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An Analysis of Interpersonal Relationship Between Harry and Sally

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An Analysis of Interpersonal Relationship Between Harry and Sally

            A lot of movies are pictures of the many kinds and facets of relationships. There are renowned films that depict a relationship between friends while others present the romantic love between a man and woman. It is the concepts of friendship and love that make the viewers imagine and explore all the good things in life and believe that all will end in happy endings. Although people have proven the success and effectivity of a romantic love that is based out of friendship, its accompanying conflicts and challenges are still what make a man and woman compete with each other.

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The interpersonal relationship that exists between the two sexes is the stimulating factor that drives them to express varied emotions.

            The romantic yet realistic “When Harry Met Sally” (1989) is a film that demonstrates the evolution and inevitable transition of what started out as a simple platonic relationship that has grown into a deep friendship, and eventually led to an unconditional romantic and intimate love.

The film, with all its humor and touching depiction of human nature, sex or physical intimacy, and friendship and love, showed a practical representation of the opposing yet loving characters of Harry and Sally. The film’s focus about the interpersonal relationships between the two opposite sexes exposed to the public some interactions between Harry and Sally. These interactions, such as self-disclosure, building faith, and being true with each other, enabled Harry and Sally to successfully build and develop their interpersonal relationship from friendship to romantic and intimate.

            Written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner, the 1989 romantic comedy film top billed Billy Crystal as Harry Burns and Meg Ryan as Sally Albright. The interpersonal relationship of platonic love and friendship to romantic or intimate love between the two characters set off when the indifferent Harry met the “hopeless romantic” Sally in a carpool ride from Chicago to New York. Two more chance encounters and the friendship between Harry and Sally was born. Their relationship quickly progressed to being affectionate with each other, ending up in bed, and finally saying I do’s. In so doing, the film has corrected the premise that a man and woman could not be friends. It has even proven that friends can become lovers.

Relationship in Film

            A paper made by Tilman and Bochner (1995) about “Relationship in Film” discusses the cultural narration of “attraction, friendship, romance and marriage.” In analyzing the interpersonal relationship between the main characters of the movie “When Harry Met Sally” as well as its accompanying issues of friendship and love, the authors presented how friends become lovers, and how their friendship turns into a full-blown romantic love. The said paper describes the risks of such transition from being friends to becoming lovers. This is because in the course of switching from a platonic to a romantic kind of relationship, the first bonding is spoiled and sacrificed (Tilman & Bochner 7).

            Friends who turned into lovers, just like the characters of Harry (Crystal) and Sally (Ryan), are faced with the real challenges of a serious or intimate relationship. It is during the stage of being a romantic couple that the man and the woman are shown with their respective real or unpretending personalities (both good and bad). A friendship which has blossomed into a romance that further leads to sexual intimacy further complicates the situation. The reason for this can be attributed to the instance when former friends eventually end up in bed, as this is the time when boundaries are broken and secrets are unfolded. It is during this serious stage that the concepts of friendship and love, coupled with sexual intimacy, would make it hard for a man and woman to identify which relationship should prevail and clearly define or identify the thin line between the mixed-up relationships.

            In then end, Tilman and Bochner concluded that the immediate elevation of romantic love between Harry and Sally into marriage proved to be good for the couple. The eventual union of Harry and Sally rectified the bad perception about friends being lovers. It proved otherwise that a true, lasting, and even an unconditional friendship is actually what makes a romantic relationship successful. It also demonstrated that a pure friendship, true love and an intimate sexual union are the factors that make a couple happy and satisfied with each other, if not complete. Ultimately, the movie has proven Harry to be wrong when he said and insisted that “men and women can’t be friends, because the sex part always gets in the way” (Burns in “When Harry Met Sally,” 1989).

            Tilman and Bochner further analyzed the common notion that happy endings are what most people actually prefer. The viewers’ comparative responses to the said movie encourage the healthy discussion of how relationships in films mold the public to anticipate and hope for happy endings. The authors added that a favorable and open or flexible understanding by the people of the idea of friendship and love in a film is what make us believe that happiness can only be manifested in heterosexual bonding or relationship that exists between a man and woman (Tilman & Bochner 7).

