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Friendships between men and women are on the rise in the U. In recent times, there’s been less cultural skepticism around friendships between gay men and straight women—though those relationships can also be fraught—but platonic relationships between straight, unmarried men and women are still subject to some suspicion, particularly beyond childhood. D., a professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, wrote that 65 percent of women and 75 percent of men reported having nonsexual friendships with the opposite gender.
(He attributed the reported discrepancy to the subjectivity of relationships, and concluded that an equal percentage of men and women have platonic friendships.
“That opens up a different kind of relationship, which is more apt to lead to a platonic friendship than ever before.”Friendships between superiors and subordinates are still rare today—in times, when bosses were mostly male and women primarily reported to them, platonic friendships at work were even more unlikely.
Now we expect men to make themselves available to female co-workers as friends and mentors, and vice versa.
Thus, Hamlett theorized, men save their emotional sharing for their partner, whereas women are more likely to share their feelings with a network of therapists and friends.
Hamlett cites one man, who started a “men’s group” to create a non-threatening space to share feelings.
“It really is easier for me to just be casual with women, and eventually become friends, rather than dudes,” he says of his platonic friendships.
Rather, in my experience, friendships with men can be very symbiotic: They listen well, they know how and when to give advice, and they bring a unique perspective to my grievances.
Greif attributes the increase in platonic friendships to more equality in the workplace, and stronger policies and better education surrounding sexual harassment.
(I’d also suggest that efforts to make college campuses more female-friendly, first with the genesis of co-ed colleges and more recently with attempts to make campuses safer for women, has led to a stronger infrastructure for co-ed friendships.) “Rather than having the experience that my father had, where the only woman he would see at the workplace was bringing him his coffee, men and women are now co-equals at work,” Greif says.
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