They expect more emotional rewards from friendship than men do, explained Sapadin, so they're easily disappointed when they don't receive them. "Men confide in women." All that sharing and discussing in female-female friendship can become exhausting, as any woman who's stayed up all night comforting a brokenhearted girlfriend can attest.With men, women can joke and banter without any emotional baggage.To that end, social scientists like Sapadin, Monsour and O'Meara have studied how to do just that.
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"People don't know what feelings are appropriate toward the opposite sex, unless they're what our culture defines as appropriate," said O'Meara.
"You know you love someone and enjoy them as a person, but not enough to date or marry them. " The reality that sexual attraction could suddenly enter the equation of a cross-sex friendship uninvited is always lurking in the background.
" This is especially true, said O'Meara, of older adults, who grew up when men and women were off-limits to each other until marriage.
As the workplace and other social arenas become increasingly open to women, the sexes are mingling more and more.
Society may not be entirely ready for friendships between men and women that have no sexual subtext.
People with close friends of the opposite sex are often barraged with nudging, winking and skepticism: "Are you really just friends?
A simple, platonic hug could instantaneously take on a more amorous meaning.
"You're trying to do a friend-friend thing," said O'Meara, "but the male-female parts of you get in the way." Unwelcome or not, the attraction is difficult to ignore.
What they reported liking most was talking and relating to women—something they can't do with their buddies.
Meanwhile, women rated their same-sex friendships higher on all these counts.
In a study published in the , Sapadin asked more than 150 professional men and women what they liked and disliked about their cross-sex friendships. Men, on the other hand, more frequently replied that sexual attraction was a prime reason for initiating a friendship, and that it could even deepen a friendship.