Can heterosexual men and women ever be "just friends"?
Humans might think they're capable of being "just friends" with members of the opposite sex, but the opportunity for "romance" is usually lurking just around the corner.
Researchers looked at 88 pairs of undergraduate opposite-sex friends. They followed standard protocols regarding anonymity and confidentiality, and required both friends to agree in front of each other to not talk about the study. The friendship pairs were then separated and each person was asked questions related to his or her romantic feelings (or lack thereof) toward the friend they were taking the study with.
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.
In fact, men's estimates of how attractive they were to their female friends had 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 that was being felt by their female friends.
Women were also blind to the mindset of their opposite-sex friends. Because females generally weren't attracted to their male friends, they assumed that this lack of attraction was mutual. So men consistently overestimated the level of from their female friends and women consistently underestimated the level of attraction from their male friends.
Men were 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. Although men were equally as likely to want "romantic dates" with "taken" friends as with single ones, women were sensitive to their male friends' relationships and weren't interested in pursuing guys who were already involved with someone else.
The study showed that men have a harder time being "just friends."
Story originally came from scientificamerican.com