Can there be pure friendship between a man and a woman? Recent studies have shown that this is indeed possible, but in friendships, men are more “sexually interested” in women, and men are also more likely to overestimate a woman’s favorability toward him. In most cases, sexual attraction is a burden, not a benefit, in friendship.
The author of the paper, April Bleske-Rechek, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin in the United States, said that she believes that men and women do want to be pure friends, but the data shows that the opposite sex appeal does get involved.
Evolutionary psychologists typically focus on sexual or family relationships, which help pass on an individual’s genes. Aply and her colleagues are interested in how heterosexual men and women respond to possible sexual attraction in the process of forming pure friendships.
For the study, published April 25 in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, scientists recruited 88 college-aged friends of the opposite sex to survey them. Participants individually answered questions about their friendships, including how attractive they were to each other. Participants were also asked not to ask each other for answers after the experiment ended.
The results show that men are more attracted to women. The researchers say that overestimating a woman’s interest in her is a common occurrence among men. Interested in a female friend, or said you would consider dating a female friend? For this, single men and men who already have girlfriends tend to be equally likely. For women with boyfriends, the situation was similar, although less likely to say they were willing to date a male friend.
To expand the survey beyond the school setting, the researchers asked a further 107 youths (ages 18-23) and 322 adults (ages 27-55). Older adults had lower numbers of friends of the opposite sex than the youth group. Everyone agrees that opposite-sex friendships are very beneficial, but nearly half of young people also say that the charm of the opposite sex in friendship is a problem.
The researchers said that this finding cannot be interpreted as a pure friendship between men and women. It is possible to “just be friends”, but we may have to overcome the nature brought about by human evolutionary history. The modern social environment is changing rapidly, and we have many new opportunities to meet and get along with people of the opposite sex that may not have been the case in the past. It will take some time for us to get used to it.