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What is the shelf life of platonic friendships across genders?

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This is a fundamental question that has been frequently debated over the years and consequently guides many social interactions: Can a man and a woman remain ‘just’ friends? Some studies have revealed the definition of friendship between the two genders is worlds apart with males bearing more romantic feelings whereas females only see a platonic relationship.

According to Adrian F. Ward, a doctoral candidate at the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, platonic friendship may not be totally out of the question. However, the two individuals involved should proceed with caution.

Ward stated in his study, “Women were blind to the mindset of their opposite-sex friends; because females generally were not attracted to their male friends. They assumed that this lack of attraction was mutual. As a result, men consistently overestimated the level of attraction felt by their female friends and women consistently underestimated the level of attraction felt by their male friends.”

Ward’s findings are supported by other social studies that suggest women tend to downplay male interest in them while men tend to read ‘interest’ even when there is none.

There are many cases where a romance blossomed from a friendship, and this is usually recommended by relationship experts: Marry your friend. But sometimes, in fact most of the time, undefined friendships without clear boundaries can rapidly progress and become very messy, very quickly.

In some cases it is vital to identify the direction the relationship is headed. Guys often get shoe-boxed into the friend zone and with it any chance you may have had to pull a move and tell your female friend what you really feel. So the window of opportunity between acquaintance-friendship-relationship needs to be managed well.

So apart from clearly defining the nature of the relationship as being a plutonic friendship, the two individuals can also be very truthful and bare all. Honesty is truly the best policy. This can help each individual know where they stand. This can help identify if the relationship is truly worth it, or whether after one party confesses their love, it might be better to call it quits especially so if the feelings are not mutual.

Contrary to belief, men may not be the only ones who lie in wait to pull a fast one bearing their heart. Many women also fantasize the possibility of a friendship becoming something more. I should warn however that women are more likely to keep their feelings to themselves unlike our male counterparts who are all too happy to take a leap of faith into the unknown.

More often than not, if the guy hooks up with another chic, start counting towards the death of your platonic friendship, and vice versa. It will never be the same. If nothing changes, then probably you are dating the wrong person.

But in whatever way you may see it, many people of the opposite sex share friendships. The mindset that men and women cannot share comradeship is sad and only speaks to the shallow thinking that cannot see past gender but instead should see to the good qualities of the person.

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