Research finds men and women can’t be “just friends”, because men are more likely to be attracted to their female friends

25 Oct

Scientific American has a piece up about a recent study that seems to corroborate what many of us already know (see ‘ladder theory’ and ‘friend zone’): that single women-men friendships are fraught with difficulty, due to the tendency of men to often be attracted to their female friends, while the women in question tend not to reciprocate such feelings of attraction.  The sample size is a bit small (88 pairs of opposite-sex friends), and so it may be scientifically somewhat questionable; yet as noted, the findings do tend to correspond with what is general knowledge at least among us ‘Red Pill’ takers in the manosphere, so I still think it’s interesting.

From the article:

Can heterosexual men and women ever be “just friends”? Few other questions have provoked debates as intense, family dinners as awkward, literature as lurid, or movies as memorable. Still, the question remains unanswered. Daily experience suggests that non-romantic friendships between males and females are not only possible, but common—men and women live, work, and play side-by-side, and generally seem to be able to avoid spontaneously sleeping together. However, the possibility remains that this apparently platonic coexistence is merely a façade, an elaborate dance covering up countless sexual impulses bubbling just beneath the surface.

New research suggests that there may be some truth to this possibility—that we may think we’re capable of being “just friends” with members of the opposite sex, but the opportunity (or perceived opportunity) for “romance” is often lurking just around the corner, waiting to pounce at the most inopportune moment.

In order to investigate the viability of truly platonic opposite-sex friendships—a topic that has been explored more on the silver screen than in the science lab—researchers brought 88 pairs of undergraduate opposite-sex friends into…a science lab.  Privacy was paramount—for example, imagine the fallout if two friends learned that one—and only one—had unspoken romantic feelings for the other throughout their relationship.  In order to ensure honest responses, the researchers not only followed standard protocols regarding anonymity and confidentiality, but also required both friends to agree—verbally, and in front of each other—to refrain from discussing the study, even after they had left the testing facility. These friendship pairs were then separated,and each member of each pair was asked a series of questions related to his or her romantic feelings (or lack thereof) toward the friend with whom they were taking the study.

The results suggest large gender differences in how men and women experience opposite-sex friendships. Men were much more attracted to their female friends than vice versa. Men were also more likely than women to think that their opposite-sex friends were attracted to them—a clearly misguided belief. In fact, men’s estimates of how attractive they were to their female friends had virtually nothing to do with how these women actually felt, and almost everything to do with how the men themselves felt—basically, males assumed that any romantic attraction they experienced was mutual, and were blind to the actual level of romantic interest felt by their female friends. Women, too, were blind to the mindset of their opposite-sex friends; because females generally were not attracted to their male friends, they assumed that this lack of attraction was mutual. As a result, men consistently overestimated the level of attraction felt by their female friends and women consistently underestimated the level of attraction felt by their male friends.

I have trouble believing that the women were truly blind; I think they just weren’t being honest; see this video:

I don’t know how scientific that survey was, either, but I found it interesting that all the guys admitted the impossibility of men and women being ‘just friends’, because they all noted they tended to be attracted to their female friends, whereas all the women said it was possible to be ‘just friends’, though when pressed, they admitted that they were sure their male friends were attracted to them; one responded by walking away…

Back to the Scientific American study:

Men were also more willing to act on this mistakenly perceived mutual attraction. Both men and women were equally attracted to romantically involved opposite-sex friends and those who were single; “hot” friends were hot and “not” friends were not, regardless of their relationship status.  However, men and women differed in the extent to which they saw attached friends as potential romantic partners.  Although men were equally as likely to desire “romantic dates” with “taken” friends as with single ones, women were sensitive to their male friends’ relationship status and uninterested in pursuing those who were already involved with someone else.

Bah; I don’t believe the women were answering honestly, where the guys answered brutally honestly.

