guy friends: i would like to have them

For the longest time, I have only had one guy friend. And I used to date him, in college. Which complicates things. It makes Bear uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable, too. Not the him being my friend part. That’s fine. It happened naturally. We’re horrible gossips together.  But I wish I could erase our dating past. I shouldn’t have dated him. Even while I was dating him, I was hazily aware of that.

I am bad at guy friends. I have only had a few. Which makes me totally uncool, I know.

Once, I had more than a few, very briefly, and then, when I met Bear, they all vanished. Which was too bad, because I like hanging out with guys.

The problem is, they always try to kiss me. Some of them try to kiss me right away. Some of them do it sneakily, much later. Some of them wait years and year, but then, predictably, they try to kiss me.

The guy I already dated—he will never try to kiss me again. If you mentioned the idea to him, he would look immediately ill. We went through that, we came out of it, and now we’re safe. Thank god.

I know that men and women can be friends. There are lots of movies and books about how, actually, they can’t. How it’s this big mystery that we probably need more books and movies about. The Man/Woman Friendship Conundrum: An Attempt At Solving the Unsolvable Mystery About Whether Or Not Men and Women Can Actually Be Friends Without Eventually Making Out (By someone with a PhD).

 

There are lots of movies about a beautiful woman with a sweet face and hair that can either fall in long, sleek layers or go up in a tidy, spunky ponytail and her best guy friend. Allow me to spoil it: they end up together. Briefly, some other guy, usually a flashy guy who drives the kind of shiny car that women are apparently unable to resist, shows up, and she is tempted, and maybe eventually heartbroken. So she ends up with the friend, who loved her all along.

I hate that ending. I hate it because she never wanted him, and then she has to realize that she wants him, but it feels more like she has to settle for him because he wants her and he’s the only one left. And that’s the end of that friendship.

But of course women and men can be friends without kissing or ending up in bed or at the altar. I’ve seen it! There’s proof! My dad has close women friends from high school- he goes out to lunch with them. My brother’s best friend is a girl. He’s dating another girl. Bear has women friends from every stage of life. He has at least as many female as male friends, I think. The guys I was with before him also had plenty of friends who were girls.

I’m sitting here thinking, and it seems like most of the women I know don’t have close guy friends, somehow (except for one who is best friends with a gay guy– I am so jealous). But that’s probably a blip. They have guy acquaintances! They probably hang out with guys!

But I can’t seem to do it. And not, I’m assuming, because I’m irresistible. But, from my experience, the guys who choose to be around me are ones who want something to happen romantically. And the other ones lose interest and wander off. And now I am married, so suddenly, there are no guys in the world. There are the husbands and boyfriends of my friends, who I feel comfortable around and hang out with in the presence of their partners. And then there are single men who I probably shouldn’t talk to. Not because they are so tempting, with their shiny cars, but because it just feels awkward and misplaced. Because I haven’t had time to learn how to interact with them. Because my culture seems to certain that women and men together are a recipe for sex and disaster. Because I am bad at guy friends anyway, so how can I get good at them now, now that I’m sectioned off, spoken for?

I feel like there might be some sort of vague, slippery double standard. How did Bear end up with so many women friends? Why don’t I have a complementary bevy of awesome guys? We could introduce them to each other! Life would be all equal and balanced! Why does he get to feel annoyed and vaguely threatened by any interactions I have with men, while I have become close with his wonderful women friends? Sometimes his annoyance, coupled with my inexperience, makes the idea of a guy friend take on epic, mythic proportions in my mind. It is this impossible thing. It is slightly dangerous. Who knows what will happen

I decided to find out.

My one guy friend, who I dated long ago during a time of my life that I have repressed almost entirely, lives in Texas. We talk on the phone sometimes. But I’d been emailing back and forth with a guy I knew through writing, and we made plans to have coffee and talk about writing some more.

“You can be my guy friend,” I told him, boldly. He said that might work out. He sounded a little bemused.

And then, immediately, I was anxious. As though I was doing something wrong. I wasn’t sure how to break the news to Bear. The news that I was going to see a guy. In person. A real guy. And we were going to do things together. Like talk. And drink coffee. And eat stuff. And possibly even walk to the subway.

Bear wanted to know: why did I need a guy friend? Why did I want one? I had all these other perfectly fine friends. He was uneasy.

I went anyway, and tried not to feel as though I was violating some sacred code of marriage. The guy friend and I seemed to be getting along. I ordered a cannoli (cannolo?), he ordered a gelato (so then it HAS to be” cannolo”).

(oh no! it’s too phallic! what was i unwittingly suggesting?!)

We talked about stuff. I thought I was being relatively charming, and then I hit my straw with an emphatic gesture, and sent it flying onto the next table over, where it landed in a little girl’s lap. My new guy friend laughed a lot, and then he made fun of me a lot.

