New research from The Journal of Personal Relationships Says It's Unlikely Men and Women Can Be Just Friends, Agrees With Movie "When Harry Met Sally"

10:47 PM, Oct 24, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) - Was it really 1989 when we first heard this exchange from Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in "When Harry Met Sally?"

Harry: "You realize, of course, that we can never be friends.

Sally: "Why not?"

Harry: "What I'm saying is, and this is not a come-on in any way, shape, or form, is that men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.

Sally: "That's not true."

Twenty-three years later, a new research study is saying, sorry Sally, it kind of is.

Researchers from "The Journal of Personal Relationships" brought 88 pairs of undergraduate opposite-sex friends into a lab and questioned them separately and confidentially. 

Here's what they found: 

  1. the men were more likely to be attracted to their female friend  
  2. the men were more likely to think their female friend was attracted to them.  
  3. the women were not attracted to their male friend
  4. the women didn't think their male friend was attracted to them. 

We hit Dupont Circle to talk to "friends." First, we encountered Jake and Julia. They say they are friends, but they admit if Jake lived in D.C. (he lives in San Francisco), they'd be dating.  

They both maintain that yes, men and women can be friends. Julia says she has many guy friends: "So many, more than girls." I asked if she thought any of them could be attracted to her. Her response: "I haven't asked them." And if they are? "Well, too bad for them I guess," she replied.

Debbie Kornblum from Milwaukee was visiting with her husband. She says in a word, no. "I feel if you're married and you're investing that time with a male friendship, that should be time that you spend with your husband,"  she said. Debbie has been married to her husband Dan for more than 30 years, so that take on male-female friendship seems to be working.   
To sum it all up, maybe we should go back to what could be the ultimate video clip on being friends, from "When Harry Met Sally."

Sally: "So , you're saying a man can be friends with a woman if he's not attracted to her?"

Harry: "No, you pretty much want to nail them too."

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