Ah, there it is. A debate as old as history's first platonic male-female relationship... which I'm going to assume is very old. Nowadays, you'll hear people say that males and females can't be just friends. Movies like Friends With Benefits and No Strings Attached do a great job of reinforcing the idea that at some point in a friendship, someone will develop feelings for the other person, shifting the "friendship" dynamic completely. Now, this is just through personal experience, but if the guy starts catching feelings for his gal pal, and the girl doesn't feel the same, the female is usually held responsible for leading him on. I try to be as friendly as I can to people in general, so believe I have the credentials to go in on this issue.
As human beings, it's natural to be drawn to others with similar interests. Video games, music, movies, these are all things that can lead to an easy friendship. But, again as human beings, the confusion over whether these similarities are the starting point for a romantic relationship or just the foundation of a nice friendship begins. I'm just going to be talking from a female perspective because, hey, I'm a female. There are a few reasons why I think guys get confused:
1) They aren't used to having girls as friends.
2) They haven't been in a romantic relationship before, and really don't understand the difference between that and friendship.
3) The female's interest in maintaining a friendship seems like an invitation to make the move in creating a relationship.
With that being said, though, do these reasons discount the possibility that a girl is flirting, teasing or leading her male friend on? No, of course not. The real question for both males and females, then, is how do you tell the difference? Admittedly it's tough to tell. My "technique" you could say for letting a guy know I'm interested in him romantically can seem somewhat similar to the way I treat my male friends. The key differences though are in the way I touch someone I'm into romantically vs. a friend. Touching his arm, holding his wrists, a gentle hand on the thigh, a certain gaze, these are all physical cues. Where the water gets murky is in the banter, because I talk to all guys in the same way. There isn't a particular voice I use or a certain laugh I set aside for flirting. It's all the same.
Here's why setting boundaries and establishing a clear understanding of what type of relationship you want is so important (and something I've been forgetting to do). I know it sounds very technical but it's important. So often a guy gets hurt because his expectations are drastically different than the girl's and both people end up losing a good friendship. Talk it out. It doesn't have to be an elaborate sit down conversation, it can just be a brief comment about how you value the friendship- major emphasis on friendship.
It's not always going to be easy, but creating mutual understanding is a simple way of avoiding hurt feelings. Until next time ladies and gentlemen, take care!