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'" He decided to find out, and after reviewing the scant existing research, O'Meara identified the following challenges to male-female friendship: defining it, dealing with sexual attraction, seeing each other as equals, facing people's responses to the relationship and meeting in the first place. In it, Heidi Reeder, at Boise State University, confirmed that "friendship attraction" or a connection devoid of lust, is a bona fide type of bond that people experience.
Distinguishing between romantic, sexual and friendly feelings, however, can be exceedingly difficult.
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"You're trying to do a friend-friend thing," said O'Meara, "but the male-female parts of you get in the way." Unwelcome or not, the attraction is difficult to ignore.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.To that end, social scientists like Sapadin, Monsour and O'Meara have studied how to do just that.