The development of any generation depends on the relationships between women and men who decide to interact in order to create a family. In fact, the romantic relation is a common social norm which does not usually promote many debates. However, the reaction is different when another situation happens and people mention cross-gender friendship. Some of them believe that it is possible to have friendly intentions in the relations between male and female, while others state that friendship has its boundaries leading to the transformation of friendly relations in the romantic ones. Indeed, the possibility of establishing the cross-gender friendship allows to have loving relations if individuals appear in specific conditions and reach the mutual agreement.
Heterosexual love has always been a commonly accepted social norm which influences the relations between males and females. Unfortunately, relationship stereotypes define how females and males should interact. In fact, males choose to confide in other males, while women prefer making friends with other women as long as they know how to relate each other’s problems (Baiocco et al., 2014). However, the contemporary image of friendship starts shifting from the popular view on the relations between men and women. It has become the social norm to have homosocial relationships which are not based on romantic nature. Thus, the heterosocial friendship is considered a non-standard phenomenon which is accepted by the society (Lai, 2015). However, the representatives of different genders manage to maintain healthy relations in the contemporary world. In fact, the answer to the question whether the friendship between males and females can truly exist requires the understanding of its essence.
Men and women live in the same environment but with the different system of values and beliefs, which may prevent them from building purely friendly relations. The problem of rare cross-gender friendship lies in the opposing perceptions of the world. Usually, men and women are willing to derive each other’s benefits taking into consideration personal interests or satisfaction. However, the expectations might not always be met properly. It happens because of contrasting needs and requirements which lead to the misunderstanding in friendship. As a result, the mismatched desires of opposite sexes cause difficulties in formulating intimate friendship relations.
Furthermore, the concept of “friend zone” is extremely widespread in society meaning that some individuals involved in the cross-gender friendship do not feel that their personal needs are satisfied within the framework of relations. This type of relationship is considered unequal as long as it does not meet the interests of both sides simultaneously. However, when the friendship between men and women is possible, men tend to expect understanding and emotional support, while women need the physical safety (SOC315, 2016). Though, seldom cases of cross-gender friendship, which does not ask anything in return, still exist. It happens when partners foster relations according to each other’s interests and needs without crossing the borders (Blatterer, 2015). However, genuine friendship does not require any discussion of borders, while cross-gender relation consists of standards of communication. If one of the sides is not satisfied, friendship will not last long. Besides, romantic and platonic friendships involve different specter of human relations. In erotic friendship, partners agree to fulfill sexual needs. On the contrary, platonic friendship does not consider any intimacy related to sex. In both cases, the friendship between males and females still exists, regardless of a social concern that it is impossible to build friendship between men and women without transition to the romantic tone.
One of the main obstacles of cross-gender friendship is a societal perception. The contemporary society labels it as romantic relation or a pre-stage which will lead to sexual intercourse. Unfortunately, the experience of both males and females in the majority of cases does not support the idea that friendship between men and women is possible. The greatest barrier for cross-gender friendship is a misunderstanding of each other’s desires and goals (Galupo and Gonzalez, 2012). If they are different, mutually respected relations full of equality and free from tension are hard to build. If someone tries to support friendship with opposing objectives, he or she will consequently encourage the outburst of negative emotions. For example, when a man has an intention of transforming his female friend into a girlfriend, it is necessary to explain it in order to make expectations clear. Otherwise, no relations will survive.
Another barrier refers to the societal perception of cross-gender friendship as a threat to the existing or emerging romantic relations. Unfortunately, people often ponder to irrational prejudices against opposite-sex friendship forcing friends to face social obstacles. As a result, they cannot reach a balance between different types of relationships because the society might not be ready to accept new tendencies.
Besides, romantic friendship separates love and friendship according to their differences. Love is a mutually shared project with roles and responsibilities defined between partners, while erotic friendship is free from obligations (Nicholson, 2013). Consequently, the contemporary image of relations between men and women is predominantly erotic and allows both individuals to have freedom of choice. When a man and a woman decide to establish an erotic friendship, they might fail to follow the basic principles and experience the destruction of social status (Davies and Aron, 2016). For example, these friends might agree not to stay for a sleepover, visit together any public place, send emails, or be together than it is necessary. If someone breaks one of the rules, the friendship stops its existence and may transform into romantic or no relations in general. However, cross-gender friendship should not only fulfill sexual needs as it becomes a threat to the reputation of both individuals. In fact, erotic friendship is an example that men and women can rarely be real friends due to their natural desires and personal needs (Reeder, 2016).
Cross-gender friendship is possible but requires a clear set of needs from both individuals in order not to create fake expectations. Nevertheless, the society has many doubts regarding the friendly relation between men and women. Many people believe that this type of relation threatens the existing or emerging romantic relations because it reduces confidence in the partner pursuing love and mutual affection. The contemporary world had different examples of cross-gender communication which result in friendship. However, it is necessary to consider the barriers and obstacles towards the establishment of genuine friendship. If needs of both individuals find clear representation in the relationship, then it is possible to continue building friendly relations.