Humans are social creatures and thrive on close social and personal contact and relationships. This being the case, friends are vital for everyone. There are various criteria governing friendship such as proximity in age, shared hobbies and interests, a similar cultural or family background, world view and the like. Some would like to include gender in this list as well yet they are seriously mistaken; gender is irrelevant when forming friendships.
The cliche that men and women can’t be friends dates back to the period when the social status as well as the social standing of women was very different. In the past, women went to school for a much shorter period of time, did not work outside the home and certainly did not go to university. Their field of interest was considered to be the home and children so naturally, friendship in the modern sense was harder – there being little share. Nowadays, the lines between gender roles are becoming blurred with the dissapearance in the difference between levels of education and participation in the job market. The obvious result of all this is the ever widening common ground of interests. In a world like this, gender is irrelevant. The greater the level of industrialization and development in a country, the greater the possibility of friendship between men and women.
The misconception that all men or women see members of the opposite sex as potential mates is also linked to levels of industrialization and modernization. In western societies where women and men share healthy relationships in society, people don’t see the first person they meet of the opposite sex as a potential mate. Love and attraction in this sense is reserved for a specific individual who ticks a different set of boxes than a fellow worker or classmate of the opposite sex. To assume that men and women are ready to fall for any individual of the oppsite sex and therefore, cannot be friends is a gross oversimplification and completely wrong. This view is only prevelant in highly conservative and ultra religious societies governed by taboos and will disappear along with modernization just like it has in the Western world.
To cut a long story short, modernization and industrialization are changing the social roles and status of women in society and causing the sharp distinction between them to melt away. This ongoing process is making friendship between men and women just as normal as any other friendship and thus enriching people’s lives.