Do you remember your first crush? That anxious feeling when you saw that cutey that made your young heart melt? Little did you know that you’d reached the age where, boy oh boy, boys and girls would never be just friends again. Did you ever write him or her little notes and doodle their name in your journal, slamming it shut when your mum would walk into the room? No? Just me? Did you ever get that tumbling feeling when you finally told them how you felt? It usually went one of two ways, they either rejected you because they just didn’t see you that way, or they told you they liked you back which was the best day of your life and you’d walk around hand in hand in the primary school courtyard.
I remember my first crush so well. I must have been around 10. He was smart and one of my very good friends, in fact, we’re still friends now (despite the fact that he shut me right down), having known each other since preschool and having since had lots of laughs about our little childhood escapades. I’m pretty sure I remember all of my crushes after that. Some of them materialised into relationships or flings and some of them just ended up floating away on a little cloud back to cupid.
A friend of mine, a guy no less, recently told me something that got me thinking, and it made me look at my friendships and my experiences. He said, that guys and girls can never be just friends. At first, I was confused, because surely that’s not true. I have plenty of guy friends who are just friends. All the guys I grew up with at school are my friends (putting aside the crushes we all once may or may not have had on each other when puberty was knocking us around on its rollercoaster). One of my best friends back home, who I met when I was in Alevels, is a guy and neither of us have ever had any intentions or thoughts other than just being friends. We’ve been there for each other through so much and he’s like a brother to me.
Now, I’m a law student, so my first instinct when writing this was to make sure everyone understood what I meant when I said a ‘friend’, so I’m going to go with the urban dictionary definition for today’s purposes;
A friend is ‘someone who is aware of how crazy you are and still manages to be seen in public with you. Someone who makes you laugh till you pee your pants. Someone who cries for you when one of your special items disappears. When you don’t have enough money to get an ice cream, they chip in. They know all of your internet passwords. They would never make you cry just to be mean.’
So then the next thing would be that, okay, childhood guy friends can be just friends, even if they may not know all your internet passwords, fine. Does that mean that guys you meet after 20, that you tend to gravitate towards and form closer connections with, despite you telling yourself you’re just friends, aren’t just friends? Think about it, meeting a guy at a party for example. There are two kinds of guys you’ll meet like this; there’s the guy who you have a lovely conversation with who you’ll see once in a while when you all meet up in this setting and he’s super sweet and maybe you’ll hang out in a group but that’s it. Then there’s the guy you see and who you exchange snapchats with, you have a few conversations and next time you meet you’re probably ‘just friends’ having super deep life conversations, on a date or going out and he’s defo not just your friend. I think aside from this, any guy who you meet who either approaches you, or who you approach, chances are it’s not a ‘just friends’ connection sparking the interest. More often than not it’s going to be one sided and one party just ends up smack dab in friend zone town and it’s probably safe to assume that they’d rather not be around at all than have to endure the view from that sad little place. The exception to this is if one side is in a relationship, then you can probably be friends (careful with this one though, we all know why.) The flip side to this is that you can definitely be friends with guys you meet in some social circles or in your course for example. You guys are put together and you all bond through your exhaustion after having written that heavy piece of coursework. But, we all know the odds that in a new social circle, where you all start spending more and more time together, crushes will develop and two people will end up getting feelings and it all goes very Ross and Rachel from there.
It’s just the basis of our makeup as humans. Girls say all the time, ‘oh goodness no, X and I are just friends! He’s so sweet and caring and we spend a lot of time together but I could neeeeever see him as more than a friend.’ Now sometimes, this will be insanely exaggerated, at which point you’ll just see the drool coming out from the corner of her mouth and you’ll think okay yeah babe suuuurreee.
Contrastingly, there’s poor Mr. X. Why poor? because we all know that even if at the moment X isn’t thinking that he wants to be more than friends, at some point during your friendship, someone will ask him or the thought will come to his mind that if given the chance, yeah he’d go for it, because why not. He’s seen you laugh and cry and eat a double cheeseburger and yeah sure if given the chance, if you wanted it, he’d go in for a kiss. And that, my friends, is not, just friends.
