Can Women and Men Be Friends? Steve Harvey Says No

by Geneva S. Thomas

Black America’s faux relationship expert, and the latest cover boy of Essence magazine, made a recent appearance on CNN and officially declared platonic relationships a fallacy.

According the 53-year-old comedian turned radio host, women and men can’t be friends. Harvey told CNN that he’s incapable of having female friends. In promotion of his latest book, Straight Talk No Chaser: How to Find, Keep, and Understand a Man, Harvey says this about women’s male friends:

“He’s your friend only because you have made it absolutely clear that nothing else is happening except this friendship we have. We remain your friend in hopes that one day there will be a crack in the door, a chink in the armor and trust and believe that guy that you think is your friend will slide in that crack the moment he gets the opportunity. Cause we’re guys.” Harvey claims that this is the case with women’s male friends 99.9 percent of the time.

Once again, Harvey struts his unempirical “cause we’re men” unsubstantiated relationship advice, and major networks like CNN takes it all in. I know loads of women and men who are genuine friends; they have a sturdy respect for each other, and wouldn’t dare cross the line.

But what do you say? Can women and men truly be friends? Or is a male friend, like Harvey says, only waiting for the opportunity to make a move?

Can women and men be friends? Sound off!

  • Sweetilocks

    Hmmm, maybe that’s why he’s had so many successful marriages. Wait, ummm? Yeah. Exactly!

  • Miss Jae

    While Steve Harvey isn’t capable of being friends with women, that’s not the same for everyone. Just because Mr. Harvey has seen the light and gotten married, doesn’t make him the spokesman for relationships. It’s one thing for mainstream media to fall for this bull—-. For Essence to not only fall for this, but put Mr. Harvey on the cover reminds me of why I stopped reading the magazine long ago.

  • Chante’l

    I am about tired of Steve Harvey.

  • dvine

    unless he is God, then sorry but Mr. Steve Harvey doesn’t hold all the answers.. I value his opinion but it is just that, an opinion.. what he says is not LAW!

  • jazzyphile

    He’s right, for the most part.

  • Krys

    While I don’t consider Mr. Harvey a true relationship guru by any means, I believe he has a very valid point. Mature, responsible men and women CAN remain friends but in my opinion and experience there will always be a point in the friendship that one or both parties consider the “what if…?”. I have had several male friends that I have never crossed that line with BUT have wondered what dating them would be like and vice versa. And, with a lot of male/female friendships, I believe that the woman is the deciding factor on how far things will go. A vast majority of men would be willing to consumate a friendship if given the opportunity.

  • Stephen Kearse

    Just because he sexualizes all women, that doesn’t mean all other dudes do. An analogous argument would be, “I think rainbows are pretty. 99.9% of all guys think rainbows are pretty.”

    I appreciate the fact that author refers to him as Black America’s “faux relationship expert,” because the damn truth.

  • hehe

    so just because you want to sleep with your friend doesn’t make it a valid relationship?

  • Jencendiary

    Steve Harvey’s opinion isn’t worth the bandwidth it’s broadcast on. If women want to keep relying on these old cliches instead of demanding men treat them like equals, good luck with that.

  • zy

    BINGO! This is precisely why we shouldn’t take a damn thing he says seriously. Steve Harvey speaks for HIMSELF and then generalizes it for all men. It’s ridiculous. Why people buy into his foolishness is beyond me and the way white America has praised him for his “expertise” is a joke.

  • jay

    I think everyone who has many failed relationship can be considered an expert to some extent. Sometimes, WE, women hate the truth that certain men give us. I don’t understand why Steve Harvey is constantly under attack. He is a trife dude who probably know trife dudes that women constantly make excuses for. This comment wasn’t really articulated properly.. but I think I see the point he is trying to make. I would possibly add- married men should not acquire new female friends (outside relationships they have at work). My momma even told me that one. It adds to the entire – men are sexual beings – they cannot fight temptation as easy as women ! Fact! Put your man in certain scenarios expecting different results is plain dumb!

  • jay

    I don’t think his advice is for black men only. It should be for ALL men.
    I think generalizations are bad..but we gotta pay attention to themes. I don’t think he is preaching anything none of haven’t heard . Is it bad because he is a man?
    If we support other relationship gurus, why can’t we respect Steve? I think he is experienced enough.

  • Ebonylolita

    Despite his own personal flaws I agree with Steve Harvey. I don’t know why ppl are citing his failed marriages as a reason that EVERYTHING he says is invalid. I have not heard one piece of advice from him that wasn’t something my mother/grandmother told me growing up. Truthfully, Steve’s regurgitating “MotherWit” A lot of women might not respect it but I find it to be true!!