“I am usually not this bad,” I said. “I usually don’t lose my straw like that.” I tried to keep talking about important things, but he was still laughing.

I relaxed a little when he started talking about dating and I started talking about Bear. It was like we were saying, “Yes, yes, we know, girls and guys often get together for another reason, but that is not the point here.”

After meeting up in person, we continued talking online from time to time. The way that friends do.

I think that Bear is over it. Maybe he was just inexperienced with me having guy friends, the way that I am inexperienced having them. Maybe he just expects them to try to kiss me, because he wants to kiss me. Maybe it’s easy to make the mistake that all guys are the same. People do that a lot, with other people.

And recently, randomly, it occurred to me that having a guy friend doesn’t actually have to be anything very unusual. It occurred to me that it isn’t that I need to have guy friends, it’s that I’d like to be able to be friends with anyone I want to be friends with, regardless of their gender.  Because having a guy friend turns out to be a lot like having a friend. It’s practically the same thing. Wait—it is the same thing. Except, from my experience, you get teased a lot more. You get made fun of. And things feel straightforward, much like the stereotype. Which is nice. Because that is how my brothers and I interact.

And I like it.

I feel a little hopeful.

*  *  *

Do you have guy friends? Tell me!

Unroast: Today I love the line of my jaw.

P.S. I told my new guy friend that I was writing this post, and he said, “Just make sure to highlight my sensitive side, too.  I know that I am All that is Man, but I want people to know there’s more to me than macho awesomeness.” So don’t worry– there’s more to him than macho awesomeness. I swear.

59 Comments »

Kate on May 14th 2012 in friendship, marriage, relationships

59 Responses to “guy friends: i would like to have them”

  1. nyssnoo responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    i have some very good guy friens. i guess i idnt ealize how lucky i amtill i read this so thanks! One is one of my very best friends, and hes three years older than me.
    this works out it think, becaue sometimesi can use his advice an we can talk about silly, sarcastic things together. Of cousre, this all happend because of faceook!

    P.s you still havent shown me your new haircut!

  2. Emily G responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    That is exactly how I interact with my brothers as well!

    I do have guy friends, or at least, I used to. It seems that once they get girlfriends they stop making a point to talk/text/see you. As if they were only keeping you there in case one day something came of it, romantically.

    Which kind of hurts me and I hadn’t realized til now.

  3. Farida responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    Oh god I;m the First ! Kate I’m in love with your writing , u r so sweet, easy, friendly and honest

    I think its cool to have a guy friend -but still I don’t have cuz I’m kind of religious girl and I can’t have guy friend when I got married- and yes it shouldn’t end with kisses , we can act just normal :)

  4. Farida responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    you people type very fast! i thought I’m the first one

  5. Emily responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Gosh, all I have are guy friends! My brother and I were super close growing up (we moved a lot and we’re nineteen months apart in age) so I just thought everyone hung out with guys. It never occurred to me that I shouldn’t be around them, or that I was missing out on girlfriends because of them (I still don’t have girlfriends). I don’t know if it’s that level of comfort or because I love cooking and baking, but young men flock to me, and it never turns to romance. Ever.

    When my boyfriend and I met, my best friend was male and his best friend was female. So there you go.

  6. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    somebody’s keys…or brain…is sticking, LOL…i love having guys as friends, but there is always a little element of tension…which isn’t a bad thing…you can get them to do stuff for you :) but seriously, glad you’re opening up to this on a different level…and with you being so open about everything in general, Bear will adjust…it’s not like you could ever do anything behind his back :)

  7. Kate responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    @nyssnoo
    lol! I totally forgot to send you a pic. Just did it. Thanks for reminding me!

  8. Kate responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    @Farida
    Even though you’re not the first commenter, I promise I still like you :-)

  9. Loren responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    I have a couple guy friends, went to lunch with one today. :) A lot of them are also good friends with my boyfriend, one of them I used to date. I think you absolutely hit the nail on the head with ‘Treat them just like your girl friends’.
    My boyfriend has been getting into stand up comedy lately and I’m trying to get to become better friends with the other comedians so that it won’t be awkward when I want to tag along with the group. So far a really good method for me has been to talk to them about anything OTHER than comedy. And to just shut it and let them talk to me about anything else for a couple minutes. It’s amazing what people will tell you when you just listen for a while. I’ve been trying to work through the group and have actual conversations with each of them so they will be friends and not just ‘Facebook friends’.
    Sounds like you found a pretty good guy friend :)

  10. Rapunzel responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    I had a guy friend once. He went to the same schools as my sister and me, a year or two older than us. The three of us and our first grade teacher (a nun–Catholic) started a youth group at our church. It was fun times. Years later he admitted he was gay–which, I suppose is fine…a little awkward because his parents fell apart (only son) and we are, you know, Catholic. But whatever, I wouldn’t let something stupid like that get in my way of friendship.

