"Boys and girls form their own gender groups in elementary school," explained Monsour."They learn their own ways of relating to each other.
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"She said, 'Do you think anyone else has the incredible friendship we do?
'" 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.
"People don't know what feelings are appropriate toward the opposite sex, unless they're what our culture defines as appropriate," said O'Meara.
According to Rosemary Blieszner, at Virginia Tech and author of There are proven—and apparent—distinct differences between female friendship and male friendship.