Can men and women be friends?

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by Cathy Marshall

KGW

Posted on November 5, 2012 at 10:04 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 5 at 10:32 PM

The question has been debated for decades. Can heterosexual men and women be friends?

“I call it a friend-a-tion-ship and it’s messy,” said Charlie Beck of Seattle.

A recent study of platonic relationships from the University of Wisconsin was based on interviews with more than 80 couples.

“It's less about can a man a woman just be friends?

It’s more about how often is there an attraction in the relationship," said Portland relationship counselor Julie Jeske.

According to the study, men are more likely to be attracted to female friends. Results also showed men tend to assume the romantic attraction is mutual. “I hate to say all men overestimate the attraction level in a relationship but I think that I see that happen more with men than I see it happen with women," remarked Jeske.

Kristen Kirkham and Corey Gunner of San Diego weighed in during a recent visit to Portland. “We were friends for three years before we started dating,” said Kirkham, “I thought he was cute but we were always dating other people.”

She does agree with Billy Crystal’s character of Harry in the 1989 blockbuster “When Harry met Sally.”

Crystal tells Meg Ryan’s character, “What I’m saying is the guys all want to have sex with you.” While men are thinking one thing, the new research shows women have another mindset because women consistently underestimate the level of attraction. "If women are told I just want to be your friend, that’s what they hear and believe,” said Jeske.

This latest study won’t end the debate but it does provide a hint for men.

"You really need to be clear about your intentions and why you’re in the relationship. If you’re there because she’s hot then it’s not a friendship at all,” concluded Jeske.

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