Thursday, March 3, 2011

More on Friends of the Opposite Gender

I fell into the trap. When I noticed Sylvia was spending a lot of her social networking time chatting with a boy, I assumed that it was a boyfriend. She insisted he wasn't, and I'm ashamed of myself for not believing her at first.

Then I remembered my own life. From second grade, I had a best male friend. That year, it was Jesse, and it started a trend of always having male (straight) friends.

There seem to be a lot of people who have trouble with the concept of men and women being friends without being romantically involved. And I loved When Harry Met Sally as much as the next person. But here's the thing: it was a movie! It wasn't real life!

I don't try to have male friends, I just do. Sometimes, it just works. And for whatever reason, if I look back at any time in my life, there's always a connection to a male friend that meant the world to me.

Sylvia told me that she hates it when people assume there's something going on, and tease her about some of her friends. Riley chimed in, too, and said it has even cost her a friendship with a boy who hated being teased for being friends with her, so he started treating her horribly to try and combat the rumors.

So silly. So sad.

Sure enough, we just happened to mention to someone that we met a mother and her son recently, and this someone turns to my daughter with that "knowing" smile: "Is he cute?" Sylvia and I both shook our heads and rolled our eyes. That wasn't the point!

It's been over 20 years since When Harry Met Sally, and it still might take another 200 before people can start appreciating males and females not "just" being friends, but having a meaningful and valuable friendship...that has nothing do with romance or lust.


Vinomom said...

I was exactly the same way, I had close male friends all through my childhood. I even used to spend the night at my neighborhood boy's houses like a regular sleepover! I can also name 3 boys that I was VERY close to in middle school and high school. One of them I ended up dating, but another one found me on myspace a couple years ago, and thanked me for being such a good friend to him.

As to what happened to Riley - I think that is sooo common. While I think male/female friends are pretty acceptable now days in adults, I doubt that sort of thing will EVER come to an end in the middle school years!

Great Topic!

Tara R. said...

I recently reconnected with one of my best friends from high school. A person I always thought of as a brother. Half of my friends in high school and college were male, and that's all they ever were. It is possible...

Pippi said...

I've often wondered if I would have ever married Mark had it been acceptable in our circle for me to merely be friends with him. I never wanted to have sex with him, I just thought that was the only kind of relationship we were allowed to have and I wanted to remain friends with him. It's not like he didn't have plenty of other girls interested in him physically.

I did want to have his children, I admit that. But again, that was mostly the mentality I was raised with that having children was the most important thing I could do and that it should be my first priority in life.

I just wonder. I find it nearly impossible to be friends with any male after the way I was raised, and that bugs me.

BigLittleWolf said...

I love having men friends! Unfortunately, it seems ingrained in American culture that men and women can't be friends - "only" friends.

When I've lived overseas, this has never been an issue, and I can honestly say that the men friends I have are all French! (OK, one exception... and he knows who he is.)

It's so enriching when men and women can share their worlds in friendship. We learn so much from each other, and I wish we'd advance a little, culturally, in this regard.

Great post!

Katybeth said...

I remember when my freshman was in 5th grade and a few crushes started--I was appalled at how the parents took over and tried to push things along--I mean where were they going? I think boys and girls that can grow up and have good friends of either gender and take more time getting seriously involved and have a better idea of what they are looking for in a life partner.
Seems to me Sylvia and her mom have the right idea!

Danielle said...

I tend to have more male friends than female too! Less drama!