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The number of cross-sex friendships continues to decline with age—not surprising, because most older adults grew up in an age where consorting with the opposite sex outside of wedlock was taboo.
People with close friends of the opposite sex are often barraged with nudging, winking and skepticism: "Are you really just friends?In a study published in the , Sapadin asked more than 150 professional men and women what they liked and disliked about their cross-sex friendships. Men, on the other hand, more frequently replied that sexual attraction was a prime reason for initiating a friendship, and that it could even deepen a friendship.Either way, 62 percent of all subjects reported that sexual tension was present in their cross-sex friendships. But, O'Meara said, "in a culture where men have always been more equal than women, male dominance, prestige and power is baggage that both men and women are likely to bring to a relationship." Women are at risk of subconsciously adopting a more submissive role in cross-sex friendships, he said, although that is slowly changing as society begins to treat both genders more equally.But as people develop serious romantic relationships or get married, making and maintaining cross-sex friendships becomes harder."Even the most secure people in a strong marriage probably don't want a spouse to be establishing a new friendship, especially with someone who's very attractive," said Monsour.
Point to the jealousy that plagues many rational people when a significant other befriends someone of the opposite sex. "Now they work together and share sports interests and socialize together." This cultural shift has encouraged psychologists, sociologists and communications experts to put forth a new message: Though it may be tricky, men and women can successfully become close friends.