Can a man and woman bond without sex?

I HAVE had an undoubtedly straight, gorgeous, full-blooded guy as my best friend for more than eight years. We've cried on each other's shoulders, baby-kissed and even shared a bed on many occasions.

I HAVE had an undoubtedly straight, gorgeous, full-blooded guy as my best friend for more than eight years. We've cried on each other's shoulders, baby-kissed and even shared a bed on many occasions.

We enjoy spending time together because of good conversation, we share interests and have a common philosophy about life generally.

Our bond is viewed with scepticism. This is because most cannot accept the fact that a relationship between a man and a woman can thrive without any sexual overtone.

My man reluctantly gives me the benefit of the doubt and my friends refuse to believe that we are just friends. They say "men and women can't be friends. Sex always gets in the way".

Though I must confess that I would become irritated with one or two of his girlfriends, I can honestly say I have no desire whatsoever to cross the line that separates our friendship.

So why is it so hard for people to believe that platonic relationships can exist?

According to Adam Lewis, a relationship expert, over many decades of social opinion, men and women are predisposed to not being able to have just a simple friendship.

He adds that many times platonic relationships are not what they may seem to be.

"Most likely, one party in the friendship is likely to harbour some stronger intimate feelings for the other, who could be completely unaware of such affection."

Is it possible for a man and a woman to be best friends without sexual attraction, tension and passion and stay in a platonic relationship?

According to David Deida, author of The Enlightened Sex Manual: Sexual Skills for the Superior Lover, it is possible, though the chances are only one in 10 relationships.

In his book, Deida says we all have a continuum of sexual energy within us, marked at opposite ends by masculine and feminine power.

He adds that our primary sexual identities are marked by our "resting place" on this spectrum, but we have the ability to engage more of either the masculine or feminine energies within us.

"We have a natural sexual energy spot on the spectrum, and that reflects the unique way in which we express and identify ourselves. About 80percent of men reside on the masculine side, while 80percent of women rest along the feminine side of the spectrum.

"Few people have sexual identities that reside in the middle of the spectrum. Each side of the spectrum has different sexual desires.

"Having similar sexual energy can facilitate a platonic relationship between a man and a woman, while two individuals with opposing sexual energies will find a platonic friendship more difficult," he says.

These opposing energies, suggests Deida, provide the basis of sexual attraction between men and women. Because masculine and feminine energies leave individuals with differing desires, it can be difficult to maintain the communication necessary to continue a platonic relationship.

"Those individuals who have a balanced sexual energy find friendship with the opposite sex to be a simple matter. Having an equal balance of both masculine and feminine energy allows the individual to match the ideas of their social partner and facilitates understanding between the two," he alludes.

While men and women with this equilibrium find it easier to communicate with members of the opposite sex, Deida says they don't feel the major emotions that are the natural result of sexual attraction.

While having a more focused sexual energy, or "sexual essence", as Deida calls it, can make platonic friendships more difficult between members of the opposite sex, it does not imply that they are impossible.

"A certain amount of sexual tension in a platonic relationship can provide a little spark of enjoyment, provided both friends recognise it for what it is: the enjoyment of each other's sexual identity.

"In the end, it's important to realise that having a strong attraction to members of the opposite sex as opposed to a more balanced sexual energy, is not an impediment to male-female platonic relationships."

Platonic relationship checklist

l You have absolutely no desire to see him naked. None at all!

l You get excited for him when he meets a new "good" woman.

l You completely understand and don't get upset when he cancels three preplanned events because of aforementioned new romance.

l You don't care how he dresses.

l You would rather cuddle up on the couch to watch movies than have the sack, back and crack conversation.

l You view his mother as a casual acquaintance and not a source of information, intimidation or fear.

l You think it's cute when he remembers your birthday three days after the event.

l He's the first person you call when your heart gets broken.

l You don't take your undies off the fan before he comes in.

l You can fart, burp and scratch in his presence without feeling embarrassed.

l And finally, you view his quirks, irritations and idiosyncrasies as adorable flaws and not hackle-raising, genetic time bombs that will be passed on to youroffspring.