    So my only guy friend ever was gay. I assume he still is. We’re “friends” on facebook and occasionally he’ll “like” something on my wall, but that’s about it. If we run in to each other while I’m in my homestate though we’re ecstatic.

    At this point in my life I just wish I had any friends at all! Guy, girl, lesbian, gay, I’ll take what I can get. But I’m horribly inept at making friends so I don’t know how to really change that.

  11. Melanie responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    I have a homo husband (my number one gay who I love more than life itself) and about five guys I consider very good friends. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t get a male perspective on things. I crave balance, and my guy friends give that to me. I just went to dinner and a concert with one of my guy friends Friday. We have a very similar sense of humor and it’s not awkward when I hug and kiss him heartily on the cheek goodbye. It’s nice.

    I have also had the guy friends who try and kiss me. We then talked it over and continued to be friends, or if that wasn’t possible, moved on.

  12. Aurora responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    I have lots of guy friends — depending on where in my life I am, sometimes more than girl friends. Most of them don’t want to date me, a couple of them are gay and thus *really* don’t want to date me, and one or two are my exes. Either way, there isn’t crazy sexual tension and my boyfriend doesn’t feel uncomfortable.

    I guess what helps with this is that I’m recently out of engineering university, so all these guy friends are the folks I used to take classes with, and who worked on homework with me, and so on — we’re all total nerds who don’t particularly think about gender norms and Societal Rules on a day to day basis.

  13. Charise responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    When I was in high school and college, I had as many close guy friends as close girl friends. Of course, some of those turned out to be guys who liked me or me them. Since then, though, they’ve faded away and all my new close friends are girls. I 100% think it has to do w/ the fact I moved in w/ my boyfriend and then married him. It’s like it was suddenly taboo to hang out one-on-one w/ a guy when you are in a serious/committed relationship. It’s very frustrating, because of course I love girl time, but hanging out w/ guys can be a different kind of entertaining and satisfying.

  14. Tempest2004 responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    You’re not alone in having just one guy friend. My guy friend happens to be the boyfriend of one of my best friends and we’re good friends seperate from her.

    We hang out, play Halo, he teases me endlessly…

    It’s a good thing to have guy friends. He’s probably the only one I’ll ever have. I’m not good with guys. XD

  15. Robin responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    I laugh a lot at girls who aren’t comfortable about guy friends… One of my 2 best friends is a guy, and although briefly when we met we were attracted to each other, that faded very quickly when we realized how annoying we both were. So we became awesome friends instead because that is so much more fun and not awk at all. However here’s the thing. Guy friends are just friends. If we weren’t aware of our sexuality, then we wouldn’t notice that they are sexual humans as well. What we really need to be confident in is our loyalty and ability to control ourselves. Sure, do we think about it? Maybe but it never even gets past a blip in the mind. Why would you limit your human relationships simply because of the fact that you are capable of being sexual? that sounds silly to me. You’ve already got that quota fulfilled, open up the ‘making hilarious stories/memories’ quota to more than just girlfriends going out on the town. :)
    PS I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!

  16. Kate responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    @Robin
    I thought this was cute: “that faded very quickly when we realized how annoying we both were.”

    Yay for being annoying! :-)

  17. Lina responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    I don’t have any guy friends either and I really would like to have a couple! But like you Kate, the guys I used to know were friends with me because well, they were hoping for something more. And then when they realised it was never going to happen, they just fade into the abyss.
    Then came along the love-of-my-life and learning from the situations that we went through with me and other guys, it’s just not possible. The only guys I would talk to are his friends. Also, when I think about it, I am uncomfortable as it is with him having girl friends.
    Ah, now my mind is a mess and I feel like I’m rambling.
    Haha, thanks for the post though!

  18. Kate responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    @Lina
    You are definitely not rambling, for the record :-)
    I was uncomfortable with all of Bear’s female friends at first (especially because they tend to be lovely and brilliant), but at some point, it just went away. Maybe that will happen with you? even if it doesn’t, not the end of the world. People have different comfort levels.

  19. Margosita responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    I have a couple of guy friends. One of my closest friends and roommate for a while in college is a guy. He went to teach Wnglish in Japan after school and I went to visit him. I had (have still) a boyfriend and Inwas telling my aunt I was going I. This trip and she looked at me, sort of aghast.

    “You’re going to Japan to visit A MAN?” she asked, wondering, too, what my boyfriend thought.

    And I was like, not a MAN, I’m visiting MY FRIEND. And my boyfriend does not care. He also likes my friend just fine.

    I still laugh thinking about it.

  20. Kate responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    @Margosita
    Love it. I want to visit my friend in Texas sometime, but I’m actually nervous about it. Like it implies something that it doesn’t imply. Sigh.

