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Why Men and Women Can Be Friends -- The Fallacies That Hinder Our Understanding of Humans

Updated: May 28

A woman dressed in a suit.

2023 Note: Remember, even I, may be wrong. I never claimed omniscience. After realizing I was practicing sexual transmutation for the sake of Philosocom, I officially renounce my claims as asexual.


Why Men and Women Can Be Friends

It's a common trope: men and women can't be friends because sexual or romantic tension inevitably gets in the way. This belief, however, falls prey to a well-known logical fallacy: the generalization fallacy, and more specifically, the whole-person fallacy.

The whole-person fallacy occurs when we make broad conclusions about a person based on insufficient data, like them being a part of a group/social category of people. In this case, the assumption is that all opposite-sex friendships succumb to romantic or sexual attraction. And it's all because they are men having a connection with women (or vice versa). This simply isn't true, and thinking that it's true could lead to jealousy in your existing relationships, based on misunderstandings.

Here's why the fallacy of "men and women can't be friends" crumbles under lambasting:

  • Parallels to Other Prejudices: Believing men and women can't be friends shares similarities with racism, due to both this belief and racist beliefs have to do with judging an entire person based on mere demographics. Thinking doing so is enough for an assesment, is the basis of all prejudice. Just as judging individuals based on race or sex is unfair, judging friendships based solely on gender is illogical. You just have to take more aspects into consideration.

Sure, biology makes men and women different, but it doesn't entirely have to dictate the nature of our friendships. Other factors, such as the ability to resist temptation, often honed in discipline, can significantly determine the future of your relationships of the gender you're attracted to. Develop self-control and you might be able, for instance, to avoid being sent to the HR department of your company.

It's time to move beyond viewing other people as mere instruments for romantic or sexual pleasure. Not all communication is about pleasure or even socializing. The fact that someone is attractive to you doesn't mean anything would necessarily come out of trying to flirt with them. And to lambast incel philosophy, nothing romantic nor sexual must come out of it. See certain humans as beyond merely dateable, and you might have further reason to talk to them, leading to other forms of collaborations. Of course, it's especially true when you are already in a relationship, and are expected to commit from your heart.

A Personal Example of A Distant Friend

We've been friends since 2013, all thanks to her. Back in high school, she took the initiative and struck up a conversation. While the idea of something more did cross my mind for a bit, it never overshadowed the friendship we were building.

Here's the thing about our connection: friendship has always been the core. Even when I went out with her on a walk, years ago, it didn't break anything. Honesty and understanding went a long way.

Life took us down different paths after graduation. We had a long break in our friendship, but the friendly terms remained. When she reached out to reconnect, I didn't hesitate to say yes. And here we are, still friends to this day, despite her being busy with her own life, and myself being busy with Philosocom and my solitude.

My take on relationships might be a little different from some men. To quote Sandra Faulkner who interviewed to VICE,

"[Male-Female relationships] play into what I call the heteronormative script "If you are operating under this script, then anytime you think of a man and women together, you assume it must be romantic—because of the script. But many of us don't operate under these scripts."

There's a misconception that everyone craves intimacy and romance. The truth is, sexual attraction isn't a universal human experience. For some of us, the concept of sex holds little to no interest. This identity has a name: asexuality.

But asexuality isn't the whole story. Romantic attraction is a separate spectrum, and some asexual people also identify as aromantic. This means they experience little to no desire for romantic relationships or even sex. If they are not asocial, they could be the prime example of people who may have friends of any gender, without gender or sex even being much relevant.

By recognizing these identities, we can move towards a more inclusive and accepting world, decreasing the illogical habit to dismiss arguements with ad-hominem or with the Strawman's Fallacy.

Bonus I: "Will They, Won't They?"

Let's explore the article's concept and unpack the limitations of relying on anecdotal evidence. This one is based on "The Office" sitcom. The "Will They, Won't They?" trope, is something that pop culture loves. In it, it's where close friendships between men and women remain with unspoken tension. Jim and Pam from the mentioned series are a classic example, as their story does highlight a potential complication. However, it doesn't represent all friendships. Thinking that it does leads to the ways fiction can mislead our understanding from reality. You might as such think that the man, like Jim, may harbor feelings for his friend.

Using Jim and Pam's story, or any single anecdote, to prove mere anecdotes as logical fallacy. Their experience doesn't have negate the countless strong, platonic friendships between men and women.

Here's a broader perspective:

So, the next time you hear the tired notion that men and women can't be friends, remember: it's a myth. Strong, fulfilling friendships can exist between any two people, regardless of gender.

Bonus II: The Misconception of Platonic Love

The contemporary world often misuses Plato's idea of Platonic love, as did I in this article. The Greek Reporter lectures:

Platonic love is one of the most widely misinterpreted concepts in Plato’s philosophy. It has transcended the realm of philosophy, becoming widely used across culture and has strayed from its original meaning throughout the process.
Plato believed that love is the motivation that leads one to try to know and contemplate beauty in itself. This happens through a gradual process that begins with an appreciation of the appearance of physical beauty and then moves on to an appreciation of spiritual beauty.
For Plato, love is not an end in and of itself but only a means to achieving this supreme concept of beauty.
Plato’s ideal love is connected with his notion of the ideal world (a world where everything is perfect and our material reality is a copy of its image). That is why this ideal of Platonic love does not refer to having an unattainable love but to love in a sense that is eternal and intelligible: a perfect ideal form.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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