these are far from all studies that relate to friendship between a man and a woman. But it is important to understand that all these interesting observations characterize the situation on average and may not be applicable in particular cases.

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Man and woman: friendship or a trap?

Psychologist's answers to the eternal question - is friendship between a man and a woman possible, and what to do if you want not friendship, but more.

She is pretty, easily makes new acquaintances, interesting as a person and successful. All the men she meets are happy to become her friends. But no more. Nothing personal, they discuss with her all the vicissitudes of their novels with other women.

There is a lot of talk about whether a man and a woman can be "just friends". Someone argues that there can be no such friendship at all, because their interests are too different. And others are sure that in such couples at least one of the partners is secretly or clearly in love with the other.

The second may respond to these claims in different ways. Prefers not to notice or sincerely does not notice? Perceives only as an “intellectual muse” or holds for “his boyfriend”, to whom you can say anything you want? And, of course, it is especially difficult to untie this tangle of unspoken expectations if it is the girl who is in love, and the guy diligently maintains only a friendly level of contacts.

If you're one of these girls, and this isn't the first time you've been in this 'friend trap', it's most likely because you take a wrong turn at the very beginning of a relationship and don't try to look sexy and feminine. As soon as you met, you wanted to prove to him what a good, loyal and trustworthy companion you can be . .. And by doing so, you remind him too much of his sister.

Or: you were so desperately happy to meet him that you went too far with signs of attention. This immediately shows him that you are eager to be with him, regardless of his behavior, and that he does not need to do anything special to keep your interest.

Being trapped in friendship is rarely pleasant. You are stuck in the hope that one day everything will change. He likes to spend time with you, but for him you are just a friend with whom he can keep secrets, but not a romantic partner. But you know for sure that you would be a perfect match for him. And worse, it keeps you from dating someone else because you're completely focused on them and don't want to miss your chance. Every time he's free again after another girl, you think it's a great opportunity for him to finally notice you. You hope one day he is aware of that you have been around all this time.

And this is not surprising. Isn't it true that you can immediately name a dozen Hollywood films with just such an ending? The guy and the girl have been friends for a very long time, but they sleep with someone else. And now, years later, one of them (usually a guy) suddenly comes to his senses and falls in love with this particular girl at some particularly dramatic moment - for example, when she gets on a plane to fly away from him forever. And then he realizes that it is with her that he would like to spend the rest of his life.

How to get out of the friendship trap

If you want to break free from the friendly embrace of the man of your dreams (and fall into his arms in a completely different status), you should not watch Hollywood movies. You need to do something completely different. Here are some possible solutions.

Stop being his psychotherapist . Perhaps your friend likes to talk to you about girls and get friendly advice on how to behave with them. And you give him this advice - because such conversations prove how much he values ​​you and how frank he is with you. But this is precisely what prevents him from perceiving you as an object of love. Just tell him that you are tired of such conversations and will not touch this topic anymore.

Don't be afraid to voice your disagreement . When we try to get someone's attention, we want to show how much we have in common. And we prefer to keep silent about our true opinions and tastes, if they differ from the point of view of a partner. However, if you only say “yes” to everything and always, you cease to exist for him as a person. Paradoxically, disagreement can create more attraction and make your bond stronger. But - in moderation, of course ... If you suddenly turn from a timid and sweet Snow Maiden into an Amazon on a horse, sweeping away all life in its path, few people will like it.

Show him that you can be sexy . If you casually (in response to his stories about pretty girls) mention your personal life, guess how quickly his imagination will work in this direction. It turns out that you are also interesting to someone as a woman - wow !!! Of course, if you just stand in front of a man and say that you would like to go to bed with him, after he recovers from the shock, he will most likely feel intimidated. But if you say, “Oh, this jacket is so sexy!” or “How wonderful your deodorant smells! No girl could stand against him!", it will be much more elegant. Or if you secretly tell him about your “buttons” that trigger your erotic fantasies, he will know how to press them. You send him two messages at once: you tell him that he is very sexy in this new jacket, but also make it clear that it is not customary to talk about sex between the two of you. Where do you think this will lead?

Be busy. You don't have to be ready every time he calls you. As one old song goes, "how can I miss you when you're always there"? Victims of the friendly trap are always tempted to drop everything and run to help. Because you're hoping that maybe just this time things will go differently. But - if you have your own life, not always connected with him, it lifts you in his (and in your own) eyes. Intrigue fuels his curiosity, and a full, interesting life makes you less obsessed with just this relationship.

Bring more physical contact into your relationship with him . Touching a person while walking or talking, taking their hand in support, or kissing them lightly on the cheek goodbye are all things that make physical contact a common thing. And what awakens your and his sexuality. If you are tactile enough with friends and colleagues, it will be easier to touch the man of your dreams. Remember this awkward moment at the end of the first (second or third) date, when all the words have already been said, and you are about to go home.

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