New research confirms what we’ve long suspected when it comes to the question of whether men and women can be just friends: that researchers could have saved themselves a lot of time by just watching When Harry Met Sally.
But since the boys in the lab apparently can’t figure out Netflix (and won’t ask for directions on how to use it), we have yet another study – this one done at the University of Wisconsin – that says the notion of men and women being platonic friends is as likely as backbenchers in Ottawa having a say in things.
The problem, the study says, is that men are, to use some highly scientific jargon, dogs. They tend to overestimate the level of attraction felt by their female friends, so that when she says “Hi,” he hears “Jump me.” (Maybe it’s in the inflection.)
Not that the ladies are blameless, either. They tend to underestimate the level of attraction felt by their male friends. So when he says “Hi,” she’s not hearing what he’s really saying, which is “Want to get jumped?”
There are always exceptions, of course. Males and females can be platonic friends — as long as he’s 10 years old or younger. Gay men can be fabulous pals for women without mentally undressing them (except to repair some fashion faux pas). And opposite gender siblings can make it work too (though it gets a little borderline sometimes in places like the Ozarks).
But as a general rule, it’s hard to quibble with the research findings. For the majority of men, women can be good friends, alright – as long as they come with benefits.
Maybe it’s the Evolution thing. Man was designed to breed to repopulate the species, or so we are told. But if that’s the case, why is Bill Gates – a man — putting up a million bucks to develop the next generation condom, which would help prevent repopulation? (Perhaps he’s taking too literally the entrepreneurial mantra of “build it and they will come.”)
Maybe it’s the dread men have of being placed in The Friend Zone, that little corner in hell reserved for guys who have unrequited feelings for a girl. Or maybe it’s true that men have two brains, and only enough blood to run one at a time.
Whatever the explanation, the bottom line is that platonic relationships between the genders (or even between species, if you’re still part of the Twilight crowd) are pretty rare. So even if you are an “office wife,” you’d best realize that your male colleague does think about tweaking your software, regardless of his computer proficiency.
That’s a sad reality. Men and women have so much to offer each other as platonic friends, thanks to the rich contrast of thinking styles. They have diverse experiences which, when shared, could contribute to a better understanding of our world.
Just don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen. You’re far more likely to see a sequel to When Harry Met Sally.