Anyway, continuing:

These results suggest that men, relative to women, have a particularly hard time being “just friends.” What makes these results particularly interesting is that they were found within particular friendships (remember, each participant was only asked about the specific, platonic, friend with whom they entered the lab). This is not just a bit of confirmation for stereotypes about sex-hungry males and naïve females; it is direct proof that two people can experience the exact same relationship in radically different ways. Men seem to see myriad opportunities for romance in their supposedly platonic opposite-sex friendships. The women in these friendships, however, seem to have a completely different orientation—one that is actually platonic.

IOW, the women had already ‘friend-zoned’ these guys, but the poor schmucks hadn’t clued in, or just hoped that somehow, magically, one day, she might suddenly see them as dating material, and date them.  Yeah right.

That’s how it works in reality, most times.


To the outside observer, it seems clear that these vastly different views about the potential for romance in opposite-sex friendships could cause serious complications—and people within opposite-sex relationships agree. In a follow-up study, 249 adults (many of whom were married) were asked to list the positive and negative aspects of being friends with a specific member of the opposite sex. Variables related to romantic attraction (e.g., “our relationship could lead to romantic feelings”) were five times more likely to be listed as negative aspects of the friendship than as positive ones. However, the differences between men and women appeared here as well. Males were significantly more likely than females to list romantic attraction as a benefit of opposite-sex friendships, and this discrepancy increased as men aged—males on the younger end of the spectrum were four times more likely than females to report romantic attraction as a benefit of opposite-sex friendships, whereas those on the older end of the spectrum were ten times more likely to do the same.

Taken together, these studies suggest that men and women have vastly different views of what it means to be “just friends”—and that these differing views have the potential to lead to trouble. Although women seem to be genuine in their belief that opposite-sex friendships are platonic, men seem unable to turn off their desire for something more. And even though both genders agree overall that attraction between platonic friends is more negative than positive, males are less likely than females to hold this view.

So, can men and women be “just friends?” If we all thought like women, almost certainly.  But if we all thought like men, we’d probably be facing a serious overpopulation crisis.

If men thought like women, we’d be happy to exploit and string along women we’re not interested in, for validation and ego-boosting.  Thank goodness we don’t generally think that way; what kind of friend does that?


Posted by on October 25, 2012 in Uncategorized


30 responses to “Research finds men and women can’t be “just friends”, because men are more likely to be attracted to their female friends

  1. van Rooinek

    October 25, 2012 at 1:08 am

    I’ve decided that relationships should grow naturally out of friendships

    An awful lot of stupid, naive church people actually TEACH this worthless bullshit to their high school and young adult/college ministry groups. They sau, “kiss dating goodbye” and just be friends with the the girls, get to know them in groups, platonically, and…one day like magic….

    Lying fags… It’s a satanic plot to keep us all single.

  2. Tom

    October 25, 2012 at 1:11 am

    One doesn’t need a scientific study to know that (straight) men and women can’t be friends – and vice versa. Because women do not understand the concept of “friendship”. Only women are capable of going shoe-shopping with their BFFs all day…… and then proceed to backstab them the minute they aren’t looking. Men don’t spend time with people they hate, but women do it all the time. Although they are fully capable of maintaining an illusion that “friendship” in fact exists…. you will notice that (fully in sync with Briffault’s law) unless a female derives come kind of direct personal gain – or benefit – from an association with a (straight) male, no such association will take place.


    When a (straight) male friend needs to get laid…. a man will make an effort to get his buddy out of the house, insist that he roll up his sleeves, get his “game” on, and will play wingman for an evening. He may even treat him to a nice little whore on his Birthday… or provide entertainment by way of hiring a stripper… or buy him a table dance + a couple of beers at a local titty bar. He will generally (and genuinely) want his buddy to get some action.

    A woman would never do this for a man.

    At most, she would say something like “Im sure you’ll meet a nice girl someday who will be lucky to have you.”…. and then immediately step over her (straight male) “friend” to have sex with some jerk who treats her like crap. Or even a nameless stranger who’s name she doesn’t even know. That’s not friendship.