  21. Kat responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    I don’t have many guy friends -for the same reason as you: sooner or later things get wierd. And I’m very happily married, TYVM!

    I think it’s because I didn’t have brothers. My friends’ brothers were all two years older or younger than us and didn’t want to hang out with us. So I never learned how to have that kind of platonic relationship with guys. I honestly believe that has something to do with it.

    My husband has sisters, but he doesn’t have any female friends, either. He also has an exwife that cheated on him, so he’s not very comfortable with friends of the opposite gender in general.

  22. Kate responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    @Kimmy Sue
    I really appreciate this comment! It’s true– I’m extremely open. I mean, obviously. Example: this blog. Other example: I can’t lie. At all. It’s a character flaw. So I think you’re right.

  23. Another Kate responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    I have fewer guys friends than I did in college, but there is something so nice about chilling with a guy after, oh, roommate drama or something. None of them ever tried to kiss me, which might have more to do with me having been a super-uptight prude and less with them actually wanting to kiss me.

    My boyfriend doesn’t have an issue with me having guy friends, and I don’t have a problem with him having friends who are women–I only have a problem with him being friends with girls who are obviously hoping for a “When Harry Met Sally” situation.

  24. Margosita responded on 14 May 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    Holy typos!

    English!

    I was!

  25. Krystina responded on 14 May 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    =D I have way more guy friends than female friends! I think it’s because I’m a tomboy and I cut up a lot. A lot of chicks don’t know how to take me. Thank God I have three sisters – who are just like me! I don’t mind at all about having guy friends. It is a lot easier. Some of them are intimidated by me – but I am also friends with their girlfriends now. I have dated guys and introduced them to my guy friends. They usually are jealous but get over it right away. I am after all dating HIM and not the other guys I hang out with. My guy friends also hang out at the house and my parents love to have them over – they’re like family.

  26. swagkingsoloman responded on 14 May 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    My girlfriend can have as many guy friends as she wants. I will just kill them all. It works out well.

  27. Kate responded on 14 May 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    @swagkingsoloman
    Don’t think I don’t know who you are ;-)
    And please don’t kill people. It gets messy.

  28. swagkingsoloman responded on 14 May 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    ;)

    Winky faces are my new thing. So annoying.

  29. Kate responded on 14 May 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    @swagkingsoloman
    I’m still trying to figure out why you’re calling yourself “soloman.” This is my new thing:

    :p

    P.S. readers, in case this is really confusing– and without totally exposing him on the internet– this MIGHT be one of my brothers…

  30. Laura responded on 14 May 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    I find the cultural norm that (straight) men and women can’t be friends very frustrating. For one thing – it’s heteronormative! The idea that people can only be friends with people they couldn’t possibly be attracted to makes friendships among queer folks pretty difficult. Most of my friends are straight men or queer women, and I’m attracted to men and women and other people, so according to that norm, I shouldn’t be able to be friends with any of them! But I have male and female friends and so does my girlfriend, and this is just fine. What annoys me is that other people think that I must be in love with my male friends or they must be in love with me, just because we’re close.

  31. Just Me responded on 14 May 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    I used to have guy friends. Most of them ended up trying something. When I was married, that was a problem. Now that I’m divorced, it’s still a problem because I don’t WANT them to try anything. It kills the friendship if I have to keep worrying that they see me as potentially more than a friend. It makes me not call or email when I want to because they might read more into it.

    And that sucks because I prefer guy friends. I can understand them… women, not so much. (I wonder if having 5 brothers and only one much-older sister was part of the cause?)

  32. Betty responded on 14 May 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    I’ve almost always had more guy friends than girl friends. I generally feel awkward and weird around girls.This may be a factor of my childhood (my mom painted cars for a living, so I spent a lot of time around mechanics and stuff, all of whom were guys in the eighties), or my interests (you don’t get many women at the D&D table who aren’t there “with someone”), or my general technological bent (I’m finally meeting other women who are better than I am at computers, which is awesomeness).

    I don’t understand women. I don’t understand gossip, or shoes, or purses, or moaning about chocolate, or chick flicks, or therapeutic shopping (does Tiger Direct count?), or the seventy seven kinds of beige.

    And while one guy friendship (my best friend for almost fifteen years was a guy) had some flirty overtones which never even manifested as kissing (because he was smart enough to push me away early on), for the most part my guy friends are just friends.

    I have a male best friend and a female best friend. They’re both happily married and their partners are great people. I was the best “chick” at the guy’s wedding. Unfortunately, when he got married, he kind of got sucked up by a different set of life circumstances and I hardly see him any more. But we can sit down, spend ten minutes catching up on job stuff, and pick up right where we left off. It’s great that way.

