Tuesday, February 21, 2012

can men and women be just friends?

on december 1st, two guys at USU made a video entitled "why men and women can't be friends." the video starts with interviews of many girls on USU campus.  asking them if they think it is possible to be "just friends" with a guy.  they all say yes.  not only do they say yes, but they mean it! they answer without hesitation and with certainty.

as i watched the video, i thought, 'that's interesting, i don't agree with these girls at all.'  then they switch it up and ask a bunch of guys the same question.  some of them are ashamed to admit it, while some admit it outright, but they all say no.  the consensus among the guys is quite clear: men and women cannot be "just friends."

the final section of the video goes back to the girls that were first interviewed.  the interviewer asks each girl if she has a guy who she is "just friends" with. the girls respond: dave, trevor, and so forth. all of them have at least one guy friend that they can think of.  then the girls are asked if that guy is interested in them.

this highlights how girls think differently than guys.  the girls are aware that the guys are interested in them.  some of the girls even say that the guy would be very willing to "hook up" with them if they allowed it. the strange thing is, they don't see this as an issue influencing their friendship.  on the one hand you have the guys, who tend to develop crushes with these girls they spend time with, and on the other hand you have the girls, who think that there is no problem with being "just friends" with a guy, regardless of that guys feelings for her.

thus we have "the friend zone."

example (from the video):

"would he hook up with you if you wanted to hook up?"
"so he likes you."
"so what you're saying is men and women can't be friends."
"no. we can be friends."
"so you're just friends, but he likes you."
"so it's a one-sided friendship."

some girls may have no problem with this scenario.  but friendship involves openness and honesty.  it also involves giving and receiving.  in a "friendship" where one member wants to give and receive more than the other, we would have to admit that the friendship is unequal and flawed.  if you imagine, most of these kind of friendships are not very open.  a guy who likes a girl but sees that she doesn't feel similarly is relegated to the "friend zone" out of necessity.  he has few options.  either he continues to be "just friends" with her, therefore allowing him to continue to enjoy her company, or he confesses to her his feelings, therefore changing the nature of the relationship, and potentially losing the friendship all together.  what kind of friendship is it, where both parties cannot share their feelings without fear of compromising the friendship?

this scenario can also apply to girls who like guys who do not feel similarly.  however, girls are more likely than guys to be content with having "just friends" relationships.

the video ends with the interviewer talking to the camera: "as we can see after interviewing everyone in the library, it is impossible for men and women to be just friends.  And under no circumstances can it happen."

although i find the premise of the video fascinating, thought-provoking, and largely accurate, i do not agree with this conclusion.  when talking about relationships, there is never cut and dry rules for every situation.  when considering myself, i have many female friends that i am legitimately "just friends" with.  most of them are married or otherwise taken, which honestly wouldn't debunk the conclusion.  however, i am additionally friends with many girls that i know from my childhood and high school days that i am friends with.  i can think of several circumstances in which being "just friends" is quite possible.  in an effort to be more accurate, i would rephrase the conclusion to say, "in situations where a man sees a woman as a viable partner, it is impossible for him to be content being 'just friends' with her."  maybe still partially inaccurate, but it is a good start.

i attached the video below if you want to watch it.  and as always, share your thoughts and opinions below.


  1. Interesting concept, but I disagreed with the premise entirely (especially how it was handled). They were egging on the conversations with an intent, a goal, a point they were trying to prove (by twisting the conversations to try to prove it, and edited it to look like they were right). I dislike this tactic in film. Sure, it looks like clarity and insight, but it feels quite artificial to me.

    If the interviewers were sincerely trying to see if their point/question/goal was correct or had shades of correctness that brought insight to the boy/girl relationship dynamic, I feel the evidence would have spoken for itself.

    If they were trying to show: Girls often relegate guys that like them to the friend zone, sure, the video is okay.

    But they weren't. They're premise is that boys and girls CANNOT be just friends (because of sexual/romantic tension, one-sided relationships, etc). I don't like absolutes, especially ones made by artificial ploys used in this video. It makes me feel like I do when I smell rotten food/unwashed bodies/gross bathroom odors while the room I'm in looks nice and clean.

    Like there is crap and bull hidden behind the facade. That's how this video made me feel. Skewed and incorrect, but interesting nonetheless, especially on the surface.

    YMMV :)

  2. My conclusion is about the same as yours Jeremy. I have lots of friends that are girls and its never going to be different because I am not romantically attached to them and they are not romantically attached to me. My co-worker who is married brought up a good point for him that will be true for me when I am married. My wife won't be the only girl I will ever talk to. I will have friends that are girls and it will only ever be just friends because I will already be married and have will have no romantic interest in girls that are not my wife.

    But revising the statement a little, I do find the video has a lot of truth to it. Now I don't want to give absolutes because there are always exceptions, but many times if a guy is romantically attached to a girl and the girl doesn't feel the same way, the girl will be perfectly fine with being "just friends" and still hanging out all the time, even if she is aware the guy has feelings for her. But the guy will find that awkward and won't want to hang out very often. I think that is what the video is trying to show.

    Now the video didn't cover this, but if you flip the situation and the girl likes a guy while the guy doesn't, then I think in general the guy might find it even more awkward to hang out with the girl, so there is some difference between guys and girls I believe.

  3. what i could never figure out is why men only see women as prizes or possessions. i mean it always feels like if a guy can't get a status quo relationship out of me, i'm not worth getting to know or spending time with. i mean, just because you can't kiss me, you can't hang out with me? what is that? i'm a pretty cool friend, i think.
    i mean, by that logic, we could go the other route of saying that freedom of choice is stupid and it should all just be arranged. basically, if a guy spends enough time with any one girl, he will want a relationship. and so, what's the point of even having options?
    and from the girls' perspective, having options is great. why devote yourself to trevor if you can be friends with steve, trevor, and daniel? what it really amounts to is:
    he who slays the dragon gets the fairytale.
    so men:be more aggressive . girls like being pursued
    and girls: quit being dramatic. you can't have twenty samples of cake every day. sometimes chocolate is just as good as its going to be. live with it.