Picture of Dr. Linda Algazi, Ph.D


When Harry Met Sally, they disagreed. Harry said that men and women could never really be “friends” because sex always gets in the way.

Sally was outraged. “I’ve always had men friends,” she insisted.

What’s behind Harry’s thinking?

Harry would say that it all depends on what you mean by friendship. Certainly men and women can be friendly acquaintances, friendly coworkers, even casual kidding buddies. But friends in the sense of sharing intimate problems and secrets?

No, not without resolving the sexual problem first, according to Harry and most other men.

Either we absolutely will have sex, or we absolutely won’t. And men have a hard time accepting the “no.” If not, why not? If you find me so defective and inappropriate, lady, how can you possibly expect me to share my soul with you?

Harry would say that for the continuation of the species, it’s probably fortunate that men are programmed with the sexual drive they have. But it can be both glorious and very tough on women at times.

His genes are telling him unconsciously, that he ought to make a try for every attractive woman he runs across. His head tells him that often this is inappropriate. But his head doesn’t see any major reasons why this shouldn’t happen; her refusal diminishes him in an unconscious way. It was a battle, and she won. To be friends after this is to accept the conditions of her “victory.”

Men generally feel they are at war not only with women, but with every other man. He’s alone in this world, has to win it all on his own, and he isn’t going to give up his secrets, admit his weaknesses, except to somebody he can really trust, and then only under special circumstances.

This is one of the big reasons men marry. Somebody has finally totally surrendered herself to him and so, maybe, he feels that this is someone he can finally trust. He really needs this terrible ultimate concession on her part before he feels safe.

Good old Harry. He and a few other fellows often abuse her gift. He promises friendship and vulnerability if she’ll give sex, and then, he’ll even admit, he doesn’t always deliver.

Of course Harry knows that all this seems like nonsense to women. After all, they have close women friends, without sex. Why does it have to be different for a man? Harry insists that it is just because it is. It’s not just his nasty mind.

So, some of the greatest male-female friendships happen during sex. And some even after sex. The question has been resolved: “I didn’t reject you, I gave in, I loved you. But now we’ve agreed that it’s over. But you know you can still trust me.”

Harry might explain that sometimes there might be other great friendships without any sex, but that it was clear from the start that sex was inappropriate and in no way implied a rejection of him as a male. A great age difference, a great professional difference maybe (one a teacher, one a student).

Or there may be some circumstances where it is clear to the male that he has more to gain from this friendship even without sex. But these are rare exceptions — so great is the unconscious drive for and value of sex — like she can make him rich, or help him to become president.

Generally he figures there is always some woman who can both do this and go to bed.

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