Monday, January 9, 2017

No. We're Just Friends

Can men and women be friends? I would instantly respond to this notion that questioned the platonic relationship between men and women when I was younger but found my opinion to waiver as I became older. The evolving behavior and beliefs adults form through personal experiences and by instinct have to lead to multiple opinions on the matter, but the biological reaction seems to sway opinions at most.

Classrooms were divided into two groups with the fear of the cooties epidemic. Girls would go out to the field and play or create an occasional art studio open in the corner, while the boys would run over to the basketball court and pretend to enjoy the game to help keep up appearances. We were taught to believe boys and girls were completely different, but over time that would change. From middle school to high school, I began to think to have multiple girlfriends and guy friends was normal.

Why did this behavior change as soon as my friends became adults? Did the ticking click of marriage and kids have anything to do with it? Do men and women only remain friends until a certain time in life? What factors cause a friendship to become more than a platonic relationship? Which leads me to finally question how are male and female friendships displayed in mass media and what impact does it make to real-time relationships?

In 1989, When Harry Met Sally was released worldwide to moviegoers invested in the filmography of Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. The movie portrays an evolving friendship with hints of a romantic comedy. The opposition of a male and female relationship is immediately introduced when the audience, who is believed to assume the characters will become romantically involved, begin a long discussion of how men and women are unable to be friends “because the sex part always gets in the way.”

This causes audiences to reflect on times they would think about it, acted on it, or have it become a topic of discussion with a friend of the opposite sex. Viewers continue to see Crystal experience life as a divorcee in New York City and Ryan experience the single life after a breakup with a long-term boyfriend. Audiences get caught into the story with the witty behavior and classic comedy of adulthood. It’s not until a New Year’s Eve party that audiences are present to a potential shift in the relationship that is only left with a cordial kiss to celebrate the upcoming year. The viewers who had gotten used to their “friendship” are brought to reality that the relationship through a rhetorical perspective and struggle to come to a conclusion if becoming more than friends is a great decision.  

While this confusion can be felt by viewers, the characters continue on with separate dating attempts until sex becomes involved. In a dramatic perspective, the rules of a platonic relationship are broken after Sally learns of her ex-boyfriend's call announcing his engagement. With both parties single and already in a friendship, the audience can approve of this change for the greater good of Harry and Sally finding a romantic relationship. This also creates a feeling of hope that the relationship will become successful due its components of love, respect, and friendship.

Eventually, even I started to root for the two to become more than a friend. The film’s message not only explains that male and female relationships can become complicated, but it portrays the idea that men and women will inevitably become more than friends, and it is perfectly fine to welcome a romantic relationship.

Discussion Questions:
  1. What do you think about male and female friendships?
  2. Did your perspective on developing friendships of the opposite sex change as you grew older?
  3. How can men and women keep an open mind to the possibilities of a romantic relationship?


  1. First of all, I find your whole post so interesting and yet relatable. Growing up I had that mindset that girls can’t be friends with boys, unless you liked them. So when I would try to befriend a boy, all my girlfriends though there was something more than a mere friendship.

    To answer your discussion questions, my thoughts about male and female friendships are very complex just like the topic. I personally believe it’s alright to have male and female friendship. I have a good amount guy friends who are my best friends. Yes it’s a very complicated relationship because it’s like they say someone always develops feeling for the other person. Though I think it all depends on how you take and develop these feelings. Personally I have a strong and caring relationship with my guy friends, and I hope to see them to be happy. I don’t mind that they get girlfriends and stop spending time with them. I know they’ll still be my friends and I’ll be there’s. Of course there’s always going to be jealousy. You spend so much time with a person and next thing you know there spending time when someone else. It happens in every friendship, doesn’t matter if it’s between a boy or girl, girl v girl or boy v. boy, the jealousy pops up.
    To answer the second discussion question, yes my perspective of opposite sex friendship has changed as I grew up. As I stated before I believe it’s alright to to male and female friendship. With those developing feelings that happens, it’s up to one to decide if it’s really romantic feelings or caring feelings. I think the best way to get through the whole romantic or caring feeling is to discuss what it really is. You could care for the other person, but not love them. Best way to deal with this it know what your true feelings are. Anyways I could go on about this subject, but I will leave it at here.

    1. You mentioned a very important emotion that is protrayed on film and in real-life: Jealousy. We have witnessed friends, partners, and colleagues all express that emotion once a new party is introduced. As you just mentioned, spending large amounts of time with a person creates the foundation of that relationship and when someone else is given that precious time the appearance of jealousy should be expected. This is an extremely popular use of conflict seen in romantic comedies.

  2. Speaking from my own personal experience, it was always hard for me to become friends with women. At a young age it was the whole cootie idea that kept me from developing those relationships. I don't know exactly what it was that started my desire to become closer to the opposite sex. My best guess would be my farther always teasing me in my early teenage years about potential liking a girl. This ignited the desire within me to get closer to females, but I kind of thought that a relationship with a girl had to be all or nothing. Either we were going to date or we couldn't be friends. The reason for saying this is because it seems like one person always wanted more than the other and it makes you feel kind of awkward being close to that person when you know that they want more from the relationship and you don't. Some of the best relationships I have with women that was purely a friendship was when we were both already involved in romantic relationships with other people.

    One of the biggest issues for me would have been my self esteem. I was always a larger kid and I had developed this idea from society that attractive people only date other attractive people who fit the typical attractive model in society. I was kind of like Ryan Reynolds in the movie Just Friends. He was larger teenager in terms of weight. He always had a crush on this beautiful girl, but it wasn't till he lost the weight and was able to afford fancy cars that he actually got the courage to ask her out. In other words I think that the openness to a romantic relationship is affected by the role of society and how society kind of sets guide lines for what type of person belongs with who. It is not that these lines aren't crossed it that most people might be scared to even try.

    1. The societal agreements that have assigned male and female roles are large reasons as to why many we think a friendship is not possible. If it were introduced earlier in the child development stages, that awkward feeling may never be an issue to either party. You also mention a discussion found in the above clip about friendships made possible when two people are in separate, committed relationships. In the film, Harry believes this is unrealistic because the attraction is dormant. I believe, that if the opportunity was presented a relationship could occur but having an existing partner does provide a barrier for intimacy. That is another way creators continue story lines to portray how "wrong timing" can influence the growth of a romantic relationship.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. My view on relationships with women has changed a great deal over the years. Currently, as a married man, anything beyond a superficial relationship with a woman who is not my wife doesn’t seem worthwhile. Why spend my time developing deep friendships with other women when I feel that time is better spent being a father to my son and cultivating a deeper relationship with a loving and supportive spouse? Not to mention the perception that if I do decide to make friends with other women it runs the possibility of complicating or even jeopardizing my current relationship. Sure I might be missing out, but I enjoy my home life so much that I don’t really care.

    But friendships with women aren’t the only thing to fall off my radar since marriage (and especially the birth of our son). With a few exceptions, I don’t hold many friendships with other men. The men I am close to are either related to me or no longer live in close proximity. When the responsibilities of parenthood entered the picture, hanging out with my “bros” just had less and less appeal over the course of time.

    However, I agree with Harry in at least some regard. From my own set of experiences, it seemed as though friendships were no problem, as long as I didn’t have an unreciprocated romantic interest in her (or vice versa). When one party’s affection wasn’t returned, it was often easier to break off our personal association than to have to deal with the elephant in the room. Once you’ve developed a passionate desire for another person, it can be hard to “un-jump” off of that ledge.