    Here’s an Example: “If I see your leg is bleeding and tell you to seek help & bandage it are you NOT going to take my advice b/c I’m “Not a Doctor?” No, you’re going to seek help & bandage it b/c it’s sound advice. Now as a woman I recognize that the truth might not come from who I expect it to come from but it’s the Truth nevertheless.

  • MahoganySol

    Isn’t he on his third marriage? How can anyone take advice from someone who has had so many unsuccessful relationships. And I know that many of us have had unsuccessful relationships, but the difference is that I am not offering advice to America when I haven’t even got it right myself.

    Anyway, I think its a common misconception that men and women can’t be platonic friends, but I don’t believe that. Even if there is some attraction there initially, but you guys decide to never act on it then that is platonic. Platonic doesn’t mean there isn’t a slight attraction, but when to individuals respect that friendship enough to exercise some control then it is possible.

  • Alexandra

    Funny opening sentence. I disagree and agree.
    Some people can’t be friends with the opposite sex and some can. Even if there is some attraction, it can still work; once you get to know the person. It happens some times.

  • brook

    Context is everything. You can be friends with siblings or cousins of the opposite sex, because sex is automatically excluded from the equation. Same thing (hopefully) goes for church and work friends. I can’t think of any of my oldest childhood friends in that way for similar reasons. If the limits are there, it’s fairly easy to have platonic friendships. If they aren’t, maturity and mutual respect fill in nicely.
    Many w/m think of every m/w they meet as a potential romantic partner, others don’t. Considering it doesn’t necessarily make the friendship null and void. Sometimes exes make good friends.

    Harvey’s response isn’t surprising though. His persona, attitude and lifestyle don’t seem to lend themselves to making edifying female relationships. He has a right to give his advice, but his lack of self-awareness is embarrassing.

  • ensight_1

    I really don’t like Steve Harvey, and his latest statement is one of the reasons why. Could men and women be friends before he got married? I think so!

  • sweet pinky

    it’s “chink in the armor” not “cheek in the arm”.

  • BoomShots

    As a man with more women friends than men, I must not exist in Steve Harvey’s world view. yeah, I am not gay either. Some of those women have been exes and some I never dated or had an interest in dating.
    Are they all close friends, no they are not but many of them I have fairly good relationships with and one particularly, an ex we share a lot of our lives.

    Harvey is not an anomaly because there are many men and women who share that view, his real problem is because he believes it he then thinks it to be true. But then there is a lot of things he believes about himself and thinks to be true which are not.

    This view of men as sexual predators is one I have seen in some men and held by some women. I enjoy sex immensely but I don’t walk out the door thinking every woman is a potential conquest and all she has to do is give me an opening and I will get in there. Maybe that is why a man like that needs to be married so many times because he has a very altered view of woman and the role they play in his world. Which excludes them being actual friends….

  • sunshyne84

    mm hmm

  • Tomi Ogundayo

    On the contrary, it is I who does the using (I have a gaggle of guy friends that I’ve collected by means of U.S.T hahaha), but no, I do believe it is possible to enjoy the company of the opposite sex without ulterior motives.

    But it’d be a lie to say I wasn’t attracted to my closest male friends.

  • African Mami

    That’s HIS opinion. Not the gospel truth.

  • BFS

    I do not think Black women should listen to this man.

  • Tlynnsmith

    How many times has this dude been married? What makes him a “relationship expert”? I’m so sick and tired of everybody jumpin’ on the “relationship help” bandwagon. Steve Harvey annoys me. Always has.

    With that said, l’ll also say this: I believe women and men have a hard time with being “just friends” in general. It’s not impossible, but it’s not super common. I have never been approached (asked out) by a man, who wanted just my “friendship”. I have male friends, but they developed out of a working/ministry relationship. We got to know each other, by working together towards a common goal.

    I believe whenever a man and woman find themselves in a close “just friends” relationship, at some time at least one of the two has thought about the other as a… possible significant other. Perhaps the timing was wrong, or things just didn’t line up, for whatever reason. But it’s very easy to find yourself attracted to someone (who you may not have given the time of day, if you’d seen them at “the club”) after puttin’ in several “non-romantic” hours of getting to know them, instead of spending a few hours trying to get them into bed.

  • satyu

    wow ..this ignorant

  • Samantha

    I wish Steve Harvey would sit down and shut up! Being divorced three times does not make him a relationship expert. But he has a point on this one. Every guy (save 1 in the 8th grade) that has befriended me I learn was waiting for a chance to date me. When I made it clear I only wanted friendship, the guy disappears. But my mom told me this so it’s not like Mr. Harvey didn’t say anything I didn’t already know.

  • me

    If we ignore him then hopefully he’ll go away! ::crosses fingers & toes::

    I’m so over Steve Harvey spewing nonsense to the masses!