    No matter how much she pretends to be a “friend”, it would never even occur to her to say: “hey, let me hook you up with a hot / slutty friend of mine for the night”. And pigs will fly before she offers to do him herself.

    Women cannot be friends with (straight) men for exactly this reason. She will never properly advise, tell him the truth, or want something for him which is in HIS best interest. That is the core of a “friendship”. No friendship can exist on a foundation of lies and misleading agendas.

    Women don’t even want what’s in the best interest of their own HUSBANDS — whom they pretend to “love”! — So how can they pretend to be “friends” with (straight) Men???

  3. Tom White

    October 25, 2012 at 2:19 am

    “I don’t believe the women were answering honestly, where the guys answered brutally honestly.”

    You just summed up every study done on relationships, ever.

  4. Tom White

    October 25, 2012 at 2:20 am

    Addendum: And every study done on sex, ever.

  5. tbc

    October 25, 2012 at 3:18 am

    The study is flawed immediately from the word, ‘romantic,’ which is a dead giveaway. Seems to me what the study shows is that the men would be much more willing and interested in sexing up their erstwhile female ‘friend’ while the woman is not. The term ‘romance’ obscures that reality. Guys tend to look at women as potential sex partners — call it evolution or call it sinful nature or whatever, that’s just the way it is. So a woman who is a ‘friend’ is another potential sex partner who the guy will bed if given the chance. I dispute that the guys are deceived about the woman’s level of interest because no doubt the female friends give out enough indications of interest to keep the guy around, though she is likely doing it subconsciously. Real depth of friendship between men & woman (as men understand friendship and not BFF shoe shopping all day) is only really possible when there isn’t the remote possibility of sexual activity, i.e. when the woman is way older than the guy and he’s not into that sorta thing. But in that case it tends to be less often a ‘friendship’ than another kind of relationship — maybe mentorship or something.

  6. DC Al Fine

    October 25, 2012 at 7:01 am

    This shows why church guys need game. They need to hang out with the girl just long enough to generate some familiarity and then get the ball rolling. This “letting relationships grow naturally out of friendships” thing is garbage. If you have known the girl for a month and haven’t asked her out yet, it’s already a lost cause.

  7. Will S.

    October 25, 2012 at 7:04 am

    @ VR: I agree, completely.

    Though there is something to be said for getting to know girls in groups, before investing money in dating them, IF you learn enough about them in the group settings that you can decide they’re not worth actually asking out.

    But the church should be encouraging men TO actually ask out girls, rather than that “kissing dating goodbye” bullshit. That’s poison. Sure, natural alphas like that Josh Harris will have girls flinging themselves at him, but that’s not the case for most guys; they need to learn game, and get practice through dating, and simply practice self-restraint, rather than not dating. And what Harris was advocating, courtship, is really dating by another name, just with an end goal in mind. But that itself is poisonous, as many girls would be squicked if a guy says, “I’d like to court you”, thinking “He already has in mind he might want to marry me? Slow down, buddy!”. So it’s poisionous, indeed.

    @ Tom: I don’t know about that; some PUAs talk about having female wingmen who help them out; it does happen, esp. if the woman in question already has a boyfriend, and is secure in her relationship with him.

    I once had a female friend in whom I had no interest whatsoever, though it actually worked the other way around, she was interested in me, which I realized on some level, but was in denial about it, kind of. Then when she got a boyfriend, I suddenly thought, shit, there was an opportunity here all along, low-lying fruit easy for the plucking, had I chosen to partake, but too late now…

    In any case, I see no personal benefit to most male-female friendships for the man; so I no longer bother with them, apart from being friends with wives / fiancees / girlfriends of my male buddies. They make decent friends, because the whole relationship question is off the table. Unfortunately while they mean well, they too, like most women, give poor relationship / dating advice, or try to set you up with their ugly friends. So caution is still advisable.

