Sex Roles

, Volume 21, Issue 7–8, pp 525–543 | Cite as

Cross-sex friendship: Four basic challenges of an ignored relationship

  • J. Donald O'Meara


Cross-sex friendship is a generally ignored yet significant close relationship in American culture. This paper is primarily a call to social scientists for attention to this relationship. The paper discusses the reasons for a lack of attention to this close relationship, and delineates the significance of cross-sex friendship as a focus of analysis for social scientists interested in the field of personal relationships. An initial exploration of the nature of cross-sex friendship is achieved through a conceptualization of the major relationship challenges that cross-sex friends must negotiate. These challenges are (1) determining the type of emotional bond experienced in the relationship, (2) confronting the issue of sexuality, (3) dealing with the issue of relationship equality within a cultural context of gender inequality, and (4) the challenge of public relationships—presenting the relationship as authentic to relevant audiences. The paper concludes by recommending several principles and avenues of future research to begin a research tradition on this significant yet ignored personal relationship.


Social Scientist Social Psychology Cultural Context Personal Relationship Gender Inequality 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Donald O'Meara
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Cincinnati—Raymond Walters CollegeUSA

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