  • binks

    Steve Harvey irks me, I don’t know why some people listen to him who die and made him a guru for relationships? The so called knowledge he drops is elementary at best and out dated. Can women and men be friends of course, some people can have friends of the opposite sex that is strictly platonic sure their might be some attraction there but that is not to say that the two people will always act on it or want a relationship out of said friendship, some do and some don’t. I think people benefit for having friends from all walks of life i think it is stupid to say that girls should only have girl friends and boys should on have boy friends that is so childish

  • Wood

    That’s the point he’s trying to make. Each and everyone was interested. The other one was probably not interested in any woman..

  • Savoy

    Steve is making so much money off of this crap is peddling its ridiculous.

    Never mind the fact that he’s on his third marriage, I just think taking relationship advice from anyone other than a trained counselor is dangerous. Nobody has all the answers and there is no such thing as a perfect relationship. If people knew so much the divorce rate wouldn’t be 54%. At least a therapist is trained in human behavior and social conditions. Steve is making a lot of money and some black women are hanging on his every world like it’s gospel. Hilarious.

  • michele

    Steve says sounds like he gets his information out the barber shop. As for me I have male friends that are just that friends; we laugh, talk, go out and that’s it one is even my sounding board when I need it. It’s strictly a plutonic relationship now I think when two parties are not mature enough then yes there might be a problem.

    For the person that said everyone that has had a failed relationship to an extent is an expert so does that mean everyone should be writing books? Just because you failed at something doesn’t mean that you know any better. I only made it through a statistic class by a wing in a prayer does that mean I should write a book?

    Who died and left this man in charge of telling women about relationships. If this is who women are taking advice from these days I truly feel for the men.

  • yoyoyo

    Shoo…can Women be friends with each other? Friendships are HARD no matter what the gender. Steve Harvey needs to STFU, he’s such an opportunist.

  • Clnmike

    Steve is mostly right, there are different levels of friendship and the strongest bonds are the ones you share with your homeboys or your homegirls, those circles the opposite sex is not allowed in. If you don’t share everything with the opposite sex that you would with the same sex friend then your not friends, if you did you would be married. People mistake true friends with associates and being friendly. Steve is right he just didn’t explain it well.

  • Kema

    I agree with a previous poster whose thought was “so just because you want to sleep with your friend doesn’t make it a valid relationship?”

    I dont feel like that makes our friendship any less valid. That kind of thinking is only valid if after you realize you could never ‘get in’ you then decided to not befriend the person.

  • Dimaati

    I disagree with you Clnmike as well as Steve Harvey.

    Some men & women aren’t mature enough to have long lasting plutonic friendships with the opposite gender, but they do happen. What I’ve come to realize is that most people that believe men & women aren’t able to have a plutonic friendships because they aren’t mature or responsible for themselves when it comes to having those types of associations. Not saying that’s you but Steve Harvey seems to have proven his immaturity.

  • 3 D.O.L.L.S.

    Men and women can ABSOLUTELY be friends! I have two male friends that I’ve known for years. I go to them for advice just like I would go to my female friends, and it’s always interesting to see how different their male perspectives are from the female perspectives I get from my girls! I wouldn’t trade them in for anything and not once have we ever tried to cross the line and be more than friends.

  • Sweetilocks

    @Jay, He’s basically claiming that all men think as simple-mindedly as he. That he cannot have a relationship with a woman without wanting sex. It says a lot about how Steve Harvey functions in his relationships, but it definitely does not speak for all men. Granted, I have known many men who think just like him! Thus, I don’t have as many male friends as I would like to.

    I’ve found from personal experience that as soon as they started having sex, I lost all my male friends (when I was younger). Later on, I found that very few men wanted to be my friend because they were attracted to me. I can’t say I have any male BEST friends, but I do have male friends and we are cool because we don’t look at each other like that. It takes a lot of maturity, which is lacking in most folks’ relationships, thus they can’t handle platonic friendships.

    People must realize that there are different types of attraction. You can be attracted to someone’s personality, you may even find them physically attractive, and NOT want to have sex with them. People get too hung up on sex as if it’s the end all, be all, as if it’s the only connection you can have to the opposite sex. Clearly it’s not, otherwise we’d all be pedophiles and inbreeders. Think about it.

  • Mimi

    You know, if I were a man, I’d be offended by that comment. Is he saying that he’s not evolved enough to have a female friend because all he wants to do with females is have sex with them? Is that all we’re good for? Isn’t the majority of the people on his radio show women? While I don’t conisder my co-workers friends, I did read an article where one of the women on the show said she considers Steve to be a friend. I guess he doesn’t consider her to be his friend because he’d have to bang her if he did. If I were his wife I’d be concerned.

