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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Different Male and Female Views on Cross-sex "Just Friendships"

Heterosexual men and women live and work side-by-side. Many pairs develop deep cross-sex friendships within a strictly platonic coexistence. Yet, sometimes one or the other person in the intimate relationship uses this coalition as a facade to cover up sexual impulses.

Studies suggest that men and women have vastly different views of what it means to be “just friends” -- and that these differing views have the potential to lead to trouble.

A recent study confirms that more men than women see platonic relationships as having "romantic" attachments. Males are significantly more likely than females to list romantic attraction as a benefit of opposite-sex friendships. Many are waiting for an opportune moment to act on their sexual desires. Two people can experience the exact same relationship in radically different ways, and men, relative to women, have a particularly hard time being “just friends.”

This discrepancy increased as men aged—males on the younger end of the spectrum were four times more likely than females to report romantic attraction as a benefit of opposite-sex friendships, whereas those on the older end of the spectrum were ten times more likely to do the same.

(Adrian F. Ward. "Men and Women Can't Be 'Just Friends.'" 
Scientific American. October 23, 2012)

Why? This is what the study found.

* First of all, men were much more attracted to their female friends than vice versa.

* Second, men were also more likely than women to think that their opposite-sex friends were attracted to them -- a clearly misguided belief. In fact, men’s estimates of how attractive they were to their female friends had virtually nothing to do with how these women actually felt, and almost everything to do with how the men themselves felt -- basically, males assumed that any romantic attraction they experienced was mutual, and were blind to the actual level of romantic interest felt by their female friends.

* Women, too, 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.

* In addition, men and women differed in the extent to which they saw attached friends as potential romantic partners.  Although men were equally as likely to desire “romantic dates” with “taken” friends as with single ones, women were sensitive to their male friends’ relationship status and uninterested in pursuing those who were already involved with someone else. Men have a strong desire for short-term sexual opportunities.

* Attraction between cross-sex friends is common, and it is perceived more often as a burden than as a benefit.

* The attraction is a combined product of cultural expectations, core mating drives, and a variety of other factors such as personality and unique life history. In the current research, we have focused on testing predictions pertaining specifically to the hypothesis that men’s and women’s experiences in cross-sex friendship are in part a byproduct of their evolved mating strategies.

(April Bleske-Rechek, Erin Somers, Cierra Micke, Leah Erickson, Lindsay Matteson, Corey Stocco, Brittany Schumacher, Laura Ritchie. "Benefit or Burden? Attraction in Cross-sex Friendship." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 2012)

So what new light does the study show? I really don't know. Does any novelty depend upon whether you are a male or a female? 

Let's review some things we already knew before the recent cross-sex research. 

1. Males fall for beautiful, sexy, friendly females and want to be their close friends.

2. As predators and instigators of relationships, males attempt to become instinctively aware of every chance for employing romance to lead to female sexual companionship.

3. Males are vain to a fault. Most believe women love their sexually attractive embodiment.

4. Males are horny rascals ... most remain that way, no matter the age.

5. Males are used to being rejected by potential female lovers and to being found unworthy of sharing desired intimacy.

6. Males are likely to compete for an object of desire despite complicated conditions.

The Enchantment
by Thomas Otway
Did but look and love awhile,
'Twas but for one half-hour;
Then to resist I had no will,
And now I have no power.

To sigh and wish is all my ease;
Sighs which do not heat impart
Enough to melt the coldest ice,
Yet cannot warm your heart.

O would your pity give my heart
One corner of your breast,
'Twould learn of yours the winning art,
And quickly steal the rest.

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