I am just a characterless man

The Truth About Platonic Friendship

Eau Claire / Vienna - Can there be lasting friendship between men and women without eroticism being involved? The question is as old as it is unanswered. Not only since the love comedy Harry and Sally has been debated whether friendships between the sexes can get by without sexuality at all. And if such friendships exist: do they mean pleasure or frustration?

A team of psychologists led by April Bleske-Rechek from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire scientifically investigated these questions. To do this, they examined the friendships of more than 400 adults between the ages of 18 and 52. In a first survey, 88 friendly couples were asked to assess the attraction of their friendship separately and anonymously. The test subjects were also asked to indicate whether they could envisage a romantic rendezvous with the other person.

The result, reported by Bleske-Rechek and her colleagues in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationship: "In most cases there was at least a minimum of attraction between the men and women, even if both had asserted that their friendship was purely platonic." , said the head of studies in an interview with STANDARD. The men in particular were attracted to their friends and were very pleased with the thought of a possible tête-à-tête. The friends were less enthusiastic.

"Men are programmed not to miss any sexual opportunity," says Bleske-Rechek. Women, on the other hand, are more picky. Behind this is a simple evolutionary biological assumption: a man who sleeps with 20 women very likely produces more offspring than a man who only sleeps with one woman. On the other hand, a woman who sleeps with 20 men will not necessarily have more babies than a woman with only one sex partner.

The participants in the second survey were also friends with a person of the opposite sex, but were also in a stable partnership. The test subjects were asked to list the advantages and disadvantages of an intersex friendship and analyze their own love relationship. All respondents listed more advantages than disadvantages. Men and women particularly appreciated the "insight into the world of thought of the opposite sex".

However, many participants found the attraction between the sexes to be a hindrance to friendship. The psychologists also recognized the following connection: the more the test subjects felt attracted to their boyfriend or girlfriend, the more dissatisfied they were in their own partnership.

It is unclear what is cause and what is effect. "Either the attraction of a third party has a bad influence on the existing partnership," says Bleske-Rechek, "or people in an unhappy partnership are looking for another potential partner." (Juliette Irmer, DER STANDARD, 5.6.2012)