Can men and women really be just friends?

Last weekend Boyfriend and I went to see The F Word at the Lightbox and while the film was excellent, really out of this world hilarious; it brought up the question first (I think) addressed on the silver screen by When Harry Met Sally, “Can men and women be just friends?”

I feel like this question is a little played out. Of course men and women can be just friends — in fact most of my closest friends are men. But I’m not single, so does that play into the equation? Can I be friends with so many men because I’m in a monogamous relationship? Say that out loud and just try and tell me it doesn’t sound ridiculous. Unless you start out wanting to get hot and sweaty with someone and accept friendship as an unfortunate consolation prize you can be friends with whomever you like regardless of their genitalia.

“The core argument of the men and women can’t be friends idea is that all men want to sleep with all women”

I’ve always liked hanging out with the boys. They’re fun, they don’t mind when I make a totally offside joke, they like gross-out humour, and they don’t judge me for watching endless hours of nerdy television on Netflix. Also they drink scotch with me, and that’s awesome. But when you spend a certain amount of time with someone you develop an almost familial relationship and the idea of boffing your pals is about as appetizing as sitting through a 12-hour documentary on the dung beetle. No offense guys, you’re hot but you’re just not for me.

The core argument of the men and women can’t be friends idea is that all men want to sleep with all women; so if men and women are friends the guy will always want to sleep with the girl. I’m not sure that we can reduce all the men in the world to what’s hiding in their pants, expect for maybe John Hamm. Men deserve more credit than that; I’m 100% sure that despite the size of the canons I carry around on my chest none of my guy friends are looking to shack up with me and not just because I’m taken. Nine times out of ten sleeping with a friend ruins the relationship and for most people it isn’t worth it to lose one of your best pals over an orgasm.

I have one friend that feels the need to remind me that I have a boyfriend every time I talk to another guy; I’m actually thinking about getting a t-shirt with Boyfriend’s face on it so that all of the menfolk know about my relationship status. Having a boyfriend is not something I forget any time a cute guy talks to me and talking to a man doesn’t mean I’m trying to cheat on Boyfriend, in fact all it means is that I’m a social person who enjoys meeting new people. It’s about time we all acknowledged that talking to a member of the opposite sex does not mean you’re trying to take them home.

Give yourself and the men in your life just a little more credit.

Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.


  1. Jeriko Krasavić Reply

    “all men want to sleep with all women”

    That is wrong in so many levels

    1) All women include grandmothers/sisters/female cousins/aunts/etc…

    I don’t want to sleep with any of them, I ave 3 female cousins who are lesbians, still no.

    2) Lesbians…

    I am a man. Lesbians do not want to sleep with men.

    3) Gay men…

    I don’t think Gay men like to sleep with women (if they do then they are technically speaking bisexual).

  2. Michael Nus Reply

    It is a played out topic but the issue stems from two things: (1) The fallacious premise that all men want to sleep with all women, and (2) the assumption that it has not at least crossed your guy friends’ minds to want to sleep with you.

    For the second one I say that I think it’s more accurate that men and women who are friends are those that have gone through the natural process from wanting to moving on. It’s more primal than anything. You’re a pretty lady, smart, and yes, you have the canons to back it all up, so it should not be a blameful thing that most of your straight guy friends have either considered “boffing” you and began to think about how to go about making that happen before they either hi the point where that desire has passed or a real friendship has blossomed and has become more valuable than sex.

    For the first one, I think the statement that “all men want to sleep with all women” is sexist. Just like any discriminating woman, every man has a “type” and a preference. What causes statements like that one to be conceived is western customs of courtship. Since men are expected to ask the woman out, make the first move, show confidence, etc. it’s no wonder why women are bombarded with advances in one way or the other by many men, rather than vice versa. This interaction is a blanket statement, obviously, but is true for the vast majority, I think. Deep down, no matter how attractive a man is, we are taught to be ashamed of our very human desire to meet a suitable mate(s). In short – you want what you can’t have easily. In light of this it may be partly responsible for the occasional guy friend making some sort of advance – it’s nature and nurture all at once.

    • Travis Myers Reply

      I agree with your point about “all men want to sleep with all women” being sexist… I’d also add heteronormative.
      The portrayal of men in movies and TV as being willing to do anything to sleep with any woman no matter who no matter what has always bugged me, it paints 50% of the population as completely one dimensional, I’m glad the author takes her stance against this.

      • Michael Nus Reply

        Thanks Travis. I think “heteronormative” is a good one to add.

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