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This story is from The Pulsea weekly health and science podcast.
Subscribe on Apple PodcastsStitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. Steve Lehman was a college senior near Philadelphia when he started to realize something wonderful and terrifying. He was looking over at Katya Shipyatsky, a senior at a different, nearby school. He was afraid. But again, this was senior year, and life is short. Things finally came to a head one night as they finished watching a Bruce Springsteen documentary on Netflix. The Boss said something beautiful about life and love to end the movie.
Both of them cried as the credits rolled, and she was struck by how moved he was. Heterosexual cross-sex friendships are common but a relatively recent thing in most societies, says Heidi Reeder, a communication professor at Boise State University. Throughout most of history, men and women have been kept relatively separate, she said. Within the cross-sex friendship, Reeder said, there are basically four types of initial attraction that can occur. The last two are types of physical attraction. She thought he was just so cool. She initially had a kind of mini-crush.
But neither knew that about the other. They were forming a cool friend group between their dorms; both quietly figured a romantic relationship would just muck things up. Folks report a strange freedom in cross-sex friendships, she said: Guys get more vulnerable, reveal Aa couple looking for friends in relationships of their inner lives, and women shed the caring listener role. Steve and Katya described the same summer in Philadelphia. It was all art museums, and parks, and often it was just the two of them. Katya called their time together liberating.
She actually predicts nursing homes in the not-too-distant future will have more and richer cross-sex friends as a mix of greater sex equality meets an aging generation with no real taboo against it. Much of it is a mystery, but Eastwick has learned a lot studying couples and holding experimental speed-dating events. First off, Eastwick learned that first impressions are all about looks — both men and women made a big deal about physical attractiveness in choosing who they might want to date.
And even those who did go on to see each other again, probably started seeing each other differently. The looks are still there, but Eastwick said the looks have been twisted by other stuff. He calls this the degrading attractive consensus and it can be positive or negative. Katya, for instance, eventually forgot about how cool Steve looked in all that denim. Instead, she saw how kind he could be. He said most romantic relationships do tend to bubble out of your friend or acquaintance group, people you know for a while, people you may call friends.
It may be surprising because apps are starting to change this dynamic.
The low success rate in his speed-dating events offer a clue as to why so many people find dating apps exhausting. Back to Steve and Katya. They really know each other. Yet Reeder, the communication professor at Boise State, brought up something more important than that: simple timing, dumb luck. But Steve, back in that Netflix glow, had already staked his position, put his cards on the table.
No turning back. Said she had to think about it. And then they went on winter break. A few days became a week, one week became two. What if this relationship failed and she lost a boyfriend and her best friend. A lot was a stake for her, too. Bill Rawlins, a communications professor at Ohio University, has studied friendship since the s, and he could have shared some comforting science. He said the hierarchy of friends being below or less intense than lovers is meaningless. One is not more anything than the other in his mind, but there is an interplay. Instead, he said, friends are more likely to be open, to say what they want to say, and to give each other what he calls two gifts.
Steve and Katya did just that. After a short semester and summer together as a couple, each moved abroad, to Spain and Russia respectively. The second gift?
Do you regret not saying how you felt earlier, spending those years together as just friends? Go on an adventure into unexpected corners of the health and science world each week with award-winning host Maiken Scott. The painful path of friend break ups. How can we approach that in a way that minimizes damage — and le to healing? Vivid dreams and their role in waking life.
Many people practice remembering their dreams to help with clarity, creativity, or problem solving. As kids, we all experience an amnesia that baffled science for decades. Meanwhile, Steve was seconds from telling her everything. And Katya? Steve Lehman and Katya Shipyatsky. Katya was a real introvert before college, and actually, so was Steve. The more their friendship developed, the more interesting it got.
The relationship shift Why do some friends become more? He studies how romantic relationships start. Image courtesy of Steve Lehman Much of it is a mystery, but Eastwick has learned a lot studying couples and holding experimental speed-dating events. Kindness beats cool. Steve started doing the mental prep work for the no. She told him over FaceTime. The first is just luck, matched affinity for each other — and they happened to meet. Hard no. Share this Facebook Twitter. Brought to you by The Pulse.
The Pulse Go on an adventure into unexpected corners of the health and science world each week with award-winning host Maiken Scott. Why is it that some friendships develop into something romantic? The painful path of friend break ups You may also like.
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