Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Questions Whether Men and Women Can Be Friends

DEAR HARRIETTE: Can women and men really be friends with no strings attached? Someone brought it to my attention that men pursue friendships with women initially because they are attracted to them and think about one thing only. My friend then said that men befriend other men if they have something in common.

I think it’s possible for people of opposite sexes to be friends. Whether you're a man or a woman, common interests bring people together regardless of physical attraction. -- Age-Old Question

DEAR AGE-OLD QUESTION: The funniest depiction of this classic question appeared in the film "When Harry Met Sally." Even through that movie, the answer wasn’t completely clear.

In my opinion and experience, I can say that it is certainly possible for people to be “just friends” with the gender they are attracted to, and for those friendships to be meaningful and long-lasting. To your point about sharing common interests, I believe that this is one powerful reason for people to notice each other in the first place.

This does not discount another common reality -- one person in a friendship, at least, may have started out being romantically attracted to the other person, even if that interest was never pursued. Perhaps what’s more important in friendships is whether two people can find a way to genuinely love and support each other, no matter what that initial spark may have been.