I glimpse at my phone, he’s texted me. No butterflies, no skipped heartbeat, no waiting at least twenty minutes to read and a further 22 minutes and 30 seconds (or something) to reply. I pick my phone up ‘yeah, come over in 10… I haven’t washed by the way’ my fingers quip. No I haven’t found the love of my life, got comfortable too quickly and think its okay to look vile whenever he comes round; I’m just replying to my best friend.
Oof, I can practically hear your sharp intake of breath. A boy and a girl – friends? Oh, We have all seen the films; we’ve all heard about Harry and Sally, Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, and not forgetting what happened to Julia Roberts at her Best Friend’s Wedding and well I’d be a liar if I said I’d not sat and watched these films, and their many variations, and thought the same thing – can a boy and a girl JUST be friends? Is it hopelessly idealistic to think that a man and woman can have a purely platonic relationship without it ending up a sexual one, or worse still, a loving one?
Here’s the thing. I speak from the place of someone who has two male best friends whom I happily tell my deepest darkest secrets to, spend time alone with, laugh with, argue with, snap at, bitch at and above all else, love wholeheartedly. However, I also speak as someone who is dubious as to whether being close friends with the opposite sex is actually feasible. Those ideas don’t really work together, do they? Hello! Welcome to my world! I went to a mixed sex secondary school. Growing up in an environment where boys were always around, throwing things in lessons, kicking footballs into large groups and chasing you around the common room, not only enabled, but encouraged friendships with boys, we saw them less as ‘items’ to speak to on Facebook, giggle at when passing on the street and kiss at discos and more as people and in some cases, the funniest people I know.
I currently work in a single sex girl’s school and the difference is astonishing. I speak generally when I say this (and with the understanding that they are young), but the girls seem to have a lack of understanding when it comes to any non-sexual relationship with, not just boys, but the entire male species. The girls will gawk and blush and point out of the window at the scruffy looking hedge trimmer with his tight fitting trousers travelling too far south causing his bottom to smile back at them and they will giggle and push each other in front of the geeky new male supply teacher. They will speak not of the funny thing Tom said at the park the other day, but of the amount of kisses and BBM Contacts received at the most recent disco.
I can’t help but feel that they are missing out; missing out on watching boys grow from the irritating idiots punching each other in the back of the classroom into some of the best friendships school has to offer. The media has always had an opinion on this ‘will they/wont they’ matter and have no doubt helped to shape the status quo. Think of Ross and Rachel (sigh), they get together in the final moments of the final episode of the final series after being on and off for years, during which time Chandler and Monica get married, on that programme, what was it called? Ah yes, FRIENDS. Not lovers, not spouses, Friends. Of course we can’t blame it entirely on the media – it’s the practicality. The thought of either of my male best friends finding the perfect girl and falling in love fills me with a mixture of delight and strangely, loss.
With or without intention our friendship would slowly become less intense as the new girlfriend would naturally become the confident and go to. And if that wasn’t the problem, the new girlfriend’s feelings surely would be; I’d like to think I’d be fine, but in all honesty I don’t know how I would feel if my new boyfriend maintained such a close and personal friendship with another girl especially the further our relationship went down the line. Anyway, I fear I have digressed in an attempt to avoid the inevitable. Of course it’s not been as plain sailing for me as I would have liked you to believe. I have failed to reveal the hours upon hours spent talking to my (female) best friends about whether ‘I like him’ or whether ’I don’t!’ It’s failed to reveal the nights I’ve cried into my pillow out of the pure frustration when not knowing how to feel. It’s failed to reveal the hours spent in the bathroom waxing, shaving, brushing and dyeing to turn myself into a different person for the sake of a ‘friend.’
Being close friends with boys has not always been (and will continue not to be I’m sure) an easy road for me, or any of my friends for that matter. But has it been interesting? Yes. Has it shaped me and my life? Absolutely. And as for my two male best friends, who may be reading this (but probably not, let’s be honest) if I end up marrying one of you, if we end up having a relationship, sexual or other or if we end up completely drifting and I turn up at your wedding, 8 years down the line, to your perfect girl, it has been totally, completely and 100% worth it.
Image reproduced from guardian.co.uk
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