When Harry Met Sally
For Harry and Sally meet when she gives him a ride to New York City after they both graduate from the University of Chicago. The movie follows each of their lives, while they search for love, constantly running into one another throughout the years. They finally develop a friendship, and enjoy having a friend of the opposite sex to hang out with and confide in. But through time and trials they are confronted with Harry’s theory about men and women: “Can a man and a woman be friends, without sex getting in the way?
With Harry and Sally, a clear relationship parameter was set, which couldn’t be broken or crossed without ramifications to their relationship. The relationship between Harry and Sally developed throughout encounters they had with one another at different stages in their lives. A once barely tolerated acquaintance bloomed into a close friendship. They created a tight knit Dyad, which is “a two person group where they relied on one another for emotional support, advice and companionship” (Barkan).
Harry quickly became the expressive leader of their group, which is described in our text as “a leader whose main focus is to maintain and improve the quality of relationships amongst group members” (Barkan). Through Harry and Sally’s friendship, they created a social group with their close friends Marie and Jess, which allowed for a social network to be opened up between the four of them. This social network allowed for walls to be torn down that revealed Marie and Jess to one another, where if not for Harry and Sally they might never had found one another. Harry and Sally each took on roles in their friendship.
A role is “a behavior expected of an individual in a particular status” (Barkan). To Sally, Harry was a friend of the opposite sex she could depend on, confide in, have companionship in, with no strings attached. He was her “alternate” guy she could always go to. Case in point, they had an agreement to be one another’s dates at New Year’s parties if they couldn’t find one. And to Harry, Sally was much of the same, plus she was a friend of the opposite sex who provided a women’s point of view, along with the femininity that a man needs to balance him out in life.
To maintain this close of a friendship with members of the opposite sex, clear parameters have to be established. Harry established these parameters early on by explaining to Sally what he believed to be the cold hard facts, that “men and women couldn’t be friends, without sex getting in the way” (When Harry Met Sally). But when you maintain the close friendship, as Harry and Sally did, those parameters that were set at the beginning of the friendship start to get blurred by emotion, thus placing a strain on the friendship role.
A role strain is “problems that arise when a person performing a role has to deal with competing demands on that role” (Barkan). This strain occurred when both Harry and Sally began to have feelings for one another beyond the scope of “just friends”. This was made evident in the scene of the movie where Marie and Jess have Harry and his new girlfriend, along with Sally and her new boyfriend, over for dinner. They both had waves of jealous emotion hit them when they saw the other kissing their boyfriend/girlfriend, but through those emotions they never expressed how it truly made them feel.
This can be explained by the groupthink logic. Groupthink is “the tendency of group members (both Harry and Sally) to remain silent and, against all their better judgments, to go along with the desires and views of other group members” (Barkan). At this point of Harry and Sally’s friendship, I believe they both thought that the other desired only to be friends and also had some fear that what they were feeling for one another wouldn’t be reciprocated, thus the reason they conformed to the groupthink logic. Harry…could you just hold me a little longer…”
These were Sally’s last words spoken to Harry, before the friendship role would be conflicted and those parameters set at the beginning of their friendship would get crossed (When Harry Met Sally). This scene in the movie where Harry and Sally make love set into motion things that could never be taken back. Harry and Sally would now be not only close friends, but lovers as well. In the following scene of the movie you can see Sally’s smile and demeanor favored the whole idea of being more than just friends.
She seemed to embrace the idea of being with Harry. But Harry on the other hand, was conflicted with both roles of friend and lover, and what would be expected of him by Sally. A role conflict is “problems that arise when a person has to deal with competing demands on two or more roles that the person is expected to play” (Barkan). In the one of the last scenes of the movie Harry takes a walk around the city where he struggles with this role conflict. While on this walk he also has time to think and process what is truly important to him and what he honestly wants in life.
And through this process re-socialization on an individual scale occurs. This is where “a dramatic change in a person’s beliefs, values and behavior occur” (Barkan). In Harry’s case he realized that men and women could be friends without sex getting in the way, that it would just take him realizing that a friend and a lover could be that special person all wrapped up in one. That sex wasn’t getting in the way as the culprit…it would be his pride! Sometimes parameters get set in relationships and when those parameters brake or get crossed things do indeed get messy, causing at time major ramifications.
But sometimes the best things in life are worth getting a little messy for! So…“Can a man and a woman be friends, without sex getting in the way? ” I will leave that question for you to answer!