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Platonic friendships can be tricky

Q: I recently met an awesome guy at a party. There is no chemistry or attraction at all, but I really enjoy spending time with him, and I'd like to be platonic friends. My girlfriends tell me that it's impossible to be "just friends" with a single guy when you're a single girl, and that just because I don't feel a spark, it doesn't mean he doesn't want more from me. Do you think that men and women can really be just friends?

-- D.P. - West Seneca

A: In the famous movie "When Harry Met Sally," Harry (Billy Crystal) says "men and women can't be friends -- the sex part always gets in the way." In fact, a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology estimates that male/female friendships result in affairs roughly 15 percent of the time.

Humans are sexual beings by nature, and any time a single female and a single male meet one another, the brain automatically tunes in to the thought of attraction and desire. Is this person attractive to me, and someone I want to pursue romantically?

For you, the answers to these questions initially are no, and unless you've had a conversation with this new friend about his intentions, you have no idea what his answers are to those same questions.

Opposite-sex friendships get in the way particularly when one person becomes involved in a relationship. Since strictly platonic friendships of this nature so rarely occur, many men and women are not accepting of their partner's friendships with the opposite sex. In other instances, when a male friend is interested in being more than friends, he will distance himself from his female friend when she begins dating another man, or he will disappear from her life completely.

It's not impossible for men and women to be just friends, but it's an area where you should tread carefully, and be aware of his behavior toward you.

> Stuck in a rut

Q: I've been dating a guy for a few months, and most of our dates are just eating, or watching a movie. I keep suggesting doing some fun, inexpensive indoor and outdoor activities, but he doesn't feel like doing any of them. I feel he is a little selfish sometimes. I like watching movies, but I don't want to do this every time I go out with him. I want to have fun with him! How can I fix this?

-- L.R. - Buffalo

A: It sounds like the two of you are incompatible on a very fundamental level. He seems content with his inactive lifestyle and is probably not likely to change. For some couples, this obstacle can be overcome with compromise, but you've clearly stated that he is not open to anything you suggest.

You have to determine whether this is something you can live with, and if it's not, you will grow to resent him. Being at least willing to try new things is a must for a lot of people, so you shouldn't feel bad about being frustrated with this situation.

I'd suggest having a talk with him about it. Let him know that activity and adventure is something that you need from a relationship, and it is something that you're not getting from him. What he says will help you determine whether the relationship is worth continuing.

Patti Novak owns Buffalo Niagara Introductions ( E-mail questions to and include your initials and hometown.

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