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Men and women: Just friends? Possible, difficult

Thursday - 7/19/2012, 6:24am  ET

when harry met sally Meg Rayn Billy Crystal
Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal debated the friendship question in 'When Harry Met Sally.' (Courtesy Photo)

Can men and women really just be friends? Post a comment in this story, comment on WTOP's Facebook Page or use #WTOPTalkback or #WTOP on Twitter.

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - It's an age-old question, and the answer may change at different times in your life.

Can men and women really JUST be friends?

In perhaps the most famous romantic comedy on the topic, Billy Crystal's character Harry Burns in "When Harry Met Sally" thinks not.

"Men and women can't be friends, because the sex part gets in the way."

Meg Ryan's Sally Albright countered she was living proof that plutonic relationships are possible, Harry offered that was impossible because she was physically attractive.

"No man can be friends with a women he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her," said Harry.

Geoffrey Greif, professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work and author of "Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships" thinks men-women friendships are possible, with caveats.

"It tends to be more common when the men and women don't find each other especially physically attractive," Greif said.

In the Lifewise blog, Greif says the number of new male-female friendships drops off after marriage.

"It's much less likely that my wife is going to tolerate over the course of years my having opposite-sex friends, whereas she will probably accept (my female friends) as part of the package when we first get married," Greif said.

Here's the scene where Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan talked about friendship in "When Harry Met Sally":

Here's the infamous "faking it" segment from "When Harry Met Sally":

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)