    Also, who are the desperate, lonely women who are supporting this man by buying his books? While taste is subjective, I’ve never found him to be funny, entertaining or enlightening. If anyone is taking advice from this guy who basically says things that any teenage girl should know, I’d advise them to spend their money on a professional to help them instead of someone as immature and illogical as Steve.

  • Tami

    I know I’m in the minority here, but I agree with Steve Harvey…I like him because he makes sense to me. There seems to be a sexual attraction with guys that I associate myself with. Why try & make that into a friendship & down play our attraction toward each other? I hear about friendships between men & women all the time…but even with some of my girlfriends, they settle for being friends because the guy is involved or simply not that interested. I see the same situation even with men. It’s like people try to sugar coat how they feel & settle…Steve Harvey is not wrong. He’s entitled to his own opinion just like the rest of us.

  • Jencendiary

    Are you saying that friendship with someone you can’t have sex with is a consolation prize? I feel sorry for you (and Steve Harvey) then. Some of the most rewarding friendships I have are with men and women who are otherwise committed. We work together on collaborative projects for the history group I volunteer in, care about the same hobbies & games, and fill our time with activities and conversations that have nothing to do with a romantic entanglement

    The world does not revolve around sex, as nice as it is to have around.

  • Tlynnsmith

    Why is friendship “settling”? That’s absurd. Friendship is the higher level, sex is the lower. We can’t have sex all the time, cuz life happens: Jobs, illness, financial woes, death, and all manner of mayhem that makes true friendship much more valuable, and powerful. Now, if/when romance enters the equation, that makes it all the better. But it’s not the sex/romance that’s the goal, at least not for me…although I understand the current social climate.

    Now, I think folks missed some of Steve’s points – I disagree with most of what he said, but a couple of things rang true for me: Men (especially) and women don’t usually INITIATE contact with the opposite sex, for the purpose of “friendship”. People can find themselves in a friendship, because the presence of/lack of sexual/physical attraction is not the focus. It’s not an issue, because something else has pushed it to the background.

  • Isis

    Steve’s theories are funny but I’m inclined to agree. What he’s saying kinda reminds me of the ladder theory. The ladder theory basically says only under 3 conditions can a guy truly be friends with a girl ; he’s gay, doesn’t find the girl attractive or he already has someone (wife/girlfriend) who is much higher than you on the ladder. I don’t think it has anything to do with not being mature enough to handle friendship with a woman or being limited in anyway, it’s just the fact that men and women view the world differently.

  • Jencendiary

    I don’t think this view of the world gives men very much credit. As much as people want to accuse feminists & progressives as being anti-men, the traditional viewpoint of what men’s brains can handle is much more limited and weak. . .

  • Carmen Rene’

    It is unbelievable how many haters are out here. Steve Harvey this, Steve Harvey that. If Steve Harvey was a white man with all this information and success, everyone would be eating it up, like a Dr. Phil for example. Stop hating on a brother. If he is an oportunist, let him rise, support his venture, pray his good will. We as a people are truly something else. Other races and cultures don’t have half the hate we as blacks do towards one another. If it wasn’t SO SAD, it would be laughable. Whatever his intention, wish him well and maybe something good will happen to and for you. But at this HATE RATE, you’re going to continue on this path to nowhere and gain nothing. If you don’t like the man, fine, but the negativity on blasts for all to see one black attacking another is totally unnecessary and unwarranted because you really don’t know him.

    Peace and Blessings

  • Emelyne

    Steve is half-way right. Some dudes, like him, only make friends with a girl in the hopes of getting the panties and these men (and trust, their are women like this as well) are incapable of platonic heterosexual relationships and wouldn’t know how to have one even if they wanted to. Because of this, these same people turn around and try to label everyone with this personality deficiency; and that’s what it is when a man or woman (especially one who is taken) can’t have a meaningful, sex-free relationship with a member of the opposite sex.

  • Everybody Hates Me (Chris)

    The Gospel According to Steve…look for that narcissistic crapola soon!!! His “knowledge” of relationships is due to the fact that he’s a hundred and sixty years old…you realize that he actually was the first divorce? No, not the first divorce this century…the first EVER!!! STFU Steve. And to think, I actually used to like his comedy…until I discovered how much of a poser he REALLY is. Thankfully I was raised by my grandmother, and then mom reinforced all the same words he has said, so if you wanna know about relationships, ask your parents…and I’m 27.

  • Dan Tres Omi

    I see my man @clnmike here…

    So Mr. Harvey, all the sisters who are my friends for all these years are imaginary friends?

  • Dennis O’Hare

    I’m a man, and he’s absolutely right.

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