Students weigh in on platonic relationships

by Chelsie Punter

I sat on the stained ‘70s aqua-colored carpet staring at the artificial wood paneling on the door in front of me. My palms began to perspire and my stomach mimicked the thudding of my heart. I knew it was time.

Sitting with my spine against the wall and my feet cramping from the thoughts in my head, I built up the courage to tell my floormate and close friend that I liked him. The tension was dense. Our friendship had quickly turned inappropriate and raw. I waited for happiness to caress his face or any other hint signaling he felt the same way—it never came.

My ears turned bright red, I became uncomfortable, and everything changed. At that point what was I doing this for? Why must we have one-sided friendships, or pretend to be friends with the opposite sex when all we want to do is give the relationship a chance? I couldn’t help but ask myself: Can men and women just be friends?

Although this situation was probably one of the worst moments of my first year here at San Diego State, I realized I’m not the only person who has had this problem. Why do so many people end up falling for their friends? An article from Psychology Today, stated the confusions many have about friendships with members of the opposite sex stem from the media. Think about how many romantic comedies that take two people who start off as friends and then become each other’s soul mates. Movies such as “When Harry Met Sally …” “He’s Just Not That Into You” and “The Holiday” are just a few examples leading people in our society to believe there’s hope. In addition, hit TV shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Sex and the City” have given unrealistic friendship perspectives to men and women. The article also pointed out men and women spent many years in the past only seeing each other on a romantic level. For example, in the ‘50s, most women stayed home and took care of the house while men went out into the workforce with other men. Men and women working together on an every day basis didn’t develop until later in the 20th century. With men and women seeing each other often, it’s easy to misconstrue gestures and fall for who you thought was a platonic friend.

Even though some people fall for friends, sometimes mutually platonic relationships work. Now more than ever, it is possible for men and women to watch sports, eat lunch, or hang out together without anything inappropriate happening. A group of SDSU students was interviewed by The Daily Aztec to explore thoughts about platonic relationships.

“I believe that it is totally possible to have a platonic relationship with someone of the opposite sex,” theatre arts freshman Craig Horlbeck said. “I have a good girl friend back home that has a similar sense of humor as me and all my friends. I don’t think of her as one of the guys, but I know nothing is going on and nothing ever will.”

Horlbeck also stated he isn’t a physically attracted to this friend. If there was an attraction maybe their friendship would be different.

“I do believe men and women can have platonic friendships, I think it is based on certain circumstances and who is in the situation itself,” management and construction engineering senior Jimmy Benavente said. “There is a maturity level that goes along with that though. It takes a lot for a person to push aside any non-platonic feelings whether it is sexual or intense intimate feelings.”

Most of the men who responded to the survey came to a consensus about maturity: Sometimes it just takes two mature people to agree nothing will happen.

“I think that it is very rare-to-impossible for men and women to be completely platonic friends right from the beginning,” marine biology junior Claire Andrews said. “Normally there is some sort of attraction and then, over time, it will go away. Once that goes away, then there is a possibility it will work.”

Because of my own curiosity, I began looking at my Facebook friends. On Facebook, I have a variety of friendships with people from high school and college and even friends who are married with kids. I asked them what they thought about the idea of men and women having platonic friendships. According to my Facebook survey, 88 percent of people believe it is possible for men and women to have platonic friendships. In addition to this, 46 percent of people say women are more likely to misinterpret the intimacy of friendship for sexual desire. What I found most interesting is 5 percent of people said that they are unsure if it is even appropriate for men and women to obtain friendships.

Sometimes, both sexes just get too caught up in what they want. Maybe I should have never confessed my feelings to my floormate, and maybe the people who have great platonic friendships are losing out on the love of their life. The truth will never be known, but I am a strong believer in opportunities. I believe everyone is different and that platonic friendships have potential to work out. It is our responsibility to take the opportunity confess, or to simply just let it be.



Poll Results

40 people


Do you believe men and women can be platonic friends?

Yes: 88%

No: 8%

Unsure: 4%


Do you believe it is appropriate for men and women to be friends?

Yes: 85%

No: 10%

Unsure: 5%


Who is better at keeping sex out of a friendship?

Men: 13%

Women: 72%

Unsure: 15%


Have you ever been “just friends” with someone before you started dating them?

Yes: 74%

No: 26%


Have you ever been “just friends” with someone and secretly wanted to be with them?

Yes: 82%

No: 18%


Who is more likely to misinterpret the intimacy of friendship for sexual desire?

Men: 41%

Women: 46%

Unsure: 13%