    I’ve never had any of the guys I’ve known hit on me. The men whom I’ve been romantically involved with in the past were always very clear from the start where their interests lay. My current partner is different; we’d known each other casually over the gaming table for years, but we weren’t friends. Acquaintances, maybe. So there wasn’t all this weirdness of “but we’re friends and I don’t want to wreck that”. It was more like, “okay, we can go grab a movie? oh wait, was that a date? sorry, man, I’m such a doofus… um, can we try again tomorrow and I’ll dress up and stuff?” *lol*

    I think the challenge I’ve always had is that, when a guy has seen you in your stocking feet at four in the morning in a greasy ponytail with a pizza stain on your t-shirt and a 32 oz cup of coffee in your hand, chewing a Twizzler like a cigar and swearing like a sailor because your daily power missed, you stop being a girl and become “one of the guys”. So I’ve NEVER had that big problem with guys wanting to be friends hitting on me or trying to change the boundaries. *lol* I’m not pretty enough to be attractive to them, so I don’t even register.

    -Betty-

  33. margosita responded on 14 May 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    @Kate, you should totally go visit your friend in Texas! It might be scary or weird at first, but I think you’d settle in just fine and appreciate the chance to have some uninterrupted time with an old friend.

    @Betty, I think if you approach all women thinking your friendship has to be about beige or purses or whatever, you’re letting the chick flicks win. You know, the ones that tell you women are only interested in a stereotypical list of the kind of things that bore the pants of me, too. I have lot of girl friends and we hardly ever talk about those things. Except gossip. But I gossip plenty with male friends, too, so I know that’s not gender restrictive!

  34. Betty responded on 14 May 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    @margosita: Perhaps I should clarify. I don’t understand “women” as a generic social group they way I seem to be able to do with “men”, probably due to my exposure to adults as a child being very male-centric due to my mother’s line of work.

    I have a number of valuable and deep friendships with individual women, but I do not seem to be able to find a point of connection with, say, “the women I work with”, or “the women in my choir”, because I start talking about what I’m interested in (computers, gaming, science fiction, quantum physics, electric cars) and they look baffled, and they start talking to each other about what they’re interested in (children, fashion, footwear, accessories, soap operas, home-making, dieting) and I feel much the same.

    While individual relationships vary, if I sit in a group of 5-10 women outside of the boundaries of a TechNet presentation or a science fiction convention, I am unlikely to feel comfortable as I do not (by and large) share the cultural language or framework that is presented in the outward face of “a group of women”. My friendships with women tend to be far outside of the definition of “girlfriend” as presented by the media. There is not only no space in my life for “Sex in the City”, I don’t know of a single person I know who watched it in my circle of influence. *grin*

    It is also important to understand that I acknowledge and even celebrate that long lost distinction between friend and acquaintance. I have many female acquaintances. I have many male acquaintances. I have very few friends, of either gender.

    This is my own personal experience. Others’ mileage, of course, may vary. *chuckle*

    Thanks for the chance to work that out in my head.

    (And to be fair, more women are getting into D&D all the time, not just because their partners do it, but because they want to explore it themselves. For the first 4-5 years I played though, outside of a convention setting, I was the only woman at the table 90% of the time, and if there was another woman, she was always someone’s girlfriend.)

  35. Alii responded on 14 May 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    I’ve always rather ‘alternated’ best friends growing up. My closest friends when I was a sprog were male, most during my preteens were female, high school I had both male and female friends, and then my collection of friends got more diverse than that when I hit college. So – yeah. I’ve always been friends with people of any/all gender descriptions. If I were to weigh my bucket of friends atm, I have slightly more male than female friends. I kind of collect people, though I’ve found that it’s not usually a good idea to mix them.

    Weirdly: I grew less easy with boys when I picked up a partner, but not because all the other boys suddenly threatened the relationship, but because I was worried that my boyo would worry that other boys threatened the relationship. And he /was/ threatened (we chatted about it, don’t worry. This was years ago.) at first. It took him a while to realize that I treat boys who are friends just like I treat girls who are friends, and that if I didn’t want to be with him, I wouldn’t be.

    It’s still weird, though. I have ALWAYS had guy friends. Always. It was never a problem when I was little, but now that I’m an adult, I get more comfortable with a boy when we hang out one-on-one (I’m an introvert, one-on-one conversations are my forte) if they have a girlfriend. It’s weird, I know, but I absolutely feel better that they’re hanging out with me because they enjoy my company if they’re having sex with someone who is emphatically not me.

    I think this whole topic is way more complicated than it has any right to be. I found, while I was growing up among nerds like me, that because I like men and treat everyone with respect, that young men who haven’t gotten a lot of respect will find that as a ‘I like you, like you’ signal. So – it makes me nervous until our boundaries are spelled out. It’s like I /expect/ there to be weirdness, and I’m nervous until I can make sure there won’t be.

