This research was an investigation into four challenges purported to confront cross-sex friends. One hundred and thirty eight individuals (females = 86, males = 52) completed two surveys designed to explore the extent to which the “sexual,” “emotional bond,” “audience,” and “equality” challenges were present in their cross-sex friendships. Over 98% of the participants were heterosexual, 99% were Caucasian, and approximately 5% were Hispanic. Data gathered from the first survey were analyzed using a three-way analysis of variance, with gender, type of friendship, and romantic status as the independent variables, and three of the four challenges as the dependent variables. The first survey also included open-ended questions designed to explore the nature and existence of the challenges. The second survey was in a diary format. Respondents kept a frequency count for three weeks of discussions they had with their cross-sex friend concerning the challenges, and thoughts that they had as individuals concerning those challenges. Results from both surveys indicate that though the challenges exist and have powerful effects on a small percentage of individuals in cross-sex friendships, for the majority of participants the challenges are not perceived as salient.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Abbey, A. (1982). Sex differences in attributions for friendly behavior: Do males misperceive females' friendliness?Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42, 830–838.
Bell, R. (1981).Worlds of friendship. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Bem, S. L. (1981). Gender schema theory: A cognitive account of sex typing.Psychological Review, 88, 354–364.
Brain, R. (1976).Friends and lovers. New York: Basic Books.
Chafetz, J. S. (1974).Masculine/feminine or human? Itasca, IL: Peacock.
Clark, M. S., & Mills, J. (1979). Interpersonal attraction in exchange and communal relationships.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 12–24.
Lepp, I. (1966).The ways of friendship. New York: Macmillan.
Lipman-Blumen, J. (1976). Toward a homosocial theory of sex-roles: An explanation of the sex segregation of social institutions. In M. M. Blaxall & B. Reagan (Eds.),Women and the workplace. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Monsour, M. (1988).Cross-sex friendships in a changing society (Doctoral Dissertation, University of Illinois-Champaign, 1988).Dissertation Abstracts International.
Monsour, M. (1992). Meanings of intimacy in cross and same-sex friendships.Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 9, 277–295.
Monsour, M., Betty, S., & Kurzweil, N. (1993). Levels of perspectives and the perception of intimacy in cross-sex friendships: A balance theory explanation of shared perceptual reality.Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 10, 529–550.
O'Meara, D. (1989). Cross-sex friendship: Four basic challenges of an ignored relationship.Sex Roles, 21, 525–543.
Paine, R. (1974). An exploratory analysis in “middle class” culture. In E. Leyton (Ed.),The compact. Newfoundland social and economic papers No. 3, Institute of Social and Economic Research. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Perlman, D., & Fehr, B. (1986). Theories of friendship: the analysis of interpersonal attraction. In V. J. Derlega and B. A. Winstead (Eds.),Friendship and social interaction. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Rawlins, W. K. (1992).Friendship matters: Communication, dialectics, and the life course. New York: Walter de Gruyter.
Rawlins, W. K. (1982). Cross-sex friends and the communicative management of sex-role expectations.Communication Quarterly, 30, 343–352.
Roberts, M. K. (1982). Men and women: partners, lovers, friends. In K. E. Davis and T. O. Mitchell (Eds.),Advances in descriptive psychology, 2, 57–78.
Rubin, L. (1985).Just friends. New York: Harper & Row.
Sapadin, L. (1988). Friendship and gender: Perspectives of professional men and women.Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 5, 387–403.
Shotland, R. L., & Craig, J. M. (1988). Can men and women differentiate between friendly and sexually interested behavior?Social Psychology Quarterly, 51, 66–73.
Synder, M. (1974). The self-monitoring of expressive behavior.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30, 526–537.
Synder, M., & Gangestad, S. (1986). On the nature of self-monitoring: matters of assessment, matters of validity.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 125–139.
Wright, P. H. (1988). Interpreting research on gender differences in friendship: A case for moderation and a plea for caution.Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 5, 367–373.
About this article
Cite this article
Monsour, M., Harris, B., Kurzweil, N. et al. Challenges confronting cross-sex friendships: “Much ado about nothing?”. Sex Roles 31, 55–77 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01560277
- Social Psychology
- Frequency Count
- Powerful Effect
- Emotional Bond
- Diary Format