This question can raise up a good amount of debate, and it’s especially pertinent to young people today. Of course men and women should be friendly to one another. It’s healthy and good for one’s social circle to include both guys and girls. The interaction of men and women adds unique views and new experiences to life.
I can certainly remember several times when I’ve enjoyed interacting with other girls on a friendly basis. After spending a good amount of time with other guys, it can be a welcomed change of pace to be with girls that are friends. This was especially true for me during my teenage years when I went to an all-guys high school. However, spending a lot of one-on-one time with a female friend and having heart-to-heart conversations with her can create a sense of unneeded or unwanted intimacy between a guy and a girl. I'm not saying that a man and a woman who are friends should never have heart-to-heart conversations or express how they feel to one another. But if they intend to just be friends, continually sharing deep emotions with one another can start to blur the line between friendship and romance.
When guys and girls interact with one another, there’s bound to be a sexual charge at one time or another, whether it’s subtle or blatant. I feel like I can speak for many straight men and say an attractive woman is one of the greatest beauties in this world. Well, then, wouldn’t it be easier for men and women to just be friends if guys weren’t such "horn dogs"? I don’t think we should be alarmed by the tension that can be experienced in our nonromantic relationships with the opposite sex. Sexual urges are an integral part of our human nature. It’s just our biology at work. For instance, if a woman is interested in the same things a man is and she happens to be a dime, the common interests between those two will be that much more compelling to the man. This can definitely make it more difficult to have the mindset of being just friends with any such woman.
There’s also the matter of emotional intimacy between men and women. If a woman I know is happily dating a guy, I’ll be friendly with her but I know to limit my interactions and emotions towards her. If she had another close male friend, that could certainly complicate matters and not allow for a healthy situation. I also know of girls who are dating and want to have guy friends, but when those guy friends find out she has a boyfriend, they disregard her. That tells me they really aren’t interested in a true friendship with her and that maybe it’s best they leave her alone. Or perhaps they are just respecting her and don’t want to mess with her relationship. But I find it honorable if a guy can maintain a simple friendship with an attractive girl, even if he knows she’ll never have romantic feelings for him. A guy like that is a true friend, and it’s good to have guys and girls like that in our lives. We all want emotional intimacy, but you need to be careful when and whom you seek it out with.
So can men and women just be friends? The short answer is yes. You of course can be friends with anyone you please. But these male-female friendships can have an added level of complexity to them compared to same-sex friendships. It's healthy and necessary for men and women to have social interactions with one another. As I progress through my life, I hope to form friendly relationships with more women and I’d hope they’d come to see me as a good friend. What’s important is to find a middle ground where guys and girls can have healthy, friendly relationships without unduly crossing the lines of emotional and physical intimacy. I realize that romantic relationships often start out as friendships, and I’m not saying that shouldn’t happen. There’s a time of life and state of mind when that’s appropriate. When it comes to male-female relationships, I’m just saying it’s necessary to realize where people are at in their lives and to consider what they want or don’t want. It’s my hope that men and women will continue to learn the art of what it means to relate to one another in happy and healthy ways.