We have rules for how to act in romantic relationships (flirt, date, get married, have kids) and even same-sex friendships (boys relate by doing activities together, girls by talking and sharing). "Almost every time you see a male-female friendship, it winds up turning into romance," Monsour noted. These cultural images are hard to overcome, he said. D., at the University of Cincinnati-Raymond Walters College, published a landmark study in the journal on the top impediments to cross-sex friendship.
But there are so few platonic male-female friendships on display that we're at a loss to even define these relationships. A certain classic film starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal convinced a nation of moviegoers that sex always comes between men and women, making true friendship impossible. It's no wonder we expect that men and women are always on the road to romance. "I started my research because one of my best friends is a woman," said O'Meara.
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If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, it may explain at least one of their shared beliefs: Men and women can't be real friends.
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Blame the sexual tension that almost inevitably exists between any red-blooded, heterosexual man and woman. "The belief that men and women can't be friends comes from another era in which women were at home and men were in the workplace, and the only way they could get together was for romance," explained Linda Sapadin, a psychologist in Valley Stream, New York.
Point to the jealousy that plagues many rational people when a significant other befriends someone of the opposite sex. "Now they work together and share sports interests and socialize together." This cultural shift has encouraged psychologists, sociologists and communications experts to put forth a new message: Though it may be tricky, men and women can successfully become close friends.
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