Julian: Has it something that in your relationship
either of you have acknowledged at one point and brought up?
Participant 1: Sex? P2: Are you attracted to me at all?
P3: Like us talking about sex? P1: Us talking about sex together? Julian: Can guys and girls be just friends? Can they do it in spite of attraction? What
if you find yourself in the friend-zone? What about friends with benefits? As you can see
this all gets complicated, fast. Cross-sex friendships are actually shockingly recent
to human history. It’s really only annoyed us for the past one percent of our existence.
Only like a few thousand years. Before that, for the first 99% when we were mostly nomadic
there’s almost no ethnographic evidence of men and women having platonic friendships.
But even though we’re not wired for it, socially we are way ahead of the curve. Men and women
work together, learn together, and socialize together. So if you want to thrive in the
modern world, you better get good at having platonic friends. Now at their core friendships
are social exchange, each of you has needs, and the trades got to be fair. When two people’s
needs are very different one person usually gets hung out to dry. Now if you need someone
to be more than a friend, but they only need a friend, you might feel trapped in a friend
zone. What about if you’re in a friends with benefits relationship and you develop the
need for emotional support and commitment, but your partner is just content with the
physical side. We so often find ourselves on one side of the fence because we only know
what we need out of a friendship. But we never even think about what the other person’s needs
are. So today, we gathered a group of male, female friends and had them take a crack at
awkwardly figuring it out. Julian: So we have here a board of needs,
and we want you to consider looking over all this in your friendship what do you need out
of that. P1: What I need from a friendship?
Julian: Yeah, things that you need from this friendship. Go ahead, take your time, consider
what you want, when you do just put them in the circle alright?
P3: Okay! P4: That’s an easy one.
P5: Criticism. Julian: So, what do we have? P2: Well I have a lot of needs.
P1: I picked money, humor. P4: Stimulating conversation.
P6: Dependability. P2: Optimism.
P3: Romance, in the platonic way. He’s like a romantic guy!
P7: Keep me sharp and focused! P8: Criticism.
P6: An ear to complain to. P1: And healthy competition.
Julian: Since everybody was such a pro at talking about their needs, we had them take
a stab at telling us what the other person needs out of the friendship. P4: Won’t overthink it. I’ll just throw it
on there because I could keep reshuffling many many times.
Julian: Have you ever considered what it is that she might need out of the friendship
before or was this the first time. P1: This probably would be the first time.
[laughs] It’s kind of sad. Julian: Was it difficult to pick these five
out? P3: It was a little tougher.
P2: I feel like in friendships it’s this system of checks and balances where it’s like alright
I want to make sure that I’m getting my needs met and I’m not really thinking about if they’re
getting their needs met. So it was nice to be able to actually think about what Matt
does want from me in a friend, even if I totally ignore it. P3: I guess I never really thought about what he needs from me! I guess I’m just selfish!
Julian: Do you think most people only consider their own needs in a relationship?
P3: Well now I’m thinking that probably, yeah! Julain: Alright Jared, Jennifer, what we have
here is two venn diagrams. The one over here on the left is what each of you thinks the
other person needs and the one on the right is what you each said you yourselves need.
Julain: So looking over all this information seeing that you kind of seem to understand
what each other needs, how do you think that affects your relationship with each other?
P3: I think that’s probably why we’re such good friends and that’s why it’s easy being
friends! P1: That’s why we’re staying good friends!
Julian: Is there anything specific that you guys get out of male female relationships
that you don’t get out of relationships with members of the same sex.
P5: Yeah! P2: Just a different perspective, a different
point of view. P3: Because I really don’t know.
P1: We’ve had these conversations. P3: What’s going through dude’s brains and
I feel like Alex, what does this weird thing mean.
P5: In my female relationships I can be emotional and they get it whereas like I think of like
going out to lunch with my guy friends and they’re like “hm, what’s up man.”
Julian: Why do you think a lot of people seem to have difficulty with male female friendships?
P1: Sex! P3: Sex, yeah.
P6: Self-control. P2: Sex.
P8: Because hormones! P7: Hormones, yeah!
P6: Yeah, I think really it comes down to a matter of self-control and respecting the
other person so much. P8: You don’t need to try to stick your thing
in everything. P7: Thank you!
P8: It complicates things! P2: Just because one person might be attracted
to the other person, you know, doesn’t mean that you have to act on it, you know, if you
value their friendship enough. P6: That’s the big part is momentary pleasure,
does that defeat long-term rewarding fulfilling relationships.
Julian: What we found was really interesting. Not only did almost all of these cross-sex
friends feel some attraction towards each other, they had openly discussed it and then
opted to continue the friendship without moving into a romantic relationship. Why? Because
they realized the benefits of these particular friendships outweighed those of a relationship.
Julian: Are there benefits to just being friends that you don’t get out of a relationship?
P3: Yeah, because there’s less of a responsibility I guess.
P2: With boyfriends I feel like it’s always, the relationship lets talk about the relationship,
whats up with the relationship, the next level. With you it’s like whatever, it just is what
it is. There’s not a lot of maintenance that I have to do to maintain a friendship with
you besides just being myself. P5: I’m low-maintenance.
P4: In romantic relationships where there is sex involved a lot of times a lot of it
gets shifted and put heavily on sex. To where with Jennifer and I there’s no sex involved
there is so much focus on a lot of these things that we both pick because that is what we
share together and all of the intensity stays right there.
P2: I love that I don’t want to have sex with you. I wake up everyday “Thank god I don’t
want to have sex with you” so that we can keep being friends! And you’re able to fight
you’re attraction of me. P5: Yeah, I’m able to fight my attraction
to her that I can’t bare. P2: Are you attracted to me at all?
P5: Yeah! P2: Is this a question? I just want to know.
P5: I mean I think you’re attractive. Julian: Has there ever been an attraction
between you two? P3: I’m totally attracted to you, he’s like
a beautiful person! P6: Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean
you have to engage in it. P4: And we are open about it, like it’s not
something we try and act like doesn’t exist because any time you try and suppress any
emotion or anything you’re thinking it ends up just bubbling up and being even worse that
what it originally is. P7: I think just having trust and just being
open and just going with it, in todays time, you want a good friendship with the opposite
sex. Julian: Attraction only breaks a friendship
if you let it. Feeling attracted to somebody isn’t your choice, but addressing it is. The
key isn’t to repress it, but to acknowledge that it exists. Whether or not you confess
it to them, it’s totally your call, but so is letting it stop you from having friends
of the opposite sex. So figure out what you both need out of the friendship by considering
how it looks from the other person’s side. It’s worth it for you to understand what’s
in it for them. I’m Julian, and this has been the Science
of Love! SoulPancake,