Sex is never far off the radar between friends
Can men and women be friends? No. Maybe. Sometimes. Um, just no. Unless they have, perhaps, got sex out of the way and figured it is never going to work out. And they're never going to go there, or mention it again. Ever. Or if neither one of them fancies the other one, not a jot, not even after 10 gin and tonics, not over their dead body.
Anything else is just faking it until that inevitable moment where he says: "You know I was thinking...” and she thinks, here it comes.
Why is this so? It is because, biologically, men are predestined to spread their seed. It is also because most men like to think that any woman would sleep with them if asked. Really, they do. Men don't think she would never go out with me because I am too old/too fat/too poor/too stupid. Men don't get to 55 or 65 or 75 and think "I will never have sex again”. They are men. Cue chest thumping.
Women are too self-deprecating to have this kind of sexual confidence, unless it's just for a one-night stand which, let's face it, is the kind of commitment most men can deal with, because they have been conditioned to think they are not supermodels. So, if a guy they really want to date is too cute, or too rich, or just too damn sexy, they think "he would never look at me”.
If you have a good male friend you may say, "Helen, you are talking through your hat. Joe/Paul/Peter has never put the hard word on me and we've been friends for 10 years”. And I say to you - do you have your own teeth, two legs and two arms and do you do a perfunctory wash in the morning? Give it another couple of years.
Of course women can be friends with women, as long as they don't both go after the same bloke and then it's knives at 50 feet - and men, well, they're just mates. They're in the pub now talking about this bird Trevor has known for six years. He's helping her shift furniture at the weekend because that's what friends do, right? Afterwards she might offer him a beer and maybe even a meal and then, who knows, he might see if she's interested in something else. After all, she has to know that he likes her, right? He shifts furniture/minds her dog/listens to her long boring stories about ex-boyfriends.
Women, what are they thinking, huh?