    @ Tom White: Yeah. It’s not so much that they deliberately intend to deceive, I think, so much as they refuse to be honest with themselves as well as others, unless forced.

    @ tbc: Indeed, men and women have different natures, see Ladder Theory.

    I think male-female friendship is only possible between a single guy and a buddy’s girlfriend / fiancee / wife, or with a woman who is ugly or a dyke.

  8. Will S.

    October 25, 2012 at 7:04 am

    @ DCAF: Exactly.

  9. Doc

    October 25, 2012 at 9:36 am

    “Can heterosexual men and women ever be “just friends”?”

    Only if he doesn’t find her attractive at all. That is what it boils down to in the end.

  10. deti

    October 25, 2012 at 9:38 am

    @ tom White:

    “I don’t believe the women were answering honestly, where the guys answered brutally honestly.”

    “You just summed up every study done on relationships, ever.”


    There are some who say that women’s responses have a higher degree of reliability in these studies because anonymity is assured. This doesn’t take into account that though the response might be anonymous to others, it is not anonymous to the responder. The answer the female responder gives has to sound good not only to others, but to HER as well. It has to make sense, it has to be plausible, and it has to make her look good (or at least not look bad), if only to herself.

    It’s a rare woman who can be truly, brutally honest with herself, even when giving anonymous responses in a survey.

    This is why a man should never, never take a woman’s advice on dating — not even from his own mother. And it’s also why a man should always observe what she does as demonstrating her true intentions and desires. It’s also why a man should always look to her past conduct, not what she SAYS about her past conduct.

  11. Will S.

    October 25, 2012 at 9:41 am

    @ Doc: Yep.

    @ deti: Exactly.

  12. M3

    October 25, 2012 at 9:56 am

    One day i really want to start a rally behind something like ‘Destroy a Friendzone Day’.. where the redpillers of the world are asked to help a bluepill buddy stuck in a friendzone shatter it and either sink the pink or move on with their life.

    A world without emotional tampons.. and women all of a sudden without their supplicating support structure. Heaven forfend.. they’d have to actually get their emotional support from the men they’re fucking!!! Dear god. That would probably make the news.

    I was that cartoon for 12 years.

  13. Will S.

    October 25, 2012 at 9:59 am

    ‘Destroy a Friendzone Day’ – I like it!

    I was also that cartoon. It sucked; one day I wisened up and said, ‘No more!’, and kicked my remaining single female friend to the curb. No woman will ever again use me that way.

  14. deti

    October 25, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I would have a lot more confidence in these studies purporting to investigate female sexual behavior if the results lined up with what we see in the real world, in real time.

    I would have a lot more confidence in these studies if the results comported to what the PUAs tell us.

    What I essentially hear coming from these studies is women saying “I just want a nice guy who will treat me right” and “Beta qualities like loyalty, industriousness, fidelity, dignity and kindness are HAWT and we want want want our men to have them!”

    But this isn’t lining up at all with what is actually happening in the SMP. What I see, what PUAs report, and what happens is that when such men fall in women’s laps, the women kick them out, stepping over them to the good looking hot man at the end of the bar. And it’s not just me seeing this. It’s many, many men reporting the exact same things, the exact same behaviors, from women everywhere, all quarters and corners of the North American SMP, consistently within every conceivable demographic.

    She rejects Eddie Steadyman in favor of a steady diet of Alpha McGorgeous or Harley McBadboy for a decade or so.

    Then as The Wall approaches and her bio-clock starts to wind down, she marries Eddie but continues to pine away for Alpha and Harley, secretly resenting the fact that neither Alpha nor Harley would marry her and more and more openly resenting Eddie for not being Alpha or Harley.

    Or, consider the girl who just didn’t get to sleep with Alpha or Harley. Instead of riding, she watches her friends and acquaintances ride the alpha carousel. She marries Eddie and resents the fact that other girls got to ride, or had the guts to ride, but she didn’t. She thought Eddie’s fidelity and kindness were OK for her, but she never really was attracted to him. He loves her, but she doesn’t love him. She has to justify her choice by saying that Eddie’s fidelity and kindness are not just desirable, but ATTRACTIVE.

