Can men and women be just friends?

Unmesh Uttaraa Nandkumar
man and woman clicking selfie

A question as old as time

This might just be a question as old as time. We have heard our very own SRK talk about it on the silver screen in the movies Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai where he uses the phrase “Pyaar Dosti Hai”. If we were to take life lessons from Bollywood, we would find that men and women can’t be friends without love entering the equation. Yes, there are exceptions of course, but they prove the law.

Friendship is necessary for love

A more sensible conclusion could be that while men and women can be friends without falling in love you can’t be lovers without being friends. Which seems sensible enough. We all know how important it is to be friends with our partners. But can we just be friends with the opposite sex without love entering the equation? Well, yes and no.

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Sex gets in the way

There are theories which suggest that if you are both heterosexual people and of opposite genders, you might find it difficult to be ‘just friends’. The reason is that sex always gets in the way. According to this theory, one of the partners tends to get at least sexually attracted to the other person. This attraction might not be love but can turn into love over time. This is a very specific group of people that this theory applies to. It also takes for granted that sexual attraction is something that changes friendship into something more.

The fault in the theory

Yet, there are millions of people who are friends with people of the opposite gender. The whole idea of ‘men and women can’t be just friends’ seems too old fashioned and unrealistic to be honest. For starters, it assumes that both the people are attracted to the opposite gender. We know that this isn’t true of course. There are thousands of LGBTQ people who are friends with a variety of genders. And they are just friends.

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It excludes a whole bunch of people

This theory also takes it for granted that there are only two genders in the world. Another thing that has been scientifically disproven. What about transgenders who are friends with other genders? You might say I’m stretching the argument to include these questions, but let’s get real for a minute. This idea of men and women not being able to be just friends excludes a whole bunch of people. It also assumes the realities of a whole bunch of people. In today’s age, we can’t afford to be ignorant enough to make such statements without thinking about all the sides.

It puts friendship in a box

Even if we talk about just heterosexual cis-gendered men and women here, we still run into trouble. Mainly, the assumption that romantic feeling and sexual attraction cannot be a part of a friendship. That such feelings automatically change the relationship from friendship to something else. Yet, if you were to ask your friends, you’ll find that many of them have felt sexually attracted to their friends of the opposite gender. For them, this meant that there was a possibility of something more in the relationship. But when this attraction was not mutual people were able to get over it and stay friends in most cases.

Love and lust are a part of our make up

This idea tries to state that a friendship is a static thing of purity, and is somehow ruined by love or lust coming into the picture. However, if we are realistic about this, we need to only look at psychology to explain things better. Love and lust are a part of our human make up. We are complex beings who feel these feelings for a variety of people. This doesn’t mean that these feelings are always acted upon and change the equation. Many times the acknowledgment of these feelings helps the friendship grow into a deeper bond.

That’s what makes us beautiful

Going back to Bollywood, the film Ek Main Aur Ek Tu, (Punit Malhotra, 2011), is a suitable example for this topic. The guy loves the girl. She doesn’t feel the same, so they become friends and stay that way. Whether they get together or not doesn’t matter. Human emotions aren’t neat little boxes of stuff, we are a jumble of emotions and that’s what makes our relationships beautiful. So our friendships might not always end up in romantic love, but romantic love is indeed dependent on good friendships.

I would rather be alone than deal with someone who will hurt me

We couldn’t marry because of family “honour”

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1 comment

Vasudha Tripathi
Vasudha Tripathi June 3, 2018 - 2:23 am

Hmmm YEAH!!! Every bit of this is true. Like yes what with LGBT? they are also friends with everyone but are they in love with each member of the Gang? A BIG NO! Come on let us grow up it is never a thing that it is necessary for a girl and a boy to fall in love if they are friends.

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