  36. Diana D responded on 14 May 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    I had male friends in college; one turned out to be gay and is now my best male friend. We confide in each other via text several times a week and my husband isn’t the least bit interested or jealous.

    But, when other male friends suddenly turned on the charm, it was difficult to figure out what to do, what his intentions were and how to handle things. Was he hitting on me? Why did he change his shirt before I came over to study with him? Did he just try to kiss me? Why is he wondering if I’m over my last break-up? Is he staring at me more than necessary? Why isn’t he interested in that cute girl who is hitting on him?

    When things like this go running through my head, I know enough to back away and not accept that invitation to stay at his parent’s beach house for the weekend.

  37. Odile responded on 14 May 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    “Having a guy friend turns out to be a lot like having a friend. It’s practically the same thing. Wait—it is the same thing.” AMEN!

    Take THAT, When Harry Met Sally. (I always thought that movie’s message was so wrong.)

    But then again, male friends told me that guys think differently from girls; that movie was from a guy’s perspective. So it might be interesting to hear New Guy Friend’s take on this friendship. Hmmm.

  38. Kristina responded on 14 May 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    I used to have a lot of guy friends. Then when i started dating my now-husband, he scared them all off. No really, he made all my guy friends feel uncomfortable and made me feel guilty for wanting to hang around “dudes” other than him. I REALLY miss my guy friends. Girls need guy friends and vice versa. I try explaining this to my husband and he doesn’t get it. ***geeeeez***

  39. G responded on 14 May 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    I have a few male friends, but they’re not “macho.” I don’t see them very often, though, because they live in different states than me (except for one). I guess they’re more like pen pals, but we see each other in person on those rare occasions.

    I don’t want any “macho” friends, just good friends, male or female, as long as we share common interests and enjoy each others’ company.

    I agree that it’s somewhat uncomfortable making new male friends when you’re in a romantic relationship with someone who is male. I attempted that last year and wasn’t sure if the other person’s intent truly was friendship, so I freaked out, and stayed away, and, well, … I didn’t make a new friend.

    I think it’s important to respect your romantic partner’s comfort level with that, too. My romantic partner at the time was okay with me making this new friend, it was me who didn’t feel okay with it.

    I had issues with my romantic partner making new female friends, it just didn’t sit well with me, the type of interactions they had, and my feelings about it all were pretty much dismissed. That didn’t work out too well.

    I’m glad it worked out for the two of you.

  40. Lindsey responded on 14 May 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    Guy friends! They are wonderful. But there’s a really simple, sort-of-unfair truth about having guy friends: there are some women who can have them and there are some women who can’t. It’s that simple. The end.

    I don’t know where the distinction between these two types of women begins, but I suspect it has to do with how we process male attention – for starters, women who base their self-worth on quantity (as opposed to quality) of male attention are just not going to make the dude friend cut.

    I have a big group of bro friends that I’ve been close with for several years. They’ve all known one another their entire lives. And one of the things that I had to accept very early on was that sometimes, when bros come before hos, I am considered one of the hos. It’s something I’ve learned to respect.

    Another thing about being friends with dudes is that sometimes, they will cross the line. It doesn’t mean that they’ve been secretly pining over you all this time – sometimes it just means that they were bored or lonely and they wanted to try their luck. Now, since you’re not a single woman, this is significantly less appropriate when it comes to you. But I’m single and enjoying it a lot, and occasionally one of the bros will get drunk and tell me I’m beautiful. Last weekend, one of the dudes tried to kiss me. And, like, whatever. The following Saturday, I split a plate of nachos and made plans to go see the Avengers with him, and I didn’t give him shit about trying to kiss me. I don’t even know if he remembers it. I sort of hope he was blacked out and has no memory of the evening.

    My point is that being friends with dudes generally sort of just means learning to chill the hell out. This doesn’t mean your bros won’t be there for you when you need them – when I got dumped last summer, I spent thirty eight evenings in a row with my bros. They didn’t let me hang out by myself for a single night until they were certain I wouldn’t cry myself to sleep.

    Ultimately, guy friends are worth the effort. They provide the kind of perspective that I couldn’t imagine living without. They are great for fending off weird creepers at the bar. They are AWESOME when you need help moving and there is NO ONE more chill to hang out with when you get dumped, are hung over, or otherwise feel generally shitty. They are also dope for lending you dude stuff like their HBO GO password and that extra XBox controller, and they have the best TVs, on which you can and should watch all of the football games. They are worth seeking out, cultivating, and keeping forever and ever amen.

