Physical and emotional criteria make the list of top survey responses.
Japan may be considered socially conservative by many western parameters, but even here, it’s not unusual or scandalous for a man and woman to have a friendly yet platonic relationship. But while a larger circle of friends is, in and of itself, a good thing, this can be a little confusing, since so many romances blossom out of what’s initially a “just friends” relationship.
A lot of time-tested date plans, such as going out to dinner or catching a movie, are also things platonic friends do together. So where does one draw the line between what makes a man and woman just pals or something more?
To investigate, Japanese survey website Minna no Koe asked how women differentiate between whether a guy is a platonic friend or a romantic partner. 1,194 responses were collected, and below are the top seven responses.
7. If he’s just a friend, I only contact him at reasonable hours (4 percent of respondents)
Calling to chat on a Sunday afternoon or sending an email after work to vent about your day seem pretty normal. But these respondents wouldn’t, for example, call a guy up for emotional support or conversational company in the middle of the night or when they know he’s busy unless they wanted him to be more than a friend.
6. If he’s just a friend, I don’t go all out trying to help him or make him happy. (6 percent)
A broad and perhaps calloused-sounding answer, but many would say that the limit of what they’re willing to do for a friend is lower than what they’d do for a lover.
5. If he’s just a friend, I won’t sleep in the same room as him. (8 percent)
Another broad choice, encompassing both staying over at a guy’s place and taking an overnight trip together.
4. If he’s just a friend, I won’t hang out with him one-on-one. (9 percent)
This might seem like a rather stuffy attitude, but it’s got roots in how socializing is generally done in Japan. Most people build their social circles around school clubs or work teams, both of which mean spending time together as a group. Because of that, if just the two of you meet up to hang out together, it often means you’ve made a conscious decision to exclude any other friends in the group, and these respondents said the significance of that choice points to romantic feelings.
3. If he’s just a friend, I don’t get jealous if he gets a girlfriend (13 percent)
If it’s pure friendship, those in this camp believe you shouldn’t mind if he starts seeing someone, because you weren’t after that part of his attention anyway.
2. If he’s just a friend, I won’t hold hands or have a lot of physical contact with him (24 percent)
Japan, for the most part, isn’t big on displays of physical affection. Even couples who are dating and married are generally less touchy-feely than their counterparts in many other countries, making it extremely unlikely that a guy and girl holding hands don’t have a thing for each other.
1. If he’s just a friend, I won’t have sex with him (29 percent)
The manner in which Minna no Koe phrased its question, “Where do you draw the line between a platonic male friend and a boyfriend?” makes things just a little complicated here. On the one hand, Japan isn’t so old-fashioned in its attitudes about sex that every woman assumes that she and a guy are a couple after they’ve slept together once (though there are plenty who do have that attitude). But at the same time, once you’ve done the deed, it’s pretty hard to argue that you’re nothing more than good buddies, which makes this response the obvious ranking-topper.
By the way, it’s also worth noting that the survey didn’t appear to allow multiple responses from the same participant, and so it’s safe to assume that those who wouldn’t hold hands with a platonic friend or text him in the middle of the night would also not sleep with a guy if he’s just a friend. In other words, while only 29 percent of the respondents said intercourse was where they draw the line, that doesn’t mean that 71 percent of Japanese women are down to get it on with their male friends with no strings attached, so if you’re a guy looking for a way to ease your horniness through math, you’ll have to try something else.
[ Read in Japanese ]