A cross-sex friendship is defined as a [voluntary, cooperative,] non-romantic alliance between members of the opposite sex. But researchers wondered to what degree it’s true that both men and women don’t experience attraction in such friendships.
Researchers asked pairs of male and female friends to rate their attraction to each other in a confidential questionnaire. They found that men – single or in a relationship – reported greater attraction to (and desire to date) their friend than women did, regardless of their female friend’s current relationship status. In addition, men were more tended to overestimate their friends’ attraction to them.
Single and attached women reported a similar level of attraction to their male friend, but attached women only had the tendency to want something to come of that attraction if they were unsatisfied with their current romantic relationship. Women were also less attracted to attached men, the study found.
The researchers write their findings implicate attraction in cross-sex friendship as both common and of potential negative consequence for individuals’ long-term relationships.
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April Bleske-Rechek, Erin Somers, Cierra Micke, Leah Erickson,, Lindsay Matteson,, Corey Stocco,, Brittany Schumacher,, & Laura Ritchie (2012). Benefit or burden? Attraction in cross-sex friendship Journal of Social and Personal Relationships DOI: 10.1177/0265407512443611