  41. Gemma from NZ responded on 15 May 2012 at 12:09 am #

    Have loved this blog for ages its so true. I’ve always been the girl who has lots of guy mates, unfortunately when they get girlfriends some sadly disappear, not sure if its due to the girlfriend being jealous (which is stupid as if I wanted to go there it would have happened a long time before they hit the scene), or whether as you say the guy had romantic interests in me and has moved on (hence the girlfriend).
    I totally agree with you though, men and women CAN be friends as long as everyone knows where they stand.
    It can definately be awkward making new guy friends when your in a relationship or even having a friendly conversation with a guy you don’t know. When do you mention the other half casually, too early can be just as bad as too late.
    Why can’t I just be a girl who is interested in talking to someone? Why should it be misleading?

    Thank god my best friend who is a guy is gay, as it does simplify things so much, even though it shouldn’t, e.g. it makes us crack up laughing when we are mistaken for boyfriend and girlfriend instead of a potentially very awkward moment.

    P.S love your writing, I know you’ll get there someday! Hope mine is not too bad.

  42. bethany actually responded on 15 May 2012 at 2:05 am #

    I’ve always had good guy friends and get along really well with my friends’ husbands. One of my best friends from high school is a guy. We’ve never, ever even considered dating, and he is one of my favorite people in the world. He buys me birthday presents almost every year, and when his wife isn’t available, he still hangs out with me when I’m in town visiting. I’m good friends with his wife too, and he gets along great with my husband, but those are just bonuses.

  43. sos responded on 15 May 2012 at 5:32 am #

    1. I have both male and female friends but always more guy friends that girls..
    2. Somehow lot of your friends disappear off the radar when they get into relationships
    3. Some of my guy friends did hit on me, but I did not want to date them. Things do become awkward after that and I still am friends with some of them and not friends with some of them (those who did not take my rejection well and I do not like being forced to date someone and because they did not respect my no.)

    I love reading your writings. They touch something within me and I love how you verbalise your feelings in such a sweet manner, even though we are not of the same race/continent, I get what you write..

  44. Paola responded on 15 May 2012 at 6:56 am #

    I have the opposite problem. I only have guy friends and wish I had more girl friends. Whenever I organise get togethers at my house I get really anxious because I invite all these guys over and it ends up being a total sausage fest, because I don’t have girl friends. Not any reliable ones, at least.

    I really wish I did, though, because there are times where I wish I could share certain things with someone and my guy friends don’t fit the “someone” criteria for these specific moments. I often wish I had a best girl friend I could share lots of fun and silly times with. Whom I can share girl things with.

    The other down side to having mostly guy friends is that, unlike you, I hardly ever find men who want to kiss me because all my interactions with men are based off my interactions with my friends. That is, I almost immediately and unknowingly friend-zone all the dudes and very quickly blend in as “one of the guys”!!

  45. Alpana Trivedi responded on 15 May 2012 at 8:17 am #

    Hello, Kate. I’ve always had close friends of both genders. It’s never been an issue for me, except when other people comment on my friendships with guys. My situation is also different in that I work with mostly males and most of them are not my friends.

    I just decide to be myself and don’t care how other people perceive things (it’s their perceptions that stereotype people half the time anyway).

    Anyway, I love the blog on this topic.

  46. Maya responded on 15 May 2012 at 8:42 am #

    I have, and I think have always had (since I’ve managed to have real friends, which goes back not as far as you might presume) male friends, including my first best friend and one ex-boyfriend who is close enough to us to have been a witness at our wedding. Now, being married, I still have a few. However, I’m finding that new male friends are actually new couple-friends, at least thus far (but we haven’t Really been married long enough to really know).

  47. Trisha responded on 15 May 2012 at 11:42 am #

    I’ve always had more guy friends than lady friends. I hate to play into the stereotypes, but I really do feel that I relate to men (and their straight-forwardness) much better than women. Which isn’t to say that I don’t have female friends. I just have more guy friends.

  48. Mitch responded on 15 May 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    You’re right there’s no difference between a guy friend and a girlfriend, except that he’s a guy. That in and of itself isn’t a problem but it holds a potential problem. A guy could become a potential mate. I say potential because if you share your marital problems with a girlfriend and hold hands it stays at that. You keep doing it with a guy friend and that leads to that kiss you’ve been talking about. You can’t treat a guy friend like a girlfriend. You can treat them like a friend. Just make sure there are boundaries to protect the marriage. Don’t keep any of the meetings or talks secret from Bear. Make sure you don’t discuss your marriage problems with a guy. Make sure some other guy doesn’t know more about your life than your husband. If there is any sexual attraction admit it and move on. Saying you just won’t do anything just turns it into the forbidden fruit. You’ll find you’ll think about it even more. Once you start comparing the differences between the guy friend and your spouse, not even how one is better than the other, it’s already to far down the slippery slope. Most people don’t try or want to have an affair. They just start having a friendship with a potential mate. Then they ignore boundaries or are even unaware they need to have them. Then suddenly they are in a relationship that feels to strong to get out of it because they are addicted to the feeling. Don’t pretend it can’t happen to you. It can happen to anyone. Love can happen even when inappropriate. Not all love is created equal though.