Then again, there’s the whole he/she is not my type debacle but then I for one don’t believe that there’s such a thing as a concrete type. Yes, there’s a certain lad that repeatedly pops up in your naughty dreams that vaguely resembles Chris Hemsworth but the reality is a lot more complex. The guys that I have gone out with could not have been more different, in looks and in personality so if you say that you wouldn’t see a guy or a girl as more than just friends simply because they aren’t your type, I’m willing to bet anything that if you gave them the chance to charm you in their own way, your ‘type’ would go flying out the window and you could end up with feelings for someone you never in your wildest dreams would have thought you would. But I digress.
The next thing that came to mind was my mother. The moment I mention a new guy to my mother at this age, alarm bells go off in her head and she immediately thinks that there’s something up. Side note, and I know my mum is gonna love this but it’s true; mums always know. Don’t even try pulling your ‘don’t worry mum he’s just a friend card’ anymore, its old by now, she knows. moving on! So, if my mother thinks that there’s even a 1% chance that a guy that I’m friends with at this age, that I find important enough to mention to her, could be more than just a friend, could it be that after a point, guys and girls cannot genuinely just be friends? I did a little recon and the stats reflect the fact that nearly every guy and girl friendship after a certain age begins with one side being attracted to the other and that being the primary reason why the friendship starts off. Now, in my short time at uni, I have made friends with a few guys, but do I have guy friends in the sense of someone I can do the same things as I do with my best girlfriends? No, because if you try to get that close with a guy you just met, realistically, you’re not looking to be just friends.
So, what’s the consensus then? Sure, guys and girls can be just friends. But then again, you’ll never know if the guy or the girl who’s just your ‘friend’ is harbouring little thoughts and hopes and dreams about you, or even just a tiny once in a while thought ‘oh yeah she’d defo get it’ when they’re talking with their buddies. I’m not saying get on your high horse and think that every member of the opposite sex has a crush on you. That’s not it at all. Maybe a way to put it would be, girls and guys can’t be ‘best friends’? And if you do have best friends of the opposite sex, chances are you grew up together or met before you turned 20? But then, does looking for a guy best friend in your 20s mean that you’re looking for that best friend who’ll turn into something more?
Can the opposite sex really just be a best friend in the same way as members of your own sex can? As much as we want to say yes of course and boast about equality and being able to put aside the attractions of the opposite sex I think it’s more than that. Sometimes there are things that only girls will ever really understand about girls and things only guys will really understand about guys.
It’s a confusing world. And I’m pretty sure I’ve gone a bit all over the place with this, but I’m very interested to know what you think. Can guys and girls just be friends? And remember, we can all have lots of friends, but our true friends are the ones we have those midnight oil burning conversations with, the ones we can laugh with till our eyes leak, the ones that know that we can eat 2 pizzas in one sitting and who would never judge us for it.
Finally, if you’re in a situation where you’re ‘friends’ with someone and you feel yourself getting those little ‘not friends’ feelings, there is nothing worse than keeping it bottled up inside, because all that will lead to is regret. Tell them. No doubt about it, no second thoughts. Go for it, because if they feel the same way, you could end up with something that you would never have imagined. If they don’t feel the same way, then if they’re really your ‘friend’ they’ll stick by you, and as harsh as it may sound, you will probably get over it, and then you’ll see that maybe it’s best to preserve a beautiful friendship rather than risk loosing what you have. But one thing I firmly believe, is that even if you are looking to be more than friends, the strongest basis of that would be to start of as friends anyway. Spending time together and learning about each other to build a trusting, strong and beautiful friendship first which you might just end up deciding is better than any attempts at ‘more than friends’ right now.
Sit back, grab some Oreos, and let’s see what life has to offer us next.