Men and Women Could Not Be Friends

            According to an article that appeared on the Daily Texan online, before Harry met Sally, the former perceived relationship as something either as a disturbing romance or an erotic intimacy while the latter viewed relationship in a typical woman manner. Basically, Harry was correct when he insisted that friendship is impossible for men and women especially when sex sets in. However, this was changed when the meeting of Harry and Sally created interpersonal relationship such as platonic love and friendship and eventually resulted into something serious and intimate as romantic love. In fact, more significant than remembering Sally’s famous “fake orgasm” scene, the movie is attributed with its presentation of a message that a man and woman who started out as best of friends actually make the best and romantic couple or soul mates (“The Top 10 Love Stories of all time”).

            The innate conflicting nature between men and women was affirmed by Malhotra who agreed that in a couple’s relationship, sexual hostility and romantic emotions are bound to clash. According to Malhotra, this long-time friction between men and women was just bestowed by Adam and Eve to humankind’s present generation. Although there is a slim difference between friendship and love, Malhotra said that men and women are “meant to draw each other, love, fight, produce babies.” The premise that men and women could not be simple friends is subject to change. As an example, she cited the situation wherein “opposites attract.” Malhotra explained that indeed, even in friendship, it is the opposing or conflicting attributes that attract men to women and vice versa. It is through these opposite traits that when men and women joined together, they seize a fair portion of what they lack in their respective same-sex groups (Malhotra).

            Another indication that men and women could not just be friends is when Malhotra mentioned the situation wherein a person eventually loves his or her friend. “When Harry Met Sally” is one example of the many films that presented two “just good friends” people becoming lovers. A film like this is a reflection of the current trend and existence of interpersonal relationships in the society. Whether it is the conflicting trait or just simple compatibility that attracts the two opposite sexes with each other and makes them romantically involved, the interpersonal relationship undeniably exists (Malhotra).


            An analysis of the interpersonal relationship between the characters of Harry and Sally in the film “When Harry Met Sally” showed that cross-sex or interpersonal relationships are but human nature. Conflict, affection, and expression of other varied emotions are manifestations of an effective interpersonal relationship that is bound to succeed in the end or have a happy ending. What it actually required is an open communication and liberal understanding of the issues and differences that accompany a relationship and which are bound to exist between men and women.

            A study of the correlation between the inclination of 50 male subjects to eventually sexually expose themselves to their female friends as well as the degree of their “physical or sexual attraction,” showed that gender and sexual desires are components that deal with cross-sex or interpersonal relationships (Dailey 16). The research made by Dailey has proven that in order to have an effective, successful and satisfying interpersonal relationship, it is critically important for a man and woman to communicate the various conflicting as well as complementing issues among themselves. According to Dailey, “we must understand the differences that exist between men and women and further our communication competency to meet these challenges” (Dailey 17).  Dailey, however, corrected that her study did not intend to promote the famous yet incorrect notion that males and females could not become friends. In fact, the author’s aim was to offer a wide perspective and analysis as well as the subsequent understanding and acceptance of the conflicts within interpersonal relationships (Dailey 16-17).

            The above-cited movie and the study conducted by Dailey demonstrated the many implications of sexual intimacy in any relationship. Once friends end up in satisfying their respective biological needs in bed, changes also set in. The movie “When Harry Met Sally” is a clear and effective depiction that indeed, men can be friends with women even if the sex part gets in the way. It also goes to say that two friends can possibly sleep together and eventually have sex and still love each other the next day. This could be accounted for the growing love between them, which was based on the foundation of friendship that enabled characters such as Harry and Sally to surpass the many eventualities of romantic love.

Works Cited

Dailey, Susanna Y. “What happened when Harry met Sally? Intimate Self-disclosure and Attraction in Cross-sex Friendships.” University of Kentucky. 2002. 30 April 2008       <www.uky.edu/~drlane/ssca06/dailey.pdf>.

Ephron, Nora. “When Harry Met Sally.” The Internet Movie Database. 1989. 30 April 2008             <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098635/maindetails>.

Malhotra, Deepti. “Man and a woman, ‘just friends’?” The Times of India. 25 April 2008.  30       April 2008 <http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-2982691,prtpage-


“The Top 10 Love Stories of all time.” The Daily Texan. 13 February 2003. 30 April 2008


Tilman, Lisa M. and Bochner, Arthur P. “Seeing through Film: Cinema as Inquiry and      Pedagogy.” Education Resources Information Center (ERIC). 1995. 30 April 2008            ED391195.


Cite this An Analysis of Interpersonal Relationship Between Harry and Sally

An Analysis of Interpersonal Relationship Between Harry and Sally. (2016, Jun 23). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/an-analysis-of-interpersonal-relationship-between-harry-and-sally/

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