  49. Layla responded on 15 May 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    I have lots of guy friends. My closest friends are probably the men, and the person I talk to the most about personal stuff is a man. It’s always been that way with me though – I find it actually easier to make new guy friends when in a relationship because they know you’re not single and therefore “available”.

  50. Kate responded on 15 May 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    I’m really interested in these different perspectives! It’s interesting how controversial this topic can be…

    And on that note, to the trolls whose comments I will always delete: seriously, it’s wimpy when you don’t use your own email address. If you’re going to insult me, at least have the balls to do it with your contact info. I’m comfortable with being myself online, and I’m honest about who I am. Try that for a minute before you attack me.

    But even better, just don’t do it. I will delete your comment, and you will still be a sad little person who feels the need to write random, anonymous insults under someone else’s work.

  51. Jo B responded on 15 May 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    I used to have mostly only close girl friends, until a couple of years ago when I got together with my boyfriend. Now I have three or so really good guy friends (and I would say one was slightly more my boyfriend’s friend, and two were slightly more my friends, but we all hang out in a group anyway). My female friends don’t really talk to me unless my boyfriend is not around – one is single and not fond of my boyfriend, and the other one is attached to her boyfriend at the hip and he doesn’t get on with my boyfriend. This is beginning to sound like my boyfriend is offensive – he is actually small and blonde and very cheerful, but some people interpret the cheery as smug, and the small means he sometimes enters private conversations without being noticed and is then accused of spying.

    So essentially, I can have guy friends or girl friends, but I suck at having both at the same time.

  52. San D responded on 15 May 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    I have alot of guy friends of all ages and stripes. Why? I can be bawdy quick and willing to try most anything. I am non threatening in that I don’t demand anything from the relationship. I know enough about a variety of things that I can add to the conversation from sports to politics, and as an added bonus I’ll eat anything and go anywhere.

  53. Farida responded on 16 May 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    @Kate

    Thanks you are so sweet :)

  54. Megan responded on 16 May 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    I am in no way trying to attack or anything. The following is wisdom I’ve learned after making mistakes in my own life.

    I really think that women, especially married/engaged women, need to be incredibly careful with guy friends. Odds are, if your husband is wary, you should be too. Men can pick up on certain vibes from other men that women don’t see. In my case, my fiance was right. And I didn’t listen. Bad things happened.

    I don’t think every situation will end up like mine, but I will say, before it went horribly awry, I thought my situation was different too. I thought I could easily have a close guy friend in whom I confided about my emotions, thoughts, etc. Then, I found myself in the middle of an emotional affair. I realized that I need to save my emotions for female friends and my fiance.

    Moral of the story: Mine was a worst-case scenario. But I think to have a close guy friend when you’re married means you always have to keep the worst-case scenario in mind to make sure you never get there. Does that make sense?

    Does this mean I’ve cut all male friendships out of my life? No. But it does mean I am never alone with another male. I have to have strict rules because of what happened to me, but I think these rules are good to follow regardless.

    In case you’re wondering, my fiance and I worked through it. We’re stronger now, and we’re still getting married—mostly because we believe in a God of forgiveness and redemption!

  55. Megan responded on 16 May 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    Also, to clarify, my comment is in regard to close guy friends—not guy friendships that are more casual and surface level.

    And, no, I don’t think men are evil. They are wonderful and can help women chill out. But there has to be an awareness that while we are all human, we are also different from each other.

    Okay, okay. I’m done.

  56. Brandee responded on 16 May 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    This post was actually very interesting. While you yearned for GUY friends, I actually found myself searching for GIRL friends. For a while, I was seriously wondering if there was something unfeminine (i.e. wrong) about me.

    Ultimately, I had to realize that it wasn’t the gender that I was really seeking, but the personality. I’m a low-key gal who prefers like-minded individuals who don’t freak out over minor details and know how to enjoy life’s real pleasures (video games, intellectual stoner films; that kinda thing). It just so happens that most of these ppl for me are guys.

    The off-balance of it used to bug me, but now I’m just happy to have friends that I can chill with, no pressure either way.

    (And if the guys do try to hit on me, I just increase my naivety attack to maximum levels. It is super effective! :-P )

  57. Sooz responded on 17 May 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    I have NO guy friends. Never did. Don’t now. Not sure I’d know how to be friends with a guy. Hmmm….

  58. Sophia responded on 25 May 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    @sooz
    Just act normal. By normal I mean yourself. I’m homeschooled, and I thought nobody would like me or even want to talk to me, but guess what?

  59. Eat the Damn Cake » a wife, a husband, and a roommate responded on 31 May 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    [...] Along with remind your partner to call their mom and don’t constantly mix up their friends and then crack yourself up trying to sort them out. [...]