If the stock photo above had a caption, it would be this: Man holds coffee cup awkwardly and longs for blissfully unaware female friend wearing flip-flops and a business outfit.
It was in the 1989 film When Harry Met Sally that Harry famously said that men and women can’t be friends “because the sex part always gets in the way.” And it seems that scientists agree, according to recent research published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
Researchers asked 88 pairs of female and male friends to rate their attraction to each other on a secret questionnaire. And, sorry ladies, the results show that your husband was right when he said your friend Mike at work wants to do more than get coffee with you every. single. day.
According to the results, men were more likely to want to date/shtup their female friends than the other way around, even men who were already in a romantic relationship. And—womp, womp—they also assumed their female friends were more sexually interested in them than the women actually were. And, to put the icing on the one-sided sexual longing cake (yum!), the women tended to be kind of clueless about all of this.
But wait, sad men deleting names from their cell phone contacts list! It turns out your female friends tend to be attracted to you too. They’re just not going to do anything about it unless their own relationship is on the rocks—and that goes doubly when their male friend isn’t single, researchers found. So, you know, just keep doing what you’ve been doing and spend the next 10 years lusting after her and wishing and waiting for the total derailment of her happy relationship. (No, don’t do that).
Researchers point the finger at good old evolution for this whole mess—people’s hard-wired mating instincts make it hard for men and women to just be friends, even when the pair of friends thinks their own intentions are platonic. And movies and TV shows about friends-with-benefits arrangements certainly don’t do much to dissuade men from thinking their female friend maybe wants to bone eventually, one day, perhaps. So turn off the TV and go outside! Play in the park! Meet some new people! Make new friends. Oh, wait…