YouGov Friendship Study Part Four: Friendship and gender - can men and women be friends?

Milan DinicResearch Manager
December 16, 2021, 10:15 AM UTC

Eight in ten (84%) Britons think that (heterosexual) men and women can be just friends, while just 6% think they cannot, and this view is shared by both men and women.

Among heterosexuals themselves, 7% of straight men and 6% of straight women think members of opposite genders cannot be ‘just friends’. One in 10 heterosexual Britons say they are not sure whether friendships between men and women are possible.

Half (51%) of British men say that most of their friends are male, and two thirds (67%) of British women say the majority of their friends are female.

Men (36%) are more likely than women (27%) to have an equal number of male and female friends.

And twice as many men (10%) as women (5%) say that the majority of their friends are of the opposite gender.

Younger men are more likely than older men to say most of their friends are women: 17% of men aged 16-24 have mostly female friends, compared to 9% of men in their 30s and 40s, and 11% of men in their 60s or older. Women across all age groups are less likely than men to say most of their friends are the opposite gender.

Half of both men (51%) and women (52%) think it’s equally easy or difficult to make friends with someone, regardless of their gender.  Women are twice as likely to find it easy to make friends with women (29%) than men (14%), while men are correspondingly more likely to say they find it easy to make friends with men (26%) rather than women (17%).

The older people get, the more likely they are to think that it is equally easy to make friends with both genders: from 23% among 16-24-year-olds to 51% among those 60 or older.

See full results here