Do you have an opposite-sex friend? Slate wants to hear from you.

The inner workings of Slate.
Jan. 4 2010 12:48 PM

The Platonic Friendship Project

Do you have a good friend of the opposite sex? Slate wants to hear from you.

If the most famous line in When Harry Met Sally… is "I'll have what she's having," the most famous assertion is that men and women can never be friends. "The sex part," according to Harry, "always gets in the way." Although Sally vehemently protests this claim, Harry turns out to be right. After a decades-long friendship, sex does get in the way, and then it's just a matter of time before Harry and Sally's relationship goes from platonic to romantic.

Harry's pessimism is seconded not only by the outcome of Nora Ephron's film but by the American entertainment industry as a whole. Sam Malone and Diane Chambers get together on Cheers; in My Best Friend's Wedding, Julianne realizes she's in love with her closest friend the day he announces he's marrying someone else; even Mulder and Scully ultimately find themselves in the sack. Duckie and Andie may never kiss in Pretty in Pink, but Duckie wishes they did.

Advertisement

In the real world, however, Harry seems to have it all wrong. I know, because I've experienced such friendships and have seen them all around me. And while the overwhelming majority of academic friendship studies focus on same-sex rather than cross-sex pairings, there is evidence to suggest that men and women can, and do, keep "the sex part" at bay.

Over the next several months, I'll be researching male-female friendships for a project I'm writing for Slate. I'll be looking into the history of such friendships, the science of why such relationships might form and of how they work, and the depiction of male-female friendship in our popular culture.

I'm also looking for research subjects: men and women who are close friends and nothing more. If you have a close friend of the opposite sex and might be willing to fill out a short survey and share your story, please write to me at platonicfriendproject@gmail.com. In your e-mail, include your age, gender, and the city and state you're writing from. Please also mention whether you have one or multiple friends of the opposite sex. I look forward to hearing your stories.

Become a fan of Slate on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Juliet Lapidos is a former Slate associate editor.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Natasha Lyonne Is Coming to the Live Culture Gabfest. Are You?

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
Behold
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Honcho Says Celebs Who Keep Nude Photos in the Cloud Are “Stupid”
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 2 2014 9:19 AM Alibaba’s Founder on Why His Company Is Killing It in China
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Oct. 2 2014 10:42 AM The Hanging Coffins of Sagada
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 2 2014 10:36 AM How Bad Will Adam Sandler’s Netflix Movies Be?
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 2 2014 9:49 AM In Medicine We Trust Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?