Wise Guys: Can Straight Men and Women Be Friends?

Advice from three of EM & LO‘s guy friends. This week a straight woman asks, “What’s your take on the When Harry Met Sally truism that men and women who are single and who find each other attractive can’t simply be friends?”

Straight Single Guy (Tyler Barnett): I could go on and on about the many exceptions to this rule, but really it’s quite simple: a straight man and a straight women who are both single and find each other attractive will almost definitely have sex at some point. It may happen during a moment of weakness at a friends wedding, or maybe after polishing off a case of apple-flavored Smirnhoff Ices while watching the American Idol finale together, but I assure you, it will happen eventually.

Now before you start to tell me about your amazing opposite-sex friend who is in a strictly platonic relationship with you, let me remind you that there are indeed many exceptions, or at least explanations. I would bet this friend of yours is probably not attractive to you, or maybe just not attracted to you. I would also bet this friend is either in a long relationship, married, or gay. Or if that doesn’t cover your situation, you have probably dated in the past and it didn’t work out, so now you are friends. But there is always something. There is a reason you are friends and not more. And usually this is because one party is more into it than the other. And when that happens, there are hurt feelings.

Can men and women be strictly friends when they find each other attractive and they are both single? Sure. But that friendship will definitely have some added benefits.

Straight Married Guy (James Glazebrook): I think Harry went even further, saying that men can’t even be friends with women they don’t find attractive, because they will still try to get them in to bed. While funny, I totally disagree with this, based as it is on the assumption that all men and women have in common is sex. I’ve always had as many female friends as male, because they were equally uninterested in sports, drinking until they puke and talking about tits. And rarely has their gender or attractiveness been an issue — only on a couple of occasions when I was so drunk it probably wouldn’t have mattered if they were women or men. Naturally, our friends contain a lot of the traits that we find attractive in sexual partners, but it would take a man of extreme arrogance and horniness to try and fuck them all. Like Harry.

Gay Single Guy (Justin Huang): I run with a relatively straight crowd, so I encounter this a lot. It’s funny: when I’m partying, I want everyone to hook up and I tend to push straight people together into compromising positions (I call it “Real Sims”). But when I’m sober, which is at least 50% of the time, I take a step back because things do get complicated between friends when sex enters the picture. I’ve seen a lot of great friendships (both gay and straight) become awkward this way. I think that it’s healthy to address the issue head on and talk about it like adults if there’s a mutual sexual attraction, but that’s not incredibly realistic.

Honestly, the best cases in which I’ve personally witnessed the Harry-Sally scenario have been when the couple in question just acknowledged the attraction and banged it out, usually on the couch of a mutual friend or a shared Vegas suite. Sexual tension is an abstract emotion, and if it is consummated, then Harry and Sally might be able to move on with their friendship with “been there, done that” casualness. I see it happen all the time.

Or… they might fall in love and have a great story to tell! “So we had this mutual friend named Justin, and he got us really drunk…”

Our “wise guys” are a rotating group of contributors, some of whom wish to remain anonymous and some of whom like the attention. This week’s Straight Married Guy is James Glazebrook, a British writer/illustrator working in Berlin with his photographer wife on their cool blog, Überlin; our Gay Guy is Justin Huang, an LA-based freelance film editor, producer, certified personal trainer and the voice of IAmYellowPeril.com; and our Single Straight Guy is Tyler Barnett of Tyler Barnett PR in LA. To ask the guys your own question, click here.


  1. Dear Justin,
    Please stop doing the “Real Sims” shit when you are drunk. It is annoying and immature. We’re all to the point that if you do it again, we’re gonna post that vid…

    Your Friends


  2. Lotta qualifiers in that question. Can a man and a woman be friends? Sure. Can a single man and a single woman who are mutually attracted be friends? No.

    And Justin, that thing gay friends do where they try to make single straight people screw, like a kid making Barbie and Ken dolls hump? It’s kind of uncomfortable. If the two people actually want to screw each other, it actually does more harm than good – it ruins the tempo of the seduction. And if they don’t want to do it – or if only one of them does – awkward!

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