To listen to some women (and, admittedly, some men too), the answer would be "no!"
Take Sasha Brown-Worsham over at the Stir. I was reading Instapundit last week (you really should, you know), and came across Brown-Worsham's article entitled "6 Things a Woman Says When She Is Trying to Steal Your Man." To look at her list, it would seem that she is of the opinion that men and women can't be friends. She opens by talking about her seemingly clueless husband:
"My husband is one of those men who is totally clueless to other women's advances. A women could plop down on his lap, start making out with him, and he STILL would say: "What? She just likes me as a friend."Now I admit it. I used to be one of these clueless guys, when I was much younger. I never missed any advances (or if I did, they never told me about it and none of my female friends clued me in to it), but I could be very clueless in what a woman was trying to get me to do.
Suuuure. Still, you spend enough time with a guy like that and you start to doubt your female instinct. Maybe she isn't a vicious man-stealing woman, intent on sleeping with my hubby. Maybe she IS just a friend. Let's not kid ourselves."
I remember one night at a club, one of the women that was in the group I was out with was talking to me for a while, and she finally had to come out and say "I'm asking you to dance" because I was totally missing what she was hinting at.
But do Brown-Worsham's six things always mean that she's after your man? It can never be that she just finds value in his friendship?
Like #3. "I'll never be as pretty as your wife." Brown-Worsham says "This one is especially manipulative. It LOOKS like a compliment, but it's not. It's actually a thinly disguised way to open a conversation no one should be having with YOUR spouse."
But is it really? It's possible. But it's also possible that the woman has really bad self-image issues. Looks can be a major problem for people of either gender. Both men and women can think that they don't have anything to offer in the attractiveness department. And if you're married to a really hot woman, it's even more possible that another woman will say this (though it's still a sign of low self-confidence, as a confident woman wouldn't feel the need to even compare, or at least state it outright).
Then there's #5: "Wanna go to lunch alone?" It is possible for a man and woman to go to lunch as friends, you know. Friends do it all the time.
That being said, if the emphasis on the invitation is on "alone," then there may be a problem. Especially if the three (or four, if the other woman is also with somebody) of you do go out to lunch a lot. In that case, if she's emphasizing the "alone" part (i.e. without your wife), then there may be an issue.
Either that, or she wants to pump you for Christmas present ideas for your wife.
The comment section is almost more interesting than the post itself, as there are some great arguments made on both sides of the issue. And yes, admittedly, there is some typical Internet stupidity as well.
I think one thing Brown-Worsham is missing in her post is context. That, and patterns.
For example, context is what the situation is when one of these things happens. Is it a woman who's been friends with your husband forever? Then going to lunch is not going to be a problem. Did he tell you about the invitation or did he hide it from you?
If you're both at a bar and a woman neither of you knows says "Wow, my boyfriend would NEVER do that for me. You are SO great!" after talking to you both a bit, then yeah, she's probably hitting on him. But if it's a woman he's known (or maybe even you've both known) for a while, then it may just be her complaining about her boyfriend.
Then there are patterns. Is the woman doing a lot of this? Did she hit all six of these things in one night? Are there a lot of clandestine lunches and meetings? Or is it the occasional lunch and you know about each of them?
This list is much too simplistic, and if people went by it, it would destroy (or prevent) a lot of great friendships.
Which is sad in so many different ways.