    She can’t bear to admit to herself that she settled for a man she isn’t attracted to and doesn’t really want to have sex with. Because if she does admit this to herself, it means she is a failure at the female prime directive: Secure the best available genes from the best available man to get pregnant and have babies.

    If she does admit this to herself, it means she is not as hot and not as attractive as she thought she was, or as others told her, or as the men she used to have sex with led her to believe. If she does admit this to herself, it means her sexual market value and marriage market value are just not as high as she believed they were. If she does admit this to herself, it means she settled, and that she HAD to settle.

    I submit that for most women, the truth of this is simply more than their minds and hearts can bear. And the fact that she shares a home and a bed with Eddie, the fact that she has to live with, share money with, and sleep with Eddie is a daily reminder of that failure, and of what used to be, and what could have been.

    Enter the hamster, to spin a rationalization that makes her look good: “Loyalty, fidelity, and integrity are HAWT.” “We love betas!”

  15. Will S.

    October 25, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Well, deti, while imperfect, this particular study does show that men and women approach male-female friendships entirely differently, which is in accordance with what we in the manosphere know, and is not exactly flattering to women: it shows how women use men, for validation and ego-boosting, to be a shoulder to cry on / sounding board to bitch against about the guys they do date…

    • M3

      October 25, 2012 at 11:40 am

      “it shows how women use men, for validation and ego-boosting, to be a shoulder to cry on / sounding board to bitch against about the guys they do date…”

      and then they get all pissed off at you when you finally put all that shit to an end and blame you for using them in some kind of creepy way and just pretending to be a friend for sex. Rollo put it well in this post.

  16. Will S.

    October 25, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Rollo is spot on.

  17. a tiny little mouse

    October 25, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Isn’t it just common sense? I knew it while still at school. What I wonder about is how much this and similar studies cost to the taxpayers?

  18. Will S.

    October 25, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Common sense isn’t so common anymore, ATLM. Alas…

    As to cost to taxpayers, the study was done by students at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, so no doubt some government funding was involved, some taxpayer dollars helped…

  19. a tiny little mouse

    October 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Since it was done by students, it could have been a part of an assignment, so they probably didn’t get any extra funding. There are, however, so many of similar studies conducted nowadays that one has to wonder whether they are done with a genuine purpose to research something or with a purpose to get more money from the government, because a lot of those studies just tend to prove that the sky is blue, the water is wet, etc etc.

  20. Will S.

    October 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm


  21. electricangel1978

    October 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    @Deti, Will,

    Have you done any reading on microexpressions? The idiot filming this did NOT do a good job, because he waited only for the women’s words, and not their facial expressions.

    Watch closely. The first girl interviewed SAYS “yes,” but immediately shakes her head “no.” Other women say yes, but then bite their lips to restrain the truth they cannot reveal.

    I could refer (refre?) you to some videos, but check out He has some examples. Watch the number of women who cannot control blinking after they say yes in this video. Their faces reveal the lie that their mouths mouth.

  22. Will S.

    October 25, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    @ EA: I don’t know that I have (I may have but have consciously forgotten doing so), but I picked up on the body language cues, anyway; I’m reasonably good at detecting female dishonesty in their body language. The pauses, the blinking, I do and did notice those things. The lip-biting I didn’t notice, though; another tell; normally, that’s a vulnerability cue, and I pick up on it when girls do it to try to appear cute, and melt a guy’s heart. I once demonstrated that to a buddy (“notice how girls always do this lower-lip biting thing?”), and got him all squicked out, as if I was genuinely making the gesture at him, the idiot.

  23. Jay

    October 26, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Once you are in the friend zone it is so hard to get out of it.

  24. Will S.

    October 26, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    It’s pretty much impossible, in fact.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s