Do you think that a man and a woman can be close friends without any romantic or physical involvement? I believe it is possible. I have male friends whom I can confide in and talk with. We share information, ideas, problems, feelings and talk openly about just anything without any reservations. It is a friendship between two mature human beings that does not discriminate personal beliefs, opinions and of course, gender.
Is it easier or harder if they are single or married? It all depends. In my experience, it could be one or the other. I find it less complicated if both are single, and well, the friendship could eventually lead to something deeper such as courtship and marriage. If either one has a partner, then it would help if the partner understands and trusts that the friendship is solely platonic. It would be wonderful too if the partner, or partners, also end up as close friends to form a small circle of good, supportive friends. And if they are married with kids, wouldn't it be great for the kids to get together too? I believe this can happen in real life, and no, I've not watched too much "Friends",the sitcom!
Sometimes, however, due to misunderstandings, insecurities, differences in opinion and belief, people with partners find it difficult to have or keep platonic friendships with people of the opposite sex. In this article titled "Can Men and Women Be Friends?", it mentioned that friendship is not equal opportunity: Not until high school does puberty really draw boys and girls together, which then continues into college. But as people develop serious romantic relationships or get married, making and maintaining cross-sex friendships becomes harder. "Even the most secure people in a strong marriage probably don't want a spouse to be establishing a new friendship, especially with someone who's very attractive," said Monsour.
The number of cross-sex friendships continues to decline with age—not surprising, because most older adults grew up in an age where consorting with the opposite sex outside of wedlock was taboo. According to Rosemary Blieszner, at Virginia Tech and author of Adult Friendship, elderly people rarely form new friendships with members of the opposite sex. Her research shows that only about 2 percent of the friendships elderly women have are with men.
The article also mentioned that men benefit more from cross-sex friendship...but women benefit too. Wanna know more? Read the article. I found it interesting.